Netflix's 'Barry' Screenwriter Adam Mansbach's Top 5 'The Cipher' Gems: "The Idea Was To Smuggle A Movie About Race Into Cinemas" [Audio] –

[Author Adam Mansbach (Rage is BackGo the Fuck to Sleep) wrote the screenplay for the new movie Barry, about Barack Obama’s first semester at Columbia University in 1981. Adam recently sat down with hip-hop personality and SOHH correspondent Shawn Setaro on his popular “The Cipher” podcast. Listen to the full interview and check out five gems he dropped during the Q&A.]

On the #WhitesAgainstTrump trending Twitter hashtag that he created with W. Kamau Bell:

“It’s not enough just to denounce Trump—you’ve got to do it as a white person. He’s running a campaign based on white ethno-nationalist fear and resentment. So don’t just denounce and distance yourself from him. Do it as a white person. Make clear that he doesn’t represent you as a white person. Do something good with your whiteness for once.”


On how Barry is different than other biopics:

“I remember telling Vikram, the director, that if anybody could throw a voiceover over the trailer that was like, ‘The five months that made him who he is,’ then we had failed. The idea was to smuggle a movie about race and identity into cinemas, into the mainstream conversation, using the free money the fact that this guy would go on to be the leader the free world; but at the same time, make a movie that would be equally compelling—or 90% as compelling—if it were just about some guy who grew up to be an accountant.”

On the role Jesse Jackson, Ronald Reagan, and Ed Koch in the movie:


“These figures were in the mix because he would have had an awareness them. He’s not yet interested in politics, but he’s not so disinterested that he’s not going to be aware the major figures and the pulls mainstream political thought.”

On masculinity and gender in the movie:

“Conceptions race and masculinity are very connected, both in terms this country’s fear and hatred black bodies and black male bodies. And particularly in the context this film, we’re dealing with an interracial relationship at a time when such a thing is still going to attract a lot unwanted attention. And there’s a way in which Barry is an astute observer competing versions, contrasting versions what it looks like to be a man. There’s a sense in which I would say every single man in the movie that he lays eyes on, he is studying and appraising as a potential model, for good or for bad.”

On his grandmother, the poet Felicia Kaplan (née Lamport):

“She embodied all the qualities that make a great rapper. Possibly not breath control—she smoked a pack Kool cigarettes every day. But as I was growing up as a hip-hop kid, as an emcee myself, her work was this very close parallel. She was in essence doing the same shit that KRS-One or Chuck D was doing, which was using wordplay and wit and rhyme form to speak truth to power and take down or attack or comment on the issues the day.”