Critics Ignore Larry Elder’s ‘Uncle Tom’ Documentary, Despite Popularity With Viewers
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - JULY 31: Radio Talk Show Host Larry Elder attends the "Death Of A Nation" Premiere at Regal Cinemas L.A. Live on July 31, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Greg Doherty/Getty Images)
Greg Doherty/Getty Images

Larry Elder has a simple response as to why critics are ignoring his 2020 documentary, “Uncle Tom.”


“Water is wet. Sky is blue. Conservatives get the shaft,” says Elder, veteran talk show host, opinion columnist and an executive producer behind the powerful documentary.

“Uncle Tom” explores how black conservatives are diminished in American culture, the foundations of their right-leaning views and how the GOP fails to connect with them in a meaningful manner.

A quick peek at the “Uncle Tom” page at shows only three certified critics bothered to even review the film. The audience score for the documentary? A hefty 96 percent “fresh.” 

That’s not where the snubbing ends, though.

The movie became a swift success during its 2020 run, earning seven times its production costs. It also snared a crush of glowing user reviews at despite the film’s atypical release schedule. “Uncle Tom” originally appeared via the movie’s web site, not the standard video on-demand platforms.

Now, as Hollywood’s award season kicks into high gear, several prominent outlets are sharing their Best Documentaries of 2020 lists. Once again, “Uncle Tom” is left out of the conversation.


Paste Magazine

Indie Wire:

Elder notes “Uncle Tom’s” 9.0 viewer IMDB rating eclipses all the documentaries found on the aforementioned lists. It’s also a higher rating than the last 10 Oscar winners for Best Documentary, including “Free Solo” (8.2).

It’s worth noting that several left-leaning documentaries, including “I Am Greta” and “All in: The Fight for Democracy,” as well as the Obamas-produced “Crip Camp,” earned several critical nods.

The “Uncle Tom” snub continued at three other “Best Of” documentary lists, including ones filed by Vox, The Guardian and Rolling Stone.

All of this comes at a momentous time in popular culture. The rise of Black Lives Matter convinced many platforms to double and triple down on black representation. It’s why Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime introduced new sections dedicated to black voices last year. It similarly describes Hollywood’s efforts to amplify black talent in front of and behind the camera.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences upended decades of Oscar rules to demand more diversity and representation for people of color.

And yet a polished, powerful documentary about black Americans produced by a black filmmaker gets ignored by critics. 

A similar snub is happening with “What Killed Michael Brown?” a searing look at race relations featuring black conservative Shelby Steele.

That documentary, whose director is a multiracial, Jewish deaf man, faced a similar reception from movie critics as well as Amazon. The title can’t be found on the aforementioned lists, and the online megastore initially blocked it from its VOD services, claiming it didn’t meet the streamer’s quality standards.

A quick look at Amazon’s title offerings reveal such Oscar-bait fare as “Uncle Peckerhead,” “Llamageddon” and “Zoombies.”

Amazon quickly reversed its decision after right-leaning media outlets covered the matter.

Elder notes that being snubbed comes with life as a prominent black conservative. 

His life story began in South Central Los Angeles with a father who once cleaned toilets to make ends meet. The young Elder went on to become an Ivy League educated lawyer, nationally syndicated radio show host, New York Times best-selling author and host of not one but two syndicated TV shows.

He’s yet to have his books reviewed in his hometown paper, The Los Angeles Times. Said paper also has yet to review “Uncle Tom,” let alone stack it atop any “Best of” movie lists.

The views expressed in this opinion piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.

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