So, we’ve established that American Gods is godpunk at its finest. Odin, or rather, Mr. Wednesday stokes the fires of war between the gods of the modern age and the gods of old. He hires the reluctant ex-convict, Shadow Moon as his bodyguard. Shadow is immediately thrust into the tumultuous world of the gods.
One of the gods featured is Mr. Nancy (Anansi). He is the Trickster and the god of storytelling.
In West African mythology, Anansi was son of the sky god Nyame and earth goddess, Asase Ya. Anansi brought fire, rain and stories to the world. Anansi is most often depicted as a Trickster. He is often depicted as a petty and self-serving sort who sets out to take advantage of human foibles.
Orlando Jones’ depiction is one of the best incarnations of Anansi that I’ve ever seen or read about. Jones portrays a fierce and dapper deity who first appears on a slave ship and delivers a damning and violent speech and inveigles the dismayed slaves below deck to revolt and burn the ship, killing themselves in the process.
Listening to that speech, the way he railed and carried on, I became incensed. Incensed! It’s a feeling, I think, that only the descendants of slaves can understand.
The funny thing is, I’ve always imagined Anansi as the Trickster, petty and so foolish you can laugh at his foibles but the Anansi in American gods captured perfectly, the rage and bitterness of the African diaspora. There’s a deep darkness in Orlando Jones’ Anansi. There is a clever ferocity that I’ve never quite ascribed to Anansi before.
I fear I’ve been remiss.