Monday, August 30, 2010

Uncool

Maybe if we dissect the issue and stop complaining about it and start educating people the general community of media savants will get it and start to be less afraid and more uncharacteristically braver. I think taking the cranky route hasn’t worked. No instead I think it’s time to take the peaceful route and educate ‘them” by gently explaining how we of color work, and how important it is to ease America into understanding each and every one of us from a clever perspective and how interesting and satisfying it is to watch a show about say an East Indian family and their trials then another cop show starring another fashion model turned sleuth. You Hollywood and the rest of America who are not ethnic don’t grasp the concept that we in the ethnic community want you to grasp. We are a diverse group of folks within our community. You have the ghetto people who have rather thick southern based accents, maybe less education. You have the middle income with less thick accents and more education. You have the upper class (minority within a minority) with even less ghetto root-age but maybe an accent that is “put on” to mix in and seem real or "down". Then you have the huge diverse “mixed “group of us who again come from various social economic spheres. You see we don’t come in just one color we come in an infinite mix of fascinating worthy hues both internally and externally. I know the main reason why media isn’t more diverse. Simple…they who are in power don’t want to share the candy. They want to continue to rehash to regurgitate what they know hoping we as audience and consumers will not mind. Yet we mind and my brethren who are smart, urban and truly integrated and non ethnic mind. Television today is like eating mashed potatoes every meal; it is dull. There is one show coming by JJ Abrams with Boris the gorgeous Kojo starring (forgive the spelling) about a married CIA couple that has the realism of a female President in office today; not happened yet! They are beautiful and dangerous an African American Mr. and Mrs. Smith. My fingers are crossed and when that tanks we will get blamed for being unmarketable. I truly hope the show sails to huge ratings my fingers and toes are crossed. Television breaks rules constantly they are painful sad rules; one being youth obsession. I recently learned that the young are craving the not so young. This being that experience is the best aphrodisiac. The Emmys were boring after my friend Michelle didn’t win. I stopped watching it. The sea of white faces depresses me every awards show. The Oscars are no better. I still think we need to stop watching all media completely until they get smarter. It’s time.

2 comments:

Dwane T. said...

I lived in Iowa circa 2000. The area I lived in generally showed blacks on two fronts: constant reruns of The Bill Cosby Show and a Different World, and constant episodes of Cops. BET hadn’t reached the county yet. No UPN either. And this reflected the mentality there that there were two types of Blacks: 1) wealthy, educated and articulate, 2) criminals. I recruited students for the college I worked at who had never seen a Black man in a suit and tie before in person. Most were 18-19 year olds. Some young ladies tried to show their “interest” in me, even though I was the same age as their parents. After speaking with them, I found out there was a third type of Black man among the young, the MTV Black man… and they assumed that I was “down wit’ it” like the Black men they saw on TV. Three stereotypes, and none fit anyone of the 50 adult Blacks in the town I lived in.

I got into a discussion with one of my staff, who was my age, about the fact that there was no true representation of Black America on TV. This Blond haired, blue-eyed woman who grew up on a farm and had never lived more than 75 miles from where she was born told me I was wrong. The examples she gave me, Cosby, Cops and MTV (her husband loved the Baby Got Back video). When I told her that where/how I grew up was more a combination of Roc and What’s Happenin’, she had no clue what I was talking about. Then I asked her, what shows portray your life accurately, Rosanne? King of Queens? Friends? Ally McBeal? She was insulted. None of those shows had anything to do with the lives of “real people” like her. There had never been a show that represented her life. But she held onto the fact that three or four TV shows showed the entirety of the Black experience. And the images and treatment of Hispanics there at that time were much worse than for Blacks... basically stories on the nightly news about illegal immigrants taking jobs or having car accidents with no license.

My experience in Iowa taught me that not only does TV not want to show Blacks, or any other minority group in a true light, it serves the desired purpose of “introducing” and reinforcing pre-packaged images. They help desensitize “real people” like my former staff person toward minority issues when it comes to voting and legal issues. I failed to mention that she was the Director of Financial Aid at the college I worked at. She didn’t believe in financial aid (hand-outs to undeserving kids), only scholarships for athletes and academics. She was a gatekeeper whose beliefs about minority inferiority were primarily reinforced by network programming. I wish this whole TV programming thing was an incidental or accidental. Truth is, it’s intentional.

Rae Dawn Chong said...

As usual you speak Truth Dwane as painful as it is. I appreciate it and still it's so sad. I wonder if the need t dominate others in every way is at the root. This primal need to feel safe at the expense of kindness, love and generosity.

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