Tuesday, August 16, 2005

I can't believe I found this old rant of mine floating around somewhere-- I think this was from an old DaveyD.com message board, and apparently somebody picked it up and posted it elsewhere.. Circa 2000/01.. at the time, I think there was some kind of public "report card" delivered by the NAACP, about the lack of blacks on prime-time shows-- The WB was reaching it's zenith of "pretty white kids with problems" shows, NBC's "Friends"and the like was still da bomb (in suburbia and with hipster urban Anglos).. of course, UPN and WB had their default handful of black sitcoms (I'm thinking FOX had long since washed their hands of this genre), but still there were no functioning dramas anywhere with a mostly black cast except for Showtime's Soul Food..

Blacks on TV: Written & sent by HypeStyle
So what do folks think about most of these prime-time shows on television? Buffy, Dawson's Creek, Popular, Freaks & Geeks, Odd Man Out, etc.. The lack of Blacks has the NAACP tripping, among other folks.. The way I see it, if these networks want to do shows about sullen, silly white kids (oh, my parents are middle class- oh, the angst!), then I can't really be mad at 'em. As ridiculous as so many of these characters are, it would be embarrassing to me for them to be Black.. Imagine a brother on "Buffy", running from monsters and whatnot.. You know folks would be protestin' that- "Come on, brah, go back to the crib, pick up your piece and start bustin caps on some vampire ass!".. But on a slightly more serious tip, I think that a lot of writers are out of touch with the Black diaspora.. Over the years, watching different programs, I've noticed something peculiar.. Often, when a black character is introduced to or involved with a "White" show, the character functions as a "soul sister/brother" to their ethnically homogenous (and common-sense lacking) peers, interjecting with ghetto-hewed wit and advice: "Ya know, White folks sure drive cars funny".... "Giiirl, you better straighten out (amidst prerequisite head-twisting and eye-rolling).." And then on a lot of the Black sitcoms the routines are often based around shrill street-corner histrionics, which may work well in a nightclub atmosphere, but many of the contexts and "inside-ness" of it all becomes lost in the translation when trying to do a television series (or movie) for the masses with the same type of thematic bent.. Black characters whose occupations and hobbies don't fall into the typical "hood" thing are hard to find-- you know, those who are into, i dunno, rock music, science/inventing, rock-climbing, skateboarding, art films, who don't obsess over Fubu/Hilfiger, etc.. The "nerd" character in some of these shows (i.e. 'Braxton' on The Jamie Foxx Show) are almost constantly reminded (or at least the audience is) that they're not really 'black' enough.. Where are the brothers that don't fall into the "Buppie/Urkel" stereotype, but aren't trying to out-do Eddie Murphy & Chris Rock in the foul-mouthed/Super-hip quotient?

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