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posted by Justin - 2012-04-19 16:39:46

Monochrome

So, I guess it was inevitable that I fire off a note about this for everyone to chime in on, so here it goes.


I talk a lot about pop culture, but I think you will all agree that I call out unfair depictions of POCs whenever I see them.


I don't like it in "2 Broke Girls" (where most of the blame goes to a man, LGBT though he is), I don't like it in "Transformers" (where the blame goes entirely to a man), and I don't like the erasure on "Girls." The latter, of course, particularly galls me because I KNOW, for a personal fact, that she KNOWS NYC residents of color. (Check this article for a summation thereof from someone in a similar situation, and then remember that I actually went to high school with her.)


So, the defenders of the show say, "It's fine if they're unlikable! No one cares if House is likable!" Well, yeah, but Forman's been on that show since day one, and he's not a buffoon. Next.


People say, "Well, the show is about how unpleasant they are!" Okay. This somehow excuses the fact that they are unpleasant in a version of NYC that simply doesn't exist?


And the final argument, the one I really want to focus on, is this: "Well, a lot of white folks really do only have white friends."


Now this, this is worth talking about.


Because, you know, groups do stick together. Whether it's race, gender, sexuality, religion, etc, it's not uncommon to resemble your friends in some manner.


But what of the people you don't choose? Your co-workers, your random-people-at-the-bar, even the people you buy your food from every day. You cannot live that cloistered a life in Brooklyn unless you go to Brighton Beach and hide (and there are more and more Asian folks there, too).


The attitude that galls me is that their explanation is basically, well, I'll let Lena say it herself.


“When I get a tweet from a girl who’s like, ‘I’d love to watch the show, but I wish there were more women of color,’” Dunham told the Huffington Post. “You know what? I do, too, and if we have the opportunity to do a second season, I’ll address that.”


Oh okay then. You forgot about everyone else and you'll come back to it.


Look, there are clearly misogynistic jerks out there loving the hate train. Fuck those tools. You all know I'm not them.


The show seeks to realistically represent a particular kind of life in NYC, and there is no such life in NYC where we don't exist. We're alive. We're around. We're in your neighborhoods. We're in your fucking high school (so hide your kids and hide your wife). And even if you magically managed not to end up with us in your group of close friends, we're somewhere in the secondary group. The friends of friends.


And please, someone try and tell me I didn't care this much about "Friends." I was eight when that started. I have never been a fan, for many reasons, this being one. "How I Met Your Mother?" Yeah, that fails at race too. It got its hooks in me character-wise and now I just want to find out WHO THE DAMN MOTHER IS OH MY GOD FINISH. But it's not immune from criticism. Criticize away. "Seinfeld?" They very clearly pointed out their lack of diversity several times.


I went out with a (charming) woman a few times who is in a sketch comedy group. Happens to be all-white. They were in a sketch for "Sesame Street" and PBS said, YOU NEED SOME COLOR. So they asked their friend. They had one handy! We're nearby!


This isn't just on Lena. It's on the higher-ups who didn't even push. That's what meddling executives do! It's what makes them meddlers!


And this stuff matters. Why? Because if it's hailed as "revolutionary," or, simply, if it's a big hit, shows will imitate. And we - no, fuck it, I - will be erased from my own city again and again. And if they can't represent black folks, what hope is there for Asians, Native Americans, Indians to be remembered?


I don't have an ancestral country of heritage (or, I don't know what it is). This city is my life and my blood. So to be metaphorically tossed out of it troubles me.


"The Cosby Show" wasn't that long ago. People must remember we live here, right?


Heh.


Is there a question for you to respond to? Sure.


Think about the, say, 5 people with whom you spend the most time (either talking or seeing). Not including family because that would mess it up.


Now, is that group of friends/coworkers/spouses/boyfriends/girlfriends/etc all the same? Are you all white? All black? All the same age? All straight? All rich? All Christian?


Etc.


And if the answer is "yes," and you live in a major, diverse city, ask yourself how the fuck that happened. I didn't have to seek out minorities to end up with friends from lots of different backgrounds.


The main point is simple: I get that for some folks, even people who have met me several times (and although it was I who was the one who stuck out in high school, even if she hadn't become famous, I'd've remembered Lena if I saw her on the subway in the middle of the night), I just don't factor into their lives. But this is the real essence of privilege, the ability to, the predilection towards, the dependence upon ignoring those who are lower than you.


But, hey, it was an accident. And that makes it okay, right?


Peace out, folks. No love from me today.


JustinPBG
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