Thursday, May 22, 2008

Talking about an Evolution

Ok so I was blog hopping, something that has become a routine of mine lately. Hey work is a bit slow these days. So I made it over to AvgBro’s page today and it was talking about an article posted in the LA times which talked about the death of black TV. First off, let me say I had no idea BLACK TV existed. Sure black shows exist but to me black TV would be if BET or TV One were like watching Telemundo.

You know what I mean, we would have Wake Up! hosted by Bryant Gumble Robin Roberts and Al Roker doing the weather. Then maybe That’s Live with John Witherspoon and Kenya Moore. A game show hosted by the Brown Hornet, you know instead of the bee on Mexican TV. Then the obligatory daytime fair of black soap operas, Bea Smith and Oprah followed by The Evening News with Lester Holt. Then the night time line up would be ORIGINAL programming of fresh new dramas, sitcoms, date line/20/20 news shows, Barbara Walters style interview shows, Hardball/ Meet the Press type shows and reality all from the various different angles of black life there are. Lord knows if you hang out in the blogsphere enough YOU KNOW there are many different angles to black life! Not reruns, music videos, old black movies, and 106 and Park. To me, that is what black TV would/should be. *jumping off soap boxes and kicking it underneath my borrowed cloak of self-righteousness*

I know what AvgBro and the LA Time meant by black TV. They were talking about the decline of shows with all black or majority black casts. I, of course in OG fashion, left a LONG WINDED comment that didn’t even address or answer his question. I guess it’s because some of what he wrote sent me on some different shyt! Then after writing the comment, I posed this question, what is Black TV?

I mean I think of Grey’s Anatomy and Private Practice as black TV. They came out to of the head of a Black woman and the characters do and say things and are in situations that I can relate too. Rhimes doesn’t back away from race. The people in the hospital running the show are people of color. And while there are more white actors, the black actors are the decision makers in the hospital. The black Chief of Staff gives orders to everyone, black Dr. Bailey was in charge of those 6 crazy interns the show centers around and is now the Chief Resident after the other girl Dr. Torres couldn’t handle it, and before he left the show black Dr, Burke, like Dr. McDreamy, I mean Shepherd, was an attending physician and also known one of the BEST heart surgeons in the country. I think I would take that for making a positive stride in television portrayals of blacks. No?

I guess my point is why is Grey’s and Private Practice less of a black show than Girlfriends and The Game? They both are the conceptualization and ideas of black women. Shonda Rhimes has said on several occasions that she already has Grey’s mapped out for the next few years. We can’t say well now OG she isn’t the only one writing on the show. All the staff writers aren’t black. Well if you think Mara Brok Akil is only employing all black writers on her show then I got some land I want to talk to you about.

Anyway what I am saying is that what is so wrong with an inclusive view and why isn’t that black TV? I mean I understand it’s nice to see life depicted where you are the majority, but really this world is not like that. People often dismiss shows like Friends, Seinfeld, or Desperate Housewives that have a black character for a short stint or other shows where they view the black character as a token like ER or Dynasty (remember Diahann Carroll’s run on there) when in reality that is more like my life. I mean other than my home life where my life is pretty much black, but not all. I am and have always been the only or one of two or three.

I work in IT and in my department there is me and another black guy. There are a few other blacks working on other projects but on this floor of about 100-120 only 5 black people, the rest are Indian or White. So scenarios that exist in many sitcoms aren’t that far fetched. Hell, I have met several white people who had NO true exposure to blacks until we came to college. So should TV be depicted a world that isn’t even real where we are all mixed in? Black people are only 10% of this nation if that. I think shows like Everybody Hates Chris depict life like I remember it, out to a white world, home to a black one. However if shows are not set in our homes or where we reside we can not expect them to be all black.

I guess this whole blog is more a question and rambling thought than it is commentary and decisive action. I am far more concerned with accurate depictions of black people when we do show up on TV than I am with looking at a bunch of black people shucking and jiving. Although don’t get me wrong I do and have liked my fair amount of shucking and jiving, stepping and fetching and the like. Laughter is good for the soul, well that is until you realize some of souls laughing ain’t that good, ask Dave Chapelle why he left his gig! That’s a blog for another day.

Lately there seems to be a lot a talk about black and what it is and who is black enough and who isn’t and what you need to do be black and what you need to say to stay black and I guess it just has me up in arms.

I just see so many black folks both enlightened and highly educated, ignorant and no account, and all those in between trying to label blackness. As I said in a comment on a blog the other day, as long as we marginalize each other by trying to set these rules on what we need to and don’t need to do to be black the longer non-blacks will think they can label us. We all need to learn to be who we want to be and by doing just that whatever that is we want to do those actions automatically become a part of blackness. Now sure there will be things that by culture a majority of us might like to do, but if you don’t fall in that majority it doesn’t get you race card pulled.

So I guess I wouldn’t say black TV is as crossroad, I would like to say that it is evolving. I would like to see more black creators show us their imagination. I would like to see more black production. I mean lets look at cinema Overbrook (Will and Jada) entertainment is doing all kinds of movies. I consider those movies to be black movies. I am sure most people don’t but many come from the pens of black writers and they are produced with black dollars, no matter what color the cast is. Right?

Is The Pursuit of Happyness a black film? I would say yes, but I’m sure many people don’t think so. I mean it was produced by several black people (along with a few white ones) based on a book by a black man about his black life. Sounds like a Black movie to me Just a thought. What are your thoughts? What is black TV and do we need black TV or are we past that?

I guess my thought is we need blacks to be depicted as believable and real, not caricatures of what we think black life is. I know that’s a hard one to call because one man’s believable and real is another’s caricature. As far as making sure we have all black shows or majority black shows, if BET and TV One would take the original programming route we wouldn’t have to worry about that. I don’t know enough as to why they chose the programming they do and don’t do original shows, so I’m going to just leave that alone.

Be EZ,


i.can't.complain. said...

i like where u went w/this one.

u make a great point when u said (in so many words) the "real world" isn't entirely black.

while ive never watched greys, i can agree that its a "black show".

it has believable black characters, afterall.

all of us don't act like the characters depicted on martin.

nothing wrong with people who do act that way...

but after a while watching that mess gets tired.

especially when the large of society (more importantly fellow Black people) begin to see that way of life as an unchanging doctrine to Black America.

we vary. just as television does.

with the exception of flavor flav....

white folks can have him.


ZACK said...

I think black folks are still figuring out who we are. We are trying to find our true identity but it is hard. The reason being that all of us have assimilated a little bit- whether involuntarily due to the English language, or voluntarily when it comes to fashion trends.

I like reality shows like Run's House or Snoop Dogg's Fatherhood , as well as Cops. (There's black people on that show every week)

But seriously, this is a great post. Very thought-provoking.

Now getcha azz back 2 work! :)

Sister Girl said...

I agree with the other 2 commenters here. I remember a time when TV was very much different than it is now & one reason why I ardently REFUSE to entertain most of what is on TV now.

I like to stick to shows that don't drive race one way or another, because most people will make an assuming analysis from a box of kleenex...just for the hell of it !

The reality tv stuff...I don't entertain it. I see reality played out in REAL life everyday that I live it. When I sit here inside my home, I'm in control of my environment that affects my mental/emotional being. So I elect to keep the B/S far,far away from me.

I don't knock anyone that watches that stuff,but at my age & where I need to ain't me !