Cheese. (popehippo) wrote in ontd_political,

The TV images are always white

When Showtime’s Queer as Folk was on the air, a friend was giddy with excitement. Once when he was waxing about a particular episode, I yawned.

“Sure. Great show,” I said. “When they decide to add a dark face to the cast, come talk to me.”

He didn’t miss a beat.

“This is a first step for us. You have to admit that, James.”

I found his pronoun trouble sweet (one of the reasons we are friends). Why assume I was included in the QAF zeitgeist? We went back and forth for awhile, and then moved to another topic.

I thought about that conversation after reading Michael Arceneaux’s article over at The Root. The writer takes Entertainment Weekly to task for its cover story on the “gay teen revolution” on television. While acknowledging the number of gay characters on the small tube, Arceneaux rightfully wonders why they all come from one racial group.

“Many gays of color certainly don’t see themselves in this revolution. Though we are seeing a lot more gay faces on TV, many of them are of the same ilk. And are we really challenging the tolerance levels of Americans that much by asking them to accept versions of gay people that they’ve long grown accustomed to seeing?”

Many will find that question churlish, but it’s more than fair. Especially if we consider the facts of our lives. The most recent Census numbers indicate a large portion of gay families are black and/or brown and southern. However, those stories lack any cache. Sure they are worth telling, but why waste the time when you can get tons of buzz by retelling the lives of people cut from the same cloth?

If the “gay teen revolution” were real, we would see characters who prove LGBT is not the providence of one racial and/or social group. Maybe that’s too much to ask of a medium that disparages complexity. This is the same industry that couldn’t offer The Wire one Emmy nod for acting. However, is there anything new, or different, when the TV narratives only represent a slice of the diverse tribe?

Tags: lgbtq / gender & sexual minorities, media, race / racism

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