While reading about TV, Race & Ethnicity. I learned a lot about the framing and the mindsets behind African Americans on Television. Now a part of this was uncomfortable because the undertones behind some of these ideas were so cruel. Like the idea in the Gray article, that television execs decided to give minorities shows that they can relate to, simply because people started doing other things such as playing video games. Like a boy started playing Gameboy color too much so I got BET. Like what?
I want to define race the same way Esposito did, “Race, is an organizing principle” I would say that this definition is very accurate and this presentation will show the way television has been used to organize minorities in a lesser category.
In Esposito’s article, What Does Race Have to do with Ugly Betty, Esposito talks about the idea of a color-blind society, & meritocracy eliminates any possibility for conversation about racial privilege and disadvantages. Then she referenced an episode of Ugly Betty where betty the main character was given an internship at YETI over her gay white coworker Marc. Even though betty prepared her presentation in 48hrs while marc prepared for 3 months. At the end Marc told Betty, that she was used to fill a quota. And after betty told Marc that he didn’t receive many disadvantages as a gay male, let alone a gay male in the fashion industry. Marc didn’t acknowledge the privilege. Which is lack of conversation surrounding racial differences and privilege.
Acham’s article about the Cosby show was really praising Cosby about the work that he’s done especially during a time where African American’s were being scrutinized as a welfare dependent and unstable group of people. The article also highlights the views of society on Blacks. People were upset that the Cosby’s depicted a well off African American family. There was also this pressure put on Cosby to make race a point in the show. And cosby calmly said no because no other family on tv had to address the effect of race on their households.
Well that is unless you’re African American.
The Gray article goes into the reason why networks began to cater to African Americans. ABC, NBC, CBS were under a lot of pressure at a point especially when FOX came around and introduced the independent circuit. Advertising ads could no longer go up in price because there were so many ads and so many potential outlets. Commercial networks were losing so much money, that it wasn’t such a bad idea to pander to the black people. Once networks found out that African Americans watch 40% more tv than the rest of the population it was over.
On top of that, African Americans could not afford things such as VCR’s and gaming systems which prevented us from turning away from television hence why networks started to cater towards that group. African Americans could also be targeted with merchandise and fast food. In addition to the fact that African American programming was inexpensive. Since we mostly had situation comedy, music entertainment and sports.
In conclusion, TV has the power to create understanding and unite us in ways, we never thought possible but it can also divide as its been doing. Which is why it’s important for all people to have a stake in television because if not, it’s another voice lost.