Over time, I’ve noticed that We the Blacks, collectively, have an annoying habit of criticizing so many things to death. We — some, not all — can look at something that is widely perceived as fair and decent (or at least way better than he standard reality TV fare we’re mostly offered) and then stare it down, scour, and overanalyze it until we can’t see any good in it, only the problems galore. It’s not constructive criticism; it’s just complaining.
Last night, I checked into The Root for my digest of what’s new in politico world and found more complaining. This time is was from Tom Burrell, a 45-year vet of the advertising industry, moaning about — out of all the things actually worthy of complaint on TV — Scandal. Burrell told The Root:
I’ve got major problems with Scandal. It comes dressed up and masqueraded as something new, but Scandal is basically a continuing perpetuation of the stereotype of a black woman whose libido and sexual urges are so pronounced that even with an education and a great job, and all these other things, she can’t control herself.
But the message that is really being delivered is that no matter how much education you get and how much power you get, you’ve still got that “around the way girl” in you. It’s basically saying that black women are innately, inherently, hot to trot. He doesn’t seduce her. She seduces him.
Are we watching the same show?
I watch Scandal — over and over and over — because I see a positive image of a professional Black woman. Pope is a smart, respected, relied upon, fully (and wonderfully)–clad, quick-witted, shrewd, compassionate, well-connected businesswoman … who is also flawed. That makes for good TV. She’s got mystery, back story — though I can’t find any evidence of “around the way girl” so far — and in some instances, has questionable ethics. She’s is multi-layered, multi-dimensional and yes, she’s even an adult woman who has a sex drive, God help her, and she’s not afraid to indulge it (even if admittedly, it wasn’t the best choice of man).
I’ve heard the complaints from Black women about their representations in media, and I’ve penned my fair share of stories on this topic to add to the heap. I recognize the importance of positive images and the destructive nature of negative ones, but it’s unnecessary and just not so entertaining to trade in one caricature of what Black women are — always loud, aggressive, sex-obsessed — for another equally unrealistic one — always demure, passive, virginal.
It’s a little weird to me that Burrell picked up Pope’s sexcapades when it’s not even a present part of the life of her character, who is trying to do better.
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