Meet the contributors who will recap Prison Break for us

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

I’m excited to announce that Masheka Wood and Tecumpla Weefur will be taking turns recapping Prison Break for us starting this week! Here’s a little bit about them, and their thoughts on the show.

Intro from Masheka Wood

My name is Masheka Wood and I’ll be recapping Prison Break—impossible plot twists, heads-in-boxes and all.

Prison Break is one of my favorite hour-long dramas, but I honestly didn’t expect the premise to last past the first season when, as the name implies, they broke out of prison. But here we are in season three, and they’ve somehow managed to bring the magic back by getting themselves locked up again, this time in Latin America.

I’m consistently drawn in, week after week, by the show’s nail-biting cliffhangers, Rube Goldbergian escape mechanics, and government conspiracy backdrop.

Since our favorite convicts are in a Panamanian penitentiary-from-Hell this season, I hope that the show will have more complex Latino characters (like Sofia and Sucre) on the breakout team. Black and Latino guys make up a disproportionate segment of the American prison population, but the show has relatively few main characters of color. Our two heroes breaking in and out of jail are white (though it should be noted that one of them, lead actor Wentworth Miller, is biracial).

Oh, and did I mention that one of the most popular characters on the show is a white supremacist pedophile?

When I’m not watching entirely too much television (I luv you, digital video recorder!) I can be found in New York, freelancing as a social-political cartoonist and illustrator by night and working for The Man by day.

Intro from Tecumpla Weefur

Good Day, Racialicious community! My name is Tecumpla Weefur (or Tecup for short), and I’m an African American female who enjoys writing, blog-fights, collecting t-shirts from random 5K races, and film.

I wish I could say that my embrace of Prison Break derived from a love of serial prison dramas, but alas no, it was Wentworth, beautiful Wentworth Miller (who plays the lead character Michael Scofield) that drew me to the television set. In fact, it’s my love of Wentworth that has allowed me to overlook the rampant racial and cultural stereotyping involving aggressive blacks , dimwitted Latinos, and backwoods, inbred Southerners in the first two seasons.

Now, you should know that our love affair began when I saw Miller play young Coleman Silk, in the film adaptation of Philip Roth’s The Human Stain. See, Miramax tried to bill that movie as a Nicole Kidman/ Anthony Hopkins vehicle, but that didn’t stop me from repeatedly viewing the love scenes of Wentworth and I, uh, I mean, Jacinda Barrett.

And see, I know it’s love because Prison Break tries your patience with it’s teasing, misleading, overly hyped promos, insinuating that “This is night they break out of jail,” only to find out that they suggested the very same thing last week and the week before that, until you look up and realize that almost a year has gone by, and they still haven’t escaped, not to mention that at times the script seems packed with filler that exists for no apparent reason other than for the sake of keeping the story going like it’s a sequel of Saw (what are we on now, Saw 4, Saw 5?).

Well, we’re now on season three of Prison Break, and Michael is back behind bars, this time in Panama, at one of those prisons that Amnesty International would start a letter writing campaign over. Though the show has gone on location, it hasn’t left the stereotypes back home in the States, but this time I will not overlook them. I will blog about them, while carrying my torch for beautiful Wentworth and keep the faith that he and I, uh, I mean, his love interest Sara will be together again.

links for 2007-10-27

Third Shot and I’m Starting to Feel It – Shot at Love Recap

by Racialicious special correspondent Latoya Peterson

Okay – I’m starting to get bored with the extensive recaps. So, I’m going to leave that to the official MTV blog and just highlight a couple interesting notes from the show.

The Trouble Same Sex Reality Shows

I’m going to let Dan Savage speak on this one, because he nailed it a couple years back:

Sometimes the mail is sooooooooo depressing that I just want to think about other things.

Like Next. Last weekend I was stuck in a hotel room in Portland, Oregon, on account of a teensy, weensy hangover, and I caught a marathon of the MTV dating show. Here’s how the show works: One person—say, a boy—goes on a blind date with a girl. If the boy doesn’t like the girl, he says “Next!” and one of four other girls, all waiting on a bus, takes the first girl’s place. The rejected girl returns to the bus to be cruelly mocked by her rivals. The boy continues barking “Next!” until he finds a girl he likes. Sometimes there are five boys on the bus and a girl barks “Next!”, and every once in a while five gay boys are on the bus and another gay boy barks “Next!”

While the gay episodes demonstrate to MTV’s impressionable viewers that young gay people are really no different—they’re every bit as shallow, vapid, and crude as their straight counterparts—not one of the gay episodes really worked. Instead of anxiously waiting to see which of the five will be chosen, viewers of the gay installments of Next anxiously wait for the five boys on the bus to strip down and get it on. The gay boys on the Next bus aren’t rivals, MTV, they’re all potential matches, which makes the one guy who isn’t on the bus nearly irrelevant. In all three of the gay episodes I saw, the boys on the bus were more into each other than they were into the boy for whose affections they were supposedly competing; in gay Next, the boy who “won” a second date with the boy-who-wasn’t-on-the-bus declined, preferring to run off with one of the other guys on the bus.

Recreating the “five bitchy rivals” dynamic that makes the hetero episodes of Next so entertaining wouldn’t be that hard, MTV. Here’s all you need to do: Put five hairy bears on the bus that are only attracted to pretty twinks, and let them compete for the, er, hand of one pretty twink. Or five white guys that are only into Asian guys competing for an Asian guy. Or five tops and one bottom. Or five Log Cabin Republicans and one CPA. Take a little more care with the casting and preinterviews, MTV, and you’ll be able to solve Next’s gay problem. You’re welcome.

Dan Savage, July 5, 2006

MTV, Tila…why are we acting surprised when some of the non-butch, lipstick lesbians (who are attracted to other, non-butch, lipstick lesbians) start hooking up? You knew that was going to happen. And you’re on a reality show – which means you know at least half those people are lying about their motives/background/sexual orientation just to get on TV.

Snitching Clusterfuck

I personally can’t stand those fucking “Stop Snitching” tee shirts. Every time I see one, I have to forcibly restrain myself from lunging at the wearer and choking them out on the metro. However, while watching Domenico and Ashley screw over Brandi, Rebecca, and Steve, I was overcome with the urge to grab one of those shirts and add the phrase “on yourself.” Seriously, yo! It’s the oldest trick in the book. Domenico said nothing, and Steve snitched on himself. Brandi said nothing and Rebecca snitched on herself. If this was a scripted program, we could have at least got a laugh track. Or a “dun-dun-DUN!”

The Ellen Factor?

Everyone loves Dani. Seriously. From my friends to the commenters on the message boards, it seems like most of the support is behind Dani. According to societal standards, we should not be cheering on the futch as she is outside of society’s prescribed roles for lesbians. She isn’t porno ready. There are other girls who are using their T & A a lot more and accomplishing a lot less. So what is it about Dani? Why is she just so damn likeable?

“She kind of reminds me of Ellen DeGeneres,” commented my boyfriend during the last show.

It was as if someone hit me over the head with a squeaky hammer. She IS like Ellen. Is that why we like her? Has Ellen DeGeneres become the archetype for the acceptable butch? Is Ellen the original futch? Hopefully, someone a bit better versed in queer politics and theory can school me in the comments section… Continue reading

Baseball Fever: Race and the Cleveland Indians

Note from CVK: This post was written during the American League Championships

by Racialicious guest contributor Beth Dean

The past two weeks my entire office has been abuzz with baseball talk. Indians pennants hang on cubes, everyone has their Indians shirts on. The prize in a contest last week was tickets to tonight’s game. It’s been really nice to see people excited about Cleveland. Let’s be honest, we get crapped on a lot.

We’re always at the top of national surveys on violence and poverty levels. People go out of their way to tell us what a crappy city and industrial wasteland we live in. I don’t even care that much about baseball, but it’s hard not to get caught up in all this, and frankly I think Cleveland could use a win, because Cleveland never wins anything else.

But there’s an elephant in the room, and his name is Chief Wahoo. I’m not surprised with all the recent Cleveland talk in the news, that people are beginning to bring up race, and rightly so. Our mascot is a giant racist caricature. Somewhere along the lines, we got a little more embarrassed of ourselves and introduced Slyder. I suppose after the atrocity of Chief Wahoo, we deserve a ridiculous muppet for a mascot. But the problem is we never got rid of the Chief. We took him off most of our hats (not the ones the players wear), but he’s still on everything else.

To make matters worse, we have our fans going to games in red face. Red face! A humble suggestion baseball fans: if you would like to show your support, perhaps paint your face red and blue, because they’re both team colors.

I understand it’s hard to change overnight. But our football team packed up and left in the night, why can’t we change our baseball team? People hate Cleveland enough as it is, do they need to think we’re all racist rednecks too? Part of the problem, and the reason the Chief hasn’t been completely eradicated, is because Cleveland isn’t racist. Nope. There’s a difference between genuine racism and ignorance. It’s not an excuse, and it’s still awful, but most people here don’t even realize how offensive he is. They don’t even realize how offensive the name Indians is.

I didn’t even know until I was in high school and took a Canadian friend to visit the city. It happened to be during a baseball game. She was aghast. (I should note, Canadians are much more attune to their indigenous peoples than we are.) She couldn’t believe we had a team not only so blatantly racist, but that the city was crawling with people perpetuating this big red grinning face. Wahoo merchandise was everywhere. She said in Canada, Wahoo is a hideous racial slur. Well it is here too, we just don’t know it.

To quote King Kaufman from Salon:

The Cleveland Indians are not about to throw 90 years of brand loyalty down the dumper when they’re on an upswing between the lines and at the box office.

But is it too much to ask that outrageously racist caricatures of peoples on whom this country has perpetrated genocide be retired? The answer is no, it’s not too much to ask.

It should have been done a long time ago.

links for 2007-10-26

Carpoolers: yet another loud black woman?

by Racialicious guest contributor nina

In light of recent posts about TV shows I wanted to share the following: I was flicking through stations last night and watched the last 10 minutes or so of a comedy on ABC called “Carpoolers.” The show is about 4 men who carpool to work together and share their lives. The thing that was distasteful is that the sole black male on the show, Aubrey, seems to have a stereotypically loud, controlling black wife and seven kids that he complained about constantly. The wife’s actual face was never even shown in the episode, just her legs. Meanwhile the faces of the white wives and girlfriends were shown and they had speaking parts to boot. Was this a one time thing or is that really how ABC is choosing to depict a black married couple? Then again see below how ABC’s website describes the 4 characters. Again, Aubrey is the sole character of color.

Gracen (Fred Goss, ABC’s Sons & Daughters) is the unofficial leader of the carpool pack. As a professional mediator, he thinks he’s a problem solver, but more often he’s a causer. He seeks fairness in an unfair world, and so finds himself in the middle of situations because he’s compelled to be there. In the pilot, Gracen is stunned to learn that his wife makes more money than he does, which sets his resolve to assert his manly authority.

Laird (Jerry O’Connell, Crossing Jordan) is Gracen’s playboy dentist neighbor and best friend. He thinks his life is an unending quest for stories – and women. In the middle of a messy divorce, he allows himself to live a little and taunts the other carpoolers with the freedom of his near-single status. He would never admit that he secretly misses marriage. Laird constantly leads the carpoolers into adventures, but once there, he isn’t sure what to do.

Aubrey (Jerry Minor, Mr. Show) is a sweet but intense pushover at the bottom of the family food chain. The daily ride has become the only peaceful time in his life. Forty-five minutes, two times a day – he needs the carpool the most. Always quick to come to the carpoolers’ aid, he believes in the brotherhood almost to a fault. Only the carpoolers know he’s boiling inside

Dougie (Tim Peper, The Guiding Light) is the eager newlywed. He doesn’t know all the rules of the Carpooler Society, often breaks them, and has to have the ways of the world explained to him by his tribal elders, the three other carpoolers. He and his wife, Cindy, are the perfect modern couple, but as you get to know them, you start to see their cracks. Dougie is the guy who seems to have it all together, yet he’s drawn to the carpoolers for a little excitement. The carpoolers will both instigate problems for Dougie and help him deal with the realities of life to come.

Thoughts?

links for 2007-10-25

Meet the contributor who will recap The Office, Degrassi, and Boondocks

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

I’m excited to announce that Jasmine will be recapping three shows for us starting this week! Here’s a little bit about her, and her thoughts on the shows.

My name is Jasmine, and I’ll be recapping The Office, Degrassi: The Next Generation, and The Boondocks for Racialicious.

I watch The Office because its cringe-worthy plots often address racial, gender, and office politics in a manner both humorous and thoughtful. Degrassi: The Next Generation is the descendant of the original “Degrassi Junior High”, and like its predecessor pushes dialogue on critical issues that affect today’s youth as well as adult society: drugs, violence, discrimination, homophobia. The Boondocks is the animated version of Aaron McGruder’s seminal comic strip, an unabashedly sharp and cynical look at the challenges faced by a politically aware African-American boy trapped in predominantly White suburbia.

What attracts me to these shows are how their stories can be rooted in a question of racial discrimination or sexual harassment are given due attention, but without crossing over into “Very Special Episode” territory often found in other less adept shows.

A Philippine-born native New Yorker who has been living in Chicago for the last 13 years, I blog about myself (infrequently) and television (interminably). The question of race and how it is portrayed both the large and small screens has weighed on my mind ever since I first saw Mickey Rooney in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”. Butterfly McQueen in “Gone with the Wind”. Gedde Watanabe in “Sixteen Candles”.