By Guest Contributor AJ Christian, originally published at Televisual
This post suffers from a disease characteristic of most lifestyle/entertainment news: two’s a coincidence, three’s a trend. Blame it on my past as a reporter. It’s an illness not easily cured.
I don’t know what caused it, but white supremacy is back on television! Of course, by “back” I mean white supremacists have returned as villains in several cable dramas, most recently on FX’s new drama Justified, another FX series Sons of Anarchy and in Martin Scorsese’s forthcoming – and extraordinarily expensive – Boardwalk Empire, premiering this fall.
Color me naïve — it’s a color I’ve worn before — but I always thought serious consideration of white supremacy was a no-go for television: it would alienate liberals and minorities and doesn’t win anyone else. But the search for more provocative programming to cut through the TV clutter, along with the general tendency among certain cable networks – the premium channels, along with FX, TNT, AMC, etc. – toward “cutting edge” narratives, has allowed some room for the KKK and their ilk.
It’s not for me to say what can or cannot be filmed or represented. If it exists in society – even if it doesn’t – there’s little reason to ban it in our media. But you do wonder what makes these “bad guys” so appealing to viewers.
Justified’s Supremacists Are Bumpkins!
Justified, the latest in a decade-long string of “renegade anti-hero” dramas on cable which began with The Sopranos, gives us white nationalists who are mostly idiots. The story in the well-rated pilot is simple: Raylan Givens is a US Marshall relocated by the federal government to his home state of Kentucky after shooting, under dubious circumstances, a gangster in Miami. Upon returning home he meets some old enemies, mostly a band of neo-Nazis. Their leader, Boyd Crowder, is the most sophisticated of the band of rebels, smart enough to nearly catch our hero in an impromptu duel (Justified is a neo-western).
We doubt whether Boyd Crowder is a true believer, despite the swastikas adorning his lair and his body. Our hero Raylan (Timothy Olyphant) has us question his motives: maybe he’s just a guy who likes to shoot people and blow things up! Has our hate-mongering leader assembled a ragtag group of unemployed losers just so he has an excuse to create mayhem in eastern Kentucky? We don’t know yet. Read the Post White Supremacists Are Back (On Television)!