Tag: Katy Perry

December 12, 2013 / / links

You will make out that apartheid was just some sort of evil mystical space disease that suddenly fell from the heavens and settled on all of us, had us all, black or white, in its thrall, until Mandela appeared from the ether to redeem us. You will try to make Mandela a Magic Negro and you will fail. You will say that Mandela stood above all for forgiveness whilst scuttling swiftly over the details of the perversity that he had the grace to forgive.

You will try to make out that apartheid was some horrid spontaneous historical aberration, and not the logical culmination of centuries of imperial arrogance. Yes, you will try that too. You will imply or audaciously state that its evils ended the day Mandela stepped out of jail. You will fold your hands and say the blacks have no-one to blame now but themselves.

Well, try hard as you like, and you’ll fail. Because Mandela was about politics and he was about race and he was about freedom and he was even about force, and he did what he felt he had to do and given the current economic inequality in South Africa he might even have died thinking he didn’t do nearly enough of it.

I’ll be 34 this year and we’re only beginning to see a change in the scenery when it comes to diversity and the fantastic. A recent UCLA study found that even though racial and gender diversity in television remains appallingly low, more diverse shows bring higher audiences while less diverse ones struggle. Meanwhile, some major networks may finally be getting the message. At this year’s annual Fox Broadcasting confab, titled “Seizing Opportunities,” the underlying theme was more diversity equals more money. Speaking to an invitation-only crowd of executives, producers, agents and media coalitions, Fox COO Joe Earley said this about welcoming more diverse shows: “Not only are you going to have more chances of a show being made here, more chances of a show being a success on TV, more chances of making it into syndication, more chances of a show selling globally and making you millions of dollars, but you are going to bring more viewers to our air and keep us in business.”

Cultural critics have rightly decried whitewashing in the name of social justice. Networks are now beginning to see dollar signs where they once imagined dearth. But beyond money and morality, diverse programming is also a question of quality. “Racist writing is a craft issue,” the poet Kwame Dawes said at this year’s AWP conference. “A racist stereotype is a cliché. It’s been done. Quite a bit. It’s a craft failure.”

Without an understanding of culture, power and history, diversity is useless; it’s blackface. And television has often given us nothing but that: cheap stand-ins and tokens to up their numbers and check off boxes.

Read the Post The Racialicious Links Roundup 12.12.13: Nelson Mandela, New York’s Poor, Black Republicans and more

November 25, 2013 / / Entertainment
December 8, 2010 / / books

By Guest Contributor Tami Winfrey Harris, cross-posted from What Tami Said

I am (blessedly) very close to finishing British comedian Russell Brand’s second memoir Booky Wook 2. While Brand’s first foray into writing, Booky Wook, was funny, literate and self-aware. The continued story feels self-aggrandizing and cobbled-together to capitalize on the star’s growing fame (Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Get Him to the Greek). Two books in, Brand’s “beautiful fucked-up man” (TM Sarah McLachlan) schtick begins to wear thin.

Ultimately, you win no points for admitting that you are a predatory, selfish, womanizing asshole (albeit using flowery, anachronistic turns of phrase) if these self-revelations don’t lead to changed behavior. I was struck last night that Booky Wook 2 stands as a testament to society’s double standard regarding male and female sexuality. A young (white, straight) man can write two books regaling readers with tales of two-, three- and foursomes; obsessive masturbation; spitting in a woman’s face; hiring prostitutes (and making one cry through aggressive behavior); carelessly dispatching sexual partners; and, famously, calling an aging sitcom star to slyly allude to having had sex with his granddaughter.

And this all makes him just a lovable cad–one who gets much shine over on the ostensibly feminist site Jezebel. And folks buy in to the notion, advanced in Booky Wook 2, that Brand has been saved by the sweet, sweet love of a “good” woman–wide-eyed pop star and Christian-when-it’s-convenient Katy Perry, who Brand recently married. Brand can wear not just his promiscuity, but misogyny, as a badge of honor and be feted not just by the media at large, but in spaces reserved for women.

Read the Post Double standards: What’s the difference between Russell Brand and ‘Superhead’?