Tag: Mad Men

September 30, 2010 / / race & representations
September 10, 2010 / / african-american

By Sexual Correspondent Andrea (AJ) Plaid

Of course, I could talk to author/activist Tim Wise about 5,000 things all day long; he’s a fascinating conversationalist.  I even asked him a question on my mom’s behalf about the Tea Party.  (I relayed his response to her.)  We flowed from the problems of  “colorblind” rhetoric as social/political policy to what we do at the R, pop culture…including the politics of porn.

Cosby Show castAndrea Plaid: Let’s talk about addressing race and racism on TV, with the discussion about Mad Men and how it does or doesn’t do that.  What do you notice about how race and racism is addressed on TV, especially on shows that take place in contemporary times, like The Cosby Show, Friends, and Grey’s Anatomy?

Tim Wise: Mad Men, from what I understand, is a fairly realistic portrayal of that time. The question is, Why do people love [the show] so much, why do they so enjoy a period piece like this one, which portrays a slice of life, and a period where people of color aren’t present? That’s interesting to me sociologically.  But my question is not about Mad Men so much, as it is about other shows like Friends, which is in the contemporary period in New York, and yet there are no people of color around, or Grey’s Anatomy or the Cosby Show, where we can have representations of folks of color, and “race,” but rarely if ever deal with racism per se. So, they can have the occasional, or even central characters of color in the case of Grey’s or Cosby, but it’s as if these people never deal with racism in their lives. It’s not that every episode needs to be about race, but when virtually NO episodes are, that’s unrealistic. I mean, even a show my kids watch, in re-runs, That’s So Raven (with former Cosby star Raven Symone) had an episode about racism: a really good one in fact. If they could do it, why can’t these shows for adults do it?

AP: The flip of that is how working-class and poor whites are portrayed as a group of people others can feel free to turn their noses at due to their outspoken bigotry and/or their impoverished lives.  Latest case in point: Arlene and Sam Merlotte’s family, the Mickens, on True Blood.  Your thoughts?

TW: Well, there’s a long history of portraying bigots as backwoods “trash” or whatever, because it allows the hip, urbane TV viewer to assume an outsider stance, where we can say “oh, thank God I don’t know people like that!” Or, “I’m not like that.” It’s why whenever one of the talk shows, like Jerry Springer or whatever would have on a racist family, it would always be some family from rural Georgia or whatever, missing teeth, mispronouncing words, or whatever. But of course, people can be elites and incredibly racist, without slurs, without bad dentition, without any overt signs of bigotry, because they have the power to do their stuff in private: old boy’s networks for hiring and contracts, zoning laws that restrict where people can live and where they can’t, etc.

Read the Post “Colorblindness,” “Illuminated Individualism,” Poor Whites, and Mad Men: The Tim Wise Interview, Part 2

September 8, 2010 / / race
July 26, 2010 / / history
September 1, 2009 / / race
August 17, 2009 / / media
August 14, 2009 / / race

by Latoya Peterson

So, the Double X article is finally up. The last time I wrote something for Double X, intrepid reader jvansteppes dropped by to add a provocative note to the fannish comment thread:

Being a regular reader of yours at Racialicious, Latoya, I’m a bit surprised you haven’t mentioned the racial undertones in Twilight, although perhaps you haven’t wasted the time to read it. I did unfortunately read the first 2 books for a paper about teen fiction, and the racial undertones hit me pretty hard. While the racialization of vampires, originally linked to projections of Jewish monstrosity, has certainly evolved to the inclusion of characters like Blade, I’ve long associated vamps with a whiteness fetish, and Stephanie Meier doesn’t deviate from that trend. She takes great pains to emphasize the Cullen family’s pale demeanor, linking both Edward and Bella’s alleged beauty to their white, translucent skin over and over again. While I don’t imagine she’s conscious of this theme, it’s ever-present in her less than creative descriptions of vampire beauty or the purity of white Bella.

Contrast perfect Edward Cullen with Jacob Black however, and the race narrative gets even more obvious, even without a deconstruction of her shaky use of Indian myth as a plot device. Meier uses the phrase ‘russet skin’ so often to describe her Quileute characters that a drinking game could follow suit. Her exoticized, shallow accounts of each Indigenous character’s skin color are so over the top they left me wondering why an editor didn’t say anything. While white, refined Edward is a testament to abstinence and self control, russet Jacob is a werewolf unable to control his emotions, who ultimately forces a kiss on Bella. Edward is cold and beyond human weaknesses, while animal Jacob’s body constantly overheats, as do so many portrayals of uncivilized people of color. Edward struggles for control and ultimately we never doubt his ability to maintain his control of mind over body, while Jacob’s body, too big to be anything but dangerous, takes precedence over his mind. I could go on and on.

As could I. I actually did read the first two Twilight books and the chapters of Midnight Sun posted online. And I noticed the race issues in Twilight, starting from the first discussion of Jacob’s “exotic beauty.”

But the tough part of selling your work for publication means it is no longer about what you want to say – it’s about what your editor wants to publish. And it’s up to the writer to then shoehorn their original idea into the editors vision. When it came time to write about the treatment of race in the context of Mad Men, my original draft came in close to eight pages. My editor had something closer to two in mind. And thus, the cuts began. Read the Post On Mad Men and Race

August 13, 2009 / / race

by Latoya Peterson

*Spoilers ahead*

I knew for a while I wanted to write a piece on Mad Men and race. After Double X accepted the piece, I re-immersed myself in the two previous seasons, wanting to make sure that I did not miss a single reference to race or a character of color. However, digesting that much Mad Men at over a three week stretch was a horrific challenge – the world painted by Matthew Weiner is grim, and as each episode marched on, I found myself wanting to step through the screen and grab a scotch and a smoke myself.

Instead, being a nonsmoker and a light drinker, I chatted with G.D. of PostBourgie while watching:

me: I am going to die if I keep watching so much mad men
G. D.: lol
we’re doing our weekly recaps
which season are you on?
me: about to cross into 2
me: My lord
Pete Campbell is a little shit bag
Can’t they kill him off?
G. D.: pete’s…complicated.
me: Pete is a shit bag. A total pile of privileged fecal matter. All the characters on mad men are fucked up, but he has no redeeming qualities.
G. D.: keep watching
me: I’m up to the Nixon election
You know
they never mention race there either Read the Post “Fuck Pete Campbell!”: Mediations on Mad Men and Whiteness