Tag Archives: Sons of Anarchy

How Sons of Anarchy Got Racism Right

Juice Ortiz

Television is really comfortable with showing unrepentant racists in the roles of villians; and playing racism for laughs or shockvalue. But what we don’t normally see in pop culture is the urge toward showing full characters. Including the racist bits.

I’ve been following Sons of Anarchy since the beginning of Season 3, and I was initally going to write about how the show treats whiteness. The world of Sons is almost an unauthorized form of whiteness that is rarely depicted without derision – defiantly lower class, quasi-ethnic, and trapped in the same kinds of systems that count as pathology in communities of color, but get the “trash” label when the conversation shifts to whites in the same situation.

However, that piece was put on hold because the subplot on this season is around a character named Juice Ortiz – and the problems that arise between his identity and the rules of the club.

[SPOILERS for the entire Juice story arc as well as other parts of the series ahead. This is your one and only warning.] Continue reading

White Supremacists Are Back (On Television)!

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 expensiveBoardwalk 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. Continue reading