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Racism and racial representation on soaps


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Posted (edited)
7 minutes ago, Faulkner said:

What is Steve Burton alleged to have said? I missed this...

 

Here you go (and he did not apologize or address it, he had Bradford Anderson go back and edit it out of the podcast later but people had already recorded it)

 

 

 

For those that are confused, they were in Glendale. Steve basically made a joke that it was "ghetto" there so they were going to serve chicken and watermelon

Edited by Vizion
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3 minutes ago, Vizion said:

 

Here you go (and he did not apologize or address it, he had Bradford Anderson go back and edit it out of the podcast later but people had already recorded it)

 

 

Oof. Trite, lazy racist stereotypes intended as comedy. These people are clueless. 

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I don't understand how it isn't common knowledge by now that things like this aren't okay and you can't use ignorance as an excuse anymore. It was bold that he said it, but it just takes it a step further that it didn't even cross their minds to edit that out in the first place. 

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Posted (edited)
22 minutes ago, Faulkner said:

 

He seems really smart. 

Edited by Dylan
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Posted (edited)

I remember being appalled when Nora's Jewish heritage on OLTL began to disappear, and Hillary B. Smith made note of her celebrating too many Christmases. IIRC the pendulum swung back a bit later, but still. Mulcahey is of course correct and we've all noticed it - the default is to make any non-white character as milquetoast or not tied to their cultural heritage as possible.

 

Also at OLTL was something Tim Stickney (R.J. Gannon) discussed in the oral history book, which was again quite evident at the time and is a tricky topic: ABCD had done studies in the mid-90s which determined that the white audience was more comfortable with Hispanic/Latinx leads and pairing them with white characters. Therefore Hispanic characters were prioritized, which allowed the network to claim they were all about diversity while disenfranchising the Black characters. You see it at other shows too. I don't need to mention how omnipresent the Vega family become in the 2000s at OLTL. That's not to say it's an either/or - these characters are important too, and I absolutely loved Kamar de los Reyes' first run, loved Antonio and Andy in the 90s, etc. Loved David and Melissa Fumero even in bad stories. But what became of Antonio later on, with Jessica, the Santi mess, etc., and the fact that they could seemingly keep adding more Vega-adjacent characters while relegating the Black cast to talk-tos and BFFs, it was obvious even before anyone openly discussed it what the calculation was. At Y&R today, too. It doesn't have to be like that.

Edited by Vee
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On 7/1/2020 at 5:50 PM, BetterForgotten said:

She mentions Ellen Holly in that clip. I’d love an hour with her and Ms. Holly. 

 

Over a decade ago, my master plan as an unemployed writer with too much time on my hands was for ABC to try to snake Y&R's audience by hiring Rowell onto OLTL to play the daughter Carla gave up for adoption, possibly with kids of her own in tow. She would come to town with an agenda on behalf of her family with a big town secret, mirroring the real-life issue of the show disinheriting its original Black cast. Ideally it would've lured Holly back too, of course. Of course, this was hugely naive as ABC didn't give a [!@#$%^&*] about Black characters. But it'd still work!

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8 minutes ago, Vee said:

 

Over a decade ago, my master plan as an unemployed writer with too much time on my hands was for ABC to try to snake Y&R's audience by hiring Rowell onto OLTL to play the daughter Carla gave up for adoption, possibly with kids of her own in tow. She would come to town with an agenda on behalf of her family with a big town secret, mirroring the real-life issue of the show disinheriting its original Black cast. Ideally it would've lured Holly back too, of course. Of course, this was hugely naive as ABC didn't give a [!@#$%^&*] about Black characters. But it'd still work!

That sounds so good. 

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Posted (edited)
21 minutes ago, Vee said:

I remember being appalled when Nora's Jewish heritage on OLTL began to disappear, and Hillary B. Smith made note of her celebrating too many Christmases. IIRC the pendulum swung back a bit later, but still. Mulcahey is of course correct and we've all noticed it - the default is to make any non-white character as milquetoast or not tied to their cultural heritage as possible.

 

Also at OLTL was something Tim Stickney (R.J. Gannon) discussed in the oral history book, which was again quite evident at the time and is a tricky topic: ABCD had done studies in the mid-90s which determined that the white audience was more comfortable with Hispanic/Latinx leads and pairing them with white characters. Therefore Hispanic characters were prioritized, which allowed the network to claim they were all about diversity while disenfranchising the Black characters. You see it at other shows too. I don't need to mention how omnipresent the Vega family become in the 2000s at OLTL. That's not to say it's an either/or - these characters are important too, and I absolutely loved Kamar de los Reyes' first run, loved Antonio and Andy in the 90s, etc. Loved David and Melissa Fumero even in bad stories. But what became of Antonio later on, with Jessica, the Santi mess, etc., and the fact that they could seemingly keep adding more Vega-adjacent characters while relegating the Black cast to talk-tos and BFFs, it was obvious even before anyone openly discussed it what the calculation was. At Y&R today, too. It doesn't have to be like that.

Same thing at AMC in the ‘90s with the Santos family: you had Mateo and Hayley, Maria and Edmund, and Anita and Bobby. And since Latinos were sort of “acceptably ethnic,” they could also be paired with black characters in ways white characters could not: à la Julia and Noah, later seen with Cristian bouncing between the Buchanan and Williamson sisters on OLTL.

 

I always go back to the fact that A Martinez, a brown-skinned Latino/Native man, spent the greater part of the 1980s plastered on soap magazine covers snuggled up against the blindingly blond, fair-skinned Marcy Walker. Phil Morris would have never been afforded the same opportunity.

 

Sad he mentions that “be less specific” is the most common note. Specificity is what drives good writing; it creates flesh-and-blood characters who are recognizable as human beings, which ultimately expresses the universal. It’s disheartening to turn on a soap and hear dialogue that could be said by anyone.

Edited by Faulkner
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Posted (edited)

You could make the same case for DOOL with the Hernandii vs. the Black characters as you can for Y&R, or all the other examples you mention. The Santos and their holding up Mateo as the exemplar for years - give me a break.

 

At OLTL: David Fumero was a gorgeous, talented man and frankly I thought he and REG had the most chemistry out of all her prospective pairings (I think she did too, based on her own discreet commentary to press at the time), but he was consistently devalued, not just by the show but by the warring fanbases. And why? Not just because of racism, because the audience was diverse. I'm sure many folks just preferred her with Easton or St. John and that's fine, but the way Fumero was dismissed always got me - I felt it was a reflection of the same calculation we all saw. And I'm all for as many black/white romances as possible, lol! I'm sure others felt Fumero/REG was just the option that would've relegated her to the sidelines, though it never got that far. It's a messy topic. But I just think it's awful when we can all see the game being run by asking people to choose between different representation of different characters of color as an either/or, and then see people's prospects being railroaded or limited around it.

Edited by Vee
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Totally. If soaps actually invested in their black characters and family, and truly treated them as equal to the white characters, we wouldn’t have to discuss either/or. We’d have strong black/black relationships, strong interracial relationships, the whole spectrum. But daytime has always catered to its racist white audience’s expectations. Even a character as radical as Evangeline was ultimately hindered by this. And they couldn’t raise her up without diminishing a black male character (R.J.). False choices abound.

11 minutes ago, Vee said:

At OLTL: David Fumero was a gorgeous, talented man and frankly I thought he and REG had the most chemistry out of all her prospective pairings (I think she did too, based on her own discreet commentary to press at the time), but he was consistently devalued, not just by the show but by the warring fanbases. And why? Not just because of racism, because the audience was diverse. I'm sure many folks just preferred her with Easton or St. John and that's fine, but the way Fumero was dismissed always got me - I felt it was a reflection of the same calculation we all saw. 

I agree. I always chalked it up to DF being dismissed as just a chiseled physique vs. “true actors” like ME/TSJ, laughable in hindsight, but how many bland white dudes got way more opportunities to shine (even if they didn’t last) with far less charisma and presence?

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At the same time, it's absolutely inescapable that dozens of minority actors are dumped off to the corner with each other on soaps every year while chemistry with white leads and Black characters is avoided like the plague. So that can't be discounted especially when discussing the unique situation at OLTL in the 2000s. And plenty of people just liked Evangeline more with John and Todd/Victor, period. (Fun fact: Before TSJ came along, I'd wanted to pair Roger Howarth and Ellen Bethea's Rachel, but admittedly that would've been a betrayal of her character on some levels.)

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5 minutes ago, Vee said:

(Fun fact: Before TSJ came along, I'd wanted to pair Roger Howarth and Ellen Bethea's Rachel, but admittedly that would've been a betrayal of her character on some levels.)

What happened with Rachel saddens me. EB’s Rachel was such a composed, intelligent, principled woman, and then, after the first recast, they stripped all that away and made her a stereotypical drug addict and criminal. An addiction story could have still worked for her, but I was uncomfortable with how they handled her stories (but that’s more about OLTL’s mid-‘90s decline than anything else). I thought Daphnée Duplaix’s version did a lot to rehabilitate the character, and while I probably wouldn’t want to have seen her with Todd, I didn’t want to see her shunted off to the corner with overacting Terrell Tilford.

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