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Racism and racial representation on soaps


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I never realized Vola was such a problem.  I talked to her on the phone a few times years ago, and she seemed rather normal.  What kind of difficulty did she cause?

 

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15 hours ago, Faulkner said:

An interesting link I stumbled upon that I haven’t explored in its entirety—a resource for writers on how to be responsibly inclusive and “authentic” in their portrayals of various marginalized communities:

https://www.writeinclusion.org/factsheets

 

Amazing! Thanks!

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3 hours ago, Aback said:

 

Amazing! Thanks!

OT: the chart on people with disabilities reminded me of how often soaps have used temporary paralysis or blindness as a plot point only for the character to miraculously recover. 

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13 hours ago, Faulkner said:

OT: the chart on people with disabilities reminded me of how often soaps have used temporary paralysis or blindness as a plot point only for the character to miraculously recover. 

Oh that's been a pet peeve of mine for ages. Mitch Longley being the anomaly that he is in the soap world is yet another damning indictment of the rampant ableism in the industry. 

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On 4/5/2021 at 6:59 PM, Meredith said:

Y&R are such hypocrites. They sent out a tweet about stopping Asian hate yet they have no Asian actors. 


When you think that one of the main characters of one of the main families has an Asian son and presumably by now unknown number (read: as many as writers need) of Asian grandchildren, it is particularly ironic for Y&R of all shows since it would be such an easy lay-up for them to introduce Asian characters that'd be right off the bat part of the core family.
That said, in their defense, it doesn't mean their sentiment on anti-Asian racism isn't sincere and that it wasn't worth expressing.
But I do hope they introduce Keemo's family sometime, regardless of Bergman's misgivings about the initial retcon.

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46 minutes ago, FrenchBug82 said:


When you think that one of the main characters of one of the main families has an Asian son and presumably by now unknown number (read: as many as writers need) of Asian grandchildren, it is particularly ironic for Y&R of all shows since it would be such an easy lay-up for them to introduce Asian characters that'd be right off the bat part of the core family.
That said, in their defense, it doesn't mean their sentiment on anti-Asian racism isn't sincere and that it wasn't worth expressing.
But I do hope they introduce Keemo's family sometime, regardless of Bergman's misgivings about the initial retcon.

Bill Bell was enthused about this story but he seemed to lose interest and  it never came to much.

Luan was a  passive character who was really brought on as a plot device, only to die a noble death.

Keemo was the angry young man but never went much beyond that.

I wasn't particularly enamored of either performer but the writing didn't help.

I can see why PB didn't like the story as Jack seemed to turn into Cliff Warner and I don't think he wanted an adult son at that stage either. I don't think there were any racist overtones on his part ?

Nonetheless Keemo was part of Jack's history and should definitely have returned.

1 hour ago, beebs said:

Oh that's been a pet peeve of mine for ages. Mitch Longley being the anomaly that he is in the soap world is yet another damning indictment of the rampant ableism in the industry. 

SFT had deaf characters in the 70's and Tom Sullivan, blind actor in the 80's.

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1 hour ago, Paul Raven said:

Bill Bell was enthused about this story but he seemed to lose interest and  it never came to much.

Luan was a  passive character who was really brought on as a plot device, only to die a noble death.

Keemo was the angry young man but never went much beyond that.

I wasn't particularly enamored of either performer but the writing didn't help.

I can see why PB didn't like the story as Jack seemed to turn into Cliff Warner and I don't think he wanted an adult son at that stage either.

 

Couldn't agree more.   It was a lot like the "Jessica Blair storyline" a few years earlier.   The Jessica Blair character had AIDS, and as a result, Bill Bell wrote her as nothing more than a long-suffering heroine who went around atoning her head off to everyone and making noble gestures.  She was, by default, a cardboard character, and she was boring as hell.  Luan did pretty much the same thing -- went around making long-suffering, noble gestures and was just dull as dishwater.   Jessica Blair was cursed with a horrid, bratty daughter (Cricket), and Luan was cursed with a horrid, bratty son (Keemo).  I breathed a sigh of relief when the whole thing ended (in both instances), but it's truly kind of bizarre that Keemo hasn't been recast and reintroduced to the storyline (or at least one of his kids).   

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Posted (edited)
7 hours ago, Paul Raven said:

I can see why PB didn't like the story as Jack seemed to turn into Cliff Warner and I don't think he wanted an adult son at that stage either. I don't think there were any racist overtones on his part ?


I didn't mean to suggest as much.  His misgivings with the storyline were actually absolutely justified and had nothing to do with race.
But I don't think it was the way it was written (he has endured way worse stories without cursing them decades later the way he still does this one), albeit you are right it wasn't even a interesting story: he objected quite rightfully that it was a complete 180 from what Jack had been established until now.
In his youth he had been established to have been an irresponsible spoiled-brat cad so the idea he went to Vietnam (no way: Terry Lester's Jack would have bought a way out!) and had a passionate romance with Luann there that he had never forgotten just rang like a completely different character from what we had been told he was in his youth until then. Terry Lester's Jack absolutely did not have a hole in his heart regarding a woman he left behind in Vietnam. That was an absurd retcon.
That's the objection PB had: it was a boring story, sure, but above all it didn't fit the character AND as you said, I think he, along with many of us, suspected this was an attempt to change the character to fit his existing public image rather than trying to continue what Terry Lester had established and it must have been a little bit insulting for his ego (I mean, that didn't sound like a vote of confidence he was managing to play the character the way TL had, which, well, he wasn't even though he was doing fine).
So he continues to trash this storyline today as one of his least favorites - and that is undoubtedly why it has been largely memory-holed on-screen - but the fact is this was twenty five years ago. The retcon is now cannon so his dislike of this storyline should not prevent the characters from being reintroduced and used positively, no matter what we think of the original character.

And since this is a thread on racial representation in soaps, I would remiss not to point out how much Luann's passive almost submissive nature responded to ugly stereotypes about Asian women. I actually liked her, dull as she was, and she and Jack were kind of sweet but she was not well thought-out.
Keemo, on the other hand, suffered from bad writing - nothing for him to do - and not stellar acting but, in the spirit of this thread, I did like that they chose a hunk and gave him original character traits - his strong moral principles, to the point of anger, while a bit of a storyline dead end, still stick out to me as a very original take on a soap character.
Y&R has an iffy track record on race but it is worth noting that the two Asian male characters they introduced, while misused, at least didn't fit the usual narrative about Asian men in show business so that's a positive. Luann on the other hand was a bad stereotype.


Anyhow Keemo is probably married now and has several children in Vietnam who would probably be happy to come study at university in the USA and stay with Grampa Jack.
I don't think they can use Keemo himself because his initial reason for leaving was his discovery the woman he was infatuated with (Mary Jo) had had a fling with his father which went against his principles. An admirable realistic stance but one that means he probably would be useless in Genoa City since Jack has shtooped almost every female characters that would be a good match for a recast Keemo (always though Sharon would be right in the right age range but alas the misguided Jack/Sharon marriage makes that out of character).

Edited by FrenchBug82
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@Paul Raven @FrenchBug82 Oh I absolutely do think racism plays a part in Peter Bergman's ongoing hatred for the Keemo story. I mean we already know how quickly he dismissed Victoria Rowell as crazy for mentioning racial disparities and he talks about the Keemo story like it is the most awful thing that has ever appeared on Y&R. They had this man playing a Spanish drug lord who ended up raping his wife, but Keemo is the worst thing and the only thing you mention that can NEVER be brought up? Give me a break. Even if he thought that initial storyline was bad, what harm would it do to bring back his son who he canon? To me it can't be anything but racism. Maybe he doesn't feel like an Asian man could have the strength he would want for Jack's son. I'm not sure the exact motivations, but I think it is disgusting that they allow him to do this. 

 

Peter Bergman is almost 70 and they're still pairing Jack with 20 year old women. He needs to be transitioned into a Patriarch. Pair him off with Jill and let them head the Abbott family. Bringing on Keemo would give a viable Abbott who could run Jabot. Keemo could bring a wife and kids with him. This would allow Kyle (and Summer) to be written as their age and not stuck in business stories that are out of their depth right now. Give them friends, romantic entanglements, kids, etc. and things that fit their young age. Let Keemo (and Jack) take on the Jabot storylines. Plus Keemo also has a sister out there who isn't related to anybody and could be useful.

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Posted (edited)
7 minutes ago, Chris B said:

@Paul Raven @FrenchBug82 Oh I absolutely do think racism plays a part in Peter Bergman's ongoing hatred for the Keemo story. I mean we already know how quickly he dismissed Victoria Rowell as crazy for mentioning racial disparities and he talks about the Keemo story like it is the most awful thing that has ever appeared on Y&R. They had this man playing a Spanish drug lord who ended up raping his wife, but Keemo is the worst thing and the only thing you mention that can NEVER be brought up? Give me a break. Even if he thought that initial storyline was bad, what harm would it do to bring back his son who he canon? To me it can't be anything but racism. Maybe he doesn't feel like an Asian man could have the strength he would want for Jack's son. I'm not sure the exact motivations, but I think it is disgusting that they allow him to do this. 

 

Peter Bergman is almost 70 and they're still pairing Jack with 20 year old women. He needs to be transitioned into a Patriarch. Pair him off with Jill and let them head the Abbott family. Bringing on Keemo would give a viable Abbott who could run Jabot. Keemo could bring a wife and kids with him. This would allow Kyle (and Summer) to be written as their age and not stuck in business stories that are out of their depth right now. Give them friends, romantic entanglements, kids, etc. and things that fit their young age. Let Keemo (and Jack) take on the Jabot storylines. Plus Keemo also has a sister out there who isn't related to anybody and could be useful.

I also can't let go of his objections to his pairing with Angie at AMC back in the day. There's objection to a bad story, and then it steps over a line, and I feel his objections are just a TOUCH loud, and in the wrong places.

Edited by beebs
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13 minutes ago, beebs said:

I also can't let go of his objections to his pairing with Angie at AMC back in the day. There's objection to a bad story, and then it steps over a line, and I feel his objections are just a TOUCH loud, and in the wrong places.

Oh I'd forgotten about that! It's so funny you mention that, because on The Locher Room they did an Agnes Nixon tribute a week or so ago and Debbi Morgan told a story about how severe the backlash was for Cliff & Angie and she started preparing herself to get fired due to the backlash and to her surprise they fired Bergman instead lol. He thought he had enough clout to complain about stuff like that but he didn't, at least at AMC.

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Chris B said:

@Paul Raven @FrenchBug82 Oh I absolutely do think racism plays a part in Peter Bergman's ongoing hatred for the Keemo story. 

 

I am getting a sense you are not a fan of the guy. LOL
Listen, the subtext of what happened with VR is why I clarified. I am pretty open to the notion he may suffer from the blinders many white folks, particularly of that generation, suffer when it comes to race and wanting to control the conversation. I don't doubt that was part of the dynamic with VR.
But I genuinely do not believe for a second his admittedly weird fixation with hating the Keemo story has to do with race. It is a weird hill for him to die on but I really think it is stuck in his mind as something he resented at the time and is comfortable hating on it now since there doesn't seem to be any appetite to bring them over anyway.
I do think some of your ideas would not work. Keemo was established as liking a simple lifestyle and it would ring weird for him to engage in big business. I'd rather see his children be the ones to grow up with us and the show keep Keemo as this weirdly stubborn principled man - which can be an interesting source of conflict with his highly grey-area father and the influence that might have on his children.

 

1 hour ago, beebs said:

I also can't let go of his objections to his pairing with Angie at AMC back in the day. There's objection to a bad story, and then it steps over a line, and I feel his objections are just a TOUCH loud, and in the wrong places.


I knew the Angie/Cliff story had been sabotaged and poorly received but I had never heard Bergman wasn't fond of it. I actually always heard him speak fondly of DM. What were these objections? What did I miss?

 
Edited by FrenchBug82
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Posted (edited)

tbh I think the claims that Peter Bergman was against Cliff/Angie are apocryphal. I went looking for evidence of it a few months ago, and instead found a quote on this very site of him talking the story up, in print, in 1999, calling its rejection "pretty devastating." That said he also blamed it on the audience 'only being able to see Cliff with Nina and Angie with Jesse,' which I think is a generous at best reading of something I feel was equally fueled by racism.

 

I can believe Bergman was secretly against the Cliff/Angie story for popularity reasons, but without evidence I think it's a little convenient. If Debbi said something different on the Agnes Nixon tribute stream I've yet to watch of course I'd believe it. I do think his behavior re: the Keemo story and Victoria Rowell is a mix of simple white privilege/tone deafness and arrogance and distaste with a poor story which isn't that bad compared to shít like Marco. I think it has a racial element in terms of that ignorance. Do I think he's a raging bigot, no, but there's a lot of degrees of ignorant behavior and micro-aggression.

Edited by Vee
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3 hours ago, Vee said:

. I think it has a racial element in terms of that ignorance. Do I think he's a raging bigot, no, but there's a lot of degrees of ignorant behavior and micro-aggression.


That, I can co-sign


And your recollection of his reaction to Angie/Cliff matches with mine. The few times I have read him mention it, it was positive and his statement that the audience rejected it because each of them were in a supercouple was absolutely correct and a well-known phenomenon. That in this case the racial element made the backlash more pronounced is also obvious but him describing the backlash matter-of-factly does not equate endorsing it.

 

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