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Racism and racial representation on soaps


Faulkner

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On 4/13/2021 at 8:04 PM, Vee said:

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.

 

Love this post. I agree.

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Posted (edited)

IDK why soaps haven't tried to elevate more non-white characters, especially given how much people of color support their shows. 

 

The trend of mostly wealthy white characters in a rich CORE family that owns a some form of conglomerate, in a town somewhere where melodramatic things happen is so repetitive. In that same theme, I'm surprised more shows haven't had a singular focus like fashion on B&B or politics on Capitol.

Edited by ironlion
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Posted (edited)
5 hours ago, ironlion said:

The trend of mostly wealthy white characters in a rich CORE family that owns a some form of conglomerate, in a town somewhere where melodramatic things happen is so repetitive. In that same theme, I'm surprised more shows haven't had a singular focus like fashion on B&B or politics on Capitol.


In a way that is one of the small myriad largely subconscious way racist tropes sustain themselves.
It wouldn't occur to even well-meaning white writers to write a wealthy black family. Because blackness is not associated with business success or old wealth in the racist subconscious of our culture, which means they aren't portrayed as such which in turn means the trope is passed on different generations.

Talking of "Generations" that was one of the ways you could tell the show had some black staff because a large section of the cast got to be glamorous just like any white family on a white soap. Meanwhile, the "white-dominated" show with arguably the strongest longest-lasting AA "island" (Y&R) came out of the family of a house servant.

I have a LOT of issues with Tyler Perry who I find reprehensible in many ways but the success of his shows - garbage as they are - shows the appetite is huge and out there and 100% think there is at least as much potential in "minority" viewers than there is in clinging to the dwindling viewership of conservative housefraus. And only one of these two demographics is growing. It boggles the mind not one soap is willing to make a bet and take the risk to target the former even if it means alienating some of the latter.

Edited by FrenchBug82
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I posted this in the ATWT thread but I think it deserves a place here also.

 

P Jay Sidney was the second actor to portray Dr Bellows on ATWT, The first was Brock Peters.

He is quoted her from a TV Guide article titled ' What the Negro Wants From TV' 20th Jan 1968.

Sidney left I believe, when he was not offered a contract.

Irna Phillips was writing at this time. I previously read that she refused to write blacks into the series as servants/janitors etc.

This is Sidney's take on his stint.

 

Sidney sites his own experiences last spring when he was hired as a regular in an important supporting role on the popular daytime soap ATWT

“I was supposed to be a research physician in that series,” he says, “and yet, emotionally and dramatically, I didn't exist as a person. My whole function in those 14 segments was getting a white boy out of jail. I was a non-person in the plot with no life of my own. I didn't have any problems. There were no things about which I was personally glad or sad, nothing to which I personally aspired. I had no past, no future , no family. I only existed for that white boy. I was, in other words an auxiliary, not a person.”

His tone suddenly becomes vehement. “Hell”, he explodes, “life isn't just going to a laboratory everyday.”

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Victoria Rowell's The Rich and the Ruthless premieres today on BET+! I just binged the last three episodes of season 3 and watched the first episode of season 4 and you can tell BET did give them a little bit of a budget. The show looks much better than it did previously and they seem to have resolved the issue of not having any sets. The directing and cinematography is much better and I feel the writing can breathe now. I'm kinda sad it'll only be 5 episodes now that they seem to have gotten it together. I hope it goes well enough that they do more seasons!

 

Looking forward to Bryton's guest appearance.

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On 4/15/2021 at 8:28 PM, ironlion said:

IDK why soaps haven't tried to elevate more non-white characters, especially given how much people of color support their shows. 

 

The trend of mostly wealthy white characters in a rich CORE family that owns a some form of conglomerate, in a town somewhere where melodramatic things happen is so repetitive. In that same theme, I'm surprised more shows haven't had a singular focus like fashion on B&B or politics on Capitol.

 

Trend is a good way to describe it, even though it is a trend that has lasted decades unfortunately, and it's not even the way soaps started, as the daytime drama began with middle class families grappling with the everyday issues of life.

On 4/16/2021 at 2:17 AM, FrenchBug82 said:

It wouldn't occur to even well-meaning white writers to write a wealthy black family. 

 

It wouldn't even occur to these executive producers to hire more black and non-white writers in their writing rooms.

1 hour ago, Chris B said:

Victoria Rowell's The Rich and the Ruthless premieres today on BET+! I just binged the last three episodes of season 3 and watched the first episode of season 4 and you can tell BET did give them a little bit of a budget. The show looks much better than it did previously and they seem to have resolved the issue of not having any sets. The directing and cinematography is much better and I feel the writing can breathe now. I'm kinda sad it'll only be 5 episodes now that they seem to have gotten it together. I hope it goes well enough that they do more seasons!

 

Looking forward to Bryton's guest appearance.

 

If the show does well in the ratings, BET+ will likely order more episodes.

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Posted (edited)

With Stop Asian Hate being in the news lately, I thought of a Chinese-American character that hasn't been mentioned in this thread, Falcon Crest's Chao-Li. Through a 2021 lens the character would probably be considered problematic, but in the context of Chinese-American history in Northern California it's possible that a wealthy family in California Wine Country in 1981 could have an older Chinese-American male as their domestic help.

Edited by kalbir
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26 minutes ago, kalbir said:

Through a 2021 lens the character would probably be considered problematic, but in the context of Chinese-American history in Northern California it's possible that a wealthy family in California Wine Country in 1981 could have an older Chinese-American male as their domestic help.


I never quite know how to feel about this debate.
I understand that characters of color being mainly domestic helps is a huge problem if that's the ONLY representation but on the other hand, it is a real sad and problematic but accurate real-life dynamic that people working as domestic help are almost always people of color.
If that's a backdoor to introduce people of color on a show AND the characters in question are then developped as proper characters, am I genuinely offended? I change my mind all the time.
Chao-Li was a wonderful presence on the show and I loved his relationship with Angela, which seemed to be the warmest she had with any other character. But of course he wasn't given that much to do.

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I was reading the SON article about Port Charles' debut 24 years ago and I suddenly remembered the controversy surrounding one of their openings where out of the entire cast Jamal was the only character with his name displayed all in lowercase.

 

You had EVE, LUCY, IAN, LIVVIE, jamal, RAFE, ALLISON, etc. 

 

Does anyone remember that?

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24 minutes ago, janea4old said:

 

 

 

Aaron D. Spears!  Finally getting a storyline.  It might not last long, I dunno, but I'll enjoy him while I can.

 

Knowing Bradley Bell it'll be over tomorrow. Such a hack.

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In May 1965 Irna Phillips appeared on Chicago Tv (Irv Kupicnet) to express her displeasure over P&G not allowing her to write 'significant negro portrayals' on ATWT.

She said she had been trying to get P&G to budge on the issue but they would not allow 'racial angles' or politics on their shows. She claimed P&G had been 'liberal and permissive' otherwise but when she proposed a story of divorce seen through the eyes of a young Negro child P&G nixed it.

She asserted she would like to integrate her shows, but refused to use Black performers as 'fillers'. There were currently no Negro performers on the show as she couldn't use them as she wanted.

P&G had stated that on the contrary they had encouraged producers to shape story without regard to color.

 

 

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Posted (edited)

interestingly, in early 1966, just a few months after irna’s appearance on kup’s show, billy dee williams began on ‘guiding light’ as dr. jim fraizer, and james earl jones joined the cast of ‘as the world turns’ as dr. jerry turner.

jones left after a few months, according to helen wagner, to workshop ‘the great white hope’ at the arena stage in washington, dc. atwt did not recast the role of jerry turner. when jones returned to ny later in 1966, he replaced williams at gl, and played the role until returning to washington for ‘hope’s opening in december, 1967.

regarding p&g’s position on integrating their soaps: the story surrounding the first african-american actor signed to a contract, rex ingram, is revelatory.

in august 1962, ‘the brighter day’ (created by irna phillips) signed ingram to a contract role. a year earlier, p&g had  turned over production of ‘brighter day to cbs. production of the show moved  from new york to los angeles. several actors chose not to move; characters and stories were dropped and so did the ratings. eventually, not too long before signing ingram, ‘brighter day was moved from it’s late afternoon time slot to the morning, and the show lost half its audience and cbs cancelled it a couple of weeks after ingram premiered.

what’s significant here is that it was cbs, not p&g, that decided to integrate the show, which explains a lot about why irna was aiming at p&g, but not cbs.

Edited by wonderwoman1951
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Theo Carver. Zende Forrester. T.J. Ashford. Moses Winters. If you’re a black male under 30, even if the actor is gorgeous and the character is tied to core families, you exist only as a barely used, one-dimensional prop with no POV. (And if you’re over 30, like Carter, Justin, Sean, Devon, Nate, or Eli, you’re not doing much better. Carter has a “hot story” on paper, but in reality it’s flimsy. And at least Curtis on GH has a love triangle, but he’s a C-stringer at best.)

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