FX Network scrapes bottom

If you don’t already know, FX Networks is airing a show dealing with racism in America, “Black.White.” The idea behind the show is genius, they take one white family and one black family, give them a ‘movie-magic’-type makeover from effects artists, and they’re transformed into the opposite race. Black becomes white, and white becomes black. It sounds like it would be a fantastic, deep, engaging show, but all it really does is show how low people will go for ratings.

FX has made similar some over-the-top shows in the past, like “Over There.” It was supposed to be a realistic portrayal of Operation Iraqi Freedom through the eyes of the soldiers fighting it. But, the show’s producers went for drama over realism and in numerous military screenings real, actual soldiers found the show completely inaccurate, and sometimes even insulting. For example, the show portrayed female soldiers as cowardly, and in need of constant protection, which obviously ticked off quite a few people.

I know racism exists, I’m not saying it doesn’t; but this show may only make it worse. As the two families stumble through their own stereotypes, viewers at home can’t help but think to themselves how supremely incompetent some of the participants are. For example, the father of the white family, Bruno, seems to think that racism is a non-issue – because if black people would only realize it’s all in their heads and not let themselves be bothered by it, they wouldn’t be offended by what they perceive as racism, etc. His words, not mine.

He even made a “mid-life rap,” bashing all rappers as wife-beating, ignorant failures, and so forth and so on. The sad thing is I’m not even making this up, he put it on a Web site and you can see it for yourself if you missed the show, just google it.

Now, out of the entire countryy, they choose this man. Why? Because if they had two tolerant, accepting, “Full House” type families, they’d never fight and nobody few would watch it. Doesn’t it matter that the show might then actually have a point, and actually send a valuable message to America. The fact that there are people watching the drama-filled show is good enough for FX.

It doesn’t end with Bruno, the mother of the Black family, Rene, was supremely offended when the white mother, Carmen, called her a negative name in a misunderstanding. FX proudly used this in its commercials to entice new viewers. They were taking classes to learn how to walk, talk, and act black or white. Which makes perfect sense, because all white Americans walk, talk, and act a single specific way – and the same for black Americans.

The only people on the show who know what they’re even talking about seem to be Rose, the daughter of Bruno and Carmen – and Brian, the father of the black family. Everyone else is so misinformed and ignorant about race and racism, it’s depressing.

The show does its best to capture the stereotypes of both families, but it’s very hard to tell whether they do it to show viewers how stupid stereotypes are, or if they just want you to see that there’s conflict between the two families, to heighten the whole “drama” factor, and the whole morality lesson is just a convenient bonus.

Either way, wouldn’t the premise of the show work much better if everyone in both families at least accepted the fact that racism existed, and knew what they were talking about? That sounds like a pretty good prerequisite to me. There were better people to use, even if they wouldn’t have been as interesting.

I can’t help but feel like the show isn’t only doing a poor job helping the families overcome their ignorance, they’re portraying both races in a dangerous way.

What’s stopping someone from seeing the ignorant actions of either family, and picking up the false perception that one person on a national television show accurately depicts a race or gender? Not a whole lot.

There’s a certain responsibility needed when dealing with issues as sensitive as racism, FX overlooked that.

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