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Obama Family Obsession, The Huxtables, and the Black Image on the Screen by Nordette, on BlogHer. I enjoyed following her links to YouTube clips of "Room 222" and "Julia"!

The Obama win didn't happen just because of a TV show, but it's possible America's acceptance of the Obama family and an African American as President of the United States may be correlated to the image of African Americans changing in fictional media. Our images shifted from slave, mammy, maid, butler, cook, clown, thug, drug-addict, pimp, hooker, rapist, drug dealer, and parasite on both the small and big screen to teacher, police officer, military leader, lawyer, doctor, judge, patriot, hero, and President of the United States.

Our transformation from more negative images to more positive images did not happen accidentally. African-American actors, directors, producers, and professors with the help of sympathetic white professionals in the entertainment industry worked hard to get positive images of African-Americans on the screen, and frequently attempts to present a better image met opposition.


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 14th, 2008 09:10 pm (UTC)
That's fascinating (I'm trying to work it into a Hathor post), and I think it makes a lot of sense.

The Huckstables always felt idealized to me, but so did all the white families in 50s sitcoms. I assumed the show's point was to demonstrate that people who happened to be African-American could fill that bill just as well as white people. I get why people might have felt they were a bit whitewashed (that's a criticism I remember hearing at the time), but I felt they were going for All American Family, and it wasn't the show's fault the All American Family had, up to that point, been rendered almost exclusively as white.

Thanks, badgerbag!
Dec. 1st, 2008 05:31 pm (UTC)
Excellent article.

I got into a ridiculous argument once with a (admittedly crazy) professor in a grad seminar about whether or not The Cosby Show reflected "black families" or not. While I understand how some might have found the show too "white-washed" in the sense that it did not perhaps reflect the average black family in the 80s/90s, I contended then (and still do now) that positive images of African Americans on television--the idea that we can be doctors and lawyers, too--is always a good thing, even if they images aren't entirely realistic (and since when is television entirely realistic anyway?).

It was nice to see that Nordette's article was largely in agreement with that viewpoint.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )


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