Thursday, June 19, 2008

Why Is TV So White?

Here's an interesting article I ran into a few days ago:

Diversity in Entertainment: Why Is TV So White?

I think this does a good job of showing why it's not necessarily as easy as saying "TV should be more diverse" (although it should be). It's storytelling, so the actors have to fit the roles. And if you want the roles to represent cultural diversity, you need writers, directors, and producers who can make a good show where those cultural nuances are believable and not stereotypical--and get the show pitched, sold, made, and put on a time when more than seven people will see it. And where are you going to find the minority power players to make that happen if you don't have so much as a minority intern you can train up in the craft?

This reminds me, actually, of the age-old question at my old employ, "Why is this Christian publishing house so white?" Short answer: Because Dutch people are white. (Ha ha.) Longer answer: Because people who apply for Christian publishing jobs mostly come from local Christian colleges (or other Christian companies), and people at local Christian colleges are mostly white, because people who apply for local Christian colleges are mostly white and often from private Christian high schools, which are--you guessed it--mostly white. (And this, my friends, is reason #273 why I think public education is the great democratizer which Christians should overwhelmingly take part in. But I digress.) So it's not so much racial prejudice but racial separation that keeps an industry (or a niche of an industry, or a subculture) looking virtually the same even as the rest of the world around it changes.

That's my thesis for tonight, anyway.

What TV shows do you like that represent a different cultural group or mix (than the typical white bread sitcom) or that have a diverse cast? Y'all start and I'll chime in.


Jenny said...

The Unit. I'm a Unit junkie anyway, but one of the reasons I started loving it was the mix up of the military guys out saving the world every week. 2 AA, (1 is the in charge dude!) 1 Hispanic, and a couple white guys. One character was killed off at the end of last season (poor dead Hector! But hey, military show, people die.) and he was AA. I'm waiting to see if they replace him with another AA actor or not.

Since they go all over the world, there is a fair amount of diversity on the show. There's also plenty of white dudes too, though.

Tiki R said...

Not to sound cheesy but "Dancing with the Stars" is a very diverse show. The professionals are from all over the world and the Stars are always a great mix of young, middle-age, older, black, white, hispanic, asian, you name it. I think that they do a really good job.

And actually, "Grey's Anatomy" had 3 black main characters on the show, including the Chief of Staff, Head Thoracic Surgeon and Chief of Interns, before one got booted. Plus, add in the non-straight characters and an Asian, and I'd say that they are doing pretty a good job as well.

And not to cause any problems, but according to the US Census Bureau's 2006 estimates, 80% of the US population is WHITE.I think most of the programming reflects that.
Just my 2 penny's.


Amy said...

I'm a fan of Heroes. Diverse powers, diverse cast. And, lots of animated shows now are deliberately diverse (Clifford, Code Name: Kids Next Door, Maya & Miguel, etc).