From Television

School of white-supremacy magic

It must be said, in the current political climate, that I don’t use “white supremacy” on this blog to mean explicit racism as espoused by the white nationalists who’ve rechristened themselves the alt-right. I use it in the accepted academic sense of

a historically based, institutionally perpetuated system of exploitation and oppression of continents, nations and peoples of color by white peoples and nations of the European continent; for the purpose of maintaining and defending a system of wealth, power and privilege

(Sharon Martinas). This is also the definition we use in the Race and Fiction-Writing group. Anyway, I watched a few episodes of “The Magicians,” which is okay. It’s about a school for magic, and speaking of school, I am forced to conclude that there is some sort of Hollywood class which most TV creators have to take called How Not To Be Racist On TV (While Still Being Racist). Once you pass this course, you are qualified to put out into the world all sorts of interesting, entertaining and even intelligent TV shows that are super-racist. Here are the three tentpoles of the course. Read more

“The Leftovers,” part deux

After fulminating against the failure of “The Leftovers” to represent 38.6% of the population of Texas, I watched the second half of Season 2 last night. I remain impressed by the ease with which this show passes both the Shukla and Bechdel Tests. There are many scenes in which people of color, especially the Murphy family, talk to each other without mentioning their race (the former), and a lengthy, wonderful two-hander between Nora and Erika in which they are definitely not talking about a man (the latter). But Damon Lindelof and his crack crew of writers still need to step up their game. Read more

Rewatching “The Wire”

If you follow my Twitter, you may know I’m getting #divorced. So far it’s going pretty well. Not to say I haven’t had some major feels, and more feel things will probably come my way, but overall, I can’t complain. Not when my alimony is being paid in pulps.

One of the things I decided to do for myself this post-divoss winter was re-watch every episode of “The Wire.” I couldn’t remember when I saw it originally, so I searched my Gmail, which is keeping my history for me (here’s a disturbing quote on that subject from the greatest zombie book ever). Apparently I first watched the show in the spring and summer of 2010. So it’s been over four years, and in that time I’ve rewatched Season One once. I finished S1 for the third time last week and yesterday moved on to Season Two. It was Ta-Nehisi Coates’s spirited Twitter defense of S2 that made me want to do the whole thing all over again, but I still find this season less compelling, and for the same reason I did originally: because it’s less Black. Read more

Diversion and deflection

Sometimes it’s hard not to think of racism as this covert agency that operates with malign intent and awesome effectiveness, like the bad guys in “Homeland” (check out this corrective to that addictive but repellent show). I guess you could call that agency America. But the concept of intent is a troubling one for me. I’ve said repeatedly on this blog and elsewhere that I am racist. I usually come at it in quick asides, because I’m so afraid of being taken out of context, but it’s very clear to me from the amount of racist cross-talk in my head on a daily basis, as well as the actions I commit. A terrible story from college: A white friend of mine was mentoring a black boy who was about ten or eleven years old. I came upon the two of them at a table, and when I sat down and greeted my friend, I said to the child, “Don’t steal my purse.” Okay, this was twenty-odd years ago, but I believe that kind of deep-rooted, instinctive bigotry doesn’t go away—I can only work to counteract it. Read more

The Cylon treatment

We finished the short, unhappy run of “Caprica” last week, and my opinion is that the series would have been a whole lot better if Daniel, knowing his daughter’s spirit is trapped inside the robot he invented, had accused her of giving him the subject line instead of what he really said, which was “silent treatment.” Read more