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November 7th, 2009


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01:44 am - Watching V + odd realization about heroic black characters on TV
So, we watched the premier of the new V series tonight. Before I watched it, I saw that teriel mentioned seeing an utterly hilarious and seriously damning review of the premier, and I was mostly watching to see how true it was, and definitely wasn't expecting much.

Not much is what I got. It mostly wasn't as bad as the above review stated, but it wasn't much better, and this bit was (horrifyingly enough) completely accurate:
And then we have the subtext. V is an hour long, completely insane comparison between the Visitors and the Obama Administration, as seen through the eyes of Glenn Beck. In fact there should probably be a subtitle appearing periodically at the bottom of the screen informing the viewer that 'This is what Glenn Beck Actually Believes'. The show spends most of its ending minutes hammering its message through your face with a giant wooden club when the leader of the aliens (naturally a Super-Model) explains to the human reporter that the Visitors are going to open up centers to deal with the sick in every single city across the globe and cure millions of people with cancer and disabilities for free.

Naturally the reporter, thinking about how all those poor insurance companies will lose profits, looks aghast:

"Do you mean it will be like....UNIVERSAL HEALTHCARE?!"

The Diabolical Space Woman looks at him with a sense of emotionless, alien, evil, that can only be found in the heart of a socialist.

"Uh-yeah."
It not horrible, but it's far from good, we'll likely watch the next episode simply because premiers can often be considerably worse than the rest of a series, but if the political commentary continues, that's it for us. Once again, it's clear that anyone who thinks mass media has a liberal bias is delusional, TV is often disturbingly centrist, at least given where the center of US opinion currently is.

In any case, Becca and I did notice one interesting thing while watching it. Becca wondered if the actor who played Ryan Nichols (Morris Chesnut) was the same actor who had played Principle Wood on the last Season of Buffy. It turns out that Principle Wood was played by D.B. Woodside. However, it's also clear why Becca wondered this. We did some looking and turned up this photo of Morris Chesnut on his IMDB page. Compare it to this photo of D.B. Woodside on his IMDB page. Now compare these two photos to this photo of Richard T. Jones on his IMDB page (Jones played Agent James Ellison on Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles). Part of the similarity is clearly the rigid but unspoken rule of the last 15 years that all actors playing non-old heroic adult male characters must be pretty darn buff. However, it's also clear that heroic black men on TV must have shaven heads and goatees. I don't know if black men's hair is considered threatening or what, but it's pretty darn odd when you think about it. Then again, for the last 15-20 years, all TV characters (at least in the various geeky shows that make up essentially all TV I watch that isn't science or cooking shows) contain characters who fit into one of a few very narrow physical types, and attractive buff black man with shaved head and goatee very clearly one such type.

(17 comments | Leave a comment)

Comments:


[User Picture]
From:mindstalk
Date:November 7th, 2009 10:12 am (UTC)
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Semi-counterpoint: Gunn on Angel, who was shaven but free of facial hair.

Possible support: Captain Sisko of DS9, who was shaven, but by pictures switched between goatee and not.

Counter: Doctor Stephen Franklin of Babylon-5, with hair and no facial hair. Rebuttal: as a doctor with not many storylines, possibly not "heroic". Though he did fight to save lives.

Mickey of Doctor Who -- Rose's boyfriend -- had hair and no facial hair, but sidekick of a sidekick might not be heroic. And it's British TV. Ridiculously kickass hacker, though.

But it's an interesting observation, and disturbingly similar photos.

Counter: Shepherd Book of Firefly, thick hair and mustache but not really a goatee. Heroic?
[User Picture]
From:heron61
Date:November 7th, 2009 10:26 am (UTC)
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Mickey was on British TV, and actors in the UK get to look like a wide range of ordinary humans and not a small range of highly specific types, and Book was old, which clearly put him in a separate category. The other points are well made, but both DS9 & B5 ended a decade ago. Perhaps the change is more recent.
[User Picture]
From:mindstalk
Date:November 7th, 2009 10:31 am (UTC)
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Still leaves Gunn, who'd be contemporaneous with Principal Wood, and a bigger role. Of course he had the young hothead role, especially at first, not a mature man like Wood -- I don't know your other example characters. Sisko seems to have grown his goatee later in DS9.

The Operative and Jubal Early in Serenity/Firefly had head hair and no facial, but they were the antagonists. Yes, I'm racking my head for black characters...

Oh! Teal'c, Stargate. Always clean-shaven, usually bald head though not always.
Voyager's Tuvok had head no facial. Did Enterprise have blacks? Looks like yes at some point, head no facial.

Edited at 2009-11-07 10:36 am (UTC)
[User Picture]
From:kitten_goddess
Date:November 7th, 2009 01:40 pm (UTC)
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Glenn Beck! Blech! I'll have to deal with that nauseating mental image while eating my cereal this morning.
[User Picture]
From:winterbeast
Date:November 7th, 2009 02:22 pm (UTC)
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I am disgusted to see the Repukes use science fiction to sell their lies. During the years of the bush crime family, Science was a bad thing. you might even say Science and Republicans don't mix. If I was a neilson family, I would remind them of Irwin Allen, and make V into a remake of
"Voyage to the bottom of the tv ratings". It's just as well that I am not a TV rater. nothing would get past me. there's nothing good on the tube.
better to read a book.
[User Picture]
From:cusm
Date:November 7th, 2009 04:13 pm (UTC)
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Wesley Snipes and Will Smith manage to be wildly successful with relatively "normal" haircuts for black men.

But yea, the shaven look is wildly popular. It is the Bull Negro look. That it is also hot and easily accessibly does explain much as well for its constant use on TV, which traditionally lacks in imagination and goes for the easy play. Its easier to make the character a cartoon than a person. Soon Bull Negro will face off with his arch nemesis: Dread Head Negro. Hot Negress With Long Unkinked Hair Like White Men Like swoons for the action.

I liked in this case that the black action star was not only a shaven cartoon, and a bad ass, but also an alien. Shades of Stargate here.

I was pretty amused also that the new V plot is also the reptoid conspiracy. I mean, it sort of always was that, except that now they are more blatant about them having infiltrated us for years and been our secret masters first.

So there you have it. Obama is a reptoid socialist nazi with atlantian mind control timecube milk. Soon stem cell healing centers will open in every major city. And then the harvesting of our children will begin.

This truly requires viewing of a couple more episodes. I get sci-fy and rage at the same time. Its like professional wrestling.
[User Picture]
From:heron61
Date:November 8th, 2009 03:40 am (UTC)
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Pretty much :)
[User Picture]
From:kadath
Date:November 7th, 2009 05:25 pm (UTC)
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The leather-pants guy from that Hercules in space show had dreadlocks. (Sorry, I can't remember either the character's or the show's name.)

Geordi had unremarkable hair.

Yeah, I don't watch much TV anymore. I think Law & Order finally got A Black Guy, but I couldn't tell you what his hairstyle is. ETA: I checked Wikipedia! From 99-08, the junior (then senior) detective was Ed Green, played by Jesse L. Martin. The new junior detective is Kevin Bernard, played by Anthony Anderson. Both have closely-cropped, "professional" hairstyles.

ETA2: The first ADA was black, too. Robinette. He also had the standard "professional" hairstyle for black men at the time.

And then there's Lt. Van Buren. She's a bit outside the scope of the discussion, being a she, but her hairstyle has changed a lot over the seasons she's been on the show. It was a straightened style for years, and she's switched to a natural one in the last few seasons.

I forgot how much I used to like that show.

Edited at 2009-11-07 05:36 pm (UTC)
[User Picture]
From:cusm
Date:November 7th, 2009 06:16 pm (UTC)
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Law and Order got Ice-T.
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From:kadath
Date:November 7th, 2009 06:17 pm (UTC)
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Isn't he on a spin-off? The L&O spin-offs are crap.
[User Picture]
From:cusm
Date:November 7th, 2009 09:48 pm (UTC)
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One of them. I forget which one, SVU maybe? I haven't really kept track. I think Ice-Cube is on one of them too, or maybe one of the CSIs. Those I just try to avoid.
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From:heron61
Date:November 8th, 2009 03:43 am (UTC)
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The original CSI had a number of good things about, good things that all faded away several years ago, to be replaced with bad soap opera and impressively ludicrous forensics that make the first few season's ludicrous forensics look like a forensics training manual. The spin-off CSIs have (from my brief glances) always sucked.
[User Picture]
From:heron61
Date:November 7th, 2009 08:59 pm (UTC)
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It's now looking to me like this image is mostly from the last decade, since there are indeed lots of shows from the 90s with black male protagonists with different looks. However, while not universal, it's definitely become very common since 2000 or so.
[User Picture]
From:rhiannasilel
Date:November 7th, 2009 06:48 pm (UTC)
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We plan on checking out the new V series tonight. I'm not really expecting much from it, to be quite honest. It's funny how the networks that you think may have more liberal views end up coming up with neo-conservative centrist nonsense in their programming and the ones that you think would be more conservative actually occasionally come up with much more liberal statements and agendas. I've been very surprised at Sons of Anarchy on FX, for example. There have been multiple episodes where characters have to go to the hospital only to be transferred to another hospital miles away because they have an HMO or because their insurance has lapsed. In the most recent episode one of the characters does not have health insurance so they are going to have to transfer him over an hour away to a public hospital. He's afraid to go there because it's far away from the protection of the motorcycle club and it leaves him vulnerable and unprotected from the club's many enemies. It's the producers sort of round about way on commenting that there actually is a healthcare crisis. Of all the shows, though, you wouldn't think that this one would actually contain pro-healthcare reform commentary, but it does. I suppose that's one reason I continue to watch the show.
[User Picture]
From:frater_treinta
Date:November 7th, 2009 08:44 pm (UTC)
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I blame Avery Brooks.
From:(Anonymous)
Date:November 8th, 2009 11:50 pm (UTC)
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/bemusedoutsider here/

As for V having subtext on current events (healthcare, Obama's campaign style) -- didn't these themes occur in the older series, pre-dating 2008?

If so, then we could ask who was imitating who. Axelrod used campaign themes (and some speeches?) similar to Obama's in electing Duval Patrick as governor.

I've heard that Axelrod was involved in some old West Wing episodes about an unknown candidate similar to Obama.
[User Picture]
From:heron61
Date:November 9th, 2009 04:46 am (UTC)
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As for V having subtext on current events (healthcare, Obama's campaign style) -- didn't these themes occur in the older series, pre-dating 2008?

Not particularly, the older V was primarily based on the rise of Nazi-ism, and lacked any sort of focus on providing universal healthcare or suchlike.

If so, then we could ask who was imitating who.

I can see few ways of reading this as anything other than that you are a reactionary troll, am I incorrect?

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