Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Henry Louis Gates Jr. voices how dissatisfied he is with the depictions of blacks on television during the mid to late 80's in a piece titled "TV's Black World Turns--But Stays Still".  Gates states that as the decades since to first significant broadcast associated with blacks, The Amos and Andy Show, the depictions of blacks had changed for the better but they still were still unrealistic of what it truly meant to be black in America in the mid 80's.
Originally blacks were often depicted as comical caricatures, often raised in a single family maternal households and unable to rise above their current status quo due to their own laziness. Gates believes that this depiction slowly changed over the decades, throught the efforts of groups such as the NAACP and government intervention ie. the Lyndon administration. This ultimately culminated in shows such as The Cosby Show and Family Matters. 
Gates felt that while it was a good thing to have a positive image of a middle class black  family on television,it almost became a chic thing to do because of the enormous popularity of such shows. In a way these shows  by the very idealized way that the were broadcasted resulted in the same form of caricatureship that had plagued earlier depictions of blacks. Gates did not believe the idealized nature of what was being showed really encompassed what he felt was the black totality of what it meant to be black in America, with the challenges that a large portion of the population faced.
Gates wanted black people to stop looking to shows like The Cosby shows as a means to social change, as a means for acceptance of the black family into mainstream America. He felt that were deep underlying problems with the formula, and that blacks should look to themselves to create the social acceptance that they wanted and not to how they were depicted on tv to do that for them.


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