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View Diary: Is Tyreese "Made to Suffer"? In The Walking Dead TV Show There Can Be Only One Black Male Character (342 comments)

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  •  Non-white men are the series' "redshirts." (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lirtydies, Prof Haley, tle, SuWho

    That's the way I take the comment.  I think the producers have really tried to shy away from racial issues, other than throwing in some stereotypes, and I don't think you can separate out the regional issue from the racial ones, and the producer's don't want to turn off their audience.  I haven't really looked at the numbers for the ratings, where the show is popular and with what age/ethnic groups, but for most of my life this is the kind of show one would assume would have a core viewership consisting primarily of young, white males, as most adventure/horror shows are supported by that segment (and I speak as one of those who grew up as part of that segment).  I don't think the producers want to push either of those buttons too hard, for fear of losing the core of their audience; hence, the tokenism, and use of the minorities primarily as redshirts, Glen being the exception -- which again, plays into the racial stereotype, if you will, of the brainy Asian being more acceptable, and less threatening than the brawny black or latino man.  I mean, if you're going to talk about the lack of racial diversity, where are the latinos in the series?  The only episode that I can recall with other latinos was in the first season, when Glenn was captured by some latino gang members; and then the more recent episode has the latino who betrays Rick and shoves a walker at him, whereupon Rick kills him and nearly kills all of the prisoners.  Other than that, latinos have been largely invisible, in much the same way that they are politically in much of the South.  

    That's why I say you can't separate out the regional issue from the racial; look at the last campaign, where the Republican party virtually ignored the existence of latinos, and the South in general was just fine with that.  How many points did Romney win Georgia by?  

    Look, almost the entire second season was spent by the entire cast on Hershel's farm, a rural paradise set apart by the patriarch's religious devotion to god and family, who takes Rick under his wing as the kind of man who can succeed him in his little kingdom.  

    Now, there are any number of reasons for setting the series there, not the least of which could easily be budget constraints; people standing around on a farm doesn't involve the kind of big-budget sets/effects that the show had in its' first season, with shows in a devastated Atlanta.  And of course, it's a standard trope in the zombie genre that cities are over-run, and safety lies in getting out of the city and someplace more defensible.  

    My point there is, it's almost inevitable, if you start setting things in rural america, you're going to have to deal with the rural/urban split, and the values of the ruralites are going to have to be an important theme, whether they ultimately prevail or are overrun.  But if you are constrained by budget limitations to keep the setting rural, and you've chosen Georgia as the region of the country where your setting is going to be, and yet you still want to keep your target audience as young(er) white males, there's every incentive to play the racial issues down, which is easily accomplished by including the obvious, over-the-top redneck racist Merle as a significant character.  Rick and the rest of the white people come off as eminently reasonable, decent human beings when contrasted with that stereotype.  Thus, the producers can safely play with race, a little bit, without really confronting it head on, and keep the series primarily as an extended  monster movie rather than a serious drama about big issues.  

    We are the first to look up and know, with absolute certainty, that the sword we ourselves have forged, is real.

    by Jbearlaw on Mon Dec 03, 2012 at 02:37:00 PM PST

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    •  Even if the writers (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Aspe4, Jbearlaw, SuWho, Prof Haley, Ice Blue

      don't want to focus on race, they can at least give the Black characters a personality and some dialogue.  You know, show them as people, not disposable tokens.

      And Chiconne has been a huge disappointment. They have her acting more like a zombie than a living person.

      ~*-:¦:-jennybravo-:¦:-*~

      by jennybravo on Mon Dec 03, 2012 at 08:18:53 PM PST

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      •  It's AMC. Not going to happen. Does no one remembe (0+ / 0-)

        what AMC used to show before they went into original programming? Here's a hint: yeeee-haw!. Here's another: Make my day. And one more: what's the trouble, pilgrim?

        No one should be surprised that the TWD is simmering with subtle racism.

        If I knew it was going to be that kind of party, I'd have stuck my ---- in the mashed potatoes! - Paul's Boutique

        by DoctorWho on Tue Dec 04, 2012 at 02:36:01 PM PST

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    •  the Governor was hispanic in the books/comic and (7+ / 0-)

      was obviously cast differently. i don't now if it a business decision per se, but the writers are part of a social and cultural machine that privileges Whiteness. The rest of us are just along for the ride. In the TV series, they also left out the gay characters in the prison too.

      the show is saying lots about race in some very conservative ways--remember the only time racial difference was overtly engaged was when T-Dog talked about racism and how he was black and was expendable. Irony huh? That is part of a Hollywood trope where people of color introduce the obvious question of race and racism just to have it rejected by the white characters as unimportant.

      •  Having the only Hispanic character in the show (5+ / 0-)

        be a power mad sadistic sociopath probably seemed like a bad idea to the producers.

        Of course, there is another really obvious option...

        "the Agency continues to verify the non-diversion of declared material at these facilities and LOFs."

        by JesseCW on Tue Dec 04, 2012 at 01:47:23 AM PST

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      •  Had they Made the Governor Latino (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Jbearlaw, jds1978, fidel

        on the TV show, I guarantee that the writers would have never made Andrea enter a sexual relationship with him.

        "The problem with posting quotes off the Internet is you never know if they're genuine."--Gen. George Washington at the Battle of Gettysburg, February 30, 1908

        by Aspe4 on Tue Dec 04, 2012 at 06:40:11 AM PST

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      •  Couldn't agree more. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        SuWho, Nulwee
        the show is saying lots about race in some very conservative ways--remember the only time racial difference was overtly engaged was when T-Dog talked about racism and how he was black and was expendable. Irony huh? That is part of a Hollywood trope where people of color introduce the obvious question of race and racism just to have it rejected by the white characters as unimportant.
        Never having been to Georgia, I can't really say how I would expect rural, white Georgians would respond to a zombie apocalypse; but from everything that I know about Georgia, and indeed the conservative South as a whole, there is, and has been for a very long time, an unwillingness on the part of the rural whites to acknowledge even the existence of racism in their neck of the woods, thereby making the trope a truism, reflective of the setting of the series.  

        We are the first to look up and know, with absolute certainty, that the sword we ourselves have forged, is real.

        by Jbearlaw on Tue Dec 04, 2012 at 08:28:50 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Oh, they admit it exists. (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          fidel, Nulwee, ScottinSF

          They just externalize it all to Merle.

          It's not the Cop or the Lawyer, who maintain the system.  It's not the kindly old farmer veterinarian.

          It's the evil cracker white trash who doesn't know his place.  That's all the racism, right there, down in the trailer park.  

          The guy with no economic or social power is the judas goat they rub all their sins onto in the very beginning before driving him out of the village...

          As opposed to the obedient "back-woodsman" who does what he's told and obeys the power structure (even if he's a little rough around the edges).

          There's nothing systemic, nothing institutional, just stupid rednecks they hate too.

          "the Agency continues to verify the non-diversion of declared material at these facilities and LOFs."

          by JesseCW on Tue Dec 04, 2012 at 10:55:16 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

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