Fandom. Friend or Foe?

Reality can be hard, really hard.  Being the kid who’s a little too different, trying to survive middle school, figuring out your identity in high school, becoming an adult, the pressure of full-on adulting.  So it’s no surprise that many embrace different levels of fandom throughout their lives.  But why do some comics, film franchises, and television series draw such a cult following?  Relatability.  The reality is that none of us are going to be a Jedi Master, get superhuman strength or indestructibility, get spidey powers from a bite, or “boldly go where no man has gone before!”  However, when we see a character that we can relate to, for whatever reason, overcome, be the hero, be treated fairly, etc. we are drawn to that character and their story.  These stories can become a safe escape from the hard realities of life.  And when we find refuge or positive identity in stories it’s easy to understand why people would want to surround themselves with merchandise that is representative of that connection.  Let’s look at a few of the more recent programs that have developed cult followings.

On July 15, 2016, Netflix introduced us to Stranger Things.  Presumably aimed at modern adults in their late 30’s through mid 50’s, Stranger Things follows four geeky middle school boys beginning in 1983 as one disappears, a strange silent girl appears, and the search for answers begins.  For those of us who grew up in the 80’s Stranger Things not only took us back to our childhoods and simpler times but also gave us a childhood mystery to solve, an adventure to live out.  Incorporating characters representative of different ages and social statuses the writers ensure a wide audience appeal without compromising the integrity of the storyline.  What really brings it all together is their integration of these characters into the main plot.  By staying focused, while still showing multiple assets viewers are invited to identify with Stranger Things in the way that is most comfortable for them.

Then we have the different Marvel series that Netflix has brought to the small screen.  DaredevilJessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, The Defenders, and Punisher are all part the Defenders group of characters with all of the stories centering around NYC.  With multiple plot lines and a variety of stylistic perspectives each series can be viewed alone or as a part of the whole.  Unlike Stranger Things which holds true to the 1980’s stereotypes of gender, and largely of race, the different Marvel series break away, in part from previous MCU stereotypes.  This departure has led to criticism of some of the shows, in particular, Jessica Jones and Luke Cage neither of which has a white male in the hero role and send the clear message that one isn’t needed for the lead characters to perform at their heroic best.  For many, these are selling points allowing women and people of color to have heroes that are a better representation of themselves and thus increasing the MCU fandom base.

But what does this fandom do?  Is it good?  Is it bad?  Or can it be both?  The answers to these questions are as numerous as the fans themselves.  You might have heard it said that you can never have too much of a good thing, but I would disagree.  For fans of Black Mirror show writer Charlie Brooker shows us the dangers of fandom in season 4 opener “USS Callister”.  While it’s extremely unlikely that anyone is going to use our DNA to recreate and place us into a version of their favorite show or film franchise it does bring up the question of where the line lays between reality and fiction.  In her article “Here’s Why Stranger Things Star Finn Wolfhard Was Forced to Speak Out Against Inappropriate Fans” Dee Lockett highlights the disturbing lengths to which some fans will go to engage with the actors who play their favorite characters.  For some, their fandom becomes so all-consuming that it’s no longer entertainment or a temporary escape from reality but rather a way of existing.  While this can become dangerous for the celebrities that they only see as the characters they’re obsessed with, I would suggest that this toxic fandom is even more dangerous for the fans themselves.  This type of singular focus can lead people to detach from existing social circles, family, and eventually reality.  However, these are extreme classes and not what I would consider typical fandom.  For most, their fandom won’t reach beyond seeing their favorite franchise movies on opening night, watching the premiere of a new season with friends, collecting some memorabilia, and possibly attending Comi-Con.  In short, fandom is generally a hobby like any other.  In many cases, fandom is a topic around which friendships and social circles form.  Just like most things in life fandom is great…in moderation.

Fandom

Stranger Things, Black Mirror, and Iron Fist might attract fans through their fantasy and interesting characters.  In Stranger Things, I think a lot of people became fans because of the empathy they feel towards the young characters and begin to relate to one or more of them.  In Black Mirror, the show has a different story every episode but presents deep and philosophical ideas about the world, which could be addicting and enjoyable if one is partial to this kind of entertainment.  Iron Fist features a superhero who struggled to get his share of his parents business back and is now an extremely wealthy person with powers.  I think that in shows like Iron Fist and Stranger Things, fans like to live vicariously through the characters as an escape from their own personal realities. Who wouldn’t want to be someone who has a lot of money and can fight off gangs of ninja-like people and have powers?

Hardcore fans of Iron Fist might show their enthusiasm for the show by taking up kung fu classes, or fans of Stranger Things might decorate their house like it was from the ’80s. In general, I don’t have a positive view of fandom as I think it could start to control a person’s life.  Personally, I haven’t ever gone beyond the text with any show or became a hardcore fan, so I haven’t had the same sense of community that other fans have.  Another aspect of fandom that I think is very negative is the sense of entitlement fans develope, like when they expect actors to give attention to fans or engage in romantic relationships offset, as discussed in Dee Locket’s article, Here’s Why Stranger Things Star Finn Wolfhard Was Forced to Speak Out Against Inappropriate Fans.  

I think that Black Mirror’s, USS Callister, did a good job of presenting toxic fandom, where a fan feels that he or she has some kind of control over what happens outside of the script.  The USS Callister episode features a man who goes by the name of Daly, obsessed with his favorite show Star Fleet, so much so that he has created a game to play where he is the captain of the ship and the hero when they achieve anything.  At first, it seemed quite innocent, but as the episode goes on, the audience discovers that he has essentially stolen DNA of his coworkers to create slaves inside the game.  Daly exerts so much control and is very evil in his actions towards his “crew” that one of the characters refers to him as an “asshole god.” I think this analogy can be compared to how hardcore fans feed into their obsessions, as they would like to be the controller of the worlds and stories they enjoy.

I do enjoy the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but I can’t say I would commit significant time, energy, or money into it.  I really enjoyed the Marvel movies, but I didn’t like watching Iron Fist as much, but because it was so strung out and didn’t have as much action as I would have liked to see, as compared to the Marvel movies, such as The Avengers.

 

Crime in Television

After watching multiple television series and shows that are surrounded around action, drama and some scary things, it was clear to me why many are addicted to these shows. A cult following group is typically fans that are very interested and committed to watching the shows and very invested in it. The high dedication and time commitment seems like it comes from the cliffhangers that most of these shows use. I know in Black Mirror episode “USS Callister”, is very different than the other episodes previously aired in this series. While Mary, a young girl makes herself the hero of the story essentially. She wins the respect and affection of the men and masters the combat by the experience she gained. I think that this specific show is very much a cult following shows because of the storyline it presents. With each show being something completely different, it allows the audience to be left guessing what will happen next. These types of shows appeal to the pathos of the audience, making them invested in it and often times feeling like they know the characters on a personal level. With that being said, fans often times go “beyond the text” to connect with the show on a more deep level. Personally, I know that I follow a lot of the actors from this show on Instagram. This allows me and many others to feel that connection with the actor ad character because you are able to get a look on the inside of their lives. In return, when watching the show it allows you to feel like you know that person and you feel a personal connection with them often times.

 

Circling back to the “USS Callister” of the Black Mirror, it is communicating the issue of “toxic fandom” through the theme of Star Trek. Through the clones that have to live in the world of mirrors and ending on redemptive noteworthy. Because of the dark depths of the message it relates back to the toxic fandom. Because of the villain instead of the hero storyline makes the climax of the show shuffle around. Toxic fandom related to toxic masculinity in this show because of the way the male-female interactions are a competition instead of cooperation. Especially in this show and the Punisher, it seems as if the expectation and often times the reality is that men are stronger and more superior than women. In the Black Mirror, it seems as if it is hard for the men to understand how the girls work in this episode. This is a big sign of toxic masculinity related to toxic fandom.

 

Personally, I am not a huge television watcher and this class has been hard for me only because I do not like to sit still for a while or inside for an extended amount of time. The Marvel Cinematic University television series about the superhero-based appearance is an interesting series to watch. However, the series produced by them, The Punisher was very interesting to me. As the plot was very interesting, trying to figure out murder and crime with a lot of mixed in drama it made for a good show. After watching the first four episodes for our filled with heroism, perseverance, and drama it was something that I could see myself watching. Although I can not sit still for long, I am able to watch this because of the quick pace, and the interesting plot makes for a great show.

Race and Netflix

There are a few shows on Netflix that feature people of non-white ethnicities.  In Luke Cage, Dear White People, and On My Block, racial identity and multiculturalism are definite themes presented in the shows.  In these shows, racial identity is paramount. In Dear White People, the main character, Sam, is shown discussing the struggles black people face on her predominantly white college campus.  Being mixed raced, she touches on how asking the question, “What are you?” is not only annoying, but also perpetuates putting people into categories of race instead of viewing individuals as human beings.  Another interesting in part in the first episode of Dear White People, is when Sam’s black friends find out that she is hooking up with a white man.  This upsets them, as they feel that Sam is being hypocritical and not living up to her “black power” ideals by doing this.  While watching the episode, I wasn’t sure how Sam’s white boyfriend was going to tie into the plot as a positive or negative character.  I thought the point of his character was to show that interracial relationships are normal or that Sam doesn’t hate white people.  However, it seems that his character is to challenge Sam’s thinking about how to include white people in her group.  Since I only watched the first episode of Dear White People, I don’t know how Sam’s boyfriend will contribute to the themes, but I think that Netflix could have done a better job of focusing on the racism that Sam and her peers experience, instead of throwing in a white person to undermine that focus.

In the three shows mentioned, I think that racial stereotypes were perpetuated and challenged.  I think Netflix did a good job of acknowledging the stereotypes, but also used the characters to challenge them, or at least give some context for empathy.  For example, in On My Block, one of the hispanic characters, Cesar, is shown being affiliated with a gang, but his character shows that he is less than happy about it and seems to be in the gang to protect his love interest, Monse, from another gang member.  Cesar tells Monse about how deep gang culture is ingrained in his family and that he feels stuck in it.

In Luke Cage, the Luke’s character is shown as a good-guy, super hero amidst a lot of bad guys who are black and portrayed as thugs.  I think that in Luke Cage, the thug stereotype is perpetuated and perhaps they could have used other ethnicities as bad guys, but I think that it was a safe move on Netflix’s part to not show white people as the bad guys.  This would likely have ended in even more pushback from white Netflix viewers than the show already has received. In Lang’s article, “Luke Cage and the Racial Empathy Gap: ‘Why Do They Talk about Being Black All the Time?,’” he talks about the racial empathy gap and how responses from white people to shows like Luke Cage essentially proves the point that there is still a huge amount of racism among white people. I think that shows like Luke Cage will not change the mindset of bigoted viewers, but will only provide exposure to people who are less stuck in a racist worldview.  Hopefully these shows will positively portray ethnic communities and influence a better attitude and more empathy towards these groups.

I thought the most compelling character in these three shows was Sam from Dear White People.  She had a big personality and made her struggles blatantly obvious to the audience. I was not able to relate to her struggles, being a white female.  I felt I could relate to her boyfriend though.  I have found myself in situations where people of other ethnicities have made me feel like I don’t belong or like I don’t have any place to want to care about their struggles.

 

Netflix – Tackling Racial Issues

Netflix has is the one of the biggest influencers of TV in the modern day and they have begun trailblazing into different styles, different genres, and different ways we view Television. In the series Luke Cage, Dear White People, and On The Block, there are countless multicultural styles that give each show its own racial identity to appeal to their audiences. Each show hits its own different demographic of racial issues. Dear White People is showing the racism in modern day universities, Luke Cage is showing the poverty and racism in Harlem, and On The Block seems to be located in Southern California where gang violence is prevalent.

 

When watching Dear White People, we are immediately indulged into the truth behind racism in Ivy League universities in the United States. Even larger than that, the racism we see in the university is something that is seen all across the nation. Netflix had some “big rocks” to create a show on this but it was a powerful topic, and good choice. Currently our nation is divided quite drastically by a number of outliers, and Dear White People was brave enough to take the issues head on. In the show, we are given a glimpse of what its like to lead an African American student run organization. Within these organizations, we seem predominantly African American students who have a hatred towards the generic White population when they try to downplay the current state of racism in the United States. As far as the characters in the show, they do a good job portraying them but as a white middle class student, I cannot relate to them specifically because I have not felt the racism they have. I can see through Gabes eyes as he wants to help the situation, but even though he is trying, there is not much he can do to help.

 

In Luke Cage, the show is placed in Harlem, which is a historically African American community. When looking at the selected actors in the show, they chose everyone in the set by hand. Being in Harlem, the majority of the characters in the show were minorities. The landlord for his apartment and the owner of the restaurant were Chinese. The surrounding cast seems to be a mixture of Mexican and African American. This is different from most shows we see present day. We do not see this kind of casting for shows, especially in the genre of superheroes. Most superhero stories, the superhero is a white male or female who is ridding a city of crime. This is different for so many reasons. Luke Cage is a very strong character who is extremely likable to the audience. He is very witty and hard working and he doesn’t like people disrespecting others as we saw in the fight scene in the Chinese restaurant. He is a poor man who is escaping his past by working as a janitor and kitchen staff jobs to stay under the radar. If you look at any other superhero movie in the past quarter century, this is far from anything you would have seen. This is what Netflix does best though, taking something you would like to see that is outside of the comfort level of most studios, and make a powerful show from the idea.

 

Lastly, On The Block, which is set in what seems to be southern California. It demonstrates the lives of a group of high school kids and the troubles they face in the gang infested neighborhoods. Netflix takes the lives of children which tends to be full of life and happiness, and incorporates the troubles that infest these lower class, minority, neighborhoods. There is a group of 4 kids, each of them from their own minority background, trying to figure their way through high school. One of the four has a long line of gang members in his family and was just pressured into joining the gang. Alongside the racial issues, they have to battle the difficult task of being a teen just trying to journey through life.

 

In general, I enjoyed watching the three shows. Luke Cage was a magnificent change to the normal super hero movies we watch every year. He is a strong character who I found to be very relatable. He worked hard to make a living and he wants everyone to be respected. In On The Block, I found it nostalgic to see these high school freshman trying to make their way through the beginning of high school and stressing about these smalls issues like looking good on picture day and worrying about rumors in school. Lastly, in Dear White People, even though I couldn’t relate to the show as much as some of the others, it did remind me of the racial issues I see on a university modern day.

Jake

Netflix Brings Culture to the Small Screen

 

“You cannot dream to be anything unless you’ve been told the story that you can do it.  And where do we get our stories from?  We get them from our parents, we get them from friends, we get them from what we read, but we also get them from cultural queues.”   ~Justin Simien

I want to preface this post by saying that I am a 39-year-old white woman living in Wisconsin.  While I grew up in a Black neighborhood in the south and have had Black friends throughout my life I still benefit greatly each day from my white privilege.  It is through this lens that I see the world.  And whiteness is the perspective from which I write this post.

My family and I are major Marvel nerds.  Seriously, we see EVERY Marvel movie at the first showing, on the first night (Thursday, not Friday), and in IMAX.  We have every opening night poster, and most of them are framed.  Back when those first showings weren’t until 10:00 pm or even midnight we would even let our kids go in late or stay home from the next day.  In our home, there are three things that ALWAYS trump school: God, family, and Marvel.  You have to have priorities.  So when Netflix announced that they would be doing original Marvel series we were stoked.  And while I like them all Luke Cage is undoubtedly my favorite.  He reminds me of a couple of friends I had as a teen and has a desire to help those in need.  One of the things I like most is the different portrayal of a Black man, particularly in regards to how Black men are typically portrayed in television and film.  When we see Black men in sitcoms they are generally the success stories from their family who have pulled themselves up by the bootstraps and made it to the promised land, a.k.a. the burbs.  These stories fail to show the value in Black culture and how hard it can be to break out oppression.  Luke Cage shines a light on the difficulty of re-entering society after being in our prison system, but also sends the message that it can be done.  The bond that Luke has with Pop and his regulars is a very realistic portrayal of the types of relationships I’ve seen in Black communities.  This series highlights some of the beautiful aspects of Black communities while refusing to show everything through rose-colored glasses.  It is also well written, directed, acted, and produced.  And it is representative of the primarily Black community that is Harlem, at least the parts that haven’t been gentrified.  In his article “Luke Cage and the Racial Empathy Gap: ‘Why Do They Talk About Being Black All the Time?'” Nico Lang addresses what I choose to refer to as whining from white people.  For one of the first times, Black Americans have what Lang refers to as an “unapologetically black” show.  Since the invention of silent films Black people have been unrepresented, underrepresented, and misrepresented on the large and small screens.  Instead of praising Luke Cage for the engaging entertainment that it is too many white people have spoken out about how offended and uncomfortable they are with the lack of white representation in the show.  I have no patience or empathy for these people or their bigoted points of view, but just for the record, I counted at least 13 white people in the first episode.  The “problem” for the whiny white people is that none of those white people had lines or were obviously placed.  To that I say, it is about time.  White people have been overrepresented in media and it is time for a change.

Luke Cage isn’t the only series on Netflix to feature an underrepresented cultural group in the United States.  In 2017 Netflix also dropped the satirical comedy Dear White People.  To me, this is one of the greatest gifts bestowed on television watchers ever.  Of course, I am a snarky woman with little patience for bigotry and white fragility.  Dear White People addresses real concerns from Black students on college campuses all over the country and also the struggles of trying to balance being loyal to your community while still being yourself.  I know that there are many who find this series to be racist because of its name or because it’s revealed that Sam sent out the invite to the blackface party.  To those people I would say, keep watching.  You find out why she did what she did.  I have also seen people say that things like blackface parties rarely happen.  Well, that isn’t entirely true either.  They have happened too often in the United States over the last few years that I have been watching for them.  And it isn’t just blackface parties.  Racism on U.S. campuses, including Colorado State, is all too common.  People still throw bling parties, others show up to parties in blackface, and on August 19, 2017, a noose was found dangling from the stairs in front of the door to the floor that had a Black resident assistant in Colorado State’s Newsom Hall.  As long as racism is alive and well there is a need for shows like Dear White People that aren’t afraid to speak the truth.  After listening to Justin Simien’s interview on The Business I have no doubt that he would much rather be writing screenplays about the success our country has had through addressing the hard issues of racism.  It is clear that he would like to see people in the U.S. address this issue as Germany addressed anti-semitism after World War II.  But like he said in the interview, we choose not to address the wound that is racism.  And when you ignore a wound it festers and becomes gangrene.

On a somewhat lighter note, this year Netflix introduced viewers to Monse, Ruby, Jamal, and Cesar, four friends entering high school in South Central Los Angeles.  Moments of sobering reality are interspersed in the comedic coming of age story, On My Block.  What some may find surprising is the number of truly good kids and families in the neighborhood in which On My Block is set.  For the most part, homes are well maintained and while they don’t hide the reality of gangs in the area they are hardly the central theme of the neighborhood that they’re often portrayed to be in other shows.  The writers and directors, some of which are from the area being portrayed, have done an excellent job of highlighting the same issues that all teens face along with a few that are unique to that part of L.A.  All in all this is a relatable and enjoyable series that shows a more realistic look of what life in South Central is.

Is media real life?

The series Dear White People is focused around the multiculturalism and racial aspects. Through the television series, you follow a group of individuals who are African American around a college campus and they are faced with multiple racial slurs through their college career. The white students who often throw parties don’t accept them and they won’t allow living their normal culture. These series don’t challenge the traditional representation of ethnic minorities rather they highlight it. As sad as that is to say, I went to a college where white people were not the minorities on the campus. Although everyone was always nice to the people they often times would make comments about African American people coming to a party and in Greek Life, they often stood out. This was never a bad thing, but I think that Dear White people show how unfortunate these types of situations are. They highlight it because of the way they have shown the parties and how they communicate with different races. I think that exposure to these or any other political progressive television shows can change the minds/ worldviews of the bigoted viewers. I think that the media can simply encourage the kind of intercultural understanding that is needed in this diverse times because of how much people look up to media. Relating this to a different subject of Love. I remember watching television as a young kid and even now when I watch love stories and want that. I look up to those shows and hope that a love like that will come into my life, or a love story will happen. Although, I know that this is typically fiction I know that when thinking that I will have higher standards because of how movies work. I think that the same can go for racism; this typically is how younger generations learn nowadays. When they watch these shows, if people are kind and equal to everyone regardless of the skin color or culture, I think that it would make most want to be like this and treat others equally.

Luke Cage has much more of a present story with them on how the man can be very powerful and equal. Because his character is so positive, outgoing and smart like most superhero’s have, it shows how he is able to fight back against crime. His character becomes so passionate and understanding towards the people it takes them a step back, in return to accept his racial ethnicity. This is what I am talking about when I say that shows need to be like this. When people look up to this they will know that is how one is supposed to act.

I personally loved all of these shows, although I did not agree with how some of the characters acted, I think that they did a great job of showing how the real world is. I find that shows that are more realistic and say thinks how they are, are becoming very popular. I know personally, I like to watch these shows because I am able to relate to them and know that I sometimes face these challenges. Sometimes they are more out of the ordinary than what I might know, but I am able to see how to handle them and possibly get some advice from them. The media is so popular nowadays and people look up to it on how to act, it is important to know that they can give good advice.

Netflix and Cultures

Most network television doesn’t show accurate representations of how many different cultures live. Netflix has decided to take on that challenge with a few different shows: Dear White People, On My Block and Luke Cage. Within these shows we can see three environments in which multiculturalism is an occurring issue. Dear White People takes place on a college campus and was the one that I found to be the most relatable. On My Block takes place in a poor neighbourhood in Los Angeles which has always been a problem that society hasn’t seemed to figure out how to fix yet. Luke Cage  takes place in a predominantly black neighbourhood which has also been an occurring problem in America because it seems like we are still segregated.

 

Dear White People was very interesting to me. I’ve never even heard of a black face party until this show and they make it seem like they are a very common occurrence among college campuses. They probably do happen at some universities which I agree is extremely racist and shouldn’t happen, but I don’t think they happen as often as the show would like people to believe. I also thought it was interesting how they made white look in this show. There definitely is a strong presence of white folks in this show, but they portray them as being dumb racists except for the main characters boyfriend. Some colleges are predominately white just like CSU, but I don’t see a lot of racism happening on our campus. The most racist thing that  I can think of that happened here was the incident of the campus police being called on two Native American students during a tour and that was awful, but it made such big news because it is so uncommon here. I also didn’t really like how she was talking about Halloween and trying to tell people what costumes are and aren’t acceptable by saying that for white people only the first 43 presidents are okay to dress up as. I disagree with that statement, but that’s a much different conversation. I think this show reinforces certain stereotypes and challenges others. For example, it challenges the stereotype that black men can be educated, dress nicely, and speak properly with Troy’s character. It also reinforces the stereotype that most black people are against white people right now.

 

On My Block  was my favorite out of all three shows. It was more entertaining to watch. I thought it was insane that when the gunshots started going off at the graduation party they were running away, but having a good time trying to guess what kind of gun it was because they were so familiar with the sound of the shots that were fired. I think this show reinforces stereotypes of these particular neighborhoods. Usually poor neighbourhoods like this one are infested with gangs and can be dangerous. For example, Cesar said that he had smashed Ruby because his brother who had just gotten out of prison was trying to get at her and he wanted to protect her by claiming her. I found cesar to be the most compelling character in this show because he’s such a nice guy when his brother isn’t around, but then acts tough when he is around because he’s scared of him. His brother seems to be top dog of the neighbourhood and whatever he says goes which makes people respect and fear him. I just felt sad that he felt like he had to act a certain way around his brother out of fear of him. The only problem I could really empathize with was with Caesar lying about sleeping with Ruby because in high school rumors spread and people like to say that they have slept with people they haven’t and it can really hurt people.

 

Luke Cage was a decent show. I found it to be a little boring. One thing I did notice is that there weren’t many white people if any. One stereotype that was strongly reinforced within this show is the barber shop. It’s a major stereotype that black men go to barber shops and gossip. Is it true? I don’t know, but it most certainly is portrayed to be true in many different movies and t.v. shows. I kind of hope it’s a true stereotype because everytime I see a scene like this they are always having a good time and if that’s how it is in real life then that’s great! According to Nico Lang the show has gotten a lot of positive reviews, but that it’s getting some backlash for not having any white people in it. I don’t see a problem with this and I’m not too sure why others do. There are lots of shows/ movies that only portray one black person if any at all, so I don’t see a problem with having a show that doesn’t show any white people. It’s also located in a neighbourhood that is stereotypically black in real life, so it would make sense why white people aren’t shown.
Overall the shows were really good and I feel like they are much needed. The media needs more representation of multicultural people and environments. However, I do feel like they take it a little too far like in Dear White People. We need accurate representations of how the world is and not exaggerated ones.

Multiculturalism in TV

The TV series Dear White People is shaped by racial ethnicity and multiculturalism. The show follows a group of black students at a fictional college called University of Winchester. They create their group in response to the racist acts such as a black face party held by the white students. In this show racism and diversity are spelled out much more than Luke Cage or On my Block. As producers create these shows with clear divisions they must know what effect it has on the community and audience. The directors are creating a clear me vs them idea and its only making the problem worse. Although the show was made to inform and shed light on the problem of racial diversity, I believe they aren’t going about it the best way. This particular show some-what challenges traditional stereotypical representations by presenting the African Americans in the show as educated and intelligent where as in the past, blacks were typically portrayed and unintelligent and helpless. It also doesn’t really challenge traditional stereotypes because it’s still presenting the problem of racism as an obstacle that we must overcome. I think the series’ do a fine job of indicating racism but we as an audience have come a very long way since..for example say..Black face parties were really a thing, so I think it effects us a little differently. In regards to having these shows change the mind of a racist or bigot is highly unlikely. People that believe people of different skin color are inferior to them don’t just adopt this theory over night. It comes from family views and ideologies as well as personal experiences. For someone to change their mind, i think something drastic would have to happen, which doesn’t include watching some TV shows where the center is racial diversity. In fact, for the true bigots, I think an argument could be made where the shows are making them even more mad..ingraining their racist beliefs even more.

As far as characters go, I think Sierra was my favorite from On the Block. She would be considered the leader in this group. She is an Afro-latina which makes her unique because minorities are not often the leader of groups. I like her because she is powerful and knows what she wants, while still trying to figure herself out in high school. Although I couldn’t exactly identify with her, I can still see where she is coming from which makes me like her. She had a rough child hood, raised by only her father, making her even stronger than originally thought to be.

Two Fresh Perspectives and a Poor Attempt to do Something About Racism

by Nick Christiansen

I’m a fan of Luke Cage and I think the show is great, but I don’t understand why people are upset about the lack of white characters in the show. The show isn’t about race, it is about fighting crime within an environment that is predominantly one race. We’ve seen white superheroes fighting crime in predominantly white environments and there’s nothing wrong with that other than the fact that it’s been done so many times. Creating a black superhero in a black neighborhood is fresh and allows for a lot more unique storytelling. That’s really it and there aren’t any us vs them racial angles to begin with. Also there are some Italian looking bad guys so it’s not like there’s only black actors.

I either find Luke Cage or the short Hispanic kid from On my Block (Ruby) the most compelling. I find the short kid from On my Block very relatable because I was also very short in high school, always tried to get girls, and had a tough side. The difference with Ruby is that his toughness has a Latin flavor that is shown in the micro expressions of his face and by his swagger. Luke Cage is also a great character because his character is very understated and discreet but noble and very powerful. He’s just a good guy who gets dragged into things and has to whoop some ass in places where no one else can.

I think that Luke Cage and On the Block do great jobs of telling stories from minority perspectives in minority environments because they feel authentic in a number of ways and they have very likeable protagonists. The shows both tell a good message too; Luke Cage gets across the message that you should be humble and strive for good in the world and On my Block tells the message that kids should stick together for support in environments like highschool and that you should try to pull your friends away from gang activity.

What message does Dear White People send? Well that is very hard to say. You could argue that it sends the message that racism is a big issue on college campuses due to  blackface parties, but those don’t actually happen often at all. We have to remember that we live in a huge spread out country and that there are definitely people who are racist and don’t see blacks as equals, but that isn’t representative of the whole country. Also, college campuses are very progressive in nature and are probably some of the least racist places in this country. A rural town in the south is going to be a lot more discriminatory than a hub for educated people who care about creating progress and innovation.

Dear White People is as bad and divisive as the title makes it appear. The main character is even shown to be blatantly racist when she reveals that she wrote an article about why you shouldn’t date white men; it doesn’t get any clearer than that. Also when she brings her white boyfriend (who is a big deal due to his race) to a gathering with her black group to watch a show, the white boyfriend mentions that most white people don’t support blackface parties. Now what he said is obviously true, but his words get viciously picked apart and the race card is pulled when he says, “what are you gonna do, punch me?” In context this was a normal thing to say to the guy who is being aggressive towards you regardless of his color. This makes the white character one of the only likeable main characters on the show which is hilariously ironic. The show was extremely unlikeable and the entire premise of their anger towards white people is generally unrealistic. A black face party would never happen at CSU. The only thing you could argue as being racist that happened on our campus was the putting up of “It’s ok to be white” posters which ironically were very neutral and you could even argue as being positive (but that’s a whole different story I don’t have space to elaborate on).

In the other shows, it wasn’t about race, it was about good values and being a good person in a crime filled environment. Dear White People is as misguided of a stunt as the football players who knelt during the national anthem. These football players were protesting violence against blacks by law enforcement (a good cause) but only created more bad feelings and anguish. If these black football players wanted to actually do something positive to counter this sore spot in our country and to heal, then they would have held hands with a white player during the national anthem or done something unifying instead of separating. Think about that for a second. Dear White People is seperating because it squabbles with unrealistic racial problems which results in the audience feeling a sense that there is a huge problem on college campuses when there really isn’t.