Monday, January 5, 2009

Tokenism: Is It Really Real?

Today in class we started to talk about Tokenism in drama television shows and other types of entertainment. Right when the brilliant Mr. Bolos asked if tokenism was for real I immediatly thought in my head, "of course". I wrote down in my notebook all the stereotypes tokenism brings into television. After we said a black man will always play the "sidekick" or a "wingman" but never really gets the spotlight. Unless you watch BET where the races flip flop. But I also thought about CSI and the different criminals they have. In CSI Miami i don't think I have seen a black man in any episode ever besides of the black female doctor. The most predominent race in Miami is Latino. In CSI Las Vegas the only black figure in the show is Warrick a secondary forensic agent. Rich white men are the primary basis of Vegas. In CSI New York i haven't really watched that show a lot but from what I remember there aren't a whole lot of minorities. And in the NY branch I am too busy reciting Jim Craig lines from Miracle because Eddie Cahill who plays Jim Craig is in CSI NY. But the main point of my post was to show that Movies also have this "Token black guy" stereotype. In the movie "Not Another Teen Movie" there is a character who is the "Token Black Guy". In one specific scene Malik (the TBG) comes to a party and walks into the kitchen and sees another black guy and is very startled by this "abnormal" sight. He walks up to the other black guy and they have this conversation. 
Malik: "What are you doing here?"
Other guy: "What do you mean?"
Malik: "I am supposed to be the only black guy at this party."
Other guy: "Oh, damn."
Malik: "I know, I know."
Together: "It's whack."
In this little confrontation it shows that this movie is trying to poke fun at past movies and tv shows because Malik freaks out and is startled by another person who is black as well. It makes it seem Malik has never seen another black man. They also throw in the "it's whack" statement to try to mock how in other movies black men only know a small amount of words and can only use slang or "gang talk." I thought it was kind of funny how a movie can make fun of other movies and be so right on. If i can i will post a video of Malik and the other guys confrontation. 

1 comment:

Zack said...

I really enjoyed our class discussion on tokenism in television also. I never really thought about how greatly televison dramas are flooded with whiten people. I can not think of one long lasting drama that had an African American in the lead. Yet there are many comedies that do feature black leads. I hate to say it, but maybe the 24-52 year old white males simply cannot take minorities seriously for a whole episode. Also, I have seen "Not Another Teen Movie" tons of times and I think it is hilarious, and even though they are poking fun at the fact that there is a token black guy who accepts it, it is a reality that in most teen movies there are not a whole lot of minorities. Many people just see television as a means to entertain themselves, but if you really took a second to look at the tokenism I think anyone would be shocked.