26 May 2004

TV Revolution

Just watched the "Black & White & Living Color" episode of Bravo's series TV Revolution. It is at times a surfacy, self-involved documentary ("TV has the power to change society"), but it covers enough material and enough of a time span to be entertaining. We watched the "Out of the Closet" episode last night, and tonight's evoked a similar feeling of historical shame. Maybe more.

Ossie Davis was one of the main commentators, and he discussed a clip of his from an episode of Bonanza where he was an ex-slave. Davis was emphasizing how monumental it was, and I rolled my eyes at the self-praise until they showed the clip.

The segment they showed appeared late in the episode after characters had been well defined (side note: it's a strange aesthetic that I could tell that fact from the clip, yet no one would ever write a drama where you effectively begin in the middle). Anyway, Ossie Davis is speaking with Hoss present. Davis realizes (something along these lines) that people are still after his children and him and that he expects trouble. Hoss gushes something about never letting that happen and that he (Hoss) will protect them.

Then it got interesting.

Davis didn't give his thanks or hug Hoss in some sort of blackwhitesolidarity against stupidity. He looked at Hoss and said (paraphrasing): "Oh, thank you master that you're here to help a boy who can't help himself..." Or something like that.

Although Davis's character could be viewed as overly proud, I took it as a bold exposure of assumptions we (we) would have about minorities. Offering help can be solidarity, but it can just as easily arise from the effortless confidence of being in the majority.

[ posted by sstrader on 26 May 2004 at 11:45:51 PM in Culture & Society ]