HELLO AMERICA!─I am sure that many of you, like myself, who has been around in the entertainment industry for more years that we would willingly agree that the former richness of film stories and characters have been sadly lost in so many creative ways. Believe it or not, daytime soaps have an abundance of a believable substance involving character and storyline than most the mega produced films which hit world theaters.
One of the most gratifying experiences when viewing today’s soaps involves characters, unlike that of the early 40s or the years that followed, relating to a minority actor, instantly, one would assume he or she would not be of very much substance to the plot itself. Even if it’s of background significance. Writers and producers of today’s productions have wisely moved at a natural pace to include characters of every color and race in their show’s daily output. “The Young and the Restless,” “The Bold and the Beautiful” and even the much-missed “All My Children” moved to make its drama turns to resemble more of the new America.
Unfortunately, too many of the new writers and producers of color have fallen embarrassingly to the back of the bus giving rebirth to some of the same stereotypes of many black men and women, as well as Mexicans and Asian artists. They believe their ideas and scripts will stand a better chance of being sold to the great white master who sits at the head table of all the studios in Hollywood if they do this. One can easily spot this when one views women of color forced to exude “attitude,” aggressiveness, language including sexual innuendo to match point on point with the gutter speaking black man character who simply looks on her as a good piece for the moment. The manor they are dressed, makeup and the general way they approach and connect with each other is still, in so poor taste, like the old days when film writers dramatized life in Harlem, Detroit or even the slum-side of East Los Angeles.
Even though, for example, I have enjoyed much of the TV series “Empire.” I believe that the writers are drowning in a psychological trap of racial safety. They believe if they present many of the images and attitudes of people of color, the world, generally, might expect the show to enjoy a decent chance for survival. Well, it has worked for the most part, however, it has not changed the old views and ideas of what people of color are about. Even when a character is introduced in the show with a fantastic image of grace and class, eventually, there will be a scene where the writer will suddenly undress the character, revealing, that she or he is still basically the ghetto trash the world expected in the first place. Of course, this enhances the notion and belief in most cases that no matter how successful a person of color is dramatized being, they cannot escape from whence they come.
Sadly, many of our writers and producers of color are so hungry to be an active, accepted part of our industry, they rationalize very quickly that they do what everyone does no matter what. Of course, it is realized and quite acceptable that an audience enjoys surprise or shock or some kind of outrageous character or characters to shake up things while watching their popcorn; this involves diversity on many dramatic or comic levels. For me, personally, I have viewed too many persons of color being represented as “carnival” type additions to a show, after a while, it destroys the aims and objectives to those actors who represent something of genuine value as dramatic and comedic performers.
I, for one, grew up enjoying watching performers such as Steppin’ Fetchet, Eddie Anderson or Mortan Morton or my good friend Nick Stewart, but I also had a strong need and desire to see actors like Paul Robeson, William Marshal or James Edwards given a greater chance to show how many levels by which they might show the world that they, too, were special as artists.