Color Adjustments Today

First and foremost, I found Color Adjustments to be an extremely well made documentary that  and incredibly relevant issue with modern television. Furthermore, the fact that the film was released in the early 90s makes matters more interesting since the last 25 years have seen multiple attempts to accurately portray African Americans on screen.

I thought it was wild to see clips from Amos and Andy. The show was originally quite popular on the radio dating back to the 20s,  but white actors played black. When the show hit the air in 1951, Black actors took over their rightful parts, even though those parts were self-depreciating and perpetuating of social stereotypes. While the show did not last, it was eventually shown again in 2012… perhaps because the country was ready to address the racial issues perpetuated in the media in the previous century. Today, one of TV’s biggest hits is a show called Black-ish. The show, like Fresh Prince of Bel-Air or the Cosby Show, tackles a more contemporary approach to upper-middle class Black families. Black-ish, which follows the Modern Family slot, tries to create a sitcom society that addresses the nuclear family from the black perspective in a similar fashion to its time slot predecessor. The problem, is that the Black characters are still treated as black… Why? Because entertainment is a business and the industry labels African Americans with particular attitudes. Sure, shows like the ones mentioned above treat the characters humanely, place them in recognizable settings for both races, and offer respect to the leads… but they still focus on the fact that they are different than their white counterparts. THAT right there is the problem and it is a problem that Hollywood LOVES to perpetuate.

The only way we are going to move into a post-segregated society fully is when entertainment and society start looking at both races as one in the same, or unique for their own, ineffable reasons that don’t need to be explained. We don’t satirize white characters to the same extent that we do for Black characters. Of course, there are moments when satire is funny and necessary to point out the absurd and obvious. Satire is its own genre and often succeeds in addressing problems (though it too perpetuates the stereotype by doing so). The fact of the matter is, it’s really up to us, as the next generation of media story tellers, to treat African Americans in the same light as White characters… not only that, but perpetuate what this country is founded on… E Pluribus Unum. From many one. There are a ton of examples of films/shows treating blacks and whites the exact same and that is an excellent start. And there is always room for historical films/shows like Twelve Years A Slave or Mad Men which address history (hopefully so it will never be repeated) – but media needs to move forward. That doesn’t mean Spider Man needs to be black or Shaft needs to be white… it means that the only thing that should matter is story and characters… whether they are black or white should never be the issue. It’s a dream to think it’s possible, but I really believe we are already headed in that direction. Just look at Furious 7… the cast is a great mix of latin, black, and white and it just raced to 800 million dollars at the box office in 12 days. Why? Because they are a family, no matter what ethnicity they come from. That’s where we need to head.

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