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Old 03-09-2006, 06:46 AM   #1
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The New FX Show Black/White

Did anyone watch it last night? I saw some of it. An African American family and a white family live together and have makeup applied to change their skin color. They go out and have experiences and talk to each other about them. For example, the white father keeps insisting that the African American father is "looking for " the racism- he thinks if he goes to a car dealership, a store, etc and carries himself in a certain way and treats people a certain way as an African American, there will be no racism issues.When they go out together as their opposite races to have those experiences, they both still see things the same way. The African American son goes to work in a bar as a white man and has to listen to racist comments from customers.

I thought it was interesting and maybe a reality show that could actually do something good, we'll see how it goes and how the show handles the subject matter.

I think this is better suited to this forum rather than the tv show forum, just like we talked about Brokeback Mountain here. So I hope it can be talked about here

Black/White is on Wednesdays at 10 PM ET

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Old 03-09-2006, 07:15 AM   #2
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I didn't see it but Slate's TV critic, who didn't care too much for it, has a review this morning.

***Warning: he screened 4 episodes, so this may contain "spoilers." ***
Color Commentary: FX's creepy new race-swap show

By Troy Patterson
Bruno and his family (partner Carmen Wurgel and her 18-year-old daughter, Rose) are the white family participating in a two-way project about passing. They share a house in the San Fernando Valley with a black family, the Sparkses (father Brian, mother Renee, and son Nick), and each of the six climbs into the chair of an Oscar-nominated makeup artist for a convincing racial makeover a few times each week. The producers then loose them upon greater Los Angeles—Beverly Hills to Baldwin Hills, Santa Monica to Leimert Park—tracking them on cameras that are hidden within handbags or present under the pretense that the filmmakers are simply doing a project about "family."

Grinning, good-humored Bruno is creepy on several levels. You could chalk up the fact that he is plainly turned on at first seeing Carmen in her makeup to universal perversities about sex and color, but how to account for the tear streaming down his blackface? He signed up for the show in a confrontational spirit. "I just wanted to really poke into the issue of race and see if any flames would emerge," he tells the camera near the top of tonight's episode. Elsewhere, he's kind of bummed out upon leaving a black comedy club, "I wish they had done more white jokes, frankly." And when he says, "I'm kind of waiting for somebody to say, 'Hey, nigger!' " he does so in a tone that others might use to say, "I can't wait to see V for Vendetta."

The idea of having the slur flung at him is a recurrent fantasy of Bruno's, a bit of masochism rather like Catherine Deneuve's Belle de Jour daydreams of being pelted with dung. And yet, as if looking for license to feel more comfortable with whatever his prejudices are, he is also on a mission to prove that white racism does not exist. Unsurprisingly, he decides that he doesn't discover much of it in the four episodes I screened, not even finding anything peculiar about the all-white bar where, it seemed, he needed to produce a credit card to get a cup of coffee. If Black. White.—the title of which is annoyingly punctuated, by the way—were a drama, the network would be sending producers' notes about Bruno's lack of character development. Since it's nonfiction, his mulishness just gives you the sense that Carmen will be leaving him soon—and she's no slouch in the dippiness department herself. Tonight, she says of her epidermal dye job, "It's nice. I love black. … Somehow, heart-wise, there's that warmth." It is left to Rose—humming with collegiate earnestness, a guilty liberal on training wheels—to do the family's introspecting and then write bad slam poetry about it.

On the other side of the racial divide, the drama's of a different type. Brian is also feeling horny for his wife after her initial makeover, but what's most notable about the scene is his first impression of his newly white son: "They gave you dimples and everything." It falls to Renee to tell him that Nick has always had dimples, a neat enough indicator of the distance between the two that emerges as a subtheme. The socially conscious father is bringing up a son who's unconcerned with race as a social problem. The middle-class striver is a little tense that his kid is into thug style. The Sparkses perhaps aren't the most successful parents anyhow. Nick is fantastically unengaged with much of life, this show included; we mostly see him scowling through a program of etiquette lessons in the 90210 and futzing around with a camera in a photo class.

His parents have their own experiences in the reverse-minstrelsy—Brian chats up a bigot in a bar and says, far too simply, "I'm relaxed when I'm shopping," after hitting the pro shop—but the Sparkses are mainly around to serve as antagonists for the other couple. The show is edited so that their dramatic purpose is to try to explain to Bruno that nobody's going to call him bad names and to talk to one another about These Crazy White People. Brian on the dashikis Carmen buys to wear to church: "Why don't they just dress like Aunt Jemima on the syrup bottle and get it over with?" That's a funny line, and an apt one, and Black. White. plays it for nothing more or less than a wisecrack. The show's an entertaining provocation, but it's also only skin-deep.

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Old 03-09-2006, 07:43 AM   #3
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I don't want to read the spoilers so I won't read that but thanks I'll watch it again and give it a chance. Ice Cube is one of the producers, there's more info about it on the FX web site. I think there was an article about it in my local paper yesterday, I think they liked it but I'm not sure-I just read the headline
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Old 03-09-2006, 07:54 AM   #4
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I've been wondering lately if it's possible to put together any visual media on the subject of race that isn't laden with cliches.

Unfortunately my cable package doesn't include FX so I won't be able to see the show, but based on the Slate review and what I've read, I'm not sure of the cliches have been surmounted or not. And this is "reality" television!

From the sound of it they cast for "entertainment value" and bombast by bringing in this Bruno guy. Like Jonathan and Victoria on the Amazing Race, or the current horrifying Dentist from Missisippi and his browbeaten wife.

I'll be curious to see what else people have to say about it here.
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Old 03-09-2006, 11:05 AM   #5
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Missed the show, but have read many reviews. Even though it is called "reality", it is still a highly scripted, manufactured production.

It would be interesting to write down what you expect will happen, then watch the show.

My guess is that an individuals perception of the success/failure of the show will largely depend on the race notions carried in by said viewer.
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Old 03-09-2006, 11:29 AM   #6
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I think it would be a great oppurtunity for anyone to be able to walk one day in someone elses shoes. I could think of a lot of people who would benefit from it.

Reminds of the book 'Black Like Me'.
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Old 03-09-2006, 12:05 PM   #7
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Originally posted by BonoVoxSupastar
I think it would be a great oppurtunity for anyone to be able to walk one day in someone elses shoes
I agree, and I think that's a very valid point to this show no matter how cliched or bad it may be. There's another show on FX, 30 Days.I happened to see this episode that will be discussed on Oprah today. It's a "religious conservative" guy who goes to SF to live with a gay man for 30 Days. I think the show is by the same guy who did Supersize Me

"What did Ed learn from the experience? "After the last election," he says, "we were kind of fed this idea that there are blue states and there are red states. While that might be true on a few issues, I think that the real issue is simply people knowing that other people exist. It's a big country; there's lots of room for us. If you just take the time to get to know somebody, … the country looks a lot smaller. It to me is a collection of purple states. … It's not as divided as people think it is."
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Old 03-16-2006, 07:06 AM   #8
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Did anyone watch it last night? That Mother from the white family is so bizarre, she called a girl from her daughter's poetry group a " beautiful black creature". And the white man in the restaurant was so blatantly racist, as much as you hear people like that it is still shocking- and the fact that he said it right to a black woman's face. It's only on for six weeks, so four more weeks left.

It just seems to go around in circles with no real resolutions, then again so does racism I suppose-unfortunately.

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