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“Scandal” and the Olivia Effect

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by Chris Stevenson

Reality TV might be huge, but let the record show reality and TV rarely ever meet. In fact on a broader scale, whenever there is a sign of general acceptance towards blacks, here comes a network series with the purposeful intent to take your minds in the opposite direction, and set back the clock. Call it racist-savings-time, fall back, fall back.

I’ve explained this before in past columns, nothing powerful whites do is by accident or coincidence. After some civil rights victories were won, here comes a television show starring an outright open racist aimed at normalizing anti-black feelings just at the start of the ’70’s; Archie Bunker of “All in the Family.” White females and feminists who piggy-backed directly from the Civil Rights Movement got shows that greatly humanized the white female image; “Mary Tyler Moore,” “That Girl,” etc., and solid script-writers, (in spite of some of the true leaders of feminism being obnoxious dykes). The Reality show “I love New York” kicked-off a string of like series about battling, backbiting, catfighting females of whom set the women’s movement back a couple centuries. “The Shield” normalized police misconduct and corruption in the minds of the viewers and refocused profiling toward blacks in the immediate post-9/11 years, as was it’s original intent. Diahann Carroll’s “Julia,” was pitched as more of a black victory in terms of a network show had a great star but horrible script-writing that lacked direction. If Carroll’s character Julia Baker was doing the same things as Kerry Washington’s Olivia was doing, ’60’s blacks around the country would have burned Hollywood down. Burn baby Burn. The same would apply to Washington’s last predecessor Teresa Graves (“Get Cristie Love”). And I’m putting this mildly. Are we to consider the machinations of Olivia Pope a victory today? This is what seems to be the case.

A quick glance at America’s current reality, we have a black President, often seen as trying to bring the country together. This guy is highly accomplished under pressure and heavy criticism from the right and some on the left. In his personal life, scandal-free. In these times of waning white male self-esteem, who will come to their rescue? White America needs a scandalous black President, network TV producers say ‘we got this’, and they do, they bring you “Scandal.” Okay since Barack won’t play ball with them by engaging in some of the ridiculous behaviors that the President of “Scandal” does, they give you the best alternative; a white President having an adulterous affair with a black “fixer.” Mighty white of them I say. White man wins all the way around, he gets to sleep with his white wife and black mistress, white cherry and black berry.

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Olivia opens up to what may be a thing of the past; a white male President-cs

This cherry/berry Kool Aid is presented to you by 2 black females (creator and writer Shonda Rhimes and co-executive producer Judy Smith; a former Bush-era press aid who evidently did some things during those years that I am afraid to ask) and some smart white people, and black women around the country are gulping it down by the gallons full. Understand this, current reality has a beautiful black female sleeping in the Master Bedroom in the White House with her husband the President, and two black women put their heads together and damn near took us back to the plantation. Sally Hemings with a degree.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not doubting Smith or Rhimes’ intelligence, Hollywood studios have chased intelligent black storytellers off their parking lots for decades. What made them accept this idea? These are two sisters that know what the powerful white man wants, and they have a record of delivering. What more clever way to make themselves not look racist than to be able to say to those pesky black activists and critics ‘Look you N-words, we got a story heah with a black script-writer AND a black woman in the leading role doing some very important, heavy-duty stuff. What’s all the fuss about. That’s what you colored folk wanted right (Hollywood still lives in the “colored people”-era in case you haven’t noticed)? Now get! Get! Shoo, shoo, gon’ nah, gon’ nah.’

Part of the problem is black men in many cases fail to look at interracial marraige and relationships… from the standpoint of the white man. I mean really really look. Yes we all know many of them don’t like seeing white females-especially some of their most beautiful looking women-in the arms of a black man, but it’s one area of disparity between the two races where white men are on the losing side. Black women by-and-large just aren’t attracted to white males, rich or poor. In fact not really on any level. Solution: create a show that attempts to cleverly put white men in vogue (I already told you many white men are suffering an image-beating). Have an attractive sister parading around the offices of high political command, and doing what most white bosses were hoping most of them would do when black females began getting hired in professional positions for during the early-’80’s, but most of them refused to do; fulfill the fantasy of the rich and powerful white man; cavort with them, smile at them, flirt with them, pursue them, sleep with them. Olivia adds an extra bonus on “Scandal;” she rejects the black man (a Senator) who pursues her, by literally accusing him of being-oddly enough-what black women in general have long accused the white man of being; boring. Now sisters, hear me out. I have listened to all your complaints over the decades about us. We are trifling, troublesome, unfaithful, abusive, and game-players. Rarely do we ever get boring. That’s a scandal in itself.

Olivia in one highly-famous episode told this brother she doesn’t want happily-ever-after, “don’t you want painful, difficult, devastating?” Are you f*****g kidding me? This is brainwashing 101 because it makes low-expectations in black relationships official, without Olivia acting loud, argumentative and vulgar like the typical black reality show sister. White producers knew what they were doing with this line. No, she is not required to marry this guy if she doesn’t want to, but great care was taken to make sure her reasons for not wanting him were flawed. Get it? Difficult, Devastating and painful are oftentimes byproducts of an abusive relationship whether it was physical, or psychological. Much of this abuse started when the woman was a little girl, and was abused by her dad, stepdad, uncle, Preacher, Pastor, or sometimes mother. If the girl/woman is blessed enough to get away, many of them are still not free. A pattern behavior is established in her brainwaves where she will seek out another candidate who will see her coming and open her heart to more “difficult, painful, devastating,” and she won’t see it until it’s too late. While outwardly verbalizing she wants a sensitive man, her sadomasochistic-heart will be on auto-pilot . What Olivia does used to be virtually impossible a decade or two ago, before drama became something that was expected from black girls, before it became a means to an end influenced first by R&B drama songs; she can achieve the painful results within herself, without an abusive man, just by being a black woman I guess. It’s the epitome of putting the cart before the horse. The current trend in “reality TV” shows is already training black women the most to be “difficult,” obtuse in their behavior, contrary, unreasonable through a constant demonstration of show and tell. Now along comes Olivia. Like that song by the Whispers “Lost and Turned Out.” Who remembers “Olivia the slave got distracted on her way, to Grandmother’s house?” The brothers back then urged “Olivia break the chains, stop using your body, use you brain.” Olivia Pope says ‘I can do both.’ At least she wants all of her roughly 7.25 million viewers to think she can.

Yes you can view “Scandal,” but do not assume Kerry Washington’s character is a “strong black woman.” Olivia is a strong white image of a black woman. She’s not NeNe, she’s Condi, if President Grant appoints her to a national security or defense position in his cabinet, she’d have no problem blowing up a country and later display a curt half-smile when questioned about it. Her job description is dirty enough but believable. Lack of racial identity and obnoxiousness is not strength. That goes for Olivia just as much as the black women in these  ‘Real Housewives of Wherever,’ “Love and Hip-Hop,” “Bad Girls Club,” or any other of these modern shows whose underlining mission is to further destabilize the black family. Just because she doesn’t act as ghetto doesn’t make her less responsible.

It’s no coincidence that “Scandal” succeeds while another ABC show starring an African American in a leading role is dead in the water; “Last Resort” starring the veteran actor Andre Braugher as Olivia’s polar-opposite Captain Marcus Chaplin, commander of the ballistic-missile submarine USS Colorado. “Last Resort” made it’s debut a few months after “Scandal” and is already about to be deep-sixed, and why not? What is the appeal to a black naval sub captain who disobeys an order to nuke a country full of people of color because the order came from a restricted radio frequency? Wanda, Brenda, Keesha, and Shaniqua, ain’t gettin’ with that. LOL! Actually Last Resort is on life support due to sunk ratings brought on in my opinion by several holiday preemptings by Charlie Brown shows. Good grief. Even though the shows aired a day apart, in terms of Nielsen Ratings devious Olivia has kicked uppity Captain Chaplin all over the seven seas. After 13 shows Last Resort averaged a 1.4, and 6.26 million viewers per episode. Scandal ratings almost doubled with a 2.4 and 7.25 million viewers in their 2nd season. Thus far the Colorado has been blown up, while Chaplin was inside of it, but there is a petition to do a 2nd season. I’m not trying to be funny, but it’s a true testament to American society that a show starring a black man in a rare authority position who defies his government by standing on principle alone has to beg for more airtime, while the show starring the black female authority figure who heads her own agency devoted to cleaning up the appearance of politically-corrupt officials and virtually begs for white lovers is flying high. Kerry (“sniff”) you sunk my battleship. Please sign the Last Resort Petition and I await your response.

Chris Stevenson is a regular columnist for blackcommentatorPolitical Affairs Magazine, and a syndicated columnist. Follow him on Twitter, and Facebook, you don’t have to join any of them. Watch his video commentary Policy & Prejudice and The Network  for clbTV & Follow his Blogtalkradio  interviews on 36OOseconds. Respond to him on the link below.

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