Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Blackish vs. The Bachelorette

Tonight, I was watching the premiere of the Bachelorette and watching the commercials when I saw one that stood out from the others. After just meeting the newest contestants on the season of the Bachelorette, who were almost entirely white, there was a commercial for a show called Blackish.

The Blackish commercial completely contrasted the Bachelorette in terms of race and appearance. While I have never seen the show Blackish, nor do I know what it is about, I could infer the show existed for a reason and the commercial existed during the Bachelorette for a reason - to prove that ABC could be seen as "diverse". Additionally, the commercial was the first commercial to appear during the commercial break. In our class, we discuss the importance of first position and just as in writing, this commercial was placed first to show its importance and show a clear contrast from extreme whiteness of the Bachelorette.

(click on this link for an enlarged image!)

By looking at the cast photo for the Bachelorette above, it looks completely white. If you did not take a moment to analyze the cast photo, you would not even notice the four African American men in the picture. These men have skin so light that they could even pass for white in this picture; however, despite how light their skin is, ABC still wants their viewers to make sure they notice the "tokens". Two of the African American men are placed in the front row (one fourth from the left and one third from the right) and the other two are placed in the center of the back row. The two in the front row are visible because no one is in front of them and the two in the back row catch your eye because they are standing together in the center, which is where your eye naturally goes. The other 21 men are all white, which once again illustrates the idea that the Bachelor franchise is a majority white franchise with little diversity. Usually, the diversity is shown off in a way like in this picture, to "prove" the tokens exist in a pool of Caucasians.

However, after being subjected to such a white show, a commercial for Blackish comes on. Unlike the Bachelorette, every single person in the commercial was African American. While the Bachelorette has a few tokens to be "diverse", many people still see the show as very homogeneous. The Bachelorette can throw in tokens into their cast on the first night, but more often than not, these tokens get sent home early on in the competition leaving behind an all-white cast. To off-set this, ABC proudly advertises the show Blackish, a show full of token minorities, to prove to Americans that their network is diverse. Having this commercial appear just seconds after watching the interactions of many white contestants makes it stick out - which is exactly what ABC wants. They want you to remember that they have this minority show. From doing our numerous parallels and contrasts for The Great Gatsby, we learn that authors put in parallels and contrasts for a reason: for the audience to notice a specific part and see it as important. ABC is using this exact same tactic for these contrasting shows. The contrast as a whole displays how much attention Americans place on race in society today, not only in the real world but on screen as well.

1 comment:

  1. Clare with an "i", Claire:

    Kind of a lengthy, but masterful capstone to a year of Americans Studies. I really am impressed how you returned to the beginning of our course, and emphasized so many themes throughout the year, including that idea of first and last positions.