Rupert Murdoch and ‘Empire’s’ Hold on Black America

Just this Wednesday, 2015’s biggest smash hit Empire, had its season finale drawing in 17 million viewers to ever growing viewership. Empire is probably my favorite show of 2015 so far beating out Archer and How to Get Away with Murder. The show has everything a good drama should have and every week its packs a wallop to the face. It hinges on the performances of Taraji P. Henson and Terrence Howard’s one –two combo as Cookie and Lucious Lyon respectively.  The only problem is that it is on my least favorite network: Fox. A show that is the perfect fusion of the UPN shows of my youth and the quality of a Shonda Rimes joint is on a network that has deemed themselves the savior of the black community. It can’t be. I am a good liberal and a tolerant person. I am experiencing a level of cognitive dissonance no other person has felt because I support a show created by a network that does not particularly hold black people in a good light.

Empire does something no other all-black show has ever done before. It has fully hurled its self into the issue of homophobia in the black community. Lucious Lyon was a gangster turn hip hop mogul that happened to have a gay son who can sing R and B. Lucious throws his son in the trash can when Jamal is just a boy after walking down stairs in high heels and a scarf. This show and that aspect about it was based off of Lee Daniels own life. The fact makes Empire unique in the pantheon of black shows and Jamal’s personal journey is a central plotline.

“With Empire, Fox has landed the top-rated new series on broadcast TV in more than a decade — and a show more popular in black households than even the Super Bowl, according to Nielsen. This week’s finale — a two-hour block consisting of a pair of episodes with the now-familiar mix of surprise twists, criminal misdeeds and catfights — drew an average of 16.7 million total viewers,” according to Los Angeles Times reporter Scott Collins.

Critics of the show point out that black actors and actresses are reduced to playing the same tired stereotypes: whores and gangsters, ghetto and violent, and loud and ignorant. According to actor and rapper Bow Wow, “When we were still filming Cyber episodes, Empire‘s first episode premiered. Fans were saying, ‘Man, you should have been on the show.’ But we all don’t rap or play basketball,” he said. “We can do so many things. There are young African-Americans who are intelligent enough to work at the FBI. That’s what’s so bright. Hopefully, I can help start a new wave of young black actors who don’t want to stereotype themselves.”

Bow Wow and many others like him are so wrong.  There is a multitude of black characters that reflect the wide variety of black experiences in this nation portrayed on this show. Those white people who do watch this show will hopefully see that there are black rich brats, black overachievers, black gay-artistic-prodigies, strong black mothers who sacrifice their freedom, and black Machiavellian masterminds.  However, those white people who can’t see that must have eye problems.

Scholar Dr. Boyce Watkins who criticized the show before even admits that the show is good but has reservations.

Media is about narratives and promoting a set of ideas. This extremely liberal show is too good for Fox. However, the history suggest otherwise. The same network had an entire host of other groundbreaking black shows. For example In Living Color (1990-94), Martin and the Bernie Mac Show were just a few of the shows that brought in very good ratings for the network.  Currently shows like The Mindy Project, Brooklyn Nine-Nine and The New Girl feel like NBC or ABC shows mainly because of their diversity and open-mindedness.

African Americans in Hollywood have had to fight for the leading roles in TV because they were never really offered to them. Black women especially did not have leading roles because of issues of race, standards of beauty, and network bias. In 2015, Taraji P. Henson, Viola Davis, and Kerry Washington lead three of the most popular network TV shows. Each of them are giving Emmy quality performances and breaking records while doing it.

With all of this good, it is impossible to forget the truth: Empire is a Fox TV show. The same network were pulling up your pants will save black people from systematic racism, the same network were Bill O’Reilly that told scholar Marc Lamont Hill that he looked like a coke dealer,  the Benghazi obsessed, black conservative –agenda- having network has the most popular show in black households.

The world is a crazy place. I am conscientious in my viewing but I support the actors and black people in front of the camera and behind because they have created something worth liking. I can still dislike Murdoch’s political views and Fox news and still watch the show. I also understand why others a hesitant.

 

The Money of Gender Inequality: Capitalism reinforces the gender binary and it can also destroy it

I started working at the age of 16 in an attempt to make enough money to buy fast food and go to the movies.  Ever since that young age I have had 10 female superiors in every job that I worked. Just twenty years ago, the field of journalism and media was dominated by white men with gray manes. In many ways that still rings true but the landscape is quickly changing. Three of my female superiors were entrepreneurs, two were high ranking producers at a major news network, three of them were women of color, and six of them had advance degrees.

You might be wondering why I am telling you this. What does this have to do with anything? Well, the answer is simple: capitalism is reason for this change and it is also the reason I have to illustrate that women have taken a leap forward in a mainly male dominated industry.

Capitalism can keep the gender binary and patriarchy in place or it can change it for the better. During WWII, women went into the workplace as capable and competent workers doing the jobs their husbands did during antebellum. Rosie the riveter became a symbol smashing through traditional gender roles in the 1940s.

However, in the 1950s the nation seemed to have forgotten that. Instead of women workers dominating factories, they were placed back into the kitchen with shiny new appliances like the microwave and the dishwasher.

Without knowing it at the time, corporations and American capitalism became a driven spark to the feminist movement of the 1960s. In just than two decades a paradigm shift occurred and it wasn’t because of overt sexism but because of dogmatic patriarchy and returning to the status quo.

According to Sue Davis from Worker.org, “the U.S. is a world leader in backwardness and misogyny toward women — with women on average making 77 cents for every dollar men are paid (and even less for women of color), rampant violence against women (especially poor women, lesbians and trans women, and women of color), and vicious attacks on birth control and abortion rights, as well as all components of reproductive justice. “

Capitalism plays up the gender roles in order to get more production from workers.  In an attempt not to sound like a Marxist, traditional gender roles are used as marketing ploys, ideas like blue is for boys, girls like to play with dolls, men drink a lot of beer, and women having orgasisms while washing their hair.  If we look at the male stereotype of the protector and provider, we can see the problems this can cause to a man and a woman. Let’s look at this scenario:

A husband works two jobs because he refuses to let his wife work but the house needs two incomes. As he works two full time jobs, he never gets to see his kids. While the wife is struck with the kids all the time and doing all of the housework, helping with homework, and being a single parent. She never gets to grow and pursue a career and the husband will have no impact on his offspring.  While this happens corporations make money hand over foot at the expense of families.

Some would think that traditional gender roles would be a fixture in our economic system but it does not have to be. If we look at the idea of the housewife /househusband stereotype, we can see that the idea of  women and men that stay at home has changed because of capitalism. The reasons for this is simple. Through Capitalism we have fast food restaurants ready to provide entire meals for family.  As time progress onward the menus will increasingly get more healthy as demanded by the consumer.

When we shop in the grocery store frozen foods line freezers just waiting to be popped in the oven.  There are also prepackaged salads and pre-cut fruits to fulfill our health needs. Just like that an instance meal is created thanks to capitalism.  No one has to cook anything if we chose not to. Especially, stay at home parents.  They are free to pursue an online degree, work from home or anything else while the kids are at school.

When it comes to cleaning there have been inexpensive robotized maids in the form of roombas that has hit the market to sweep and mop your floors. Because of capitalism, daycares have taken the charge in rearing our children when schools can not. The machine that is capitalism will make every task we do a money making institution for better and for worse. In the case of gender roles, the tasks that were associated with men and women have been blurred. The home and the workplace are no longer prescribed to one or the other.  At this time in history, we are at an impasse.

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From YaleGlobal

We live in a new world where women are more educated than men, capable of leading corporations, and still managing their families if they choose to do so. The table above shows the countries where women are pursuing higher education.  This means that women are becoming highly qualified workers ready to be hired and sadly these numbers do not reflect job placement just yet.

The major issue with capitalism and gender politics is that it takes a step forward in the right direction and then takes three steps back to old time patriarchy. Just last year Republicans blocked a bill that would  make equal pay for women a mandate. Also last year, Hobby Lobby seem to have found a way to disregard the needs of its female workers.

The reality is that  “women have represented about 57 percent of enrollments at American colleges since at least 2000; they tend to have higher grades; men tend to drop out in disproportionate numbers; and female enrollment skews higher among older students, low-income students, and black and Hispanic students,” according to Alex Williams from the New York Times. Yet women can’t get a break.

The question is how do women prosper in a backwards system. I think the adage of  fighting fire with fire applies here. If a venue does not exist, create a new one. Owning your own business is the best way to guarantee equal treatment and fairness.  If corporations fail to see your value, leave them, boycott them, and find corporations that will. The inevitable is already happening. If men failed to be educated well and fail to pursue higher education with the same vigor as women, companies will have no choice but to higher women to management  positions because men won’t have the qualifications to get the job done.

Eventually, things will change because that is the course of Capitalism.  Maybe women are that change.

Xenophobia in the USA

I really don’t know how to start this blog entry off but I will try my best. I think that this week brings up some interesting issues we have in this country about minorities and fear. After major events in the USA, the powers that be made life harder for people who were not White people. In the early days of English colonization, Native Americans were the biggest obstacle and they were “dealt” with. After Nat’s Turner’s Rebellion, African Americans were treated as criminals before due process. Whites had to supervise gatherings, Black people could not carry guns or own dogs in some areas, and could not read or write. During the surge of immigration during the late 1870s, Irish, Chinese, and many other people from the east were not welcomed and discriminated against. After the Civil War, African Americans and Native Americans were targeted again I.e KKK and Indian Wars. In the 1940s, the Japanese and communists were attacked after Pearl Harbor. In the 1960s, Hippies, African Americans, feminists and liberals were attacked. In the 1980s, Gays were attacked and suspected of having Aids. Now, Muslims are being attacked after 9-11.

In this country people of color or people that are just different are always targets. Our Media makes it convient to blame non-Whites for our poor security issues. However, in cases where are mutiple terror attacks carried out by White individuals such as Newtown, Columbine, Aurora and Eliot Rodgers’ rampage in San Diego, White people are not collectively punished. Things must change but they probably won’t.