05 June 2007

Which is Worse?

I've been watching Prom Queen TV every day ever since day one. From the beginning there has been a black character named Brett. He's been given his own MySpace page just like all the other characters, yet they haven't done anything with him. He's labeled as the class clown, but they barely even show him on-screen. All the main plotlines follow the white characters. There are only 15 episodes left, so unless he turns out to be the one to kill the prom queen there isn't much time to involve him in the story.

Now, I am not one who generally comments very much on race, especially when it comes to my entertainment. If I enjoy the story, that is usually all that matters to me. So, I am not totally sure why it bothers me that the Brett character is underutilized. Maybe it is the perfectionist in me that objects to the "messiness" of having a loose end in a character whose story is unexplored. On the other hand, maybe it does have something to do with race.

The reality of my high school life was that the black and white kids hung out in separate groups. Judging from the list of M's closest friends, it is still the same today. So it rings true to me that all the characters shown hanging out with each other on Prom Queen TV are white. Why bother adding a black character? Having Brett on the website but never using him smacks of "We need to show a black student or else everyone will say our show is unrealistic". I'm wondering if that is any worse than the "rainbow coalition" that usually shows up on Disney TV movies. You guys know what I am talking about: a story with a white girl, a black girl, and an Asian or Latina girl who are all best friends. That combination also reeks of "Let's appeal to every racial group" and doesn't feel any more realistic than having one black character hanging around the fringes of the action.
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