K Tempest Bradford (ktempest) wrote in c_s_i,
K Tempest Bradford
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Some thoughts on race portrayal and CSI

I posted this on my journal a few days ago, then it occured to me that this community might find it interesting, so I'm reposting with some edits. Original post here. New post starts...


I don't watch as much TV as I used to. I'm not really supposed to be watching TV at all, but CSI is just so much fun. And I can't see the point in renting the DVDs since I have seen many episodes scattered all over the place. So I watch the reruns on Spike and try to ignore all the sexism and stupidity. But this post is not about sexism, it's about racism. Sexism will have to wait for another day.

Last night I was watching a CSI rerun and there was a black victim. Anyway, seeing this victim made me realize that there aren't many black victims on CSI. I think maybe, in my viewing, I have seen one or two more, but I can't recall the episodes. There have been a few black perps, but this is an overwhelmingly white show. Gary Dourdan just makes that all the more painfully obvious. What annoyed me even more was that this was one of those damn episodes where the victim doesn't get full justice for some stupid reason or another, which makes you wish that Grissom would cut that stoic act out and just shoot people every once and a while. I felt the injustice of this keenly. Almost every other episode someone busts their ass to get some obscure evidence to send someone away for 40 million years but a black woman is raped and almost murdered and all Gil can say is: "You shouldn't let it get to you, Sarah."

If he'd said that to me I would have given him an angry black whoopin'.

Two days after the episode with the black woman came the episode where the little black girl was killed in the drive by and her father is one of Warrick's mentors or whatever. Firstly, does every black person on TV have to have been raised up out of the ghetto to betterness? Could've fooled me if not. And here again we have an episode involving black people where they just can't find the perp, get justice, and move on. It has to cost someone something, and the people it ends up costing the most are all black. I'm not a conspiracy-minded person by nature, but this is starting to set off alarms all over the place.

I think I'm supposed to be happy that black people aren't often portrayed as bad guys on the show. But in terms of victims, there are far fewer, ratio-wise, than there are black perps. (This is, of course, based on my non-scientific memory of episodes seen, so pick the salt grain size of your choice and go forth) I know black people live in Vegas. I've seen them. I know black people go to Vegas to gamble, or even to kill or be killed. Why is this show so damn white?

I could add a side rant here about how the only black regular on the show is the one with the ______ problem, just like on most shows. But I won't.

I've also been thinking about this because I recently watched all of Lost's first season. That show has more minorities in the regular cast than most of the other shows I watch. Yay for that. But damn, some parts of that still annoy me. 40 some odd people on that part of the island and the Iraqi dude hooks up with the whiny white blond bimbo incest chick? What? Are there no sisters, no Arabian beauties for him to tryst with? Can't he just pine away for Nadia forever? Don't get me started on what Shannon should be doing.

And what of Michael's girlfriend/baby mama? She is the most annoying black woman on TV besides Condoleeza Rice. She's what we negroes call Trifflin'. I really like that show, but damn, people. Can't we be a bit more, I dunno, less stupidly clichéd?

This should not surprise me. It shouldn't, but it does every time. And it pisses me off because it messes with otherwise enjoyable TV watching. I don't think that, in 2005, I should have to be worried or annoyed by these kinds of things anymore. And yet they still exist. The only thing safe to watch is the Boondocks. Who knows how long that show is going to last?
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