From generosity to obligation

Today I was reading some blog post about this fall’s TV shows, and it complained that one of them (I don’t remember which, it wasn’t anything I watch) was racist. The evidence was that last season there was a nonwhite woman in unrequited love with a white man, and the interviews and stuff indicate that this year there’s going to be a different nonwhite woman in unrequited love with a white man.

I’m lucky I’m not a TV writer, because I would not be able to write about interracial couples as if it were an okay thing. If I had to put such couples in a story, I would compensate by making sure they had all kinds of problems, which real interracial couples usually do. And people would notice, I wouldn’t fool anyone. They noticed this, which probably had more to do with male fantasy than race, and sniffed out racism that probably wasn’t even there.

I’m old enough to remember when interracial relationships on TV were still a pretty big deal. As a kid I watched Love Boat all the time and I only recall one interracial relationship – a white man and a black woman, I guess so that people wouldn’t have the feeling of a black man despoiling a white woman.

Just a few decades ago, including interracial couples was a generous gesture on the part of writers. Now not only are TV shows and movies pretty much obliged to show such things, but some kind of obscure fault will be found with it. Somehow, the shows’ creators will be accused of not being unracist enough.

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