Prime Time Blues: African Americans In The 1950s

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Bogle, Donald. Prime Time Blues: African Americans on Network Television, Published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Donald Bogle outlines the roles of African Americans in television from the 1950s through the 1990s. Bogle acknowledged the shows that were most influential of African American media. I thought Bogle gave a good insight on television shows that I used to watch reflecting on the social implications of the shows I watch today. Each decade of television was given an inscription. The 1950s: Scraps, The 1960s: Social Symbols, The 1970s: Jokesters, The 1980s: Superstars, and The 1990s: Free-for-alls. These inscriptions were used to show the historical events in each decade on how society’s view of blacks was broadened. The show’s that …show more content…
We can reserve judgment on whether Carroll & Williamson had the acting ability and chemistry of William Powell and Myrna Loy, two Hollywood greats by anyone's measure. We won't even dwell on the fact that the original Thin Man was created by Dashiell Hammett, one of America's great authors. The point is that TV has never, or extremely rarely, matched the level of dialogue that the Thin Man series in the movies had. The proper comparison is not to one of the great movie couples and their banter; more appropriate would be a comparison to a show like The Courtship of Eddie's Father or The Nanny and the Professor, which featured single white parents and had equally dull romances, plotlines, and dialogue. I've not had Bogle's advantage of re-watching all these old shows, but I wouldn't be surprised if Julia measures up to these similar white shows pretty well. And if you compare it to the most popular shows of its day, like The Beverly Hillbillies, which was actually shown twice a week in primetime for awhile, I think you'd prefer the image that Julia conveyed of black life, to the Hillbillies' image of …show more content…
They are a function of the mediocrity of the medium. Not for nothing has television been described as a "vast wasteland." TV, with the unique pressures of its weekly schedule and the need to appeal to a mass audience, has always tended toward banality. In the effort to supply escapist entertainment, it has relied heavily on the mindless, the unchallenging, and the consciously non provocative. Bogle stumbles upon this fundamental truth in his discussion of The Cosby Show, whose various problems he is seemingly constrained from criticizing because it is probably the most popular African American show of all time .The audience understood that The Cosby Show was not about contemporary politics. Rather it was about culture. But it's important to note that Cosby, who had the #1 show on television, actually had the leeway necessary to turn his show into the kind of political platform that Bogle seems to think African American shows should have tried to be, and he did not take advantage of it. Why then expect the many minor and largely forgotten shows that he criticizes throughout the book shows staffed by actors, writers, directors and producers who were after all just doing their jobs and which were just looking for an audience to have engaged in some kind of exercise in black empowerment

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