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Watching While Black: Centering the Television of Black Audiencesby Beretta Smith-shomade
Synopses & Reviews
Television scholarship has substantially ignored programming aimed at Black audiences despite a few sweeping histories and critiques. In this volume, the first of its kind, contributors examine the televisual diversity, complexity, and cultural imperatives manifest in programming directed at a Black and marginalized audience.
Watching While Black considers its subject from an entirely new angle in an attempt to understand the lives, motivations, distinctions, kindred lines, and individuality of various Black groups and suggest what television might be like if such diversity permeated beyond specialized enclaves. It looks at the macro structures of ownership, producing, casting, and advertising that all inform production, and then delves into television programming crafted to appeal to black audiences—historic and contemporary, domestic and worldwide.
Chapters rethink such historically significant programs as Roots and Black Journal, such seemingly innocuous programs as Fat Albert and bro’Town, and such contemporary and culturally complicated programs as Noah’s Arc, Treme, and The Boondocks. The book makes a case for the centrality of these programs while always recognizing the racial dynamics that continue to shape Black representation on the small screen. Painting a decidedly introspective portrait across forty years of Black television, Watching While Black sheds much-needed light on under-examined demographics, broadens common audience considerations, and gives deference to the the preferences of audiences and producers of Black-targeted programming.
Watching While Black exclusively considers and critically engages programs that Black audiences watch and enjoy. With fresh perspectives, contributors both expose and introduce programming targeted at very specific and under-examined Black demographics. Cutting across forty years of Black television, the book looks at behind-the-scenes practices, significant historical texts, twenty-first century shows, and programs produced for Black audiences around the world.
About the Author
BERETTA E. SMITH-SHOMADE is an associate professor and chair of the communication department at Tulane University. She is the author of Shaded Lives: African-American Women and Television (Rutgers University Press) and Pimpin Ain’t Easy: Selling Black Entertainment Television.
Table of Contents
1. The Importance of Roots
2. Two Different Worlds
3. A Black Cast Doesn’t Make a Black Show
4. Blacks in the Future
5. “Regular Television Put to Shame by Negro Production”
6. “HEY, HEY, HEY!” Bill Cosby’s Fat Albert as Psychodynamic Postmodern Play
7. Gimme a Break! and the Limits of the Modern Mammy
8. Down in the Treme . . . Buck Jumping and Having Fun?
9. Keepin’ It Reality Television
10. Prioritized: The Hip Hop (Re)Construction of Black Womanhood in Girlfriends and The Game
11. Nigger, Coon, Boy, Punk, Homo, Faggot, Black Man
12. Graphic Blackness/Anime Noir
13. Resistance Televised
14. South African Soapies
15. Minority Television Trade as Cultural Journey
Notes on Contributors
What Our Readers Are Saying