Quality wise, this show is well produced. The makeup is top notch and the choice of family members will prove to create some interesting situations. Perhaps the weakest person is the black son, because he doesn\'t seem to be in the spirit of making believe you are the opposite race - at least in the first episode. We\'ll see if he gets into it later.
The makeup works on some members and not on others. The white family really ended up looking black, though the afros on the mom and dad looked a bit fake to me. But not bad enough that people would question the authenticity in public, which is good enough. The black family didn\'t come off looking very white unfortunately - more like light-skinned black people. The father looked the best, probably because he was light skinned and green eyed to start off with, while the mom and son are more black and didn\'t look as authentic as whites. The son has potential to look white, but as soon as he opens his mouth and talks people will think he\'s either a black in white makeup or a w*gger.
The first episode left me with a lot to think about. Both fathers are very strong in character, with the white father Bruno believing that what you put out there is what you get back, no matter what your skin color. I believe he is right about 95% of the time. He also recalls his fathers lesson that if you want something you have to work very hard for it. Brian, on the other hand, really wants to see subtle racism everywhere with all people in all situations. When walking on a sidewalk, he wants to think that when people move out of the way it\'s because he is black. When a salesman comes up to him in a store and asks if he wants some help, he wants to think it\'s because he is checking up on him. Bruno disagrees. In the first episode, Bruno\'s black experience largely proved him right - he acted positive and polite to those he ran into while in black makeup and everyone reacted well to him, even though he was black. He even said his credit was bad while at a car dealership but they continued trying to sell him a car.
Brian in white makeup actually had some interesting experiences being a white bartender. He\'s looking at this as a scientific study, and when he encounters racism he doesn\'t get offended but rather keeps his cool so he can extract more information. It worked well for him. In a white neighborhood one patron told him that the neighborhood is largely white and they hope to keep it that way so it doesn\'t run downhill like the black neighborhoods. This was probably eye opening for Brian (his eyes literally did get wide when he heard this) but it is a common concern among white America.
At the end of the day they come home and the two families talk about their experiences and look to the other family for their take on the situations. It\'s very well thought out and has a lot of potential. As the series progresses I think we\'re going to see more honesty come out, and hopefully the producers don\'t push the participants for drama but let them find their own way.
I care a lot about race, racism, prejudice, and discrimination.
I say that by way of explanation for both my curiosity and nervousness as I watched the first installment of the six-part documentary series Black.White. The show is airing on FX at 10 p.m. on Wednesdays, EST.
By way of background let me mention that I have written about my white man's guilt and other thoughts on race.
There have been many attempts in television and film to address issues of race and prejudice. One reason I wrote such a positive review of the movie Crash was because it did a good job of talking about how we all have some prejudices, although how much we acknowledge and act on it varies.
But for every Crash, there are 10 other programs that exacerbate stereotypes about various races.
Although I had given up on reality shows, I decided to give Black. White a try. It also helped that I respected the director/producer, R.J. Cutler, who made the excellent documentary The War Room, about Bill Clinton's 1992 presidential election.
The premise of this series is simple: Take two families, one white and one black, and use make-up to make the white family black, and the black family white, and then have the two families live together.
The situation could result in some profound conversations, exchanges of racial remarks or, more likely, something in between.
If it does a good job of addressing racial issues that could lead to advances in race relations, however slight. If it screws up, it will join the junk heap of programs that try - but fail - to do a good job covering racial issues.
I have a bad feeling about this show after watching the first episode and reading news reports suggesting the footage has been manipulated to make some situations appear more extreme and racially charged than they actually were.
My biggest concern at this point is Bruno, the white father of the family. Bruno is the kind of guy who — as he openly says — looks forward to being able to say the n-word. Each time Bruno uses the slur, the camera pans to Brian, the black father, who looks upset. Brian later says "my jaws clench up" when he hears the word.
Bruno is the kind of guy who is excited because now he can try out his "black" walk. Bruno is the kind of guy who suggests black men, including Brian, go out of their way to look for racist situations. In other words, Bruno is a clueless idiot.
Perhaps that is fitting.
Maybe Bruno symbolizes what is wrong with the average American.
So now I brace for the rest of the episodes with the hope that Bruno - and by extension those who think like him - will have some breakthrough moment where they realize that Brian is right that racism, while more subtle in nature, still exists and is a terrible problem.
That instead the show will contain moments like, in the first episode, when the white family demonstrates the way that white people hug and the black family shows how it differs from how black people hug.
This was shown as if this was some revealing moment. But the reality is there is no one universal way that all black, or all white, people hug, just as no race collectively thinks alike on more substantive issues.
I sure hope the series improves. Otherwise, the series may be simply replacing old stereotypes with new ones and the Brunos of the world will remain clueless.
This was an interesting program, on the surface…but then it got really stupid. The “White” family were so ridiculous to watch that it became uncomfortable to sit through. I have never seen a more FAKE group of pretenders. The mom, with her “I have always loved the black people” façade…and the dad with the “I think black people are the best at everything” comments were disingenuous to say the least. The only person in the “White” family who seemed to be real was the daughter.
The “Black” family, on the other hand were much more realistic about the scenario. The worst part was watching them try to deal with the false pretenses of the “White” family.
The biggest hurdle this show will have to get over is the preprogrammed need for WHITES to appear as non-racists. So often they bend over backwards to not be racists, that they end up looking stupid, disingenuous and condescending. I wish this show could be better, but it really fell short because the “White” family are so fake.
I love to see the reality of the “Black” family experiencing the white lifestyle…but I’m pretty sure the “White” family is going to get themselves killed in the end.
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