Primetime Blues African American on Network Television C

Donald Bogle, Author
Donald Bogle, Author Farrar Straus Giroux $30 (512p) ISBN 978-0-374-23720-2
Reviewed on: 02/01/2001
Release date: 02/01/2001
Paperback - 448 pages - 978-0-374-52718-1
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From its earliest days, television has always had a problem with color. The advent of Technicolor didn't change the fact that most actors on TV were white. Even in the mid-1970s, when African-American actors began appearing more regularly on network shows, the roles open to them were rigidly circumscribed. In this thoroughly researched, witty and often shocking social history, media scholar Bogle fashions an in-depth chronicle of the way television has mirrored and influenced the politics of race in the U.S. His analysis remains attuned to how the earliest black performersD""Eddie"" Rochester on The Jack Benny Show; Ethel Waters, Hattie McDaniel and Louise Beavers playing the indefatigably cheerful black maid Beulah; and Alvin Childress and Spencer Williams in Amos n' AndyDmanaged to communicate authentically with African-American viewers, despite often finding themselves ""cast in parts that were shameless, dishonest travesties of African American life and culture."" Situating its critique within a broad economic and industry analysis, the book addresses such major issues as the pressure of sponsors and the advent of cable on the portrayal of African-American subject matter. The author of Dorothy Dandridge and Toms, Coons, Mulattos, Mammies, & Bucks, Bogle pulls no punches (e.g., chastising the popular Sanford and Son for what he sees as its anti-Asian racism and homophobia). This major new work in television and media studies will be welcomed by both academics and general readers. 60 b&w photos. Agent, Marie Brown. 5-city author tour. (Feb. 24)
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