Enlightened Racism: The Cosby Show, Audiences, and the Myth of the American Dream

Sut Jhally, Author, Justin M. Lewis, Author Westview Press $46.5 (152p) ISBN 978-0-8133-1418-1
Based on an extensive study, funded by Bill Cosby himself, of audience responses to The Cosby Show , this provocative book reinforces criticism that, despite the show's great popularity and positive influences, it promotes the dangerous myth that blacks who don't ``make it'' have only themselves to blame. The authors, who teach in the department of communications at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, interviewed 52 focus groups, learning that viewers involve themselves deeply with the show and often see it as reality. White viewers can identify with and accept TV's Huxtable family as ``nice'' blacks; black viewers appreciate the show's lack of racial stereotyping. However, the authors argue, The Cosby Show 's images of the black upper class--like most images broadcast in recent years--hide and distort how most blacks live, thus relieving white viewers of responsibility for such inequalities. Neither blacks nor whites interviewed think clearly about class, the authors say; thus, our society cannot think clearly about how race and class intersect. While the authors' class analysis can be simplistic, their overall argument is convincing. (July)
Reviewed on: 06/01/1992
Release date: 06/01/1992
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 152 pages - 978-0-8133-1419-8
Hardcover - 170 pages - 978-0-367-00448-4
Paperback - 152 pages - 978-0-367-15435-6
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