Tuesday, October 22, 2013

"The Butler" vs "Scandal" : Contrasts

A writer writes!

I'm still having problems reconciling the differences in the opening scene of the movie "The Butler" and the popularity of the ABC television drama "Scandal".  Both feature an element of a white man having sexual relations with a black woman.  In "The Butler" the white male "master" has sexual relations with the black wife of one of his slaves.  The black female slave has no choice but to reluctantly allow the white master's sexual advances.  The husband of the black woman in "The Butler" semi-confronts the white master at the behest of his son and is murdered for doing so.  In "Scandal" the white President has an extra marital ongoing sexual relationship with a black female who once worked for him in various capacities. The President supposedly is in love with the black female.  The black female character, Olivia Pope, is a willing participant in the relationship, to the point where she turns down the proposal of a black male Senator who wants to marry her.

I  wonder if the TV series would be as popular if the character of the President in the series was black, and the Olivia Pope character was white?  I do wonder what a black female who currently is a fan of the series would feel about the story line in "Scandal" if they first had to re watch every week the opening scene in "The Butler" of the black woman being used as a sexual outlet by the white slave master and then seeing the black male slave "husband" being murdered.

How do black males feel about the story line in Scandal?  One message of the plot  seems to be that if you are a successful black professional you are still a second choice option to a successful black female professional.  How do black males feel about seeing an attractive black female character being sexually ravaged by a white character?  What is the difference between the way the black female is used in the opening scene of "The Butler" versus how the black female is used in "Scandal"?

Some would say, it's not about white vs black, it's about love that crosses racial barriers.  Let's see, the character of the white President is married and has a child.  So, Scandal is a love story??  In "The Butler" was the opening scene where the black woman is used for sex a depiction of the slave master's love for her?  I don't think so.

"Scandal" to me is the story of Thomas Jefferson updated to fit the year 2013.  A powerful politician who is attracted to black women.  A fantasy/reality depicted on national television for entertainment purposes.  Yes, the "romantic" story line is only one part of the plot in Scandal.  But, it sends a message regarding choices and ignores the historical fact that years ago, black females (and maybe black males) did not have a choice to refuse the overtures of white slave owners or their wives.  "Scandal" in some ways romanticizes the abuse that black female slaves had to endure.  So, if you have not seen "The Butler" rent it and watch the opening scenes before you watch the next episode of  "Scandal".

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