[Ed. Note—The opinions expressed during this conversation reflect those of the participants and the participants only. This conversation does not necessarily reflect the opinions of Complex Media.]
City Guide's Lauretta Charlton and Julian Kimble tackle the most controversial headlines about race that made the news. This month's discussion focuses on Scandal, the possibility of the KKK "rebranding" itself, Pharrell's "New Black," and Homeboy Sandman's response to the Donald Sterling controversy.
[Scandal's third season came to an end this month. Despite its popularity, its status as a legitimately good show and the themes it sends to viewers are in question. Specifically, should the Olivia Pope character actually be considered a role model?]
Julian: So tell me something, Lauretta. Are you a fan of Scandal?
Lauretta: Is this a trick question? Because my mind is telling me no, but my body is telling me yes. It's so hard to deny how gripping the show is, but I realize it's bad television.
Julian: Since we're using R. Kelly references, why is Scandal calling your body?
Lauretta: Well it's got some salacious sex scenes, for one.
Julian: For network TV, yes.
Lauretta: Right. A softer Cinemax.
Julian: Eh, maybe not, but they certainly don't pull any punches. It's what I'd call a "good bad show."
Lauretta: Other examples? Revenge. Also a good bad show.
Julian: Exactly, ABC's 2-2.
Lauretta: Okay, but why is Scandal the good-bad show #blacktwitter loves?
Julian: That's a phenomenon I've been trying to get to the root of for about a year. Part of it has to do with the obvious swirl affair that's a huge part of the show's plot.
Lauretta: Is it not the show? I mean, I feel like being a gladiator baaaaasically means swirling.
Julian: Also, the main character is a black woman in a position of authority, so that's a positive.
Lauretta: True, but the underlying message is, to be the ultimate gladiator you need to sleep with the president. And in good-bad TV land, the president is white. Are black women to aspire to be like Olivia Pope? I don't want to be a gladiator.
Is Olivia Pope a heroine to some, yes? But is she, a black woman, also a white man's side bitch and possible forbidden fantasy attained? I believe so.
Julian: There's also the "slave master who was dipping his pen in the sweet black pussy because his frigid wife is wack" thing.
Lauretta: ZOMG JK WENT THERE! I#&*KUIHDS>KHDFJWSBF.
Julian: You know I don't give a shit. That's what people don't seem to get. Well, some people.
Lauretta: Do you think that trope is lost on most people?
Julian: Is Olivia Pope a heroine to some, yes? But is she, a black woman, also a white man's side bitch and possible forbidden fantasy attained? I believe so.
Lauretta: Do you think Shonda Rhimes is blatantly challenging us to make those connections?
Julian: Possibly, but I also think the writers love to solve everything through Deus ex Machina so black twitter can pollute my timeline on Thursday nights. As a black woman, how do you feel about this supposed "heroine" being the president's "side bitch?"
Lauretta: I think that the show portrays black women as objects that need to be tamed and discarded as the master sees fit. That is basically the plot of Scandal to me. Would you agree?
Julian: To some effect, yes. Here's the thing that gets me about Twitter and how active it gets during Scandal: I see a bevy of side bitches chiding Olivia Pope for being a side bitch and I'm like, at least she's fucking the president. She aimed about as high as you can go.
Julian: Wait a minute, I got it—Scandal is popular with some because it's therapeutic.
Julian: It allows some people to project their self-loathing onto a fictional character and describe how they feel about themselves when talking about someone who isn't real.
Lauretta: These are willful observers and if they decide that they want to be like Olivia Pope/be a side bitch to a man (regardless of race or position), so be it.
Julian: Well Scandal, though somewhat wide in reach, definitely panders to the lowest common denominator.
Lauretta: That's on them.
Julian: To me, it's a basic-ass show.
Lauretta: It has been written: Scandal is a basic-ass show according to Julian Kimble. LOL. But don't you think it's a rung above Basketball Wives? I do.
Julian: Right there with Real Housewives of Atlanta, Basketball Wives and Love & Hip-Hop. Yes, because those programs—specifically the last two—have the lowest common denominator in their crosshairs. But unlike those other shows, it doesn't target the lowest common denominator. I watch enough of these shows to know what kind of beasts they are.
Lauretta: The idea that television producers see these people as "targets" is troubling.
Julian: People are products, and that's nothing new.
Julian: I'm not gonna sit here and act holier than thou, because I've watched all of these shows. I like looking at Draya as much as the next dude does (no bullshit), but after about 10 minutes, I'm like "the fuck am I watching this shit for?!" No disrespect to Mona Scott-Young, get paid, but think about why these shows are successful: It's black people fighting on TV. Mob mentality which, in some part, is what black Twitter is all about.
Lauretta: Right. It's a good-bad show, but the fact that people are aspiring to be a bad bitch a la Olivia Pope, which translates to side-bitch, is not a good look, black Twitter.
Julian: It's the playground and you have to fight your way to respect or be forever ridiculed. Also, what's the difference between Olivia Pope and the next fledgling rapper's side bitch? Oh, she's a white man's plaything. Speaking of white men, the KKK wants to change its face.