6.05.2013

Exeunt Ashley

There's a lot of chatter about Ashley Madekwe leaving Revenge, and just to clarify, she's not leaving as in, "she decided to get up and leave".  She's leaving because her contract wasn't renewed.

It's important to make this distinction because when I heard she was leaving, I was excited.  I was thinking that finally, the Black girl walked out.  With her lame (and later promiscuous) characterization, not to mention the fact she was never anyone's first choice for anything, I figured Ashley'd get sick of the BS and walk out.

But no...like Rutina Wesley (True Blood), Katerina Graham (Vampire Diaries), Dana Davis and Garcelle Beauvais (Franklin & Bash), she was willing to stick things out.

And quite frankly, I'm sick of it.  I'm sick of all these Black women toughing it out while get regularly shafted by the writers.

I get it, these women want to be actresses, and these gigs are steady employment/decent opportunities, but let's be real: what does this accomplish?  Sure, they get a check.  And some exposure.  But they're not winning Emmys for these roles, they're not making history or breaking boundaries, and compared to their fellow cast members, they're not making that much money.

I mean, think about it.  Ian Somerholder reportedly earns $40,000 on Vampire Diaries (less than some reality TV stars, mind you), but a couple of a years back, when the show was still new, I read he was earning about $25,000 per episode.  So let's start there.  The average TV season has about 22 episodes, so he was bringing home, like, $550,000 per year before taxes.  Even at $40,000/ per ep he still brings in less than $1 mil a year before taxes.  In Hollywood, that's the equivalent of a call center job or tending bar in an upscale restaurant.  And he's one of the show's main stars.

If he was getting paid like that, while appearing in pretty much every episode, what do you think Katerina Graham was making?  She-Who-Was-Absent-Every-Few-Weeks (and a token) probably wasn't breaking the bank.

Now let's talk representation.  Whom are these women empowering?  They're used, ignored, stepped on, kicked around, then summarily dismissed, often within a season or two.  How can they empower their Black viewers when they themselves aren't empowered, neither on nor off screen?

Some of us are older, having grown up in the 90s, the 80s, the 70s...and the more things change, the more they stay the same.  The way white people treat Black women on these shows mirrors real life.  That's why producers and writers capture it so effortlessly, because they're just writing what they know.  And thus the cycle is perpetuated; young girls watch these and internalize the dynamics.  They learn that the Black girl is "there".  She's there for whatever you need her to be there for.  To solve your problems, give you a ride, loan you money, wipe your tears, warm your bed, cheer you up, make you breakfast, help you move, help you clean, help you get the guy, help you get the girl, absorb your wrath, amuse your relatives, babysit your kids, lie for you, steal for you, kill for you, sacrifice her own family for you, take a bullet for you...and for all she does and all she gives up, her character's reward to is get killed off or simply written out.  In other words: dismissed.  The message to young white girls is, when you don't need the Black girl to be "there" anymore, then dismiss her like a housemaid so you can peacefully enjoy the fruits of her labor.

For all of you who've wondered why some of the white men and women in your life insist upon acting like this towards you, not all of it's from their family and friends.  A ton of it is from film and TV.  As decades roll by and progress is supposedly made, this bullshit is very carefully preserved, and these Black actresses - in their eagerness to be rich and famous - willingly contribute to the cycle.  Needless to say, I'm sick of it.

These women have more money than I do.  If I had just half their cash, I would give y'all the bomb-est webshows you could imagine.  They have no excuse anymore.  If Issa Rae can go from being broke and unemployed to a popular awkward Black girl on the web, to portraying Nina Simone in a Lorraine Hansberry biopic (take that, Zoe), then there really is no excuse anymore.

3 comments:

  1. Issa's going to play Nina? Awesome!

    If I had just half their cash, I would give y'all the bomb-est webshows you could imagine. They have no excuse anymore. Alladis is nothing but the truth. But people don't want to put forth those kinds of efforts. They want the easy way out, or in this case, an easy check.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And in most cases, that easy check doesn't last long.

      I've been paying close attentions to the salaries of TV stars lately and it's not worth. Not when you factor in the costs of living in LA, keeping a management team on retainer, paying for professional head shots, and traveling changing your appearance just to audition for - not even act in - different roles.

      Delete
  2. This is why i don't watch tv and i closely monitor what my son consumes. I don't want him internalizing any of dat shit.

    Gibi

    ReplyDelete

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