Unrealistic Blacks


Remember the days when having black folk as leads in TV shows was considered unrealistic? I mean, before folks like Kerry Washington (Scandal) or Don Cheadle (House of Lies) were commonplace on the small screen, having black people in prominent roles was considered improbable; a sort of political correctness gone berserk.

Dennis Haysbert played US President David Palmer in the popular series 24. I remember some fans writing in to complain that having a black US president was a tad “unrealistic”. Imagine that. You are watching 24 and in all the crazy implausible scenes with Jack Bauer as a middle aged one man counter-terrorism fighting machine, all you’re seeing as the ONE unrealistic thing here is the race of the president? Ironically, it’s been said that Haysbert’s portrayal of David Palmer allowed viewers to become more comfortable with the idea of a black US president and consequently may have helped the political campaign of Barack Obama. The “Palmer Effect” it’s been called.

Some fans of the Doctor Who series complained when one of the episodes showed a black person as part of Richard Nixon’s security personnel. Apparently it was “unrealistic” for President Nixon to have had a black person as part of his security team. Turns out, in real life, Nixon did in fact have a black secret service agent.

In the series Sleepy Hollow, Nicole Beharie plays the role of Lieutenant Abbie Mills. Nicole Beharie is black and some fans of the show weren’t too pleased she was playing Abbie Mills. Why? Well because, apparently, having a black female cop as the lead character in a small, largely-white town is…you guessed it…”unrealistic”. What’s funny is that in real life there IS a black female cop in Sleepy Hollow.

When the movie Thor came out in 2011, some fans of the original comics criticised the decision to cast Idris Elba as Heimdall because, apparently, making Heimdall black was “unrealistic”…because in the comic book, he is white. IN THE COMIC BOOK. Yes, folks are using a comic book as a measure of realism. Thor’s flying hammer – OK! Black Heimdall – NOT OK! Eh?

Speaking of Idris Elba, just recently, former James Bond star Roger Moore was quoted as saying having Idris Elba as James Bond would be “unrealistic”. Something to do with Bond needing to be “English-English”, which Idris, I’m guessing, isn’t. And here I thought James Bond had already been played by non-English actors.

I haven’t watched WWE wrestling in a few years now but I used to be quite the fan. And I always used to wonder why they never gave the WWE Championship to a black wrestler. I think there have been a fair few that were deserving. I personally loved Booker T. He had the whole package…but never got to be WWE Champion. I wonder why? Maybe having a black WWE Champion is “unrealistic?”

Look, I understand if we’re discussing a show about, say, Vikings, and people argue that, for accuracy’s sake you can’t have black Vikings because, well, there were no black Vikings in the Viking era. But to say Grey’s Anatomy is unrealistic because the Chief of Surgery is black is just being, well, unrealistically dense.

*just scribbling my unrealistic thoughts*

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4 comments on “Unrealistic Blacks

  1. Josbons says:

    I totally agree with you.Sometimes i wonder why people make a big deal out of comic books turning into real movies and changing some of the characters.White or black so what? If the actor can play the role well,so be it.I won’t be surprise f it comes to a time that some people might say blacks can wear stuff made by non blacks.But in the end,we are all humans and everybody got something to bring to the table.This is life and we must enjoy.Period.Great post.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Reblogged this on movingblack and commented:
    I think this is why people sometimes are surprised that I, a black woman who travels for fun, can exist. They’ve not seen someone like me on TV cos a studio exec somewhere reckons the character would come across as ‘unrealistic’! Loving how the bounds of possibility are illustrated here: one man terrorism fighting machine (Jack Bauer)? Possible. Black president he reports to? Impossible. LMAO!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Phoenicia says:

    You have made some key points here. At times we need to be reminded to take note of how we are perceived in society. Sadly, there is still a long way to go. This should not however, deter one from striving forward.

    Great post!


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