On a lazy Sunday afternoon, I was splitting my attention between the almost complete breakdown of Atlanta Falcons’ fans and Twitter when an interesting article titled, “Such a Big Ego: Why Some Black Men Have a Problem with ‘Scandal” by Kirsten West Savali, got posted on my timeline from Clutch Magazine. When I opened the link, I did something I don’t usually do.
I scrolled directly to the comments to see how much furor it caused. At the time I read the article, it had 227 comments.
I’m an avid watcher of Scandal. Every Thursday night at 10pm, I make sure I’m locked in to my television and logged into Twitter so I can share my thoughts and reactions with all the other people watching. This makes me part of the 23.79 percent of men in Ms. Savali’s unscientific Twitter poll that enjoy the show.
I read her article with a bit of a smirk and two things immediately came to mind: 1) I’ve never head a man cite the reason she listed for why they don’t like the show and 2) This seems like awfully strong commentary for a show…seems like there’s something else here.”
Ms. Savali posits that the majority of men who don’t like Scandal dislike it because:
“For once, a black woman is depicted on screen who is one self-reliant, skilled, bad-ass business-woman capable of making her own decisions based on choices independent of black male control — and she chose a white man”
Of all the things Ms. Savali used to qualify why men don’t like Scandal, I found the previous quote to be the most problematic. I can’t argue with what she sees and her experiences, I’m simply saying I don’t think the fact the relationship is interracial is the main problem. And honestly, there’s plenty of legitimate reasons to dislike the show.
For example, the people on Scandal talk entirely too fast and have a penchant for self-serving and pointless soliloquys at the strangest times; I wouldn’t consider the characters a well -rounded or three-dimensional bunch; I’m still not entirely sure of the show’s overall purpose. It seems like Shonda just finds new ways to create problems every week for the team to solve, but it’s all done in a vacuum.
Most of the men who don’t watch the show may point to any one of those aforementioned reasons. Olivia giving herself to a white man is something I’ve hardly seen come up. (This isn’t to discount Ms. Savali’s point. Then again, she seemed to be mostly guessing. I’m assuming I’m allowed the same courtesy in this response).
Whenever I’ve seen men take up arms against the show, it’s usually against women who watch the show. And that conversation is usually centered around women seemingly accepting the love affair of Olivia and Fitz, despite the fact that Fitz is married. Most assuredly, we must remember that Scandal is a TV show and not exactly based in reality. That doesn’t stop people from championing Olivia Pope as the new face of 21st Century women (I may or may not have made that up), but it won’t prohibit me from making my next point.
One of the most frequently discussed reasons I’ve seen for the argument against Scandal (and the women who watch it) is the apparent hypocrisy on display. Women, by and large, seem to have NO problems with Olivia’s behavior despite the fact they would probably be far less accepting if 1) Fitz was black and Olivia was white or 2) they don’t tend to go for any of this in their personal lives.
To my first point, Ms. Savali actually covered it by stating “Black women would not flock to Scandal. I freely admit to that. It wouldn’t matter how empathetically and compassionately their love was depicted. It. would. not. fly. Not in this life or the next.” There’s a subtle irony in that statement. Savali openly admits she’d deride the converse situation, while simultaneously dismissing any argument made by men who are making the same point.
That’s neither here nor there.
To my 2nd point, there’s two ways to go about this:
- The argument being “why are you so pressed to champion Fitz and Olivia’s relationship when you know good and damn well if your man was carrying on like that with a woman you’d be ready to kill everybody?”
- “This is just a TV show. Just because I’m championing it on TV doesn’t mean I have to subscribe to this in real life,” which makes perfect sense. For example, I frequently ask for people I dislike in movies to be killed and maimed for any perceived wrongdoing to the hero, but I don’t think that should happen in real life. Suggesting that I should hold my real life beliefs in line with something fictional is in a word…
What I did find interesting in Savali’s post were the inflammatory blurbs which were directed to the men who don’t like the show. This could be seen in statements such as:
- “…I’ve long come to the conclusion that when it comes to inter-racial relationships, there are some black men who hold themselves to a different, hypocritical standard.”
- “I swiftly discard that exaggerated criticism because it is so obviously steeped in feelings of emasculation and instinctive powerlessness that it would take much longer than a sweep of social media to peel back all of the layers and address its core.”
- “And attempting to slut-shame black, female viewers into turning the channel just proves that a lot of egos need to be adjusted for deflation.”
The post is filled with that kind of vitriol towards men who dislike Scandal. Truthfully, it almost seems as if the author is quite upset about something and using Scandal as a “vessel” to “deliver” her message. Slight chance I could be wrong. After all, I’m only trying to ascertain how men disliking the show has to be as serious as Ms. Savali is making it out to be.
(Or she could just be a REALLY big fan of the show)
I discussed the article with another young lady just to make sure I hadn’t taken the wrong tone from it. The young lady agreed with some of the author’s points, but she too had a hard time understanding why Savali seemed to be so peeved.
“Sounds like she has some hurt feelings. What does any of what she’s saying have to actually do with the show?”
In conclusion, while there may be merit to her words, I think the article would have been better served with a much larger objective. If Savali wants to have a conversation about misogynists, slut-shaming, patriarchy, and possession, I’m all for it.
But to use one of my favorite shows to do it? Well…that’s just Scandal-ous.
RealGoesRight is a freelance writer, law graduate and lover of all things Jay-Z and Radiohead. He’s just here to write things which he believes will make a difference in the lives of the people who will read it.