Recent media events like the confirmation hearings for Clarence Thomas, the beating of Rodney King and its aftermath, and the murder trial of O.J. Simpson have trained our collective eye on the televised spectacle of race. Living Color combines media studies, cultural studies, and critical race theory to investigate the representation of race on American TV.
Ranging across television genres, historical periods, and racial formations, Living Color-as it positions race as a key element of television's cultural influence-moves the discussion out of a black-and-white binary and illustrates how class, gender, and sexuality interact with images of race. In addition to essays on representations of "Oriental" performers and African Americans in the early years of television, this collection also examines how the celebrity of the late MTV star Pedro Zamora countered racist and homophobic discourses; reveals how news coverage on drug use shifted from the white middle-class cocaine user in the early 1980s to the black "crack mother" of the 1990s; and takes on TV coverage of the Rodney King beating and the subsequent unrest in Los Angeles. Other essays consider O.J. Simpson's murder trial, comparing television's treatment of Simpson to that of Michael Jackson, Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, and Clarence Thomas and look at the racism directed at Asian Americans by the recurring "Dancing Itos" on Jay Leno's Tonight Show.
Sasha Torres is Professor of English at the Johns Hopkins University.
Introduction / Sasha Torres 1 Entertaining "Difference": Strains of Orientalism in Early Los Angeles Television / Mark Williams 12 Confronting "The Indian Problem": Media Discourses of Race, Ethnicity, Nation, and Empire in 1950s America / Pamela Wilson 35 Extra-Special Effects: Televisual Representation and the Claims of "the Black Experience" / Phillip Brian harper 62 Narrowcasting in Diaspora: Middle Eastern Television in Los Angeles / Hamid Neficy 82 Re-Covering Racism: Crack Mothers, Reaganism, and the Network News / Jimmie L. Reeves 97 "Reliving the Past Over and Over Again": Race, Gender, and Popular Memory in Homefront and I'll Fly Away / Mimi White 118 King TV / Sasha Torres 140 Televisual Politics: Negotiating Race in the L.A. Rebellion / John Caldwell 161 Pedro Zamora's Real World of Counter-publicity: Performing an Ethics of the Self / Jose Esteban Munoz 195 Game Theory: Racial Embodiment and Media Crisis / Stephen Michael Best 219 Here Comes the Judge: The Dancing Itos and the Televisual Construction of the Enemy Asian Male / Brian Locke 239 Selected Bibliography 255 Index 263 Contributors 273