Every Thursday if I’m lucky or Friday afternoon, I tune in for my weekly dose of Shonda. That’s right, Shonda not specifically Olivia or McDreamy. As the screen connoisseur that I think am, big or small—Shonda has managed to satisfy my addiction of a well written storyline matched with superbly developed characters.
Despite James Wolcott’s truthful claims of the small screen outshining the big screen, there has been a serious onslaught of controversy directed towards Rhimes’ primetime show, “Scandal.” The unanimous concern seems to be with Olivia, a powerful black woman, having an on & off steamy affair with Fitz, the white president. It conjures historical dynamics between female slaves and their masters. It makes Olivia look like a slut. It has magically awakened the dutiful powers of “clean up women” everywhere.
I tried not to write about this. I really tried not to write about this. I endlessly conversed with a friend to rid myself of this urge to respond to those that are appalled by the affair that does not encapsulate the entire scope of the show. It was therapeutic, but clearly it did not work. Those in contempt are so infuriated that they have begun to judge my fellow gladiators all because they watch the show.
Funny thing is, I used to watch General Hospital religiously up until last year. Soap operas are as dramatic as it all, can get. People judged me. It didn’t match me: my locks, my demeanor, my school of thought, or my character. Nonetheless, most didn’t know that I was a valedictorian in high school; graduated from Howard University, or that I am currently embarking on a Masters in Computer Science. Their judgments were baseless.
To be honest I have more dreams about being more like “Mr. White” than Olivia Pope. I daydream more about perfectly positioning a Strela-3 to explode a helicopter because of my intimate relationship with “Call of Duty” but not sitting on my couch drinking endless glasses of wine waiting for Olivia to pick up the phone call from Fitz.
Huck is my favorite character. Harrison is perfect for Olivia. I actually root for Mellie because, hello, she’s the wife. After last week’s episode I’m sure Mellie’s back story struck a cord with many women. Sacrifices are made but not always readily available for appreciation or oftentimes go unreciprocated. Let’s just say, Mellie is stronger than battery acid. No matter how intricate the other characters storylines are what the world sees is a black woman laying down for a powerful white man. As painful and haunting as this country’s past is; interracial relationships of many kinds are prevalent and growing in wedded numbers—without sexist, demeaning power structures, unrealistic gender roles or racial overtones.
I’m not a big fan of hypocrisy or double standards. No one screams and shouts about Blair Underwood’s on screen white lovers. At least not to this degree, that is if the argument is about a misrepresentation of cultural love and solidarity. Hell, there are fewer articles about Will Smith and Denzel Washington not having sistas as their mates in their million dollar flicks. “Independence Day,” is the last movie Will had a black lover (Vivica A. Fox), if I’m not mistaken. It’s because we already know whose coming to dinner. Maybe we’re just selectively possessive, in a sort of do as I say not as I do kind of way. We bestow certain freedoms to men that are not offered to women, especially not to black women. It is naive to think that this show has spearheaded an emergence of black women sexually expressing themselves how they want. Women like sex too, contrary to society’s belief. Black women like sex too. We women can’t get excited as we read “Fifty Shades of Grey,” but men can watch as much porn as their appetites require. Have you notice, no one really talks about Fitz’s part in this ménage?
Strangely, enough the argument is rarely about infidelity. I suppose that’s because many have stepped out while in exclusive relationships. Still, it can’t just be that Olivia is black and Fitz is white. It is too self-righteous to sit and argue about a fictitious character that mirrors your very mistakes and/or regrets. I knowww, it’s different—it’s your mate’s fault. Most importantly, if you are a black man or woman for that matter and you are currently mistreating your loved one in the same way Fitz has mistreated Mellie and has swooned Ms. Olivia—GTFOH. “The tempted bares as much guilt as the temptor.”
What I resent is how the black community engages in believing what one black woman does, all black women do (and vice versa). There’s nothing I abhor more than generalizations. Never mind that Olivia Pope is portrayed by Kerry Washington, an actress. Moreover, I do not desire an interracial relationship extramarital or otherwise nor have I developed such a craving. African men are my only preference.
As stated before, I am a fan of Shonda Rhimes’ creativity. This show or no show for that matter does not have the power to dictate what I do or brainwash my character into something that it is not. If you’ve done it, you were going to do it—it was already within you, to do so. Don’t express your complete disdain for “Scandal” but you watch “Basketball Wives,” “Love and Hip Hop,” or “Real Housewives of Atlanta.” If you can watch reality TV, most certainly you can give “Scandal” a break.
Side note: The objectification of any woman, by any group of people is still just that, objectivity.