In a recent interview with The Root, Burrell expresses his displeasure in Scandal’s portrayal of black women.
I’m not a big television watcher, and it’s only been about a year since I’ve had anything but Netflix in my house. We were a cableless and network television free household for years, and I can’t say that I’ve missed anything. I can count on one hand how many episodes of Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal, I’ve watched. But I do know, when these shows air, because of the social media hoopla surrounding them. You’d be hard pressed not to find someone on Twitter (well maybe on “black” Twitter) raving about Olive Pope’s hair or outfit, or who she’s slept with. But not everyone is too pleased about Shonda Rhimes’ Scandal.
In his recent book, Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority, advertising executive Tom Burrell and founder of Burrell Communications Group, dissects the various propaganda methods used to assert inferiority amongst black people. In a recent interview with The Root, Burrell expresses his displeasure in Scandal’s portrayal of black women. In Burrell’s eyes, Olivia Pope, isn’t such a victory for black women. He sees her character as sexually aggressive and an exploitation of stereotypes that exist for black women:
I’ve got major problems with Scandal. It comes dressed up and masqueraded as something new, but Scandal is basically a continuing perpetuation of the stereotype of a black woman whose libido and sexual urges are so pronounced that even with an education and a great job, and all these other things, she can’t control herself. So, she’s basically a reincarnation of Bess from Porgy and Bess; she’s the female in Monster’s Ball; she’s the sexual predator and aggressor. It basically plays into the whole sexual stereotype of black women that’s been around from the very beginning, and that basically gives permission for them to be sexually exploited…. the message that is really being delivered is that no matter how much education you get and how much power you get, you’ve still got that “around the way girl” in you. It’s basically saying that black women are innately, inherently, hot to trot. He doesn’t seduce her. She seduces him..it seems [based on Scandal] that Shonda Rhimes is on the exploitation boat right now. Sometimes you get into this thing to do good, but then you just do well. And you drop your mission along the way.
Burrell, isn’t the only person who feels this way either. A former viewer of Scandal, Aisha Love, expressed similar sentiments. “I think the show plays on trite stereotypes and edges dangerously close to the uncomfortableness of the slavery and post slavery sexual exploitation of black women, and in doing so cheapens the protagonist”. Love, an African-American business executive based out of the Maryland area, also feels that Rhimes is just trying to make money and is not interested in how black people are portrayed.
Do you think Scandal exploits the image of Black women?