Hard to Have Respect for 'South Central'

Anyone who is connected with "South Central," the new television show that purportedly reflects "true lifestyles" of African Americans residing in South-Central Los Angeles, should hang his head in shame. In actuality, what we are asked to digest are the same old stale servings of stereotypes and sensationalism.

Of course, the mother is the head of the household, and the father's whereabouts are unknown. Naturally, the mother finds it difficult to support the family and is a potential candidate for welfare. Predictably, the children are ill-mannered, disrespectful, profane and unable to converse in standard English. There are the expected references to crack, OGs (original gangsters), homies, bitches, prisons and neighborhood gunfire; and the omnipresent drug dealers swarm in the background like ravenous vultures.

What is especially offensive about "South Central," though, is that it comes cloaked in a shroud of honesty and respectability. Failing miserably to entertain, it pretends to educate. In that guise, it is an extremely dangerous series.

As an African American resident of South-Central Los Angeles for most of my life, I contend that the show is far from realistic. On the contrary, the real South-Central is largely reflective of middle-class America; yet the first two episodes of the series featured as many denigrating images of African Americans as time would allow. Such images increase the ratings, and high ratings mean profits. Once again, African Americans are being auctioned for a price!

While others are reaping profits from the series, young people will suffer losses. I, for one, will never watch another episode, but I am greatly disturbed by the fact that many of the teen-agers whom I teach will undoubtedly become regular viewers of the show. Vulnerable and lacking the sophistication needed to distinguish between crass commercialism and reality, they often regard television characters as heroes and strive to emulate them. Considering the limited number of African American characters on television, it is unconscionable to subject people to predominantly negative images of those characters.

Producers of "South Central" should consider the deleterious effects of the series on our children. That reason alone is just cause to remove "South Central" from television.


Los Angeles


I am writing in response to Howard Rosenberg's column "Fox Looks Inside 'South Central' " (April 4). The critique of "South Central" was insightful. The latter part of the column, however, conveyed a misunderstanding of African American culture.

Rosenberg referred to the "minstrelization of blacks" by such shows as "Def Comedy Jam," "In Living Color," "Martin" and "Living Single." The major difference between these shows and the shows of old is that minstrels were done, for the most part, by whites for the entertainment of and indoctrination (racism, stereotypes) of whites. With the exception of "In Living Color" (now done in the absence of Keenen Ivory Wayans, with the flavor of a minstrel show), all of the aforementioned shows are done by African Americans for the entertainment and education of African Americans.

And what is idiotic about "Living Single" using humor to deal with the burdensome expectations placed on females to be either in a serious relationship or married?


Los Angeles


I'm well aware of (creators) Ralph Farquhar and Michael J. Weithorn's view of "South Central." I catch subtle glimpses of it on a daily basis because I live where teen-age boys are sometimes obsessed with video games and often dress in a style that can be mistaken for gangster wear. These same young men are also obsessed with getting into college and leading productive, responsible lives. But none of these young men would ever get away with using profanity in or even near their homes.

The parents of teen-agers I know in South-Central are dreadfully aware of the number of children that are reported missing each year, from all over. So they consider providing pagers for their children as a means of better communication; an act of responsibility.

My South-Central is proud, colorful and rich in heritage. A single mother struggling to feed and shelter her children would indeed beg for simple consideration in the matter of being chosen for a job in my South-Central, just as naturally as a father would read a bedtime story to his children.

Simply put, this black writer is issuing the challenge to Farquhar and Weithorn to do something responsible and at least consider a balanced view of South-Central from a writer who has lived here for 25 years.


South-Central Los Angeles


Once again we have been subjected to the redeeming values of another black situation comedy ("South Central") on Fox Television. We as blacks are tired of seeing us portrayed only as comedians, gang members, drug dealers or athletes. I ask the question: When will we have shows that are dignified? When will we have a predominantly black show like "L.A. Law" instead of "Family Matters"?

What we are experiencing again is the black renaissance of the '70s with all of its gangland pimp-style movies. The moral injustice being perpetrated against our youth is a travesty. All they see on TV is themselves being belittled, put down, made to look stupid, all for the white man's amusement. It makes me sick. Is this the best that we can expect from the TV execs? I dare any TV exec to answer that question.



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