TV Can Help World Erase Color Lines
I strongly disagree with the people who attacked David Kelley with the complaint that the colorblind world he projects in “Ally McBeal” is not of this world (“Colorblind or Just Plain Blind?,” Feb. 9). Perhaps it isn’t, but someday I hope to be part of that ideal world, which television can help achieve by projecting it.
As a result of my own experience as half of a cross-race romance on a major television show, I have conducted, quite involuntarily, a public opinion poll on the issue. People are not shy about giving me their candid reaction to my mixed-race romance on “Boy Meets World.” And I’m happy to report that the reactions are not at all reactionary.
Kelley’s premise and ours on “Boy Meets World” are not merely expressions of hope for a race-blind future. These bold story-line ventures are, as our Internet friends say, “search engines” and “portals” to that future.
Entertainment is the greatest “portal” an important but difficult idea can have. Kelley has been very entertaining in showing what a non-race-minded society would be like if he were writing the script. I think that also has been the strength of the very popular projection of an interracial romance on “Boy Meets World” for the past year and a half. My character, Angela, has intimately kissed Shawn (Rider Strong) a number of times, and the show’s creators have never made an issue of our race. As our executive producer, Michael Jacobs, explained to us at the start: It’s obvious what color we are.
The Los Angeles Times apparently didn’t think our kisses were of any threat to society, since no editorial or reportorial comment was ever offered, and no viewer response letter was ever printed. I, for one, saw that silence as very golden.
The demographics of “Boy Meets World” lean toward young people, so the absence of expressed concern is all the more significant. I get lots of positive reactions from both black and white teenagers wanting to know when Shawn and I are getting back together. The black kids are not asking, “Why are you with that white boy?” When I attended the NAACP Image Awards, a black girl lamented to me that Shawn and Angela are a perfect couple and should be back together. The next day, a white girl in a mall begged to know if Shawn and Angela are still in love. One was 9, one preteen. They are the new face of tolerance. These kids are not looking at race; they’re absorbing the love story.
It’s unfortunate that the whistle gets blown when a handsome black professional is passionately kissing an attractive white female, as is the case on “Ally McBeal.” To suggest that it is of concern that Kelley does not make an issue of the race aspect of his story is, in itself, racist.
It’s also dated. The experience I have had with interracial relationships has been healthy. They flourish or don’t flourish like any other relationships, no matter the ethnic pairing. We’re going into the next millennium and people have to grow up and allow television to show the relationships that do exist in our society.
Someday, through our efforts, I hope the real world will become as colorblind as “Boy Meets World” and “Ally McBeal.”
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