Groups Rap TV Shows for Stereotyping Blacks

Article excerpt

PROCLAIMING that "enough is enough," three local black groups led by the Beverly Hills/Hollywood chapter of the NAACP have launched an attack against television comedies that portray blacks in a buffoonish manner.

Billie J. Green, president of the NAACP chapter, and leaders from the Brotherhood Crusade and Mothers in Action targeted eight series that air on Fox and the fledgling WB and UPN networks, claiming they contain negative stereotypes that are an affront to black professionals.

"I know comedy is comedy, but there's a fine line when people are laughing with you and people are laughing at you," Green said. "Right now, people are laughing at us. What's on these shows is just horrible. Parents do not want their kids watching these shows. It is not a fair representation of black America. What we're seeing is like `Amos 'n' Andy' and Stepin Fetchit. In fact, `Amos 'n' Andy' was a better show than what we're seeing now." Unlike "Amos 'n' Andy," which was taken off the air in 1953 after protests by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and others, the new action does not seek to get the shows canceled, only altered to include more positive images. All of the shows feature predominantly black casts and many have black writers and producers on staff. The shows under fire are Fox's "Martin," WB's "The Wayans Bros." and "The Jamie Foxx Show" and UPN's "Homeboys in Outer Space," "Goode Behavior," "Sparks," "In the House" and "Malcolm and Eddie." Executives at Fox, UPN and WB declined official comment. But some of the producers and stars said they were perplexed and angered by the attack, saying no effort had been made to contact them to discuss the grievances. Miguel A. Nunez Jr., one of the stars of "Sparks," which is set at a black law firm, said, "If the NAACP had a problem with our show, why the heck didn't they come to us? We could make those changes. Yes, we have some broad characters on the show, we agree about that. But we are lawyers, we're not in a gang and we're not committing crime." The coalition leaders said they plan to meet with executives at the three TV networks within the next few weeks to call for a "cleanup" of the shows, including more input from black writers and producers and the establishment of a monitoring system that would take a hands-on approach to the portrayals of blacks. "We're not asking for these shows to be taken off the air," said Green. "We don't want anyone to be put out of work. But Hollywood should be accountable and responsible for what they put on TV." In initiating the action, which has been planned for months and was approved by the board of directors, the NAACP chapter is taking a contrary stance from the national NAACP, which has honored "Martin" and its star, Martin Lawrence, at its Image Awards several times. …