Ethnic Minorities and the Media: Changing Cultural Boundaries

By Simon Cottle | Go to book overview

3
WHITE WATCH
John Fiske
Introductory instances and premature conclusions
I would like to begin by recounting some apparently isolated events, in order to argue that they are, in fact, far from isolated.First, according to polls, African Americans remained solidly in Clinton’s corner throughout the Monica Lewinski scandal. Black Americans told me repeatedly how closely they could empathize with him because they thought he was being treated as a Black man.1 Clinton, in African American knowledge, was Blackened (one man used the word ‘niggerized’ to me) because
his behaviour was subjected to intense, disproportionate and unfair surveillance
his sexuality was made public as widely as possible, because it was ‘known’ to be a threat to the social order, and thus everyone had a right to know about it
his sexuality was the means by which his opponents hoped to bring him down.

Time and again they likened his treatment to that of Clarence Thomas, Marion Barry, Mike Tyson, even Rodney King, and, of course, O.J. Simpson (see below). One African American told me that Clinton was the Blackest president he would see in his lifetime, and claimed that many whites were as hostile as they were because of Clinton’s coded markers of blackness: he came from the wrong side of the tracks in a poor Southern town, he was brought up by a single mother, his public life had been disproportionately linked with hypersexuality and drug use (even though he did not inhale) and

-50-

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