SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 18, 2021
No Crazy Claim Left Behind: Jason Johnson is a "cable news" professor serving our own blue tribe.
He also has his own podcast at Slate. Yesterday, in a new edition, he spoke about the frequent casting of interracial couples in current TV ads.
Those TV ads are a somewhat surprising manifestation. We've never seen a discussion of the marketing strategy behind these ads.
That said, those ads are also a manifestation which lets kids with parents of different "races" see similar couples on TV. In theory, this could also be instructive for kids who aren't personally familiar with interracial couples. It could let those children begin to see that love and romance and even marriage can work this new, different way too.
At any rate, President Biden has frequently commented on these TV ads. Below, you see what Professor Johnson had to say about this offensive phenomenon.
Move to the 15-minute mark. He spoke with Khalil Muhammad:
PROFESSOR JOHNSON (9/17/21): Biden has said more than once, he's cited interracial couples in commercials as signs of progress on race. I’m going to tell you this, Khalil, because this is a key thing for me. Not only did I find that offensive. Not only did I write a piece about it in The Grio, but I have actually found the spate of interracial relationships in both commercials and television to actually be kind of an act of violence...
The professor has actually found those TV ads to be "kind of an act of violence." As he continued, he "explained" his peculiar remark:
PROFESSOR JOHNSON (continuing directly): And the reason why is because they are not reflective of actual demographic changes in this country. And second, the relationships still seem to be, they're sort of mock progress. You know, 86 percent of African-American men who are married in this country are married to black women; 92 percent of black women in this country who are married are married to black men. And yet, and I’ve done my own research on this, over 70 percent of interracial couples on television, it's always a white guy and a black woman.
Yes, that was the "explanation." Let's consider what the professor said.
(For an error-riddled Slate transcript, you can just click here.)
First, the professor said that these TV ads "are not reflective of actual demographic changes in this country." Presumably, he meant that, on a proportional basis, there are more interracial couples on TV than there are in the general population.
That may or may not be true; let's assume it is. Would that even begin to explain why those ads should be seen as "an act of violence?"
Tribal loyalty will instruct you to cast about for a way to say that it does. Simple rationality, however construed, will tell you that it doesn't.
The professor's explanation continued from there. He now seemed to say that the interracial relationships which exist in real life "still seem to be, they're sort of mock progress."
Or he might have meant that about the interracial relationships seen on TV. By the time he got through talking, it wasn't clear what he meant.
Whatever it was he actually meant, he turned to statistics to prove his point. Saying he'd done his own research, he ended with this mangled claim:
"Over 70 percent of interracial couples on television, it's always a white guy and a black woman."
Over 70 percent of the time, it's always a white guy and a white woman! Aside from the comical non sequitur involved in that statement, it's unclear how that statistic (if accurate) relates to his previous statistics (if accurate). And none of this begins to explain why those TV ads can be seen as "an act of violence," the statement we rode in on.
Here in Our Town, it's easy to see the craziness which is being widely displayed by quite a few of The Others. But our own blue towns increasingly run on a sad rule of thumb, especially when our cable professors start talking.
Increasingly, our blue towns run on this sad rocket fuel:
No Absurd Statement Left Behind!
Increasingly, this is the way we live Over Here, within our blue tribe, especially when we talk about matters of gender and race. Disconsolate anthropologists insist that our human brains are wired to produce such tribalized claims and have been all along.
We humans are the tribal animal! That's what the experts all say.
On Fox, they play the tape of our cable professors and tell The Others how crazy We are. When they make such moves on Fox, it's hard to say that they're totally wrong.