Take a facet of crime, and then look at television shows/movies that feature those criminals as protagonists.
White serial killers.
White political corruption
White drug dealers
I mostly want to talk about this as a TV phenomenon, but pick a crime, any crime, and Western media has probably made a movie/TV series/play/etc. with a white person that romanticizes the criminal activity. No matter what, a white person can do whatever terrible crimes and still have a TV/movie fanbase that loves them.
When you see black or brown people committing crimes on screen, you are to see them thugs and criminal masterminds and people to be beat down.
When you see white people committing crimes on screen, you see a three-dimensional portrait of why someone might commit that crime, how criminals are people too, and how you should even love them for the crimes that they commit because they’re just providing for their families or they’ve wronged or they’re just people and not perfect. This is particularly a luxury given to white male characters, since there few white female criminals as protagonists.
If and of the above shows were about black or brown folks, there would be a backlash of (white) people claiming that TV and movies are romanticizing criminals and are treating them too much like heroes and that it will affect viewers and encourage violence and “thuggish” behavior. And yet fictional white criminals get to have a deep fanbase who loves these white criminals, receive accolades and awards, get called amazing television that portray the complexities of human nature. Viewers of these characters see past the atrocious crimes and into their humanity, a luxury that white characters always have while characters of color rarely do. The closest that mainstream TV has come to showing black criminals as main characters is probably The Wire, and even then, the criminals share equal screen time and equal status as main characters as the police trying to stop them.
The idea that crime can be so heavily romanticized and glorified to such a degree is undoubtedly a privilege given to white characters. The next time you hear someone talk about Dexter Morgan or Walter White in a positive way, it may be an opportunity to rethink how white people can always able to be seen as people no matter what they do, while everyone else can be boiled down to nothing but a criminal.
I always felt extremely uncomfortable with this trope because, not only is it racist, but it tends to feed into the already too common propensity society has to humanize, romanticize and exonerate irrevocably terrible white men. Like if you’re a white man and you commit awful crimes, you will likely go down in history as a legendary celebrity and historical figure
I’ve thought about this but this articulates it well
niggas so quick to call out beyonce and rihanna talking bout they aint really hood but be so quick to defend miley cyrus and iggy azalea and all the other little sour plain yogurt off brand weak cheaper by the dozen wannabe lightskin so bad white girls out there like bye
“There is no greater evidence of how tragic things are for dark-skinned women in Hollywood than the fact that they can’t even get hired to play dark-skinned women.”—
Marc Lamont Hill on the casting of Nina Simone
Because this sentence breaks my heart while filling me with joy. Because dark-skinned women are creating our own work and need not be left to a “Hollywood” standard. Because we stand on the backs of those who came before and serve as a bridge for those who follow.
I find it interesting how society doesn’t care when the media sexualizes women, when men sexualize women, or when school and the government sexualize women. But the second a woman is in control, and sexualizes herself willingly, it’s wrong and disgusting.