Does Television & Film Fetishize Interracial Relationships?



I was half-watching TV the other day when I noticed that in the span of just one commercial break, there were two commercials that both featured an interracial couple. One of those smiling couples pushing who knows what product featured a black man and a white woman, while the other consisted of a black woman with a white man. I'm all for inclusion and representation, so it is refreshing to see couples that I see in real life represented in commercials, television, and film. But for me, the head-scratching came when I gradually began to realize that when it concerned commercials on that particular day, and honestly, most days, I hardly noticed any couples that were black. Houston, that's a problem.



Despite the fact that we're quickly approaching 2020 and are decades removed from the civil rights movement, the world of entertainment is still very much geared towards white audiences and their level of comfort. I mean, we live in an era where a film like The Green Book can be celebrated by critics while simultaneously being dragged by black folks from Atlanta to Oakland.



Progress has been made, and shows like "Atlanta," "Black-ish" and "Insecure" are killing it, but there still seems to exist this awkward fetishism of interracial couples. I mean, look no further than the Kardashians (who are limited to one mention in this story). They're masters in fetishism, bulldozing their way through the Lamars, the Kanyes, and the Tygas of the world with ease. And to be absolutely fair, the fetishism does work both ways. An Instagram account by the name of @blackwomenwhitemenbwwm has nearly 60,000 followers and receives hundreds of likes per post, mostly from black women.


In terms of this possible fetishism of interracial couples on television and in film, it seems that comfort is a strong motivator. For white audiences, unless you're a confederate flag-wielding Klansman, an interracial couple could be easier to digest than a black couple. It's like dipping your toes in the pool of diversity without diving head first into an ocean of FUBU. In fact, it feels a lot like pulling the "I have black friends" card when things pop off: "I'll offer my bare minimum and accept this interracial couple if it means y'all will leave me and my faux acceptance the hell alone."


But to backtrack to one of my first comments, I'm here for inclusion. I want to see everyone fairly represented, but too many times black relationships, black families, and black people have to be watered down to the acceptance of mainstream America. And unfortunately in film and television, a lot of times that is done by pairing them with a white partner.

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