15 December 1014
Just Dark Enough
Living in a twenty first century world that is heavily influenced by media, one can rarely escape from the various messages being broadcast. Whether it is television and film or social media and the Internet, media platforms can be seen portraying images nearly everywhere. In the midst of the countless forms of media, society is constantly discussing the true impact media has on the general public verses the public’s influence on the messages media displays. While individuals who partake in these discussions may never come to a mutual agreement, one cannot deny that media and the people who receive these messages have an influence on one another. According to the Neilson Ratings Corporation, Americans consume approximately four hours of television content a day, which is twenty-eight hours a week. As these television viewers enjoy the content of television for hours at a time, their conversations segue to the types of images being broadcast. One may ask, are the images within the content positive or negative? Does the media broadcast accurate portrayals of individuals representing the full spectrum of society or does it perpetuate stereotypes about those who do not look European? As they consume numerous hours of content, imagine the power within this particular platform if people continue to ingest its daily messages.
The messages conveyed to television audiences are important because they shape opinions, beliefs and values. Moller writes, There exists a large body of research that suggests that television has an important impact on people’s attitudes, beliefs, and values (e.g., Gerbner, Gross, Morgan, & Signorelli, 1980; Gerbner, Morgan, & Signorelli, 1986; Signorelli, Gross, & Morgan, 1982). Particularly well documented is the effect of television on people’s attitudes and beliefs about violence and different social groupings (e.g., women, ethnic minorities, and older people).
With this in mind, one should not forget that television has a history of serving as more than a resource for entertainment. In certain situations television acts as a political platform that supports positive change while bringing awareness to specific causes, such as, the lack of Civil Rights for all humans within a democratic country. Additionally, there are unique circumstances in which the entertaining sphere of television combines forces with the political/informational sphere and brings awareness to slightly taboo issues through a captivating melodramatic narrative series. Such is the case of the American Broadcast Company’s television program How to Get Away with Murder. This primetime program brings awareness to the marginalized tactics and overt acts of oppression that African American women experience in various issues within their feminist struggle.
Viola Davis’ protagonist role as a dark skinned, lawyer and college professor named Annalise Keating on the ABC’s television show How to Get Away with Murder: Season 1 Episode 4 embodies multiple aspects of Black Feminism as it defies traditional expectancy of colorism standards on primetime television. Methodically disassembling her tangible façade and revealing her natural self, Davis symbolically and artfully peels away layers of oppression that African Americans experience as they fight to survive in a White patriarchal Society. I will analyze how Annalise Keating in the episode, Let’s Get to Scooping defies the stereotypical role of African American women in prime time television, while simultaneously communicating a message of Black Feminism and colorism in a melodramatic façade of an entertainment program.
While the theory of feminism exists to advocate for the equal rights of women in comparison to those of men, the feminist movement does not serve many of the most salient issues of African American women. Since the unwilling migration of African slaves to America, African American women