Thursday, June 30, 2005

Prime Time Bigotry

Today's New York Times reports that ABC has dropped from its schedule a racist, repulsive bit of summer programming in which white Christian families either accept or reject minorities wishing to live in their neighborhood.

Under pressure from civil rights groups, ABC Television yesterday canceled plans to broadcast a reality show that let the white suburban families living on a Texas cul-de-sac decide which of seven families - including one black, one Asian, one Hispanic and one gay couple - would move into their community.

The show, "Welcome to the Neighborhood," was to be a summer replacement for the top-rated "Desperate Housewives," which is set on a fictional cul-de-sac, Wisteria Lane, where no one can keep her nose out of anyone else's business.

The one-hour reality show, developed by MGM and the producers behind such shows as "Extreme Makeover" and "The Road to Stardom With Missy Elliot," was to have begun a six-episode run on July 10 at 9 p.m.

...In the shows - all of them have been completed - seven diverse families seek votes from three white families in a development called Circle C Ranch, outside Austin. The white families, through a series of interviews, competitions and social interactions, award a 3,300-square-foot, four-bedroom, 2½-bathroom home to the winner - a neighbor, the families say, who will fit in with the community's mostly Christian and Republican values.

Critics of "Welcome to the Neighborhood," which ABC had promoted heavily, said it violated the letter and certainly the spirit of fair housing laws by allowing factors like religion to be a consideration in awarding the house

...In the first two episodes, some members of the voting families are seen making disparaging remarks about the gay family (two white men with a black child), questioning whether a Korean family was foreign-born and rejecting a white family who practiced Wicca, a pagan religion. One family was to be rejected each week until the last remaining family won the house.

Are we surprised that a network would actually think that such racist trash would have a wide appeal in this country? After all, it reinforces our current White Man's Burden Crusade in Iraq by empowering white Christians to deem who is "acceptable" and who is to be rejected.

Despite the obvious appeal of this show to our corporate warlords, making minorities beg whites for the dubious privilege of living in their suburban neighborhoods is revolting. It also give a free pass to the bigotry of the Christian right by legitimizing their many hatreds. Hey, if they get to star in an ABC series, gay bashing might just be the ticket out of the trailer park, eh? What's next, the Fred Phelps comedy hour?

This repulsive bit of prime time Plantation Massah programming should never have received consideration from the executives at ABC, much less be filmed and ready in the can for the summer schedule.

This media frenzy to push the Christian Right on the rest of the country is sickening to the core. MSNBC's Hardball this week has been on the "Hardball Church Tour", a frightening trip through extremist America which they present as the norm. ABC News last week broadcast the entire newscast from a Billy Graham revival. The History Channel now turns over huge chunks of their programming to the history of Christianity. Why this sudden influx of religion in network and cable broadcasting? The corporate media knows that the key to their Republican puppets staying in power lies in the Christian Right, so they pander to their hatreds and inflate their numbers hoping to gain more adherents for "the base".

Memo to MSNBC: If I wanted to take a "church tour", I'd fucking GO to one, and not sit on my ass and flip on MSNBC!


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