Tuesday, November 03, 2020

Believe Care Invest: Black-ish

Why Dre might be hard to identify with: 
  • He’s wealthy and his problems basically boil down to “rich guy ennui”.
  • He begins with a long, funny self-deprecating voiceover. He’s rich but humanized in various ways right away. He wakes up to see looking like a mess as she sleeps.
  • To an extent, we believe in him for the same reason we invest him: We come to share his keen awareness of his surroundings, including tiny and large slights he receives. These details make his world feel real.
  • Like many successful black people, he has two metaphor families that he has to juggle (aka code-switching) We recognize this as a real struggle and the language is convincing. Ironically, part of his job is to tell them how a black man would talk. (“We wanted to know how you think a black guy would say good morning?”)  He insists that a black man wouldn’t talk differently (and gets insulted when they start calling him black-sounding nicknames like Dr. Dre), but on the other hand, he gets offended when his family doesn’t talk black enough.
  • His daughter mocks his cologne. His son is going out for field hockey (“Isn’t that woman’s sport?”) His son named after him now lets his white friends call him Andy. (Andre Jr: “I think it’s edgy but approachable.” Dre: “I think it says ‘I hate my father and I play field hockey.’”)
  • He gets appointed senior vice president, but only in charge of “urban” advertising, which his father sums up as “head puppet of the white man”
  • He’s got a classic strength/flaw combo: He’s think-skinned, and we can see how that messes up his life, but once we’re in his POV we come to agree with and share his sensitivity to slights.
  • Like a lot of buffoon-ish sitcom fathers (especially on ABC), he tests our investment a bit, but ultimately just before the end of the episode, he proves that he’s good at creating advertising campaigns (“LA is Colorful”), and that he’s a pretty good father (throwing his son a “hip-hop bro-mitzvah”).
Five Es
  • Eat: Eats a breakfast croissant.
  • Exercise: He’s got a basketball hoop, but he plays incompently.
  • Economic Activity: His job is a big part of his life. Rainbow says, “breaking down barriers is equally important to money, but just so I’m clear, there is a salary increase, right?”
  • Enjoy: He’s very excited about his upcoming promotion and likes playing “the one who made it for all of us” with the other black employees at work. He seems to enjoy his closet of sneakers a little.
  • Emulate: He wants to join the white-people club, but also wants to be like his defiant father.
Rise above
  • He decides to put his job at risk to assert his blackness.
  • Not really. He treats his white, gay assistant as an honorary black man, which he definitely feels is magnanimous.

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