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Category:    Home > Reviews > Reality TV > Race > Politics > Black. White. (Reality TV)

Black. White. (Reality TV)


Picture: C+     Sound: C+     Extras: C     Episodes: C-



I am no fan of “reality TV” and the new short series Black. White. is yet another reason why.  The premise is that six people, three black, three white, will change roles and have “top Hollywood make-up people” go and “transform” them to the opposite race.  Already, the premise has more land mines than the U.N. could ever outlaw.


Then the producers and advisors, including co-producer/music Rapper Ice Cube (a good actor when he gets the right role) let the disaster being.  Then the re is the make-up.  All look fine as themselves, but their make-up is bizarre.  The white father looks like an old white Hollywood actor in blackface ready to acclaim “Yowsah!” at any moment, his daughter ready for Fame and his wife ready to be beaten as a blackface slave in an anti-Black D.W. Griffith film while the black father looks like a more serious version of Dana Carvey’s Lyle – The Effeminate Heterosexual, wife the president of Ru Paul’s fan club and son a cross between Michael Jackson and the kind of young white boy he might “allegedly” be interested in.


That no one realizes that any of this is make-up is amazing, but even worse; it seemed the participants were picked for maximum conflict and with this particular subject, that was a very bad idea.  This could have been a catastrophe and somehow was not, but its subtle sense of being manipulative is awful and the show always looks like it will break into a Saturday Night Live or In Living Color skit at any moment.  There may be a cultural divide, but this show decides to rip it open so wide and unrealistically that anything to be learned is thrown out the window for maximum exploitation.


The show pretends The Civil Rights movement never happened, never mattered and as if black & white people never met, got along, got married or have been so isolated from each other that everything is hopeless.  This only perpetuates and supports the very institutionalized racism the show is supposedly exposing.  The show expects its audience to “Forrest Gump” its way through everything.  In the end, this feels like Punk’d for those who want racial conflict.  This is one of the worst TV shows in a long time.


The frame is usually videotaped 1.33 x 1, but sometimes suddenly goes to letterboxed 1.78 X 1 without explanation, reason, warning or point.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 sound is simple stereo if that.  The audio is sometimes poorer than expected for even a “reality TV” show, but that is what you get.  Extras include casting videos, poetry slam featurette, DVD-ROM study guide (really?), stills showing the make-up process, Ice Cube Music Video not ironically entitled Race Card and audio commentary tracks on all six shows.  If you get this far, you have tolerance of a different kind.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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