At this risk of depressing some of my friends among my fellow liberals, I fear I have good news to report.
Ego te absolvo, I confess ... amid all my campaigning for the environment and working for social justice, I occasionally watch TV and not just PBS. And what I've been witness to over the last few days, in the musings of strangers and the declarations of friends and relatives, has left me nearly speechless. It's news so amazing it has been completely overlooked by the major media. It being overlooked by the media makes the phenomenon even more amazing.
I've sometimes wondered this week if I'm the only one who has noticed.
Move forward twenty years and over the last week and a half of so-called "Sweeps Month" (when networks wheel out their heavyweight storylines to improve their ratings and demographics profiles), CBS featured a special two-parter of their series "Criminal Minds" involving a shared crisis of two characters. These characters, Derek Morgan and Penelope Garcia, have engaged in an ongoing flirtation over the course of the series. The flirtation with its witty, wonderful repartee has been embraced by the audience as a strong fan favorite.
On a message board I frequent, comments have been made about how unique this relationship is. He's a traditional hero. She's a hacker geek. He's conventional. She's unconventional. He's thin and athletic. She's plushly upholstered a bit more like Mae West (this used to be a good thing, in the time before television). Together, they're adorable.
It was at this point I almost needed a cherry picker to heft my jaw off the ground.
My family is as many families -- a composite of the good, the bad and the royally racist. I'm so accustomed to more old-style biases being expressed by this part of the family that I was shocked beyond speech for a moment.
"But," I said. "Haven't you noticed something ... different about them?"
"What?" she said, clueless.
Nothing, my friends. She saw nothing. I damned near cried.
Derek Morgan is portrayed by Shemar Moore, a fine black actor, and Penelope Garcia is played by a fine young blonde actress with a name screaming of Scandinavian heritage. And everyone seems to be seeing everything about them except for the fact that Derek is black and Penelope is white.
I am reminded of Whoopi Goldberg's amazement at having been called to the front office during production of her own now defunct TV series. The show had just commenced a storyline about an interracial romance and Goldberg was certain the front office had called her over to grill her regarding it. She arrived at the meeting, ready to do battle, only to find out what the front office was worried about -- they didn't want her character smoking on television.
"What about the interracial thing?" she said, stunned.
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