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some of the drops sparkle.

By       Message Melody Clark     Permalink
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Author 6768
some of the drops sparkle

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.

I'm a child of the 60s and 70s.  I remember Bridget Loves Bernie.  I recall this highly rated sitcom being yanked off the air for the ludicrous reason  that the show featured a marriage between a  Catholic and Jew.  Even as late as the 1980s,  there was a huge brouhaha over a soap opera featuring a romance between a young white man and a young black woman.  The network's front office wouldn't even permit them to kiss, for heaven's sakes.

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.

What really made me take notice was a phone conversation over Thanksgiving.  My own Texas cousin (amid other ramblings) mused on about the series, the relationship and "how cute they are together".  She said that she really hoped the series made the characters a regular couple.  Maybe even have them get married.

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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I am self-employed as a writer and internet traffic consultant. I have a degree in cultural anthropology. I've been married for thirty years to my college sweetheart. We have one son. My family has been in the USA for 350 years. I take (more...)

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