Can we critique Orange Is The New Black without tossing me into a pit of despair?

20 Aug

Aura Bogado writes in the Nation regarding OITNB:

This, it turns out, is what some of my friends and colleagues are gorging themselves on. I reject that it’s a guilty pleasure. If we’re addicted to Orange Is the New Black, then we’re strung out on the drug of spectacle—jonesing for hateful, racist images created by a white imagination for profit and fame.

Great. I’m not accusing the writer of this piece of racism, but you did just compare brown and black viewers of OITNB to crack addicts. 

Unwieldy metaphors aside, I’m all for critiquing OITNB on the content. I agree that the Latina characters fall flat, except for Daya who loves drawing Manga on the side, and that the Asian cast gets virtually no play, however, it’s simply a lie that the show doesn’t address the most vile aspects of Piper Chapman’s white privilege, or that the show doesn’t greatly expand on the other characters surrounding Chapman.

This idea that we “shouldn’t be enjoying” a story is so odious that my entire body rejects it. The idea that the show is bad because Piper Kierman “profited from” the lives of black and brown women breaks my spirit. Can white writers and rich writers not write about the poor? Should their publishing and media industries be solely dominated by stories of middle class pain?

Should Victor Hugo not have written Les Miserables because he wasn’t poor?

My world would be even more of a pit if that was the case.

If you want to critique OITNB then watch all of it, and not just six episodes. If the pain of the world’s racism is so great that you can’t bring yourself to do this then take a breather.  If you watch all of the episodes then you might be surprised to find that OITNB somewhat agrees with you.


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