'Racing the screen: Race and hegemony in African American television
Idland, Michael Erik
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Race is represented, constructed, and negotiated on television just as it is in the texts of more traditional literature. In the course of the cultural struggle for access to the expressive spaces that are television shows, claims on black culture and African American representation are made. The institutional structure of network television and the reality of a commercial medium pose both cultural and economic challenges to African American shows. Readings of black television suggest that the shows, their production, their audience, and their music operate both in resistance to white, middle-class values and, in some critical aspects, reinforce those very same values and sensibilities. Though in many cases great care is taken to consider the cultural and political ramifications of a particular show's textual message forwarded through its writing, often the conventions and restrictions of situation comedy cause the show to slip into hegemonic tropes. The more subtextual discursive plain of music in black television, however, can offer a more flexible space in which to articulate cultural or political ideas and concepts resistant or subversive to dominant cultural sensibilities.