Guest Post: Sympathy For the Racist

by Lavern Merriweather

AMC’s popular zombie scarefest TV show The Walking Dead is a program that I absolutely refuse to watch ever again, and I’ll tell you why. I am about as done as a person can be with this Hollyweird fascination of making the most vile, obnoxious, racist a**hole ever created an empathetic figure I should either embrace or feel sorry for. Let me do this in my best Jamie Foxx voice, “sheeeeeeeet!”

Feel sorry for the racist character everyone. He’s still the hero.


Are these people just incapable of displaying an intelligence level higher than that of a common garden slug? I ask that because the character of Merle Dixon played by prolific actor Micheal Rooker on ‘Dead’ is just another in a long line of bigoted pricks the writers expect us to root for, despite how despicable their attitude and behavior is. I also wasn’t that crazy about his ‘big bad racist’ moment where he gets to take out his anger and aggression on a black male co-star while the others stand around being completely ineffective in stopping his violence. Say what?!!

First off, not only does he get to beat the crap out of this guy without him apparently being able to defend himself, but we are supposed to be ‘okay’ with it because he’s just so frustrated about the situation he’s in. That’s crap! Trust me when I say if there were ever a Merle Dixon in my life he’d better come packing, because I’m going to start and finish our confrontation with a .38 and have no qualms whatsoever about it.

I feel like sighing at how ridiculous and tiresome it all is. But even worse than that are the two other shows HBO’s True Blood and new AMC hit Hell on Wheels. Both shows feature two main characters: vampire and slave owner Bill Compton played Stephen Moyer and gunslinger slave owner Cullen Bohannon played by Anson Mount. We, as the viewing audience, aren’t supposed to feel any disgust towards either man even though they engaged in one of the most sickening practices in America, the Slave Trade.

Yeah. We’re supposed to root for this guy.


According to the show’s logic they were ‘good’ slave owners, and they have reformed their ways to do good from now on. So, that somehow magically absolves them of once owning human beings like nothing more than property and treating them like they were lower than dirt. It’s just another way for Hollywood to sugarcoat history, which to me is one step up from outright denying it altogether. They are like the chumps who always say, “Hey, I’m not to blame for what my ancestors did”, but you are, however, to blame for acting like their bad behavior didn’t even existed in the first place. And using entertainment as a way to disguise how you truly feel. As Judge Judy would say, “Don’t piss on my leg. Then tell me it’s raining,” or come at me in your sheep’s clothing trying to convince me that I can’t see your snout poking out plain as day.

For an industry that prides itself on supposedly being so ‘liberal’, they sure have a funny a** way of showing it. Forgive me if I don’t share in your enthusiasm, but I prefer to not believe that, because you say so. I should not make excuses for thugs who revel in racist conduct. A perfect example would be damn near every cop show ever made, in particular ABC’s now defunct NYPD Blue. We are constantly told that because the character of Det. Andy Sipowicz has such a hard job and hard life that we shouldn’t be so hard on him despite his blatantly racist leanings. Oh please! Having a stressful or even crappy job doesn’t give you license to be a racist pig who tries at every turn to justify and get away with doing so, including talking back to his boss Lt. Arthur Fancy played by the debonair eye candy James Mcdaniel which he did with a frequency. Yet, he was never reprimanded in any way that would suggest Fancy even had any relevant authority over him at all. Many times, he would let it go because he, as well as the viewing public, is supposed to ‘get’ why Sipowicz is such a prick. I guess being a black male superior to an office of predominantly white detectives doesn’t lend itself to the same kind of sympathetic stress.

He’s one of the reasons why I don’t trust or like cops. Deal with it.


Seeing how McDaniel was never allowed to chew out Sipowicz or make any insulting reference to Andy’s Polish ancestry without getting an equally charged rebuttal, it’s that way in practically every show. You can be a black man in charge and still have to cower before your white male subordinates, or not be rightfully pissed off enough when he gives you an ass whooping to want to take a tire iron to his head the very next day.


13 thoughts on “Guest Post: Sympathy For the Racist

  1. That Michael Rooker plays redneck racist very well. I remember him from Rosewood. That guy from Hill Street Blues character i kind felt underneath he was a racist jerk. You are spot on about all these characters in telelvision.

  2. Reblogged this on revealingartisticthoughts and commented:
    I never understood why in almost every white show, there has to be a racist character or racist jokes made or suggestions. I just don’t understand the purpose of either. Then the fans will defend the character saying that its just a tv show and blah blah blah, smh.

      1. I like it when they say “It’s just a show/movie/commercial.” The problem is that it isn’t just a show or whatever if it re-enforces and even glorifies an ism and a phobia that offends so many people who are not as privileged as them not to think about it. It’s not just a show or whatever if they push those offensive tropes through advertisements nationally and globally. And if it’s just a show, movie or even commercial, why should it matter who writes it, who produces it, who directs it, who invests in it, and who sees it? If all people in the who’s I’ve just mentioned are mostly white, then obviously, it DOES matter.

  3. Reblogged this on Of Privilege And Denial and commented:
    Lavern, as always, hits the nail on the head.

    I find it especially interesting when they give some half-assed Freudian Excuse to explain away a character’s bigotry. It’s as if they recognize that racism is a bad thing but still want us to root for the racists anyway.

    And they love pulling this with misogynist characters too. In fact, often the misogynist character is a racist and has an excuse for BOTH.

  4. They are just keeping it real and projecting their oppressive nature looking for recruits tell lies on vision is the best propaganda tool

  5. To be fair to _True Blood_ — which has in fact been remarkably sexist and bigoted in ways which go well beyond the book series it was based on — you are *not* actually supposed to root for Bill, who is in fact a murderous vampire. I think you’re supposed to feel sympathetic to him for his brittle veneer of humanity and ruined life, but he certainly isn’t a good guy, and his paternalistic murder of Sookie’s uncle is meant to remind you of that. The character you’re actually supposed to root for is Sam. Unfortunately, the TV show version of Sam (as opposed to the book version) is severely problematic too.

    Thank goodness I never watched any of the other shows you mention; they gave off bad vibes even in the ads, and I see they lived down to that.

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