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In the same vein as Alaya’s Supernatural takedown, Gay Prof dissects “Burn Notice”

Hathor’s Legacy links Gay Prof’s

Burning and Itching

For those who have higher standards than I do, let me give you Burn Notice’s basic premise. Michael Westen, the lead character played by the hunky Jeffrey Donovan (Remember: “b”), once worked as a spy until he was “burned” (essentially framed for a variety of crimes he did not commit – Or did commit, but it was okay because he committed those crimes on behalf of the good ol’ USA (the nation, not the network – I think)). The show’s major narrative focuses on Michael’s efforts to restore his good name and thus return to the spy world. Until he can do that, he takes on odd jobs of fighting crime within a colorful Miami locale.

So, what’s my problem with Burn Notice? The show veers into some problematic realms in terms of race and gender. Mostly it has to do with its valorization of white-straight men as the best and only hope for the future of the nation. Michael Westen’s heroism can only be construed through the vulnerability of his “clients.” Who are those clients? Disproportionately, they are women and racial minorities (and even especially women of color).

Am I arguing that real white-straight-men never fight on behalf of social justice or that we should never see such a representation? No, obviously not. Nor am I suggesting that executives and producers at USA network are participating in an intentional conspiracy to assure the dominance of the white race. I really have no idea if they are members of the Republican party.

We aren’t talking about real life. We are talking about representations. Who ends up as the main “hero” and who best fits the role of “victim” are entirely shaped by gender and race. And for the USA network, white heterosexuality rules. …Minority roles, when cast at all in USA shows, are most often relegated to side characters who need a good, white character to either save or defeat themMORE

Go thou and read the rest.

As an aside, he mentions In Plain Sight. That is my Supernatural. I love Marshall Mann. I would do Mary Shannon’s taxes. And nearly every damned time that show features minorities, (with the exception of Detective Robert Dershowitz) I want to scream. As a quick example, last season the witnesses were a black middle class family whose daughter’s boyfriend was shot as they walked through a ghetto area on their way home from school. And. Damn. There. Were ISSUES. They portrayed the Dad as more invested in his status and his big house rather than the fact that his daughter was in trouble. And at one point, when his behavior was particularly egregious, Marshall challenges him to hit him (Marshall) as a way to puncture his arrogance. Naturally, he backs down. And that was the last frigging straw. See, if that father had been white, that scene would have read “Ha! coward got served!” But he IS NOT white. He’s BLACK. And which middle class black man in his right mind would challenge a white policeman, exactly? Given the history and the not much better present of police brutality and oppression? And this kind of angry-making, hurtful, grating racial cluelessness and carelessness keeps. frigging. HAPPENING. Its to the point where I am actually glad that minorities don’t show up that much in this show (even though it is set in Albuquerque, which is bursting at the seams with minorities. Shhhh! Don’t tell the show runners!)

One thought on “In the same vein as Alaya’s Supernatural takedown, Gay Prof dissects “Burn Notice””

  1. LaChica says:

    I also watch In Plain Sight and am mostly disturbed by the fact that the show takes place in Albuquerque, New Mexico which is a city that is over 50% Latina/o yet none of the main cast nor “extras” are EVER Latina/o. I grew up in Albuquerque and this makes me more upset than anything, yes there are white people there, but not that many! Come on! -Thanks for your blog, it’s always making me think and I appreciate your thorough examination of race, gender and sexuality in popular culture, keep up the great work.

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