Black Television Travels
African American Media around the Globe
Publication Year: 2013
Published by: NYU Press
Cover, Title Page, Copyright
In one guise or another, I’ve been working on this book for the past fifteen years, during which time I’ve received encouragement, advice, critique, and assistance from more people and institutions than I can remember. I have received funding from the Indiana University Center for International Business Education and Research, the Institute...
The metaphor of commercial cultural exchange that informs this book is travel. I propose thinking of exchanges of television, film, music, and other forms of popular culture through the heuristic metaphor of travel because of the connotations of change, power, effort, and uncertainty that the word bears. To travel is to make a conscious choice...
Introduction: African American Television Trade
On December 8, 2005, the Museum of Television and Radio in New York broadcast an interactive panel discussion where television writers, actors, programming executives, and viewers at colleges across the country discussed new opportunities for women in dramatic television series. I called in with a question about why dramas featuring...
1. Roots and the Perils of African American Television Drama in a Global World
Prior to the runaway worldwide popularity of the 1977 miniseries Roots, few television series featuring African Americans circulated internationally, and none had sufficient success in foreign sales to catch the eyes of program merchants. Amos ’n’ Andy (1951– 1953) appeared in the United Kingdom, Australia, Guam...
2. Integrated Eighties Situation Comedies and the Struggle against Apartheid
In the late 1970s and early 1980s, prime-time, episodic television featured African Americans almost exclusively in integrated, middle-class situation comedies. Despite the massive domestic and international popularity of Roots in 1977, U.S. television executives remained unconvinced that African American themes and characters could generate the kinds...
3. The Cosby Show, Family Themes, and the Ascent of White Situation Comedies Abroad in the Late 1980s
Beginning in the mid-1980s, changes in both domestic and international media industries led to increased international sales revenues for U.S. programming of all genres. These increases were particularly noticeable in the formerly resistant markets of Western Europe, which had tended to view U.S. programs...
4. The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Channel Fragmentation, and the Recognition of Difference
While white American situation comedies came to dominate the U.S. primetime landscape in the 1990s, African American series, especially situation comedies, tended to feature youth themes addressing multiracial audience segments. This trend followed the growing popularity of rap music and hip-hop culture among teenage and young adult...
5. The Worldwide Circulation of Contemporary African American Television
Since the mid-1990s, television channels, audience configurations, and program offerings have continued to fragment both at home and abroad. The economics of this splintering landscape have proved challenging for program producers and networks nearly everywhere, and a growing number of them have turned to international markets in order...
6. Black Television from Elsewhere: The Globalization of Non-U.S. Black Television
In recent years the globalization of television production, the spread of comparatively cheap audiovisual production equipment, channel fragmentation, and various forms of digital video production and distribution have combined to increase the amount of television programming produced and distributed by black communities...
Conclusion: Transnational Televisual Aesthetics and Global Discourses of Race
The circulation of culture predates the formation of nations, and probably only a small fragment of the world’s cultural exchanges ever travels through the formal circuits of commercial media institutions. The other, unsanctioned, spontaneous exchanges originate in highly localized and communitarian impressions...
About the Author
Page Count: 224
Publication Year: 2013