For the past few months, a friend has been trying hard to get me to watch Scandal. Every Thursday as social media lights up with all things Olivia Pope and fans are left on the edge of their seats, I’m one of the few people out of the loop and, in her mind, seriously missing out.
“Girl, I can’t bring myself to root for the side chick,” I always tell her. Yet she insists that it’s only one aspect of the show. “It’s so good. Just watch it!”
Finally I took an opportunity to check out a few episodes. She was right...to an extent. The writing and twists were actually good. But with all the suspense, Kerry Washington's infamous lip quiver and her character's chic wardrobe, I couldn’t seem to get past the love affair. I wondered if I should view a show like Scandal as simply entertainment like most other fans do.
The role and implications of music, entertainment and media is something that constantly leaves me torn. I realize that while it was easy for me to point out the things I found troubling with Scandal, there are so many other things in pop culture I revel in that go against the grain of my conscious.
It was like that moment when you’re in the car with the music blasting and as you're dropping the catchiest line ("shorty upgrade from bologna!) you think, “Dangit, I shouldn’t like this song.”
It’s the same mental back-and-forth that makes me self-sensor every time I listen to Jay-Z’s “Tom Ford.” As the break hits and Hov is shadowed by Beyonce’s sultry southern drawl saying “Coming up, coming down/Riding clean, fix your head in my crown/Bad b---h, H-town” I somehow tell myself I’m rejecting the term I find degrading by omitting it as I sing along.
It’s how I joke that “I’m be fresh as hell if them feds watching” but can denounce the constant glorification of drug dealing and its negative effect on our communities in the same breath. Or how I’m so over reality TV’s stereotypical depiction of Black culture, but can tell you why Lil Scrappy and Erica broke up on Love and Hip Hop: ATL. Don’t judge mizniyee.
Willful indulgence or conscientious objection. It’s easy to find yourself somewhere in the middle without a sound explanation when it comes to entertainment. We all contradict ourselves in some way.
With so many gray areas, mixed messages and imbalance in media, it’s easy to get caught up indulging in the things you think or say you’re against. And as noble as it may sound to say I only feed my earlobes and eyes on things that are positive or spiritually enlightening, I can’t say that I do. I just try my best to counter the bad with the good.
Still, I question how far the idea that the things we listen to and watch are all just means of escapism can go without recognizing that it can affect our thoughts and behavior.
We live in a culture where the things perpetuated through entertainment can make it seem as though moral standards are outdated. And as social degeneration and progression become harder to distinguish, we are constantly bombarded with images and messages that even the most ‘just do you’ person would find troubling.
TV/Radio personality Charlamagne once stated that the yin and yang of the world is righteousness and ratchetness. While I don't always see eye-to-eye with him, I can appreciate the candor of this statement. Though it’s far from the most poetic analogy, we each have to find a place of equilibrium in this crazy world, even as we struggle to define and uphold our principles.
Coming into adulthood I feel it’s even more important to stand for something, identify my standards, wrestle with my beliefs, and do my best to stay true to them. When it comes to entertainment, I believe we all should question what we find acceptable and where exactly we drawn the line. Even if it gets 'blurred' at times.