RARA-AVIS: Spenser and stereotypes

From: Carrie Pruett ( pruettc@hotmail.com)
Date: 16 Nov 2001

Date: Thu, 15 Nov 2001 16:41:07 -0500 From: Schooley < gsp.schoo@skylinc.net>
>>The ditzy, frigid,
>>money-grubbing Jewess (isn't that the way that stereotype goes?)
>>becomes the educated professional/hot tamale/drinking buddy,

>mmm, I was thinking the well educated, particularly in the mind-games
>department, stereotype. The one racists begin by saying "I've always
> >admired your people for..."

I haven't read enough Parker to jump too deeply into this but I think it's getting a little silly to say that portraying a Jewish woman as highly educated is playing to a stereotype. I'm thinking that when Susan came on the scene in the mid-70s, it was still somewhat novel to see a female portrayed as a highly competent professional.

>More the savvy, immoral and not very articulate "six-foot nigger with a
>switchblade" stereotype

with only a brief exposure to the series, I've never gotten the impression that Hawk is less than articulate. Seems he sometimes plays up the abovementioned stereotype, as a way to cause people to underestimate him, but Spenser (and the reader) knows better.

Here's my thing - if the minority sidekick is automatically offensive than it seems your alternatives are (1) never have a white male hero or (2) have a white male hero with only white friends so that there's no risk of one coming off as superior.

>I don't see all side-kick pairings as racist, or otherwise bad. I just
> >don't see why Hawk had to be black and Susan Jewish and not, say, the
> >other way around.

Well, they don't "have to be" that way, but they are. You can't fault a story for all the "better" alternatives it rejected.

From: DJ-Anonyme@webtv.net (Mark Sullivan)wrote:

>There was a series called A Man Called Hawk
>starring Avery Brooks, spun off from Spenser: For Hire. I liked the >few
>episodes I saw, but it didn't last very long. The show's page on
>www.imdb.com has one fan's theory on why that was, because America
>wasn't ready to see a Strong Black Man as the lead in a series. He
>makes a pretty good argument.

[veering a little OT here but. . ] wasn't ready? as opposed to all the dramatic series out there now with strong black men in the lead role? Brooks actually may eventually have had the longest running success in that regard with "Deep Space Nine."


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