Popular Culture Review 29.1 (Spring 2018) - Page 73

to be in earnest about her loving relationship with John Booth (Ioan Gruffudd) and her attempt to have a child with him. Her one moment of weakness reveals that she chose her career over motherhood, that she wanted a choice to become a mother, and gives the audience pause to consider whether she unnaturally abandoned her biological destiny for motherhood, as the essentialists would have it. Racial Essentialism in Season 2 of UnREAL The most pronounced iteration of racial essentialism in Season 2 resides in the background racist assumption regarding the suitor, Darrius Beck, a black man. Beck is an NFL quarterback, and the professional sports such as the NFL often perpetuate one of the most significant racist and essentialist tropes of chattel slavery in the United States. Beck, qua black man, is the physically superior, mentally inferior, athlete, who is managed by the physically inferior, mentally superior head coach or general manager. NFL players such as Darrius are well-paid instruments for team profit, while plantation owners used physically superior, unpaid black slaves for profit. The producers of Everlasting have convinced Darrius that starring as its suitor will rehabilitate his image, which was damaged because he said, “Bitch, please” to a female reporter in a post-game interview, an instance that evokes the image of Seattle Seahawks’ Richard Sherman frightening Erin Andrews in a rant during postgame interview. On the show, Darrius is directed and manipulated by a white show-runner, Rachel, and a white producer, Quinn. That his overlords are white women is a reminder of the fact that white women were implicated in the practice of the lynching of black men by perpetuating the myth of white purity, the myth of the black rapist, and the idea that miscegenation manifested the taboo against the desecration of such purity. Further, that at least one of Beck’s puppeteers, Rachel, considers herself a feminist, indicates UnREAL’s subtle critique of white feminism’s racist elements. White feminists are not immune from participating in the subordination of black people. Tommy Curry points out that Catherine MacKinnon refuses to admit that white women were complicit in anti-black racism in her piece discussed below, “From Practice to Theory, or What is a White Woman Anyway?” Currie and others, such as Angela Harris, claim that the piece itself is racist. Rachel, the white feminist show- runner, is complicit as well. She consciously puts Darrius’s career at risk by directing one of the contestants to viciously tackle him when he was not expecting it. Then she entices him to take an epidural, stifling his pain but putting him at even greater risk. Here the white feminist actually plays the role of the white NFL managerial 73