Scandalous Behavior: Why Do Black Men Hate Olivia Pope?
Hate is such a strong word, but from the reactions I have seen to the character of Olivia Pope all over social media every Thursday, I think it’s the most fitting way to describe the phenomenon.
From tweets calling the fictional character a whore, a slut, a jump-off and worse, to Facebook statuses warning us that any woman who watches Scandal MUST be a hoe.
The anger and disdain for a woman who doesn’t even exist in real life is INSANE.
My timeline becomes a Black man versus Black woman free for all every Thursday evening. The accusations fly and the retorts are fast and furious.
“If you watch Scandal, you a hoe…”
“You can’t trust a woman who roots for the jumpoff!”
“Why she gotta be sleeping with a White man, she’s a whore!”
I have been trying to wrap my head around this for two whole seasons now and nothing has yet fully addressed what I feel is the root of the issue.
These men are angry at us for liking a fictional character who’s in love with another fictional character… because she’s Black.
Is sexual liberation only for White women?
When Sex and the City featured four, reasonably well-to-do Vanilla women singing the praises of being sexually liberated, it was a force that couldn’t even be reckoned with.
There were watching parties featuring cosmo’s and LBD’s and fabulous shoes at quaint little restaurants and in livingrooms all over the world.
Quizzes abounded for women of all ages, races and types to find out if they were a Samantha, a Carrie, a Charlotte or a Miranda.
No one was telling people they were the equivalent of a prostitute at The Point because they identified with Carrie wanting a big dick and some money.
No one was calling White women sluts for wanting to be a Samantha, they were calling them feminists; sexually liberated and taking control of their power… to sleep with as many men as possible.
I never knocked any of the four ladies, and identified with pieces of each of them. They were, in fact, taking control of their power.
But the fact that those four women were White in America wasn’t lost on me.
Our long history with the imagery of the virtuous White woman (no matter how far opposite of that characterization she may be) and the Black Hottentot Venus as the seductress slut is deep.
One need only look at the recent uproar over Miley Cyrus and her non-twerking versus the Black women who have been doing it well in hip-hop videos for the last forever years.
It’s been perfectly fine to objectify these Brown women and call them hoes, video vixens, gold diggers and the like, but what Miley is doing is “edgy,” and hip, at least in her mind and the mind of her fans.
Nevermind that her original stint in the world of fame was as a wholesome young girl who empowered others and made them feel they could do whatever or be whomever they wanted without compromising themselves.
Now she’s a self-proclaimed “bad bitch” and be damned anyone who doesn’t find her awkward attempts at getting attention “sexy.”
Meanwhile, there is a whole faction of people that believe that Black women are to be objectified; our sexuality is to be debated and talked about like a specimen under a glass.
Do criticizers even watch the show?
Olivia Pope is probably the most powerful woman in Washington in the make-believe world of Scandal. She has the heart of the President (and arguably his jealous wife as well) in her hands.
She is incredibly smart, wealthy, strong and sexy. She is also vulnerable, flawed… and Black. The POTUS on the show, Fitzgerald Grant, is White.
He is dangerously in love with Liv; she isn’t just his jumpoff. She is someone he wishes he could make his wife (and almost lost his presidency several times trying to do so). He wishes she were the First Lady in his White House… but she isn’t.
She is a woman he fell in love with ON SIGHT, but he happens to be unhappily married and miserable.
That episode was a deep one to watch, realizing that Fitz fell for her before he could even figure out what was happening.
Let’s not forget (as we’ve been finding out this season) that Liv has some major Daddy issues and has lived a sad life in which she has never been able to feel safe.
All of this makes for a character in a fictional TV show that is wildly entertaining and absolutely worth all of the accolades the show has received so far all over the media.
Shonda Rhimes (the amazing woman behind not only Scandal but Grey’s Anatomy, who also happens to be Black) has given us a new show to rally around, so why can’t we be into it?
At what other point in recent television history has any one group of people been singled out and called vile names for being entertained by it?
There are other characters on the show
What about Huck, Harrison (YUM!), Quinn, Abby, Cyrus, and David? We’re just as invested in their lives as Liv’s.
Huck has got to be one of the most interesting and well played roles on television; we tune in every week for him as much as we do for Liv and Fitz.
Instead of identifying with four professional White women in NYC, we are wrapped up in the crazy life of a Black woman who is professional fixer in DC… and the lives of the people around her, which totally seems lost in the discussion.
For years, we have stood by as Black men chose to be with White women and fair-skinned Black women and it hurt.
Watching the sisters with the deep brown complexions and the knotted hair be called ugly and undesirable was bad enough, but then watching our brothers strip us down and make us nothing more than strippers in the background of the soundtrack of their lives was beyond jarring.
That hurt was valid, and it had nothing to do with fictional TV lovers, but real life moments we could see and hear.
By contrast, this fake pain and outrage these men are displaying over a relationship that only exists inside our television sets is alarming.
What is the real problem?
The cries are becoming overwhelming and I need real answers. What makes Black men so angry about us pouring ourselves a glass of wine, popping some popcorn and getting lost in a fictional show for an hour a week?
Is it because Olivia is hopelessly in love with a White man? Is it because a White Republican President is in love with a Black woman?
It can’t be because he’s a married man, not when these same men will watch Real Jumpoffs of Wherever and be able to tell you each and every plot point. Nope. Can’t be.
The anger is unfounded and yet, it’s palpable. I have some theories as to why the hurt exists.
Olivia is strong and smart
This concept alone scares a lot of Black men. Not ALL black men, but it can’t be dismissed that a large group have this thinking.
Olivia isn’t checking for the brother
For the record he was who she dated well before Vanilla POTUS entered the picture. She wasn’t looking to fall for Fitz, she wanted to work for him and do her job, but he pressed. The brother wasn’t who she fell for, it is what it is.
So, what is it then? If you have experienced the silliness in your timelines or feeds, how did you feel?
Why do you think this weird backlash exists for a show that has launched Kerry Washington, an amazing actress and a very inspiring woman, into the stratosphere?
Why do you think some of these Black men have been hating on Miss Pope? Let’s discuss!