I just finished the latest season of You and I couldn’t help but wonder would the protagonist Joe have as much fortune if he was any other race but white. And of course I know without question even in fiction , only a white man can be a villain and hero at the same time . No other race can ever have that duality on screen or in any form of media. It mirrors real life very well with the entrenched cultural phenomenon of serial killers, school shootings, cult leaders, military generals etc. All these seemingly on the surface everyday Joe, Bob and Tyler’s who can be raving maniacs with an ax to grind against the whole world whose actions are endorsed by a society that only sees them as good and redeemable. Another American classic comes to mind, The Sopranos. Tony Soprano was dear to me as a cultural icon. I wanted Tony to win and supported him even when he showed his worst. Even though in real life a Tony Soprano might spit in my face as a Black transwoman. The man was a killer, a gangster, a thug but he was from the old neighborhood, lived in Suburban New Jersey and fully relished in all the privileges of white maleness. The latter attributes allows the viewers to empathize with his worst traits and to cheer him on in his utmost toxicity. Much like Joe from You, Tony is allowed to be who he is because of a society that endorses his existence. Even when we see these characters in action, killing, subverting social norms, perverting the darkest corners of the human mind, we’re made to see them as little boys almost. As generally good guys who do bad things.
Fiction has been said in many ways to mirror real life in certain respects. And all the imagery we see is always looking to advertise , promote and speak to an existence, someone’s views of life. Shows like You and Sopranos as entertaining and binge worthy as they are speak in so many ways the extent of white privilege. It says when white people do bad things or are bad people its for any number of ” understandable ” reasons(i.e. Joe’s background as a foster child, Tony as the offspring of the Mafia). I keep saying white people and not white men cause it’s a race exclusive phenomenon. White women benefit from this privilege as well. You can name any number of shows where there’s this white girl who is an outcast or has an axe to grind. And her motives are supported by the theory that she sits in righteousness(i.e. Jodie Foster The Brave One, Aileen Wuornos, the female leads in Money Heist).I can’t imagine in any of these films or shows a Black person or persons being cast and presented as redeemable, as having reasons that make such rash actions appropriate. I can’t imagine Hispanics or Asians or Native Americans either able to be serial killers, thieves, vigilantes, serial psychopaths and still giving a redemption arc. And you can bet your ass in any such depiction there’d be some white savior who will fight endlessly to catch and kill these predators. That savior may even employ unorthodox methods but you can bet that villain or villainess of hue will be caught and dealt with expeditiously. Maybe that needs to change. Cause if anyone has beefs that aren’t ever resolved, if anyone has suffered more than their share, if anyone should have a reason to be mad as fuck beyond soothing it shouldn’t be those who have whole systems entrenched in their name and imagery. Hell I’ll even take an LGBT villain or antihero. Someone who sticks it to the system and doesn’t bow down to an other status. An outlaw who says fuck the rules, who actually survives , whose life just being an other has more than bestowed a reason to be against the system.