On this week’s episode of the fantastic podcast Code Switch, hosts Gene Demby and Kat Chow delved into the complexity of getting a case of the rep sweats. The rep sweats are a condition common to people of color and some women, especially those of us invested in entertainment, pop culture, and identity politics. We know that opportunities for people who look like us don’t come along every day, so when a new project comes out that features our people, we feel pressure to support it by watching and/ or buying tickets.
Rep sweaters are also hesitant to publicly criticize projects from, by, and about our people for fear that a lack of a united front could damage the possibility of future projects about us (listen to the episode to learn more about Margaret Cho’s sitcom All American Girl and why it took 20 years to get another Asian family sitcom on network TV). The fear is legitimate, and a failure for one of us can be viewed as a failure for all of us. One misstep can be referenced again and again as the rule and not the exception. We don’t make things any harder for people who look like us so we support and hold our tongues.
I’ve written about similar issues on the blog before, but I’m interested to know how others feel on this topic. I know that if I dislike a play, movie, or film by and about black people, I am more likely to keep that information to myself. I don’t tend to watch TV shows out of obligation, but I have been known to buy a ticket during the opening weekend of a black movie just to give it my dollars so there might be more opportunities for black filmmakers in the future.
Is there something you do to show support for people of color in entertainment? Do you make a point of seeing films by women directors? Are you hesitant to criticize these works because of the potential backlash? Sound off in the comments.