Another day, another controversy.
And today’s controversy revolves around the popular MTV show, Teen Wolf (which I asusume is not like that 1985 movie with Michael J. Fox) and its creator and executive producer, Jeff Davis.
It seems that Davis likes to think of himself as an enlightened, open-minded kind of guy, free of any prejudices. In a recent on-line interview, he said, regarding his show, that: “I’m trying to create a world where there’s no racism, there’s no sexism, there’s no homophobia. And I know it’s not real life, but I kind of don’t care. I’d like to create a world where none of that matters: you have the supernatural creatures for that to work as an analogy. In my mind, if you can create a world like that on TV, maybe life starts to imitate it.“
O.K. sounds great. If everyone thought like Davis does, what a wonderful world this would be.
Well it would, except that, as soon as this quote got around, people took to the internet, calling out Davis on his B.S., in particular, with regards to Boyd, the black character played by Sinqua Walls on the show.
Turns out that Boyd is the least defined, most one-dimensional person on the entire show. He’s your basic token black guy, with no personality, no back-story or life, unlike the other major characters on the show.
One person went into even more detail, and wrote on his blog that: “Boyd has no family, no story, no background, no home, and when he even makes his brief cameos in the show, he’s usually somebody’s backup or lackey. He has no human complexity, and his one moment of individuality comes when he says he wants to be like Scott (i.e. the lead character on Teen Wolf). Which is then promptly ignored and never covered again. Erica gets a storyline. Isaac gets a storyline. Matt the photographer gets a storyline. So where’s Boyd’s?“
Where indeed? Not surprisingly, after being called out like that, Davis took to the internet to respond, saying that it wasn’t easy to service every character with equal weight.
But then we went on to explain further that: “I’m quite proud of the fact that our lead actor is Latino. But I have also always said I will not make Teen Wolf an “issues” show. I think a series like Glee or even the humor of Modern Family are far more equipped to handle those subjects. I also worry that as a white male who grew up in a pretty ordinary middle class suburb I may not have the insight to be particularly adept at tackling issues of race head on.“
He further added that:
“While there is no way I can write without socialization and my own personal bias both informing and affecting my work, I believe my first job is to entertain. That’s what I love about writing. Entertaining people. If I skirt the issues of race and sexual politics, the reason is most likely that I don’t feel like I’m going to be very good at tackling those issues within a show about teenage werewolves. I don’t really know how to write those stories. But I think I do know how to scare people and how to make them laugh. There are far better writers out there like Aaron Sorkin, Shonda Rhimes, David E. Kelley, far more equipped to tackle those subjects. I’m here first and foremost to entertain.“
Of course, one’s first response is to say, well if you can’t, then why don’t you hire writers and directors who could? But his answer smacks somewhat of Lena Dunham’s response, when she was heavily criticized for the lack of black characters on her HBO show, Girls. You know, the “Hey I’m just a boring, self centered white person with a very limited view of life and the world so what do you want from me?” argument.
But reading between the lines, I sense that Davis is also saying: “Look, at least I’ve got a black guy on the show for Christ’s sake. So what do you want from me? if you’re not happy then go watch Scandal and leave me alone.“
But the real issue is, does this really matter? Do you really care about Boyd on Teen Wolf, or any other similar characters on other shows? Is this really much ado about nothing, after all?
Here’s Walls himself in a brief video, talking about his character on the show.