(Black) People finding out you’ve never watched more than a half hour (combined) of Scandal sort of reminds me of the reaction I’d receive when people found out I’d never watched The Color Purple and I’ve never done the Electric Slide. The incredulousness received was so extreme that it began to annoy me, turning my non-viewing and non-sliding into a point of pride. Instead of just not sitting down to watch The Color Purple and just not finding the opportunity to learn the Electric Slide, I’d intentionally avoid it. It became one of my “things” like “Oh, that’s Champ over there. He lives in Pittsburgh, used to hoop, and he sits down and smirks whenever the Electric Slide song comes on.”
I haven’t reached that point with Scandal, and I doubt I ever will. It seems like a nice enough show, and my reasons for not getting into it have more to do with my tastes—I tend to like my shows funny (30 Rock, Parks and Rec, etc), dark (The Wire, Luther, etc), or dark and funny (Louie, The Sopranos, etc)—than any type of (admittedly) bizarre preemptive metahate. But, despite the fact that I haven’t watched it, like The Color Purple, it’s become such a part of our cultural zeitgeist that you really don’t have to watch it to know about it. You could probably create a Wiki page for Olivia Pope just off of Facebook status messages every Thursday.
Anyway, in the past week, I’ve read three Scandal-related articles—“Real Talk: What’s Up With the ‘Scandal’ Backlash?” by Demetria Lucas, “Such A Big Ego: Why Some Black Men Have A Problem With â€œScandalâ€ by Kirsten West Savali, and “Scandal’ Fans: Guilty by Association?” by Kellee Terrell—and if you were to combine each together and distill them, you’d be left with three points.
1. I LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOVE Scandal
2. (Black) Men criticize (Black women) for loving Scandal despite some scandalous behavior from its lead character
3. We (Black women who love Scandal) are not hypocrites. If anyone is a hypocrite, it’s Black men
As I mentioned before, it’s near impossible to be on social media and not know the basic premise of the show. Kerry Washington’s Olivia Pope is perhaps the most powerful woman in D.C. Her great grandfather was Dr. Manhattan. One click of her heel could make Colin Powell cowtow. If she even winked at you, your head would explode, and Keyser Sose would bankrupt your uncle’s construction business. She’s the shit and shit. She’s also seeing (and in love with) the President…who is married…and is White!
It’s also understandable why the show is so popular. It’s set in D.C., which is to bougie Black girls what Home Depot is to fat crackheads. It features a bougie Black girl in possession of all the things bougie Black girls think of when attempting to get aroused—power, lip gloss, a barely detectable lisp, the ability to affect policy over brunch meetings, shoes and shit, men who want to do more than just invite her over at 1am for Wendy’s and Burn Notice. Plus, no one does “I will make you root and shed tears for these flawed motherf*ckers” better than Shonda Rhimes. She is a maven, a magician, the bougie Black girl’s Geppetto.
Despite all of this, it’s somewhat disingenuous to suggest that her affair with the President isn’t the meat and potatoes of the show’s appeal. Yes, her occupation and the perception of power matters—this show doesn’t work if she’s a school lunch lady who secretly calls all the shots and knows all the secrets in the teacher’s lounge—but there’s no doubt in my mind it wouldn’t be as popular if she happened to be married. Or just single. Or a lesbian. Or having an affair with an equally powerful lawyer. Her impact as a Black woman makes the show irreverent. Her affair makes it sexy, and sexy beats irreverent’s ass every time.
So yes. If you are a bougie Black girl—a population who, despite my undying love and shit for them, is somewhat defined by their sanctimony-based snark about everything—and you activity root for Olivia Pope to “win” her love affair, you are a big steaming pile of hypocrite.
But, guess what? That’s ok!
No one—well, no one with a brain—cares. Yes, it does make you a f*cking hypocrite to rip apart the ratchet behavior of the Real Basketball Wives of Hip-Hop and turn around and root for a woman who’s basically doing the same thing, just as it makes me a f*cking hypocrite for marching against violence but listening to Rick Ross on the way to the rally, or the chick clowning King Catfish on Twitter this evening despite the fact that she’s been dating the same dude for four years and still doesn’t know where he lives, and exactly like the hypocrisy millions of Americans exhibit when pretending to care about concussions and player safety and still sucking on the NFL teet every weekend.
Hypocrisy is as American as assault rifles. This country was founded by a group of extremely brilliant, extremely educated, and extremely pious men who still believed that enslaving people wasn’t really that bad of a thing. Hypocrisy is our birthright, our history, and our legacy, and you look sillier denying it than if you just said “F*ck it” and embraced it.
We are all hypocrites in some way or another–especially when it comes to what we choose to consume—and the longer Scandal lovers who exhibit this behavior refuse to admit to and accept their own hypocrisy, the longer they’ll get called on it…like everyone else does. Being a bougie Black girl and using words like “nuance” and “slut-shaming” doesn’t absolve you from doing some things that don’t really jive with some other things you do, and “hypocrite” is just one appropriate word for that type of behavior.
You know another one? “Human.”
—Damon Young (aka “The Champ”)