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Equal TimeTelevision and the Civil Rights Movement$
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Aniko Bodroghkozy

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780252036682

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252036682.001.0001

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Bringing “Urgent Issues” to the Vast Wasteland

Bringing “Urgent Issues” to the Vast Wasteland

East Side/West Side

(p.155) Chapter 6 Bringing “Urgent Issues” to the Vast Wasteland
Equal Time

Aniko Bodroghkozy

University of Illinois Press

This chapter examines how entertainment television addressed the theme of race relations and “black and white together” by focusing on CBS's East Side/West Side, one of the first prime-time shows to feature an African American in a continuing role. Many cultural critics complained about the perceived decline in quality of television programming. Federal Communications Commission Chairman Newton Minow even described network television as “a vast wasteland.” This chapter considers the television networks' inauguration of a new form of programming dubbed “New Frontier character dramas” as they tried to soothe their presumed white audiences about race relations. It explores how East Side/West Side presented to its viewers issues of racism, black rage, white guilt, the place of African Americans in American society, and the appropriate response by white liberals. It explains how East Side/West Side became a terrain of struggle for mostly Northern, mostly white Americans trying to negotiate positions around race and Kennedy-era liberalism. It also argues that the series was out of step with the story that television really wanted to tell.

Keywords:   entertainment television, race relations, CBS, East Side/West Side, white audiences, network television, television networks, racism, African Americans, liberalism

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