Monday, August 3, 2015

"Ben Affleck Scandal"?? No, no. A "Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Scandal"? Oh, yes.

PBS still keeping 'Finding Your Roots' in limbo after Ben Affleck scandal

Monday, August 3, 2015, 5:31 PM
The headline here is wrong. There is no "Affleck Scandal." There is a "Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Scandal." Affleck was not begging for an honorary degree from Harvard. Gates was begging for a seat on the Academy. Gates is the one who sold out PBS, the viewing audience, and any remnant of integrity that had been in himself. Fire him, bring forward the real researchers, and you might be able to salvage the show.

Think about it, PBS.

If you ever continue "Finding Your Roots" you can't do it with Henry Louis Gates, Jr. Now that we know that he will kowtow to a participant about (of all things) slavery we simply cannot trust him, especially after we know the debased avidity with which he pursued membership in the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences. We can't believe such a suck-up. If you continue the program, the master or mistress of ceremonies should introduce and quietly celebrate the work of the actual researchers who reach out and find the wonderfully surprising documents we all want to see. Too often the best researchers have been neglected in order to show Gates as "discoverer" rather than presenter. Celebrate the real workers! And stop sending people to distant libraries when they can discover what they need on their laptop! Let the show reflect the ease of access for ordinary folks and only then stress the need, at times, to go to courthouses and libraries around the country or the world. Be realistic, in other words, and do not make the show about the Master or Mistress of Ceremonies. If you want all this Gates Scandal to end in a teaching moment, let it become a program that takes a celebrity or an ordinary person through the steps any of us can take in finding our roots. Let the show be a teaching program. But if you bring Gates in, the show is dead.

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