Julia (1968)

Writer and director of Julia, Hal Kanter, wanted to provide audience members with alternative images of black womanhood in hopes of straying away from the representations of black women that so many audiences became familiar with. Julia, the main character, represented a lovely and well-mannered single working mother with a very successful job as a nurse in an aerospace industry health clinic who lived in a beautifully decorated and integrated apartment with white neighbors. Aligning with Kanter’s views, nothing about Julia’s lifestyle conformed to the images of black female characters that infiltrated the living rooms of many including her rejection to the typical servile role in the home.  While the show received mixed reviews from both white and black audience members, the show was considered to be unrealistic by not depicting life as it really was for African American women.  The show did not focus on the problems associated with African Americans and it was also criticized for not taking place in the ghetto.  Julia was portrayed as if she was living the same life led by a white woman.  Julia was also represented as the “Super Negro,” a black figure that white America would be comfortable watching on television.  Hal Kanter and his crew thought that if they presented a “Super Negro” to their audience via television, then society will become this way and in general become more accepting of the black community.  Women would admire Julia therefore they would want to embody her qualities and the American people, regardless of their race, would respect her.  The depiction of a black family was also criticized because Julia was a single working mother whose husband had died in Vietnam, therefore the show lacked a strong male figure to be in charge of the house.  Three years earlier, in 1965 the Moynihan report came out and stated that black mothers had bad influences on the family and that is why their kids were failing and essentially becoming unproductive members of society.   Julia’s character and her son Corey depicted the complete opposite.

 

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