Ep. 17: Randy Roberts, Film Studies at Purdue University


Back in February after the Broncos defeated the Panthers in the Super Bowl there was controversy over the way the loss was handled, post-game, by Panthers star Quarterback Cam Newton. His responses were short, and his appearance even shorter after he exited the press conference prematurely. I didn’t see a problem with it, it was a tough loss and I don’t know what is expected as far as answers are concerned.

The reaction, however, drew criticism I didn’t think was fair, and set in motion a larger conversation about race and how African-American athletes (and African-Americans in general) are portrayed at times in the media.

This led me to Randy Roberts, who has spent more than 29 years at Purdue University. His passion for academics in the field of film studies and pop culture evident by the way he spoke during our conversation. Part of his expertise, having allowed him to be a historical consultant on more than 50 projects for ESPN, ABC, CBS, NBC, and many other channels, is the study of how African-Americans are portrayed in film and media. It is one of the best conversations I’ve had, and it opened my eyes to a lot of different things.

In today’s episode, we discuss Cam Newton, how subtle use of words paint an unfavorable portrayal of African-American athletes (and people) in the media, the “Color Line”, what doing things the “right way” actually means, and we discuss what we would do to change the way things are written and how society as a whole looks at race.

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