MTV is airing a controversial documentary about white privilege, hosted by Jose Antonio Vargas, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist from the Philippines.
The idea behind the documentary is solid, with executives saying they intend to use it to look at an aspect of race that is not usually addressed. But the clips released to YouTube promoting the show are filled with awkward and tearful interviews with young white people, and that has a lot of people criticizing MTV for seemingly “publicly shaming” these kids.
The kids being interviewed seem extremely reluctant to talk about race, with one interviewee admitting that it was scary to talk about it because “If you say the wrong thing then suddenly you are a racist.”
In addition, the promotional videos also show Vargas interviewing minority teens about their views on white people.
After the videos were released to YouTube, the backlash was swift.
“I’m Asian, and I am offended for white people by this show. MTV used to be about music,” said one YouTube commenter.
Stephen Friedman, President of MTV, released a statement explaining the reason for the documentary: :
Whiteness often remains unexamined in conversations about race in this country, even as it acts as the implicit norm against which other racial identities are judged. By shining a spotlight on whiteness, we hope ‘White People’ will serve as a powerful conversation starter that encourages our audience to address racial bias through honest, judgment-free dialogue.”