Last Friday, Season 4 of Orange is the New Black was released. To keep things short and sweet, Poussey Washingston is murdered by Baxter Bayley. The audience sees the life leave her body, her eyes close, and her corpse left on the floor for hours. By the end of the season finale, we see Taystee and the rest of her friends ready to riot after Mr.Caputo defends Bayley and neglects to mention his victim at all.
Praise for plot execution.
Many conversations have sparked from Poussey's death, along with much praise for the plot's execution. The writers for the show have received acclaim for bringing the issues of racism, racial profiling, and police brutality, to the forefront. It's clear that whatever conversation they wanted to start has begun. And yet, I can't help but question what message were they trying to send?
Orange is the New Black introduces several new officers this season, including Desi Piscatella, who is very much racist. In fact, that seems to be the common theme for nearly all of the new officers (and inmates) that were introduced. Almost every character presented has a blatant distaste for people of color.
But not Bayley.
Bayley appears to be the only innocent officer at Litchfield. His character doesn't even mean to kill Poussey, it was just an unfortunate accident, caused by a very hectic moment. It's clear that the writers chose Bayley as the murderer to make Poussey's terrible death even more conflicting. And that's a problem.
Everything in not black and white.
Multiple reviewers have noted the writers' decision to paint not-so-likable characters in a sympathetic light this season. From the racist, Nazi inmates to Sam Healy, it's very clear that the writers were trying to let us know that not everything is black and white. Which is great! Nuance is great. However, when you're dealing with police brutality and black death, the illusion of nuance can also be very much dangerous.
Bayley's story uncommon.
The truth is, Bayley's story is not the most common story. Most vigilantes, officers, and policemen who murder unarmed black citizens aren't like Bayley. They usually aren't young, new, or naive. They usually don't accidentally kill their victims. It's often the exact opposite: It's people making the conscious and deliberate decision to kill other people. Hell, most of the time they aren't even remorseful. (See: Darren Wilson and George Zimmerman).
Media does not exist in a vacuum.
But we have to understand that media does not exist in a vacuum. It helps shape our culture, and helps people form their opinions, whether consciously or not. What is the show’s white audience going take away from Poussey’s death? We've all seen this story before; black person dies and is instantly forgotten. They quickly become part of the past, while we focus on their murderer's future. Should their murderer be punished? Is their murderer a bad person? Shouldn't we consider the murderer's future? Shouldn't we try to understand what the murderer was going through? How hard it must've been for the murderer!
This narrative is dangerous. This narrative is toxic. This narrative keeps people out of jail, and justice unattainable. The writer's decision to make Bayley accidentally kill Poussey was wrong. If their goal has always been to discuss real life issues that inmates face, then I can't help but question if they abandoned that goal, or if they feel as if they've accomplished it? Do they believe this is how most cases of police brutality go? Do they believe we should sympathize more with murderers? And lastly, do they believe that Bayley shouldn't be charged for killing Poussey? Or was Bayley's death nothing more than a plot device, and Poussey's death nothing more than horror porn. #Celebrities #Actor