Work It Keeps Getting Its Heel In Its Mouth

By Arturo R. García

Hola mi gente. Seems like a few of you felt uncomfortable with a line my character said on #Workit. I understand your feelings. The show is a comedy and is meant to be viewed in that context. Soy Boricua de pura sepa. I am proud of our culture and I’ve always strived to uphold the positive image of my beautiful island and our people in both my career and personal lives. Pa’lante mi gente.
– Jan. 11 statement by Amaury Nolasco posted on WhoSay, as quoted on LatinoRebels

As his show Work It continued to get skewered by both activists and critics, Amaury Nolasco released the statement above in an attempt to defuse some of the tension.

To be sure, Nolasco’s in a tough spot, seeing as how he’s still under contract. But there’s no way not to consider the statement a missed opportunity. The best he could do here was to hide behind the “it’s a comedy” card, a tactic which is especially unhelpful when nobody’s laughing at any of the jokes – let alone the line, “I’m Puerto Rican. I’ll be great at selling drugs,” which he was forced to deliver in the premiere.

And make no mistake, the chorus against the show is growing. The New York Daily News’ Dolores Prida called it “gratuitously offensive and, worse yet, not funny.” And Time magazine has chimed in by collecting more scathing reviews of the program.

Nolasco’s bosses aren’t doing him any favors, either: after days of silence from ABC executives, ABC Entertainment head Paul Lee took a tone-deaf tack on the topic on Wednesday, according to Entertainment Weekly:

While talking to reporters at the annual Television Critics Tour in Pasadena [Wednesday,] Lee said he was stumped by a campaign from the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) and the Human Rights Campaign that accuses the cross dressing comedy of being harmful to transgenders. “I didn’t really get it,” he said. “I loved Tootsie. I still love Tootsie. I didn’t get it. But that’s probably me.”

But he clearly realizes the polarizing show remains a hot topic — which is why he began his morning panel with his idea of a joke: “So what do you think of Work It?” The Brit was loath to say exactly how he feels about the comedy’s (dreadful) performance so far, other than to stick to his original mantra about developing “ambitious” shows. “We thought there was room for a very very very silly show.”But apparently, there isn’t room for another light comedy.”

These continued public-relations gaffes have done little to stop what could be a sizable protest scheduled for 5:30 p.m. today at ABC corporate headquarters in New York City – specifically 77 W. 66th Street and Columbus Avenue. Organized by the National Institute for Latino Policy, the demonstration will continue calls for a public apology from ABC for the show’s content.

If any Racializens are going, we’d be very interested in hearing from you, be it on this thread, or by contacting us on Twitter or e-mailing your pictures and notes to team@racialicious.com.

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Racialicious is a blog about the intersection of race and pop culture. Check out our daily updates on the latest celebrity gaffes, our no-holds-barred critique of questionable media representations, and of course, the inevitable Keanu Reeves John Cho newsflashes.

Latoya Peterson (DC) is the Owner and Editor (not the Founder!) of Racialicious, Arturo García (San Diego) is the Managing Editor, Andrea Plaid (NYC) is the Associate Editor. You can email us at team@racialicious.com.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Julio-Pabon/100001039965395 Julio Pabon

    Great reporting. Just one clarification, that second demo as the first one last week and the third one next week were called by the Boricuas For A Positve Image, not the National Institute for Latino Policy. The NILP is one of several organizations that have joined this movement. BTW, though the program was cancelled we will continue to protest until ABC apologizes and meets with us. For more detail inf. feel free to visit http://www.nyclatinopolitics.com the official blog of this movement.

  • http://twitter.com/charliekelso Charlie Kelso

    this is the most misogynistic show I’ve ever seen. I think not even when Tootsie was released this would be funny.

  • http://latinorebels.com Latino Rebels

    You guys are very cool for giving us the credit for the reporting of the piece, there is now a poll that was generated by us because our reader community barraged us with opinions and felt that Nolasco needs to clarify his tweet. Here it is in case you want it, but yes demonstration still on tonight: http://latinorebels.com/2012/01/12/reader-poll-what-do-you-think-of-amaury_nolasco-and-what-he-tweeted-out-on-january-11/

  • Anonymous

    >>And make no mistake, the chorus against the show is growing. The New York Daily News’ Dolores Prida called it “gratuitously offensive and, worse yet, not funny.” And Time magazine has chimed in by collecting more scathing reviews of the program. <<

    Good, let's hope this turd is canceled soon. It's so painful to watch. It's offensive on every level.

  • C W

    Not to mention that its entire basis, the “mancession” is sexist and fictitious.

    http://www.crossingwallstreet.com/archives/2012/01/97-of-new-jobs-are-going-to-men.html