By Guest Contributor Kendra James (Originally posted on April 9, 2012) Lena Dunham (third from…
Tag: Lena Dunham
By Guest Contributor Laura K. Warrell
In the June issue of Glamour magazine, spunky rock chick Pink declares herself a “reformed slut,” describing her brush with whorishness as an “unsophisticated” attempt at taking back her sexual power from men.
“I’ve always had an issue with [the idea that]: ‘Okay, we’ve both decided to do this,’” she says. “‘Why am I a slut and you’re the player? You didn’t get anything from me that I didn’t get from you.”
This “anything-you-can-do-I-can-do-better” attitude has been key to the burgeoning cultural narrative around slutdom, and it’s an attitude I’m mostly down with. Still, I found myself bristling when I read Pink’s interview. At first I thought my politics were offended: is Pink suggesting that sexual experimentation for women is a moral crime that ultimately requires “reform?” But then I realized, as a black woman, what I was really feeling was resentment, even envy–what a luxury is has to be able to publicly declare her sexual independence without having to worry how the declaration might affect her credibility, career, or romantic prospects.
In recent years, scads of books and other commercial works of art have been tossed onto the pop-culture landscape by white women reminiscing about their “phases” of sexual promiscuity, often told from the comfort of their fulfilled, easy-peasy lives as wives and mothers. In March, comedienne and NPR host Ophira Eisenberg published Screw Everyone: Sleeping My Way to Monogamy about banging everything in Manhattan with a bulge before settling down with her handsome, comic book-writing husband. In 2010, Jillian Lauren published Some Girls: My Life in a Harem about kicking it with the Sultan of Brunei before marrying a rock star and adopting a cute kid. And since 2005’s My Horizontal Life: A Collection of One-Night Stands, Chelsea Handler and many of her sassy gal pals have built thriving careers around being drunk and easy. Then of course, we have the fictionalized slut phase Hannah braves through on Girls in order to bring her creator, Lena Dunham, cultural relevance and Emmy awards.
So why aren’t these stories by or about Black women?
Why did I write an episode of Mad Men with Negroes? And by that I mean with “Negro” characters in it, not with.
Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
Anyway, why did I write an episode of TV that I know will never be made?
Though I work as an actress and have pitched and sold a television series or two in my time in Hollywood, I’m not a writer on Mad Men, so this episode won’t appear anywhere but here. Why, then? And why negroes? Aren’t we finished with all that? In honor of the Season 6 premiere, let me tell you about it.
I like Mad Men. A lot. I like the subject matter (advertising); I like the cast (Don Draper is hot); I like the look (sexy Eames meets Op Art); I like the writing (Matthew Weiner is a storytelling beast). I love the writing.
I have only one issue with Mad Men (OK, with a bunch of shows, but let’s stick with this one): I’d love to see more diversity. I’m a Black actress, so diversity is an issue that comes up for me. A lot. Mad Men, Game Of Thrones, Girls, Veep–these are cool shows, except for the fact that they would really rock with more people of color, series regulars or otherwise. I complain, wtf?…and bemoan, WTF!…but alas, for all my years in TV, I’m not able to make a difference in my own living room. Or am I?
By Kendra James
I watched the season premiere of Girls last week deciding that–after a good hour or so of snark directed in Dunham’s direction on Twitter– I’d pretend I didn’t know any of the drama swirling around the show. Why? Well, I only made it four episodes into Season One of Girls, less because of my offended sensibilities and more because I was just bored. The show bored me–and before you say anything, my addiction to Showtime and FX hour-longs proves that I’m capable of enjoying TV without vampires, werewolves, and witches, okay?
Anyway, I was bored with last season but I was willing to make a concession: given how I felt about the show’s…well, everything…was I really going to judge it fairly? Probably not. So Season 2 was going to get the benefit of the doubt.
And the first two episodes have!
But, Joe, I’m still bored.
Read the Post Black People Review Girls (2.2): Dear Joe, Nothing Happened
By Joseph Lamour
Did you have a good weekend? I hope you did. Mine was pretty great: friends, karaoke, laughter, moderately priced alcohol, and other 20-something stereotypes…Instagramming, there was definitely a lot Instagramming. So… Is it as foggy in New York as it is in Washington, DC right now? Because I’m feeling a little like I’m trapped in that Lana Del Rey video. Anyway…
I just wanted to break the ice before our season-long foray into talking at length about Lena Dunham’s Girls. I know, Kendra: the idea of Lena and Lena’s television program and requiring you to watch Lena and Lena’s television program for the site is a less than thrilling idea for a lot of people…and even less than less for entertainment writers like us who are attuned to TV stereotypes and diversity shortages. None of us were thrilled about the whole debacle last year. There was quite an article about it on the site, as you know—you wrote it, after all.
So, Kendra, I’ve watched the first episode of Season 2 already. I’ll let you know what I’m thinking, and I’ll wait for a reply with your own thoughts. We’ll be kind of like pen pals who are super-focused on talking about something neither is particularly fond of. Kidding, of course… sort of.
To the topic at hand!
Plot spoilers below the cut. You’ve been warned…
By Arturo R. García, Kendra James, and Joseph Lamour
2013 Oscar Nominations: Nine-year-old Quvenzhané Wallis made history Thursday when she became the youngest actress ever nominated for the Oscar for Best Actress–part of the somewhat surprising nomination haul for Beasts Of The Southern Wild, which is also up for Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay (director Benh Zeitlin and Lucy Alibar), as well as a Best Director nod for Zeitlin.
The only other PoC up for major awards, however, are Life of Pi director Ang Lee (Best Director) and Denzel Washington, who earned his fourth Best Actor nomination for Flight. Jamie Foxx, Samuel L. Jackson, and Kerry Washington were all passed over for their turns in Django Unchained, as was director Quentin Tarantino. (The year’s other prestige slavery film, Lincoln, gathered 12 nominations, most overall.)
The Black Comic Book Festival: The Black Comic Book Festival will take place this Saturday, January 12, from 10am-4pm at the Schomburg Center (NYPL) in Harlem. It is, of course, happening a mere 15 blocks from my home…while I have to be at work. I won’t be able to go, but if you enjoy any of the reporting Arturo occasionally does on comics here at the R and yearn for inclusiveness at larger cons like NYCC and SDCC, this may be an event for you.
Read the Post The Racialicious Entertainment Roundup 1.6-11.13
By Managing Editor Arturo R. García and Guest Contributor Kendra James
Issa Rae: Well, this is how web television supporters say it’s supposed to work. Now, can Rae and Shonda Rhimes deliver?
Earlier this week, Rhimes, the showrunner behind Scandal and Grey’s Academy, sold a sitcom to ABC reportedly titled I Hate LA Dudes. On the surface, it doesn’t sound that different in tone from Rae’s acclaimed (if occasionally problematic) Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl.
But in going from the wilds of YouTube to Pharrell Wiliams’ i am OTHER channel and now to serving as co-executive producer and writer on a broadcast television show, Rae becomes the first notable web creator to complete the circuit. This brings pressure on multiple fronts: not only does she become, for better or worse, a test run for creators and executives looking to see how her style and fanbase translate to a “mainstream” stage, but you have to figure no small percentage of ABG fans will seek reassurance that the comedy that drew them to that show survives the migration.
On the other hand, with Rae making the airwaves not long after Mindy Kaling’s own ascension, we also have to ask ourselves: how much does progress need to be progressive? —AG