Last year, around this time, I was nursing far too high expectations for a little pilot season pickup called Deception. This year I’m just really glad it’s been cancelled so that the actors involved can escape with some dignity intact. One can’t say the same about Community.
Yeah, it’s that time again. Most networks are at least 80% set with their 2013-2014 Fall/Winter lineups. For better worse you will be sitting through another season of potentially Harmon-less Community. As Abed might say, some stations just like to watch the world burn.
Kevin Hart greets the crowd before his opening monologue on “Saturday Night Live.”
Kevin Hart hosts SNL: Not only did Kevin Hart get to host a funnier than usual Saturday Night Live this week, he got NBC to play an ad for his BET parody show, Real Husbands of Hollywood, during the broadcast. Miracles really do happen.
The gems of the evening included Hart’s opening monologue (these are always better when the show’s writers have nothing to do with them), “The Z Shirt” (90s nostalgia rarely fails), and Really? With Seth and Kevin (commentary on the Voting Rights Act debate stuck between some less funny “Weekend Update” material). Continue reading →
The ad features a white man from Minnesota speaking exaggeratedly in patois, urging his unhappy coworkers to become happier with phrases like, “Yuh know what dis room needs? A smile!” Clearly, this is Volkswagen’s way of telling you, Jamaicans are happy! You should be happy, too! Buy a 2013 Volkswagen Beetle and get happy! Continue reading →
And it’s that space in between utter colorblindness and cancerous racism that Hollywood—not to mention other sectors of society—seems to have so much trouble with. Most of us aren’t saints who are wholly untainted by racism or Klan members. Instead, we grow up with ingrained and historically determined conceptions about race that influence our behavior, we learn that those ideas are social constructions rather than immutable truths, and we grapple with those realizations. Many people of color in this country are fortunate enough not to be subject to violent hate crimes but not fortunate enough to be free of more subtle and pernicious racism. And if you’re white, as I am, your life is affected by your race, too, but in ways that have been treated as if they’re natural and unremarkable. All of this seems rather unsurprising to me and very definitely interesting. But so often in Hollywood, it is dangerous territory.
It’s a good thing that white writers have become conscious of the idea that it’s bad to speak on behalf of people of color in a way such that people of color’s perspectives are treated as unnecessary. But to become afraid to speak about race at all is to minimize the importance of race’s substantive influence on our lives. If ”Deception’s” creators think being nuanced about race would crowd out other issues they said they want to explore like family, they haven’t thought hard enough about the ways that differing attitudes about race can divide white families even today. And if they don’t want to consider how growing up as a black woman in the family of her mother’s white employer affected Joanna, they are missing out on opportunities to give her specific insight and strengths. Addressing racial difference, in other words, can be a way to unearth narratively interesting pain. But being willing to see racial difference can also mean coming into contact with new ideas, perspectives, and cultural and historical traditions that make a show and a character–or a life–fuller and more unique.
The New Normal has no shame left, is what I was thinking during the whole episode. In this week’s episode, Shania (played by the ever-so-cute Bebe Wood) had to come up with an influential woman to cover for a presentation recital–do these actually happen? I’m actually curious–and perform the speech in front of the parents at school. And, boy, did she perform…because she chose Cher. Walking up to stage in a hot pink war bonnet–I don’t want to even start with that again right now because, when she starts to sing, it gets worse…
It’s easy to say that one shouldn’t let one network destroy the way we view the Olympics as a whole, but when you’re nearly out of patience by the end of the Opening Ceremonies, you know it’s going to be an interesting event.
But after a week or so to consider and collect our thoughts, it’s time to acknowledge the “best” of the worst of the network’s telecast of the 30th Summer Olympiad–if only because the network has the Olympics through 2020. This is a fact, a fixed point in time and space, that we in America are going to have to accept for another three sets of Games (Sochi, Rio, and Peyongchang). Continue reading →
By Guest Contributor Kendra James and Managing Editor Arturo R. García
Late Night With Jimmy Fallon: Say what you will about Fallon’s “Slow Jam The News” bit (to put it lightly, Fallon’s take on “soul” is no favorite of mine), but featuring President Barack Obama last week paid dividends for both men: Fallon taping the episode at the University of North Carolina provided Obama with a prime audience for his campaign pledge to reduce the financial aid burden and, according to The Washington Post, Obama might have attracted enough viewers to give Late Nightits best ratings in two years.
The final numbers for the show won’t be released until Thursday but, of course, the skit has already drawn the ire of conservatives, who will no doubt keep this video handy when it comes time to bust out the “Celebrity President” smack-talk as election season rolls on. (And hey, if presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney wants equal time with Fallon, I say go for it. After all, even Pat Boone released a metal album, right?)
From there, the President returned to the airwaves in a slightly more bipartisan setting, as he turned in another good showing at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, despite being “a 5 on the Just For Men scale.”–AG
30 Rock: In which Tina Fey continues to think that blackface is funny.
Everytime I go and attempt to give this show a second chance I find myself cringing on my couch. I’d given up after the first season–it just wasn’t my kind of humor, and let’s be frank: watching Tracy Morgan just makes me extremely uncomfortable, even if the character is supposed to be a joke. The first time I decided to give it another chance I was (un)lucky enough to tune in to the Black Swan episode. This time–a year and a half or so later–I tuned in because I like live television. For my troubles I received the live television… and Jon Hamm in blackface.
I chose to include this here rather than writing an article, because I’ve already said most of what I feel on the topic of white entertainers using black face for a cheap laugh. That said, it still needed to be mentioned. Whether intended to be satirical or not, whether it’s ‘full’ blackface or not, I don’t find it amusing. I don’t enjoy Tina Fey grabbing a cheap laugh from a historically degrading medium. I don’t understand why Fey felt the need to stick Jon Hamm in blackface multiple times during the live show last Thursday night. I don’t enjoy knowing that somewhere, someone is laughing at the bit without knowledge of the history behind the use of blackface in entertainment.
You don’t say the n-word, and you don’t black up. I don’t get why this is so difficult for white Hollywood to understand.–KJ
Girls: Great news for minority female twenty-somethings: HBO decided to renew Girls for a second season! This means that Lena Dunham gets the opportunity to fix her ‘completely accidental’ all-white casting and add in a WOC. We, too, can bathe in the water our roommate shaves in while eating a cupcake–unless this Black character has filled that promised quota slot that is. - KJ
Scandal: Kendra advised us to keep an eye on this show last month, and based on social-media activity, it looks like she was right; any given Thursday night, my Twitter feed is bursting with people following along. So, courtesy of Tambay at Shadow and Act, here’s a PSA: the show’s first season will be released on DVD on June 12th, presumably along with a Blu-Ray edition.
Tambay also points out that as of Tuesday morning, ABC still hasn’t renewed the show for a second season, but the numbers do seem to favor a return:
It’s telling that ABC hasn’t renewed it for another season yet; the numbers, which aren’t mindblowing, but, from all I’ve read, are steady: roughly 7 million viewers, taking the number 2 spot during that Thursday 10pm hour, behind CBS’ The Mentalist, with about 11.9 million. Compare that to Shonda Rhimes’ other ABC series, Grey’s Anatomy, which comes on the hour before Scandal, with 9.7 million viewers.
With three weeks to go until the season finale, Racializens, how do you feel? Should Kerry Washington and her crew come back?–AG
Race, Culture, and Identity in a Colorstruck World