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Kenan is Tired of Drag Liz Bowling

7 Nov

Saturday Night Live has been a favorite past time for me for years. I have seen many cast members come and go. I enjoy SNL and other shows that challenge what the media tries to deliver to the public as truth (The Daily Show, Colbert Report, Etc). While it is fun to laugh, these types of shows are run by comedians who also have a point to make it get it across through humor. 

So when the new cast members were introduced for this season, it really stood out that not only most of them were white but there were five men and ONE woman. This surprised me because I follow the casting process of SNL and there is quite a diverse group of talented people who want to be a part of the show, and some of the new male cast members have not shown much promise in these past 4 episodes that they have had the opportunity to shine on.

As a result of this, Kenan Thompson, one of the two African American cast members made a statement that he would no longer portray media personalities who are black and female. He goes on to explain that he knows so many black women who would offer so much more on a variety shows, keyword “variety”, than some of the recent choices they have made. Below is a link to his statements.

Kenan singles outDarmirra Brunson, a strong black female comedian, who currently appears on Tyler Perry’s “Love Thy Neighbor” as a strong candidate who would have so much to offer to the show. It has been six years since SNL has had a black female cast member.

Other critics state that not only do they agree with the lack of diversity, but that they have had encounters with black women “on the subway” funnier than Thompson.

Kenan does not disagree that the new cast members are talented and not that they were chosen because they are white, but that there are too many black women in the comedy scene for this selection to be simply about their abilities.

I agree with Kenan, and his argument shed light on something that I would not have even recognized. While it is funny to see a man play a female character, especially when it can be done so accurately, the point was made when Kerry Washington hosted last weekend. Her portrayal of pop culture icons shone a little brighter because it was not relying on the fact that she was playing someone of a different gender and that it was SNL’s punchlines often rely on, but the fact that they were spot on impressions. 

SNL is known for bringing issues to the surface and showing their true colors, and Kenan’s feelings were an issue immediately addressed with Kerry Washington’s appearance. The monologue portrayed Jay Pharoh (the only other black cast member) as Obama and Kerry Washington as Michelle Obama. They play on the fact that she has to leave the room every time a new black female character has to be introduced. When I saw this, I was excited to see that the SNL writers once again recognize an issue that needs to be discussed and find a tasteful way to express an unbiased opinion. I later learned that Kerry Washington was not the original host for that weekend, but had been invited in light of the controversy. Before Kerry hosted, there were only two other black female hosts in the past 90 episdodes, Maya Rudolph and Gabourey Sidibe. Below is a link to Kerry’s Cold Open.


Tim Wise Lecture

24 Oct

I have been anticipating Tim Wise’s speech for many reasons. While his videos available online and his book make incredible points and powerful messages, I was very intrigued to see how he would deliver his words when it was to college students here in Cincinnati. I wondered if he would focus a lot on what has and is happening here in our city compared to others, and how he may adjust his speech style to a majority of people in their early twenties. As he stood at the front of the lecture hall, minutes before his speech, he comically tweeted about the the “neo-nazis” in front of the college protesting him. I watched him and wondered if he was doing anything to mentally prepare before his talk. When he began, he alleviated the room wit a few jokes and immediately addressed the fact that the room may be a little full due to the fact that it was a requirement to be there, but was confident in what he had to say no matter why you were attending.

Wise is an incredible public speaker. He uses cold, hard, and clear facts that anyone can understand. I believe that if any of the “neo-nazis” outside would have listened to his entire speech before making their uninformed decisions on life, many would have been turned. Wise used a few Thematic instances of examples when he made major points, one of them being that it makes no sense to turn down free healthcare when you are clearly in need. One example was a woman who had lost her job, had one infant child, and another obviously on the way. She stated that she would rather pay $20,000 out of pocket before the government would. Why is this thematic example effective? It expresses the reason why most people feel the way this woman does.  It is not that Americans are too proud to take help, but that they do not want that help to provided to EVERYONE. It does not get much more hateful than that. This is the first time anyone has been able to properly explain to me why people are against a supposed “communist healthcare plan”.

His point of people making excuses that they are not racist because they have black friends stuck with me and will forever. Is this to say that not having a close and meaningful relationship makes one racist? The better example was if you are married to a woman, that makes it impossible to be sexist. That proof alone rang very true.

To hear about Wise’s background really helped shape his ontology of life.  He gives real life examples that result in the way he feels. He understands that their is a problem, but at the same time he can never fully be in the other person’s shoes when it comes to racial oppression.

The point that I think hit home for everyone in the room is how Americans celebrate the parts of our past that make us look great. We ignore the bad so that we can continue to celebrate the times in history we decided make us “One Nation Under God”. I think that choosing not to face the music is just as bad as contributing to a hateful society. Not talking about it is to not care about what is happening in the world. We may think we are uncomfortable discussing race and equality now, maybe when we think about that we can appreciate even more the not so bright and sunny parts of history when not only it was uncomfortable to discuss race and equality but it was deadly. I would like to think that I will have the decency to say what is necessary when I see oppression now when it is so much easier than the times where one could be thrown in jail if they were caught pondering the idea. Its thinkers like Tim Wise that understand it is not just about getting the knowledge out there, but creating a change in people’s minds so that they can see wrong, no matter how cleverly disguised.

Blog 2 Breaking Bad Episode 1

24 Sep

Walter White is portrayed as a man who is middle class. He is a chemistry teacher who scrapes by on his $48,000 and also has a second job at a car wash. His life’s work shows a negative effect on a the working class, as he is a very intelligent man with little financial compensation. In many ways in just this first episode it shows Walter being dealt a very difficult hand in life: he has an unexpextedly pregnant wife, he resents working a second job at the car wash to make ends meet, his students disrespect him for this second job, his son has Cerebral Palsy, he is diagnosed with lung cancer that is described as “treatable”. This man’s internal struggle to provide without outside assistance is his main flaw: he wants to be the man of the house who takes care of his family, and even when offered complete payment of his cancer treatment, he would prefer to use his skills at cooking meth than receive that help. The working class is portrayed as a hopeless endeavor, and that is why Walter must turn to breaking the law to survive in this economy. In regards to gender roles, he never expects his wife to work to help contribute to their income, he views it as his sole responsibility.

Jesse Pinkman is a character that falls under the lower class category. He barely graduated from high school and turns to dealing drugs as an income, all while using the drugs he deals. He is shown as a very negative personality, that this lifestyle is not the way to live and is extremely dangerous. It does not make sense for a character like Walter’s to get involved with Jesse, but the level of pressure Walter feels to provide for his family before his inevitable death outweighs the need to obey the law.

This show does a good job of not glorifying drug use, in fact it is terrifying at times. Every Character on Breaking Bad has a major vice or internal struggle: shoplifting, coping with murder, drug abuse, addicted to violence/breaking the law. But each time a character struggles with their specific problem, there is major backlash.


blog 1 New Girl

24 Sep

Group: Single females 30-35 years of age
I watched New Girl on FOX at 8 PM. Jess is planning her best friend Cece’s Bachelorette. Cece’s friends include many of her super model co-workers and a lesbian couple, one who is in her third trimester of pregnancy. Cece’s in-laws have traveled from India to see what their son’s future wife is like, and unexpectedly is attending the raunchy party. Cece’s friends do not understand why the family in-laws are so uncomfortable because this is what American women do before they get married, it is a free pass to behave in a way that celebrate the last hours of being single before they commit to their future husband. Cece is having issues because this marriage is arranged and has never been intimate with her fiancé. As the uncomfortable night progresses, Bacheolorette’s versus the in-laws, eventually Cece’s mother in-law discovers how worried Cece is about their relationship and explains that she had a similar experience before she married her husband, and the two women bond over the comparison. All while this is happening, her fiancé is not having a positive experience with his male American style bachelor party.

Analysis:  Bacheolorette parties have been a way that American women strongly celebrate their independent freedom, in ways that would not be acceptable any other day. The idea that a person has to cram the last moments of being single into one evening would clearly look unrealistic to other cultures, and quite vulgar.
Men and women are both often sexualized on this show, playing on the idea that women hold the importance of a man’s anatomy above their self-worth.
Women who watch this show benefit are the type of women who celebrate their sexual freedom, expressing themselves in this way feels empowers them because it is widely noticeable.

Conclusion: This episode suggests that this behavior can be acceptable across cultures when their is a similar experience that can be shared