The key takeaway for me about Mad Men‘s global sale to various entities is that the blackface episode will not be edited out, unlike other shows. There will be a notification on screen that says that show is merely depicted an era in which such racism was commonplace. They feel it’s appropriate to do that because it’s a period series. Shame that the owners, producers, and actors on other recent series don’t have the same integrity to provide a very similar disclaimer themselves. The series may have been aired only in the past two decades, but it’s nonetheless true that such racism was still commonplace.
I’m learning along with everyone else that combatting racism isn’t about erasure. It’s about facing and admitting to the injustices that even you have committed. That’s antiracism. When series try to dodge the issue by pulling away, it’s failing being a good ally by not taking responsibility. I haven’t read the book bearing this title, but I’m pretty sure this is what white fragility is.
It was maybe a year or so ago when it was announced that an MTV’s Daria spin-off was in the works, then called Daria and Jodie, that would focus on the adult versions of those characters from the show. At the time the response often was, “Who’s Jodie? Wasn’t her best friend Jane?” Jodie was the token Black female character on the show, who was the overachiever that occasionally mentioned that she had to work much harder because of her race. By occasionally I mean really occasionally, as Daria focused on the life of disaffected teens who didn’t quite fit in but tried to avoid anything too controversial.
In the most current of decades (and decades) of social justice movements based on the realization that Black people are regarded quite differently than other Americans, creators and platforms in entertainment have decided that they should also have a reckoning. Last week it was announced that an episode of W/ Bob & David would be removed from Netflix because a sketch featured a character in blackface. This week show creators Tina Fey and Bill Lawrence requested that platforms remove episodes of their respective shows, 30 Rock and Scrubs, for also featuring scenes of characters in blackface. Now that these entire episodes are gone there are no longer issues, right?
Except the problem is those episodes did exist and all they’re trying to do is say they’re owning the problem by saying they don’t exist anymore. That’s not a solution.
This blog has been quiet, and I take full responsibility for that. It’s been a rough past few weeks for me as a man of color in America. It didn’t seem appropriate to focus on entertainment news, and much of what was being shared – because nothing new is being produced – was about shortcomings in the industry pertaining to black people and how white people didn’t stand up for it. Or had no power to. Like Josh Trank with trying to cast a black woman as Susan Storm in Fantastic Four. They’re all just disappointing stories, really. But that’s reality.
Today I came across something else that I’ve been mentally chewing on. This ScreenRant article on how Star Trek lost something great. In summary, Gene Roddenberry’s original series was full of optimism and the stories of today are lacking in that view of the future. Thomas Bacon isn’t wrong in the slightest. Star Trek has become more jaded and pessimistic. But I don’t think that makes it any less great. It’s inspiring.
So apparently the mystery of the fleeing Batwoman is resolved. It surprisingly has nothing to do with injury – which would be reason enough – and everything to do with working hours she found disagreeable. Considering she did crossovers with people already working those hours, it’s baffling that she may not have known what she was getting into.
I call shenanigans. While it’s believable that a show and its star can soon part, I’d be surprised if this were it considering it’s not coming from official sources. Someone’s either looking for attention (you got it) or trying to make her look bad. Thing is, it doesn’t matter why things happened unless it involved incredibly foul behavior. Otherwise the important thing is what everyone does next. How does the show move on? How does Ruby Rose move on?
One does not need to be a viewer of the Batwoman show on the CW to be shocked by the news that the lead performer, Ruby Rose, is exiting the show after one season. It’s not like this never happens, but this rarely happens. It’s not something one often sees of a show in which the lead character’s name (or pseudonym) is the show’s title. How do you recover from that?
Saturday Night Live has been criticized pretty hard lately. It isn’t all unwarranted, especially since the buttons on many of their sketches fall flat and they fail to attempt to push any meaningful boundaries, but there is good stuff that keeps my family coming back week after week. The recent from-home entries have shown some creativity that I hope sticks with them when they return to the office.
The above sketch, “Dreams,” is the type of piece I’d like to see happen more often. This one is dreamlike and melancholy while still presenting a chuckle here and there. It’s hopeful without pushing it in our faces too much. It’s also just nice. We all want to go outside again and feel connected to everything.
Going back to SNL criticisms, the major thing that makes the sketch seem weak in retrospect is that it promotes a milquetoast desire to return to the status quo. Hopeful dreams should be so much more than that. We should all be longing for so much better after the pandemic ends.
In a time when people most need hope, Michael Schur and the cast of Parks and Recreation came through with a special episode of the trouble that comes with the inadvertant isolation that can come with social isolation. Each character in the cast is dealing in their own individual way, with of course the main problem in the end being Leslie’s focus on other people and not enough on herself. This being an episode created for the purpose of raising money for charity, they currently offer it in its entirety on YouTube.
Being an avid podcast listener, I’m subscribed to The Good Place: The Podcast, a podcast about another Michael Schur production. It’s here that I learned that Schur really seems to have good intentions with his shows. For instance, The Good Place is about, and quite explicitly about, living your best life by living with intentionality for others. Parks and Recreation was inspired by a book Schur read about the benefits of community coming together and how community groups seem to be fading away.
The latest Good Place: The Podcast is itself a special episode, about the Parks and Rec special. What stood out to me was when they spoke about the commercial for the Cure fragrance featuring Dennis Feinstein. Essentially, the bit is that he’s a rich guy who created a dangerous substance that he’s trying to pass off as a cure because it essentially kills everything it comes into contact with. He also says to ignore science because he and his rich friends said so. This was notable to me because they revealed it was written three weeks prior to the airing of the episode but after the President of the United States suggested that household cleaning products (that kill things in which they come into contact) could be a possible solution for the coronavirus. And need I mention the fact that his specialists for this crisis are his son-in-law and his rich friends? Like I said in my reboot post, reality is resembling fiction more and more.
Another great sf television show was lost last Friday. Fringe was a show that I got into late – and I understand very clearly that I am part of the problem because of that. We are offered so few challenging shows on television, so it is up to us to not only support them but also share them with other potential viewers. I failed to get on board sooner, mostly thanks to the fact that the first season is merely adequate. It doesn’t sell the high concepts that came in the later seasons. Continue reading “Fringe ends”