Sunday, January 15, 2012

Lazy racial humor kills amusing skits dead

I was all in on this Saturday Night Live skit lampooning Ricky Gervais' return as host of The Golden Globes. Jason Sudeikis gets Gervais' bullying I'm-a-cheeky-boy smarm and abundant self-regard just right. The spot hints at how the current hype surrounding Gervais makes it seem like telling a few pointed jokes in front of rich and famous folks makes one a mad, bad, speaking-truth-to-power man--like a cross between Shaft and  Howard Zinn. It was funny...until about 1:40 in when Jason-as-Ricky takes his act to the BET Awards and gets some caps busted in his direction.


Up until this point, the joke was on Gervais and the entertainment bigwigs who might love to drag him 'round to enliven (i.e. make relevant and faux edgy) random awards shows like the Westminster Dog Show and the Teen Choice Awards. Then, in drops a hackneyed and gratuitous "Black folks sure are violent, amirite?" Say what?

Now, perhaps the joke would have been funny...oh...a decade ago, when a fight broke out at The Source Hip-Hop Music Awards, which was, by the way, broadcast on UPN and not BET. If it was 2000 and the skit had referenced The Source Awards, then the joke would have been, at least, timely. But, I suppose in the SNL writers room, awards shows attended by black people are pretty much all the same. And 2011 BET Lifetime Achievement Award winner Patti LaBelle is just as likely to commence to brawling as DJ Quik--being as they're both black and all. I mean, we're lucky shots weren't fired at the 2008 Presidential Inauguration what with Obama being the first black president, amirite?

I know. I know. I really shouldn't have high expectations for a show that lately seems to be coasting on a few beloved characters and an endless supply of jokes about gay men and lady parts. But I find it frustrating that comedy remains an art form where bias (racial and otherwise) is vehemently defended or ignored, because people can't be arsed to evaluate what they find funny says about them and the world we live in.

See a round up of other posts on comedy and bias. 


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