Hostess with the Mostest

This year’s Oscars should be co-hosted by Wanda Sykes, Tiffany Haddish and Viola Davis. Wit, class, diversity and what the Motion Picture Academy most seems to be looking for – an expansion of its viewing audience.

That’s industry parlance for higher ratings

AKA MONEY #timetogetreal

I partly suggest this because I am so sick of men.  That’s quite a statement coming from a gay guy, but, trust me it’s true.  If I didn’t already have a husband I’d be taking a break.

After the Electoral College POTUS, Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby, Kevin Spacey and Les Moonves of it all we get…Kevin Hart as THE choice to host the annual TV show that gets the biggest ratings of the year?  Well, among the biggest ratings these days because that number has rapidly been decreasing, among so many numbers for network television.

I can’t

Still, this pick (rescinded two days later) says so much about the entertainment industry – in this case quite an apt stand-in for our immediate world – and its ability to perceive what’s going on in the zeitgeist.

That’s Chair parlance for reality.

Let’s be clear – I don’t want to get rid of all men, or shall I say, all straight men.  Some of my best friends are…

We know, Chairy.

I’m only advocating we, well… try to take a look around and through, inside and out, and up and over.

Kevin Hart.  If you want the full details of his tweets, have at it here.

But here’s a quick summary.  He’s admitted to being physically violent with his wife, even spent a night in jail for it.  There was also a sex tape of him cheating on her when she was eight months pregnant but let’s put that to the side because, well, who doesn’t cheat on their pregnant wife?

The Chair bringing the shade

Mr. Hart has joked more than once that if he caught his son playing with a doll house it would mean he was gay and he’d hit him over the head with it and say, stop it, that’s gay.  In fact, that’s gay or that’s so gay seems like it was his go-to twitter insult from, ok…2007-2011.  He even made an AIDS joke about Damien Wayans back then, saying his social media pic looked like a gay billboard for AIDS.

Explaining himself in a 2015 Rolling Stone interview, Mr. Hart said he wouldn’t do those jokes anymore because, the times, when I said it, weren’t as sensitive as they are now.

Yeah, we need to talk

See…this is the crux of the problem

For some people, the times only become sensitive when they get caught or called out for their… stuff.  Or as All in the Family’s Archie Bunker once eloquently stated nationwide on CBS –TV in the early 1970s:

She (Eleanor Roosevelt) was the one who discovered the coloreds in this country.  We never knew they was there!

When you talk crap so publicly so often and gain any sort of success or profile (Note: Or even if you are unknown and just say it too loud or to the wrong person) you get held accountable for your actions these days.

On the same token, when YOU are the one to bring up what someone said and challenge them on it it’s likely you will get called out in some corners for being the PC police. That pejorative is sort of like the alt-middle version of fake news but without the knee-jerk mass revulsion now finally beginning to be associated with Trumpism.

Yet, when we face the issue, we can see how one is the outgrowth of the other.

When someone tells you — Racism, sexism, homophobia – we just weren’t aware of this stuff pre 1960’s.  It was a different time – you can answer : Yeah, you did and well, sure it was.  What was different is that people didn’t make fun en masse about your minority group because you won the genetic lottery ticket of the moment that excluded you from marginalization.  (Note: Or you were in the majority).

So, big congrats on that.

To which they might answer:

But before we complain and lament about oversensitivity and political correctness – can’t we joke about anything, anymore??? 

“Everyone is just SO sensitive” says the white men who lament a “War on Christmas” #HappyHolidays

To which you reply:  Okay, but let’s look at what’s being asked for.  All that’s being asked for is – a look.

I got called out on social media this week by one woman who wrote that as a Jewish person she’s heard many celebrities go on anti-Semitic rants, including members of the LGBTQ community and that SHE never asked that they not work.

Oh lady, I haven’t had enough coffee to deal with you

Well, no one is saying Kevin Hart should never work.  I mean, I’m not hiring him but, hey… knock yourself out, he’s a movie star…ish.  He’s just not the right host for the Oscars.  Would you want Mel Gibson hosting the Oscars, lady???

Not to mention, you HAVE to know I’m Jewish.  Who else but a Jewish gay man from New York with the insatiable need to always have the last word would ever take the time to answer you back so incessantly, Ms. Laurie Freedman Fannin?!

Oh yes, that is her real name.  Look her up on Facebook.  Especially if you agree with me.  Please.

LOL, you shady Chair, you!!

The real point is, any of the above-mentioned information about Mr. Hart, et. al was available to the Academy through a quick Google search weeks, months and years before they made that choice.  You can be edgy, more than edgy, and still proceed with due diligence and basic consideration.

This is how we get to Wanda Sykes, Tiffany Haddish and Viola Davis.

Here for this!

All women in the #MeToo era.

All people of color in a year when Black Panther and BlackkKlansman seem like sure bet nominees (and perhaps winners in multiple categories).

Wanda Sykes – One of the best standups in the country who happens to be an out lesbian, thus satisfying the mantra of trying to get a comedian host and knowing there are also multiple LGBTQ themed films that will receive nominations.

I’m on my way!

Viola Davis – A past Oscar WINNER (Fences) and multi-nominee (The Help, Doubt) who has had a hit show, How to Get Away With Murder, on ABC (the network that also broadcasts the Oscars) for the past five years.

You know Annalise would slay #nobrainer

Tiffany Haddish – A younger comic actress who WON the prestigious New York Film Critics award last year for a breakout performance (Girl’s Trip) and now STARS in her own movies. In fact, her latest is the current box-office hit, Night School, where she gets to beat the crap out of Kevin Hart!

Heck knows, I’m not that smart.  I just put in a tiny bit of thought on the matter and used The Google.

You’d think the Academy would do the same.  Or would you?

Aretha Franklin – “Respect”

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Topical Storm

Earthquakes and hurricanes are not the only natural disasters looming in the zeitgeist.  Television viewers are about to face a topical storm in the new fall TV season.

Have YOU been downsized, fired, 401K bankrupted or Madoff-ed?  Or maybe it’s merely families and friends reeling from the economic downturn?   Then have no fear – you’re represented in, oh, 75% of the 12 pilots I’ve screened in the VERY unscientific study I’ve done of the new TV season.  In these fictional/faux true series (both comedy and drama) the premise of the new show is the one time rich (or at least economically functioning) family or child or adult must start over because either a) they b. their ex-husband or c. another family member was rendered broke by the arms of a crumbling economy (guess which one?) or perhaps by some shady nameless or familiar business partner or acquaintance who ran off, misused or unwisely invested their life savings — leaving them virtually penniless, unemployable or just generally pathetic but plucky.  This, of course, allows them to be the fodder for, or spewer of, unlimited drama and/or jokes.

And speaking of laughs, are you looking for a new PHRASE or WORD in the zeitgeist this season because you are tired of “…really?,” or “no worries…” or “…it’s all good.” (Note:  if it’s ALL good, does that mean it’s never bad?  Really?)  The networks are hoping so.  Because in, oh, 90% of the half-hour comedy pilots I saw there is a new phrase/catchword of the next fall season.  And that word is – drum roll – vagina.

Yes, vagina.  Is that a funny word or a funny topic?  Or both?  I think only a woman is allowed to have an opinion on that – and even then, it needs to be considered in the context of who said it.  Playwright/activist Eve Ensler, a very talented woman, made a huge cultural impact and paved the way for our ease with the word with her play, “The Vagina Monologues” back in 1996 and it has been performed all over the world and then some.  But that was sooo 1996, ‘97 and ’98. And God knows one or two people have used and made light of the word before and since.  Question:  Since it’s been 15 years since “V.M,” is that the length of time to takes for something to get into network television zeitgeist?  Well, perhaps that’s pretty quick. Gay men were around at least since the beginning of TV, if not earlier, until one of them (us) starred in their (our?) own sitcom called “Will and Grace” in 1998.  And I am pretty sure African American people were around even longer, which I guess is why network TV allowed them to finally have their own sitcom, “Julia,” starring the talented and quite beautiful Diahann Carroll in 1968.

The same can be said of Margaret Cho, before her threatening tattoos, who changed it for Koreans with her show in 1994.  And so on….

THE POINT IS – something is no longer topical 10 or more years after it first happens.  Or is it?  Well, it depends in what sort of culturally elite circles you travel in (sarcasm?).  Certainly, in network (and often even cable) TV land these elites (wait, who? Sarcasm again) are treated as if they have plague – not to mention how many elite are now marginalized in political races.  But is something like the economic crises topical or old news two years since it happened.  Hmmm.  Networks are betting it is because it’s been so long since it’s been going on and, well, it IS still going on. Even if it’s been dissected, bisected and trisected by every 24 hour news channel and live conversation around every dinner table in the land almost every day.

Good for TV trying to be current.  I like that.  But why does it feel sooo old?  Because one needs more than a topic or a phrase to create something worth watching.  There’s something called characters, intriguing situations that are multi-dimensional and have some depth.  Or if not depth, then true wit based on situational observation, even of the silliest kind (e.g. South Park, anyone?).  This was not the case with many of the pilots you will (or won’t?) watch next month.  I won’t name names because the pilot is not always among the sharpest episodes of a series (uh, “Mad Men” and “Dexter” not included).  But network execs, who often bellyache that they’re outdone by cable TV at the Emmy awards each year – take note.  It takes a lot more than a topic to write a good paper as any teacher, or in this case Chair, will tell you.

Sure, there is reality TV – meaning the genre, not the concept.  Bachelor and bachelorettes, contests where people try to stitch together, cook together, love together,  can work.  But we’re not talking reality here – we’re talking old TV series television – or what it used to be (which isn’t reality but a dramatic or comedic reflection of it).  In other words, another kind of entertainment.  And a topical explosion does not get you anywhere near as far as a tropical storm.  The second is usually pretty-far reaching or it wouldn’t be so-named. The first is a benign condition that can become far-reaching only if it’s employed in some specific way.  That’s the best entertainment can do (with the exception of a few great belly laughs). Otherwise it just starts swirling among all the other millions of other things in the air.  And we have enough of all the rest of the swirl (or is it swill?) already out there.  Don’t we?  Time, as always, will tell.