Monthly Archives: May 2018

Thoughts On The Difference Between The Samantha Bee And Roseanne Barr Controversies

There is not a day that goes by, recently, where some celebrity is in trouble for putting their foot in their mouth.

Earlier this week, despite the massive ratings and profits for the network from the first season of the Roseanne reboot, the show was cancelled. The show’s star and titular actor, Roseanne Barr made a rather nasty and racist comment about Valerie Jarrett, a political adviser to former President Obama on Twitter. This social media faux pas forced the network to cancel the show.

Last night,  during her weekly show, Full Frontal with Samantha Bee host Samantha Bee referred to first daughter Ivanka Trump as a c**t.

While both comments are inexcusable, as I see it, there is a difference, which must be observed in context. Roseanne’s social media history is littered with outrageous claims and statements that are far from politically correct.

Samantha Bee is a comedian who uses her show to talk about the issues that we are dealing with. During this specific segment, she was talking about the children who arrive at our borders with their parents seeking asylum. These children are then taken from their parents by the government. The point of the segment was to point out that Ivanka, like the rest of those who work for and cater to you know who, are tone-deaf to the real issues that America is dealing with today.

Ultimately, this scandal will fade into our collective cultural history and another will take its place soon enough. I just wonder, that when these scandals fade into memory, will we be able to come together as a country or will we be torn apart forever?

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Little Women Character Review: Margaret “Marmee” March

*Warning: This post contains spoilers in regards to the narrative and characters from the book Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. Read at your own risk if you have not read the book or have seen any of the adaptations.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from Little Women to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

A girl’s first role model is her mother. More than providing food, shelter, warmth and clean clothes, a good mother does her best to guide and teach her daughter as she grows up. In Little Women, Margaret March, the mother of the titular heroines is known to her daughters are Marmee.

When the audience is introduced to Marmee, she is for all intents and purposes, a single parent raising four teenage girls. With her husband is fighting for the Union, Marmee is doing the best she can with limited resources.  While she is a practical woman who completely understands what needs to be done to keep her family going, she is not without a heart. Early on the in the novel, at Marmee’s request, the family gives their Christmas dinner to another family who has much less than they have.

In a certain sense, Marmee is a modern mother. She is not a helicopter parent, and allows daughters to make mistakes, even when she knows the mistakes are preventable. While she completely understands that her girls must marry one day, Marmee is not the matchmaking mama who throws her daughters at every eligible man in sight. She wants them to have solid marriages to men who respect and love her girls in the way that they deserve to be respected and loved. She also wants her girls to stand on their own two feet, well, as much as they could in the 1860’s.

To sum it up: In creating Marmee, Alcott understood the impact a mother has on her daughter. While Marmee, like anyone, has her weaknesses and difficulties, she does her best as a mother. Many times in fiction, especially classic fiction, mothers are dead, forever embarrassing their children or emotionally absent as a parent. Alcott broke the mold, creating a mother who while thoroughly human, is being the best parent she can be. That is what any reader or child could ask for.

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Throwback Thursday-Click (2006)

Life for most of us is busy. Between our jobs, our families and everything else that is going on, we forget to breathe and enjoy being alive.

In the 2006 movie, Click, Ben Newman (Adam Sandler) is trying to achieve a work/life balance, but that is seeming more impossible as the days go on. In order to receive a very desirable promotion, Ben is working his tail off for his hard to please boss, Ammer (David Hasselhoff). But that means less time with his wife, Donna (Kate Beckinsale) and their family. He wishes for a remote to control his life. Enter Morty (Christopher Walker) a salesman who sells Ben the remote he desires. Ben thinks he can control the remote, but then remote turns on him.

Growing out of the various man-child characters that made him a star, Sandler proves that he has grown as an actor. While he can easily play comedy,he shows that he has the chops to play a mature character going on a mature journey.

I recommend it.

 

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The Hellfire Club Book Review

Politics has always been a dirty game.

In the new novel, The Hellfire Club, by respected journalist Jake Tapper, Charlie Marder has spent his professional life up to this point in the world of academia. But then his local congressman suddenly dies and through family connections, Charlie is suddenly thrust in the world of politics with his wife, Margaret. As Charlie and Margaret get used to the world of Washington D.C. in the 1950’s, they discover how dirty politics can be. Especially when their morals and their lives become endangered.

Blending real historical figures of the era with fictional characters, Tapper tells the story of political intrigue, back room deals and secrets that are kept from the voting public. While I couldn’t quite hook into the narrative, it was still a decent read and proof that regardless of the time period, politics, is still politics.

I recommend it.

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Thoughts On The Roseanne Cancellation

Comedy is supposed to push boundaries. But at the same time, certain boundaries should never be crossed.

Roseanne was the juggernaut of the Spring 2018 television season. The reboot was a hit, reminding viewers why they kept returning to the Conner family every week.

Then Roseanne Barr, the show’s namesake star, opened her big mouth. Or rather, she let her latest tweet do the talking. Because of that tweet about Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett, Roseanne has been cancelled.

As much as I thoroughly enjoyed the new season, cancellation was the only reaction that made sense. A slap on the wrist would have not been enough. What makes me angry is that everyone who worked on the show, both in front of the camera and behind the camera, is out of a job.  They should not be punished for Barr’s mistake.

Like all controversies, this too shall fade from the public conciousness.

But what will not fade is the fact that you know who, who has made both racist and sexist comments in the past still has his job, while others are out of a job.

 

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Futureface: A Family Mystery, an Epic Quest, and the Secret to Belonging Book Review

Alex Wagner is the face of modern America. European on her father’s side and Burmese (modern-day Myanmar) on her mother’s side, Ms. Wagner went on a journey to not only discover her family’s past, but also discover who she is as individual.

Her experience is detailed in the memoir, Futureface: A Family Mystery, an Epic Quest, and the Secret to Belonging. Inspired by a family member’s off-hand remark, Ms. Wagner decided to look into her familial history. In the process of exploring her mother’s family history in Myanmar and her father’s family history in Ireland and Luxembourg, the author learned a few things about herself in the process.

This book is a fascinating read. Not just from the genealogy angle, but from the angle of what it is to American, especially if the reader is mixed race.

I recommend it.

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Thought On The Irish Abortion Referendum

When one thinks of Ireland, forward thinking and progressive is not usually the description that comes to mind.

Last week, the Irish government placed a referendum in front of the citizens. Should the current abortion laws, which only allowed for the procedure when the mother’s life was at risk be overturned or kept as is?

66% of the voting public voted for the law to be overturned.

The fact that 2/3rds of the Irish voters voted for the measure gives me hope. It gives me hope that one day, US voters will do the same. They will trust American women, the spouses/partners and their doctors to make a decision that is at its core a personal one.

From my perspective, those who want to ban or limit abortions do so because they have yet to see women as full-fledged human beings who have the capacity to make their own decisions. While faith and religious observance play a part in on how one might feel about abortion, when it comes down to it, in 2018, are women viewed as intelligent, rational creatures who have the ability to make decisions about their future or are they still viewed as second class citizens who need a man’s guiding hand on all decisions?

 

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Disobedience Movie Review

Disobedience is defined as failure or refusal to obey rules or someone in authority.

It is also the title of the novel by Naomi Alderman and the movie of the same time. Ronit (Rachel Weisz), Esti (Rachel McAdams) and Dovid (Alessandro Nivola) all grew up together in the same Orthodox Jewish community in North London. But Ronit left the community some years ago and has since found a new life in New York as a photographer.  Then her father, who was a respected Rabbi dies and Ronit is forced to return home.

When they were teenagers, Ronit and Esti were together, but their relationship was not exactly welcomed by their friends and neighbors. While Ronit was living in New York, Dovid and Esti married. Their marriage appears to be solid, but when Ronit walks back into their lives, all three main characters must grapple with questions of not just sexuality, but also faith.

Disobedience is one of the best films of 2018, at least for the first half of 2018. The acting is solid and the narrative is perfect. In other films, with other screenwriters, Dovid would be the mustache twirling villain keeping  the lovers apart. Ronit would be the hero who saves the day and the Esti would be “damsel in distress” caught between her marriage vows to Dovid and her love for Ronit. But in this film, all three characters are so real that I felt sympathy for all of them as they went on this journey.

I recommend it.

Disobedience is currently in theaters. 

 

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Add Another One To The List XI: Morgan Freeman

Sometimes it takes public shaming for things to finally change. The list of powerful or famous men accused of unwanted sexual assault has grown again. Morgan Freeman is the newest name on this dishonorable list.

Sixteen people have accused him of either sexual assault or inappropriate behavior. Four of those who have made such accusations are journalists whom Mr. Freeman has been interviewed by during press junkets. They have accused him of making inappropriate remarks during their interviews. Chloe Melas, who is the co-author of the CNN article linked to above, stated that Mr. Freeman acted inappropriately towards her while promoting his 2017 film, Going in Style.

Based on the evidence presented, I don’t think that Mr. Freeman went as far as Harvey Weinstein did, however, that does not exonerate him. Mr. Freeman’s actions and words are a symptom of a much larger cultural perspective that still views women as sexual objects, regardless of whether actions follow the words spoken.

As much as I respect Mr. Freeman for his career, sometimes we must make public examples of bad behavior to make it clear that such words or actions are unacceptable.  Unfortunately, the public example that must be made in this case is Morgan Freeman, whose lapse in judgement reminds us all that inappropriate behavior will not be tolerated and those who still act in such a manner will be punished appropriately.

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Thoughts On The NFL Knee Ban During The National Anthem

One of the core freedoms of our American democracy is freedom of speech.  The basic tenet of this freedom is that one is allowed to act or speak against the government without fear of reprisal or persecution. Unfortunately, freedom of speech has become twisted in a manner recently that does not reflect its true meaning.

Last week, the NFL made a decision in regards to their players kneeling during the National Anthem. In response to players such as Colin Kaepernick kneeling to protest injustice against communities of color, the ruling stated that personnel may sit or kneel during the Anthem, however, they must do so in the locker room. If they are on the field, they must stand. Any personnel who do not stand while on the field will be fined.

I’m not a football fan, but I am a fan of freedom of speech. This ban smacks of hypocrisy from my perspective. Those who took a knee or sat during the Anthem were only acting as any American does when they see injustice happening. They were publicly protesting, which is a right guaranteed by the Constitution. The hypocrisy comes into play when those who claim to love the Anthem and everything it stands for, uses it to spread their hateful rhetoric or encourage violence (i.e. the rally in Charlottesville last year).

This ruling is a perversion of American democracy.  My fervent hope and prayer is that this ruling is overturned. But until then, I will stand with the players who use their platform and celebrity for a good cause. Not just because it the right thing or the fair thing to do, but also because it represents everything that American can and should be.

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