Are You Sure That Joke Is Funny?

When you go to see a comedian perform you have an expectation that the comedian will talk about every topic we are not supposed to talk about in public such as politics, religion, abortion, sexually violence and race. It is one thing to make jokes about these unstable topics, but when a comedian takes these topics and then places the blames on the victims, odds are most people wont handle this the jokes lightly. Recently Netflix has placed on their viewing list a standup comedy special The Bird revelation and Equanimity performed by comedian Dave Chappelle. Both shows are about an hour long, in which Chappelle tires to desperately make his audience laugh at the misfortunes of other people.

Dave Chappelle tries to take certain material that everyone in his audience is informed about, some how tries to relate to the subject being made fun of, but then completely back hands the subject by either blaming victims or telling people it is their fault. While Chappelle tries to make his audience laugh, he also continues to tell the audience that America is “too brittle.” He claims that America has become too sensitive and the Untied State use to be a country where no one talked about their feelings or were considered about hurting other peoples feelings. In an article published by The New York Times titled Dave Chappelle Stumbles Into the #MeToo Moment states “he again leans on the gravitas of King to pivot from the pain caused by sexual misconduct. Mr. Chappelle criticizes the “brittle spirit” of the female comic who said Louis C.K. masturbated in front of the civil rights leader, prompting him to give up his movement.” In the second show Equanimity, Chappell continues to take jokes about celebrities who have been caught up in a serious sexual misconduct but plays them out like they are no big deal and rolls off the jokes as to brushing dirt under a rug. The New York Times article also speaks about the victims of the harassment wouldn’t complain if the harassment came from a handsome guy, “When suggesting a handsome man wouldn’t be accuses of assault and rape, he says that if Brad Pitt did what Mr. Weinstein did, the response would be different.” I understand Chappelle is trying to be funny and create jokes that are from recent media outlets, but talking about sexual misconduct is one aspect, but when you speak about the victims in these situations negatively, it comes off as selfless and classless.

When looking at sensitive and serious topics such as politics, religion, abortion, sexually violence and race, for the most part when speaking about these topics, they can lead to arguments among people, which will result in a negative connotation. However, with that being said, taking serious topics and placing them with humor can open up room for discussion that can leave a positive aftermath. With that being said though, in order for audience members to not get offended, there needs to be some kind a line Chappelle cant cross, just because he is a comedian, that does give him permission to rip sexual misconduct victims apart. In another article called Dave Chappelle Can’t Shock Jock His Way Out of the #MeToo Movement by Jamie Loftus, she writes, “As he puts it, this is his way of exercising his right to “fuck around.” Subtext of “fuck around”: not come prepared to talk about one of the most significant national conversations of the decade but still inexplicably devote your entire set to it. Subtext to “fuck around”: assumes he will be able to riff out a comedic symphony, and does not. Subtext to “fuck around”: fuck around, but it’s not funny or effective enough to deserve a major platform release.” If Chappelle keeps up the personalized aimed joke at innocent victims, eventually he will loose a lot of his fan base. Hannah Jane Parkinson author of Kevin Spacey deserves to be scorned. But can I still watch House of Cards?, writes in her article about if we should still continue watching certain films or show who have some kind of ties to people who have caught in a negative scandal. Parkinson states, “Clearly there is a difference between continuing to support an individual’s livelihood and appreciating their past work (especially if they’re dead). If the work is historic we can view it critically without actively supporting or enabling a dubious character. There’s also the consideration that if we cease to appreciate all historic art by badly behaved creators – well, would we be left with any art at all? I have to agree with Parkinson on the fact that the majority of badly behaved creators create the most interesting and awarding winning productions, however as the world continues to evolve, people will no longer allow great productions if certain creators are behaving badly. In Chappelle’s case, even though he hasn’t personally been involved with a case of the #MeToo movement, cracking crude joke about the hot topic wont make his career last much longer.

Jason Zinoman, “Dave Chappelle Stumbles Into the #MeToo Moment,” New York Times (January 2, 2018): https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/02/arts/television/dave-chappelle-netflix-special.html

Jamie Loftus, “Dave Chappelle Can’t Shock Jock His Way Out of the #MeToo Movement,” Paste (January 8, 2018): https://www.pastemagazine.com/articles/2018/01/dave-chappelle-cant-shock-jock- his-way-out-of-the.html

Hannah Jane Parkinson, “Kevin Spacey Deserves To Be Scorned. But Can I Still Watch House of Cards?” The Guardian (November 2, 2017): https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/nov/02/kevin-spacey-deserves-scorned-watch- house-of-cards

Cult Shows and Fandom

Spaceships, transportation, space suits, strange aliens, rebellious children, and murder, what all do they have in common? They all are characteristics of cult favorites of film and Netflix Original shows such as Stranger Things, Black Mirror, and The End of the F***ing World. All three shows provide viewers with Sci-Fi, comedy, or horror while bringing a new light and perspective to the always-same characteristics of the genres until now.

When you look at cult fandom of these or any cult shows, audience member become extremely attached which can be a positive outcome or a negative outcome. Cult classics lie near and dear to fans hearts and they fall in love with a film or show and go to worlds end to keep the program alive. Toys, posters, lunch boxes, and props are a way for cult members to “take home” a piece of the show and start collections of remembrance. The different shows perform certain character quotes, characters wear certain clothing and even location of shows can effect how hardcore fans interact with the show. By purchasing fandom items, people can showcase their interest, fascination and loyalty to the show. Also by wearing or displaying these items and products in public, other fans can recognize this fandom’s to interact with one another. Thanks to social media outlets such as blogs or chat groups, Facebook pages, Instagram and comic-on, it is easier than ever to hardcore fans to connect with one another, along with staying connected with show updates and press releases. I personally have films and shows that I have purchased, which only fans will understand. For example I have t-shirts from the film clueless, scale model cars from Knight Rider, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, to hairspray from Keeping Up With The Kardashians. I believe fandom is a great way to express who you are by showcasing what you enjoy to watch. I agree with media scholars who argue that fandom is a positive progressive, however there needs to be some kind of line a fan needs to not cross. I understand hardcore fans of cult productions feel an “ownership” of characters, plot or setting, but people need to keep in mind, at the end of the day its all Hollywood. In an article called Here’s Why Stranger Things Star Finn Wolfhard Was Forced to Speak Out Against Inappropriate Fans, written by Dee Lockett, claims “ On Wednesday night, 14-year-old star Finn Wolfhard tweeted a pleas to fans not to “harass” him and his co-stars, writing that while he doesn’t want to “ex-communicate” people who love the show, “anyone who calls themselves a ‘fan’ and actively goes after someone for literally acting and doing their job is ridiculous.”

When it comes to the show Black Mirror episode “USS Callister,” the show communicates a forward thinking progression of diversity in characters and changing the game in fandom. Unlike regular Sci-Fi shows, Black Mirror places a white female in the captions chair. Most fans are not happy about the modern changes taken place. Members of the show feels as if the show is taken too far off course when looking at older Sci-Fi shows which paved the way for this current series. In an article called ‘Black Mirror’: How the New Season’s Breakout Episode Guts Toxic Fandom, written by Jenna Scherer, tells “Their complaint, broadly, is founded on the deeply limiting idea that all narratives should center on straight, white men, who have been the unquestioned default protagonists up until very recently. This is an idea that’s particularly ironic in the world of sci-fi, which is all about imagining potential futures in which anything is possible.” Toxic fandom followers will be disappointed in the new look of this show, because the show doesn’t follow the “rules” of sticking to past standards and brings in a fresh new look.

Dee Lockett, “Here’s Why Stranger Things Star Finn Wolfhard Was Forced to Speak Out Against Inappropriate Fans,” Vulture (November 9, 2017): http://www.vulture.com/2017/11/why-a-stranger-things-star-spoke-out-against-fans.html

Jenna Scherer, “Black Mirror: How the New Season’s Breakout Episode Guts Toxic Fandom,” Rolling Stone (January 3, 2018): https://www.rollingstone.com/tv/news/how- instant-black-mirror-classic-uss-callister-guts-toxic-fandom-w514853

 

Non-Traditional Lead Characters

Lead characters in Hollywood films or Netflix Original programs are supposed to enhance the audience’s viewing experience by “removing us from our environment and placing us within the film.” Lead characters can be cops, doctors, fathers, mothers, super heroes and so much more. Most people are accustom to seeing certain people play lead roles. The only issue with the majority of shows and films are the lead characters are played by people from a Caucasian background. Breaking away from the mold, Netflix Original shows such as Dear White People, On My Block and Luke Cage place lead characters from different races in order to bring a fresh face to television.

All three Netflix shows showcase racial identity from African American backgrounds and Latino/a backgrounds. Dear White People has a lead character of a young woman in college who runs a radio show at her college. The purpose of the radio show is to inform her listens about the racial remarks of the white students actions towards African Americans. The show focuses in on how white students at the school performed on “blackface” for Halloween costumes during a party, which were filmed and sent around the school. African American students at the school gather together in order to plan a protest against these racial allegations. The main character ends up falling in love with a white male, which her friends do not approve of the bi-racial relationship. The show On My Block follows a group of friends transitioning from middle school to high school. The lead character and his friends are Latino/a, living in a ghetto area, where Hispanic gangs rule the streets. The characters are not only physically changing from hormones, but are also changing mentally, by trying to get an education in order to live a life outside of the ghetto. Luke Cage produced my Marvell, uses Mike Colter an African American who plays Luke Cage. Colter’s character is unlike most super hero productions that use a white male as the main lead, this series uses a colored person.

The shows challenge traditional stereotypes such as growing up in low income, not having a parental guild and living a day-to-day struggle. By placing characters from different cultural background, audiences get to see the lives of others beside white people. For example some audiences, mainly white audiences aren’t happy about having an African American as the main lead. In an article called “Luke Cage” and the racial empathy gap: “why do they talk about being black all the time?,” by Nico Lang, claims “While white audience members are accustomed to their stories and histories represented on screen, they become less comfortable when others are handed the mic. This concept is often known as the “racial empathy gap.””

Between the three shows, the most compelling characters I enjoyed was from On My Block. The show really focused in on the everyday challenges of transitioning into adulthood, figuring out who your friends are, going against family values and struggling to fit in a non-Caucasian environment. The problems the characters encounter such as going against family values or beliefs and walking down the streets to hear gunshots. The group of friends knows they need to help each other stay focused on school to gain an education so they can try someday to leave the ghetto and beat drugs. I was personally able to connect to the characters in Dear White People, because like African Americans, being gay, I can’t just turn off who I am from the outside. We walk down the street and can get criticism from people just because of who we are. Even though I don’t know what it is like to be of color, I do know the struggle of people judging us just the way we look, or talk, or use of body language.

Nico Lang, “Luke Cage and the Racial Empathy Gap: ‘Why Do They Talk about Being Black All the Time?’” Salon (October 5, 2016): https://www.salon.com/2016/10/05/luke-cage-and- the-racial-empathy-gap-why-do-they-talk-about-being-black-all-the-time/

Reality TV, Love it or Hate it!

Reality television, some people love it and some people hate. I am one of the few who are obsessed with watching reality shows. From Keeping Up With the Kardashian’s, Jersey Shore, Below Deck, Real Housewives and so much more, yes I watch it all. The best part of reality television is we get to take a front row seat of watching other people lives from the comfort of our own house. Services like Amazon, Apple and Netflix are all now bringing in reality television in order to make their subscribers happy. The market shows the demands of reality television are growing every day and companies are trying to bring in new content all the time.

Netflix has it’s own original and re-newed episode of reality tv which include Nailed It! and Queer Eye. Both programs bring us into other peoples lives rather the person is trying to bake a complicated dessert or trying to help give others make over’s. While I was watching Nailed It! I feel in love, with the host Nichole Byer. Having meet Byer in person, as set as the host, she brings in comedy to the show. Unlike tradition cooking shows, where contestants are expected to have amazing cooking skills, contestants are ordinary people trying to cook, which make the show more reliable to viewers.

When people take about reality television as a genre most of the time the genre just gets referred to as “reality television. However, having the name just at the genre is too broad and should be broken down into sub-genres such as, “make-over,” “cooking,” “dating programs,” surviving programs,” and so many more. In order to take the deciding process easier for the viewer to select programs, there needs to be sub-genres for reality television. As I go to choose my personal genres for reality television I lean more towards the “lifestyle” genre such as Real Housewives, Jersey Shore and Keeping Up With the Kardashian’s. The reason I enjoy this sub-genre so much is because I get to look inside the lives of “celebrities” and what the lifestyle of a celebrity would be like. When I watch these shows it is like a mini escape of my own reality and I get “placed” into another persons life for a moment. Nailed It! I would place under the “cooking program” sub-genre because even though the show isn’t about professional cooking, the show still contains all elements of cooking shows. Queer Eye belongs under the “make over program,” sub-genre because the viewer is provided with a contestant who receives a complete life make over.

As a gay male, Queer Eye presents a positive representation of the LGBTQ community and gender stereotypes. The best part of the show is the “fab five” stars all represent a classic “type” of gay guy. You have a more masculine gay male all the way down to a more “feminine” gay guy. The show does an amazing job of presenting five gay males who help give make over’s to heterosexual males in southern states. In the first episode of season one, we are introduced to an older man named Tom, who represents your typical older southern cowboy. Tom having an open mind as well as never being around gay men builds a true connection with the boys that will last forever. An article called How Netflix and Amazon Are Driving a Global Reality TV Renaissance, by Scott Roxborough in the Hollywood Reporter, Roxborough claims “Netflix’s Bajaria said in a statement following the launch of Queer Eye. “These series elevate the genre with innovative takes on familiar formats. They deliver immersive and nuanced stories. They elicit so many emotions from viewers, from tears of laughter to tears of joy — and that’s just Queer Eye.””   Both Netflix original reality shows are a spin on classic sub-genres, which positively represent what viewers expect to see but showcase them in a refreshing modern lens.

Scott Roxborough, “How Netflix and Amazon Are Driving a Global Reality TV Renaissance,” Hollywood Reporter (April 9, 2018): https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/how-netflix- amazon-are-driving-a-global-reality-tv-renaissance-1100793

Wait, Documentaries fun?

Remember in school when your teacher said you weren’t going to have a lecture and watch a movie instead. The whole class would get really excited, until you asked what you were going to watch and the horrifying words of “documentary” spilled out. The whole mood of the class shifted and you knew it was going to be a long two hours. Well in today’s world documentaries are taking over and aren’t as boring as they used to be. Since companies like Netflix have started adding documentaries to their list a viewer can now watch a pre-view on what the documentary is on as well as not having to sit through commercial after commercial.

Netflix has added a big selection on different types of documentaries to their views. Since Netflix is always changing up their content, viewers and subscribers are constantly hit with new content for their viewing pleasure. In an article called Netflix and the Documentary Boom by Sudeep Sharma, she claims “there is a better metaphor for Netflix than that of the library. The service functions more like a newsstand, offering material on a rotating basis that is continuously changing based on the availability of material (that can “expire”) and the ostensible desires of consumers” (Sharma, p.144). I agree with what Sharma is trying to say, by having content that can “expire” it keeps the audience coming back for more fresh content they haven’t seen or want to re-watch. If Netflix were considered a “library” I would say yes it does have a larger place to hold material, however, most libraries don’t spend a lot of time getting rid of older content, while constantly adding new product in.

The documentary 13th written by Ava DuVernay provides a creative twist in bring a serious issue in the United States to an audience. Compared to other fiction films, the stylistic forms of showcasing different people speaking in more of an interview process, doesn’t make the viewer feeling bored. By also showing clips of older historical pictures and videos then comparing them to other films in the media, made a great connection between, history, film, pop culture and statistics. The documentary didn’t come across as someone who was forcing certain beliefs or facts down your throat, but instead allowed for the viewer to digest what was being shown and spoke about. Before watching this documentary I personally had no idea how much of the people in prisons were of African American race, what I enjoyed the most was how DuVernay was able to relate this current issue back into slavery in earlier history.

Unlike 13th being a feature-length documentary film, long-form or multi-episode documentary series such as Making a Murderer last longer in time as well as providing more facts on the subject. In Making a Murderer, the series was about ten episodes, which were about an hour long; each episode kept the viewer with a cliffhanger of what was going to happen in the next one to come. What made the long-form documentary so engaging was, each episode showed clips of the real news coverage that was used back when the murder trails were occurring. Since this element was added, the show at times felt like a reality-based program. I had no prior knowledge about Steven Allen or the case, so by showing the different news coverage it sucked me into trying to figure out if he was truly set up by the cops or if he was really guilty. I think by adding the news coverage clips in and adding personal home video/phone calls we were able to build a better connection with the suspect. With that being said, also since the multi-episode kept us engaged an hour at a time but by having ten episodes it truly dragged us along with Steven and his journey. Just as we thought the trail would be over, another twist of events occurred which made us feel even more sympathy towards Steven, which is why this documentary was perfect.

 

 

Sudeep Sharma, “Netflix and the Documentary Boom” (pp. 143-154)

Cartoons But Not For Children

Everyone has his or her favorite television show they like to sit down and enjoy. Some people enjoy comedies, dramas, reality, and several other genres. When we are younger, most people grow up watching cartoons on weekend mornings. Over the years cartoons have taken on a new role and have created what are known as “adult cartoons.” Companies like Netflix, FX, and Adult Swim on Cartoon Network have combined cartoons with the comedy genre in order to arrive at “adult cartoons.” Over the last couple days I watched animated comedies on Netflix such as BoJack, F is For Family, and Big Mouth compared to non-animated shows.

While I was watching all three of these adult animated shows, which are suggested for ages 18 & up, my mind was completely blown away with everything I encountered. In an article called The Man from Isis: Archer and the Animated Aesthetics of Adult Cartoons, written by Holly Randell-Moon and Arthur J. Randell states, “Programmes such as Archer utilize this aesthetic to address material that live action television cannot due to the exigencies of performance and censorship that broadcast content is subject to. Archer makes creative use of the limited animation format to achieve a greater economy of visual humour and style with a focus on complex dialogue and characterization, complemented by an idiosyncratic intertexuality.” For example, Netflix original animated adult show Big Mouth right from the start of the episode the audience is shown the anatomy of each sex. Unlike non-animated television shows, adult cartoon come across “less serious” and can push the limit of what they can showcase to viewers, because since it’s not using “real people” networks have a little more room to cross the line. A plus side to animated series is, because they can push the envelope they can show more “graphic” aspects that don’t occur on regular television. However, since networks have more room to provide their audience’s with darker humour, the audience can also end up being a little more turned off by the overkill. In all three shows the use of the “F” word was used way too often, that it comes off like the networks are trying to make use of the “F” as normal as the word crap. As for BoJack, the main character is a horse head on a regular humans body. BoJack comes across to the audience as a sex addict who treats girls more like a sex object rather than a living person or animal. Between being show the characters having sex in a certain scene or just by talking about it, it’s easy to see how much animated series can get away with.

Also, when I was watching the three shows I picked up on how fast dialog comes into use between characters and scenes. In the show F is For Family, the family discusses getting a new television in which their younger son ends up breaking. When the family sits down to talk about the issue, fast-talking among characters as well as most of the scene-taking place in their living room. Randell-Moon and Randell explain, “animation style allows for fast-pasted humor and complex comedic sequences which are not typically achievable in live action situational comedies. Where live action production centres on the physical mise-en-scène and the performative aspects of working with actors, animation is able to exploit editing and timing for greater comedic effect such that physical or prop comedy and line delivery can executed in quick succession” (Randell-Moon alt, p.140).

I have to say, while I was watching these cartoons I was a shocked by how much cussing occurred, topics of strong sexualized commentary, and use of stereotyping demographics there were. If any of these three shows were switched to a lived action production, I truly believe the comedy punch lines would be taken too seriously and leave a bad taste in peoples mouths. With that being said, even though I personally cannot stand adult cartoons, the concept completely works; since all this rude comedy takes place in cartoons it is fine, cartoons content isn’t supposed to be taken seriously.

 

 

Holly Randell-Moon and Arthur J. Randell, “The Man from Isis: Archer and the Animated Aesthetics of Adult Cartoons” (a chapter in J. Jacobs & S. Peacock, eds., Television aesthetics and Style [New York: Bloomsbury Academic])

The Magic Behind the Camera

Everyday people from all over the world indulge in watching their favorite television show. There are several different types of genres to choose from, but comedies usually are within the top genres people pick. Comedies provide certain elements within the show that present iconographic and thematic parts to every show. The two main subgenres of comedy are domestic comedies and workplace comedies. Some iconography that you may notice is seeing all the characters interact in the same scene locations such as, living rooms, kitchens and garages. Today’s multi-camera sitcoms such as Netflix’s One Day at a Time display topics that are progressive, culturist and discuss forms of racism.

After watching a YouTube video called, One That Goes Behind the Scenes, I was blown away with how much time, effort and people are used in order to produce one single episode. The YouTube video went behind the scenes of the Friends franchise, that went into great detail in order to show viewers all the hard work that is needed behind the camera. When I watched this video I really opened my eyes to all the work behind the scenes we often forget are needed in order for the show to be finished every week. For example I completely forgot about the set dressing crew that has to build multiple sets in order to create the feeling of a real life atmospheres. I never thought about how the sets get taken down when the everyone goes on vacation, so when the show wants to start shooting again, the set crew has to move back every piece of furniture, books and other countless items to bring the set all together. Another aspect I didn’t think much of is how long it takes to shoot a 20-23 minute episode, which can take between 4-5 hours. If a a person goes to a live taping of a show they might be surprised at how long they will be sitting for. However, between takes, there is a warm up comedian who keeps the audience full of energy and keeps their spirits up to make sure their laughs are loud enough to hear on the track. The comedian tells jokes and gets the audience to get up to dance around in their sets. Audience members during the taping get to experience seeing the several takes it makes in order to get a final cut, as well as seeing actors forget their lines.

The production crews behind the camera really must work in a timely fashion in order to make the show deadline. The YouTube video showed all the writers coming up with the script, reading the script, editing the script, and then re-writing the script if need be. One side of the production crew that doesn’t always come first to mind when people think of production crews are; set dressers, lighting crew and Foley artist. Most audience’s think about writers, actors, directors and cameras, but there are many more steps that are need. The lighting crew must create the perfect light in order to hid certain shadows, create sunlight while remaining in doors and making sure the light hits directly on the actors faces. Key sounds, which occur after the editing process, such as keys trying to unlock a door, are added in thanks to Foley artist. Foley artists are responsible for examining every second of audio in the show, and add sound effects. A character running in high heels, keys clinking, door slamming, and so much more are all because of Foley artist.

Some people may think shows like Netflix’s One Day at a Time is just a new form of a old formula, but the show is taking what works about the old formula and mixing it with modern content. The Netflix live studio audience hit offers a modern spin on the classic show, the series talks about immigration, homosexuality, race and being a single mother. A article called Make ‘Em Laugh Track: How Netflix’s One Day at a Time Resuscitates the Multi-Cam Sitcom, written by Manuel Betancourt argues, “The raucous applause that greets the beloved performer as she makes her entrance in the series’ first episode is so contagious and well-earned that any qualms you may have about the show’s live studio audience go out the window. Indeed, watching Moreno (who plays Penelope’s mother, Lydia) relish the cheers that follow whenever she nails a punch line is so joyous that you begin to understand why so much of what works here does so because (and not in spite) of its outdated format.” By having a live studio audience, the cast members can interact with the audience to receive feedback on certain punch lines and jokes. The YouTube video showed that if the writers weren’t sure if a certain joke was funny, they would turn to the live studio audience for help. The audience could then provide their thoughts and feelings back to the writers. When members of the audience laugh out loud, the actors may have to wait a moment for the audience to finish laughing before moving to the next line. Betancourt also states, “Those moments when Moreno or Machado have to wait a beat to say their lines, when the laughter interrupts and energizes their performances, feel like perfect examples of why this theater-television hybrid mode of production once felt so new. It quite literally allowed viewers at home to feel as if they were there, laughing alongside those in the audience. Their own laughter was there in the show’s soundtrack, as were their gasps and their cheers. Lucy and Ricky’s apartment and the Bunkers’ home were open to the public, creating a sense of community through the television screen.” Thanks to the live studio audience when others hear their laughs on behind the camera, it creates a sense of authenticity, compared to the replica laughs of the laugh track. Comedies create laughter, and happiness in viewers, but next time you watch your favorite television show, just keep in mind how long it take to arrive at your screen.

 

 

Manuel Betancourt, “Make ‘Em Laugh Track: How Netflix’s One Day at a Time Resuscitates the Multi- Cam Sitcom,” Paste (January 18, 2017): https://www.pastemagazine.com/articles/2017/01/make-em- laugh-track-how-netflixs-one-day-at-a-time.html