Wednesday, December 13, 2006

The Colbert Re-bore

At risk of being shunned by the comedy community, let me just say one thing:

I'm getting tired of The Colbert Report.

Let me explain. The Colbert Report has only been on the air for a little over a year and it's already one of the most revered programs in Comedy Central history. Bloggers love it. Maureen Dowd loves it. Males in that coveted 18-34 demographic love it. But I wonder if these people watch the show regularly or if they just love the snippets they see on YouTube. Because if I watched the interview below and heard Stephen announce that he doesn't see race because he's color blind, I would laugh at the awkward exchange with Peter Singer that followed... IF it was the first time I heard this joke. But I DVR the show every night, so I've probably heard him use the tired "I'm color blind. Am I white? I don't know. What race are you?" bit dozens of times. I've also heard him say "I'll bite" enough times that I want to bite my ears off. I get it, Stephen, you have a black friend that you take pictures with. You sell your own semen. You have a baby eagle named after you. I know, I know, I know. It's like I'm watching a comedian do the same set at the UCB that he just did at Rififi the night before. I can't laugh the second time around, because I know when Stephen says, "President Bush," that "Great president? Or the greatest president?" will inevitably follow.

I know it must be incredibly hard to produce a half hour show 4 days a week, but if you're going to promise a new show every night, I'm going to hold you up to those standards. And so far, it's just not cutting it. The show is getting tired. I've included the clip below, from the Monday, December 11th show, to illustrate my point. Stephen's guest is Dr. Peter Singer, one of the leading figures behind the modern day animal rights movement. On the topic of eating animals, Stephen asks, "If we shouldn't eat them, why are they so delicious?" And poor Peter Singer has to smile and fake laugh like he's never heard this before. I cringed when I heard Stephen's question, not because I'd already heard the joke on the show, but because I already heard it IN MIDDLE SCHOOL. MIDDLE SCHOOL!!! It's a sad day for comedy writers when 12-year-olds beat them to the punch.

In light of that horribly sophomoric joke, I've taken the liberty of preparing a question for Stephen for whenever he interviews Ingrid Newkirk.
"Ms. Newkirk, you are the president of PeTA. What does that stand for? People eating tasty animals?"

Monday, December 11, 2006

Gwen Stefani the Racist

By Katie Molinaro

Gwen Stefani is a racist. Although I doubt that it is intentional, she is promoting Asian stereotypes. For the past year or so she has paraded around with an entourage of four heavily made-up Japanese girls dressed in a style similar to Stefani’s mix-and-match clothing. The girls follow her to press events, dance in her videos and pose with her in pictures. They are having their fifteen minutes of fame thanks to Stefani. Supposedly they are only allowed to speak Japanese, although I have never heard them speak at all.

Everyone says, nonchalantly, “Those are Harajuku girls,” as if we know what that means or could define a culture by seeing these live baby dolls on MTV. Harajuku is a shopping district in Tokyo known for its alternative styles -- punk, gothic, bright colors, traditional Japanese styles and layering of them all. The emphasis is on individuality, yet Stefani uses her “Harajuku” girls as props and often dresses them all the same.

Stefani is a huge name right now and she is using that power to reinforce stereotypes of Asian women. These “Harajuku” girls are sexy and stylish, but also loyal and obedient to Stefani. Stefani’s white fans can admire these qualities in the four women because that fits our idea of how Asian women are supposed to act: sexy, exotic, polite and non-threatening. And because Stefani is always standing out in front with her platinum blonde hair, a classic sign of whiteness, American women don’t feel threatened by those Japanese sex pots. The white American is still on top.
But perhaps Americans feel their position on top is threatened. In a time when China is gaining more commercial power and North Korea is gaining more military power non-Asians may have good reason to feel threatened by Asians. That could be why people enjoy seeing Stefani’s pets. They appear sexy and bossy as they vamp in the videos, but really they are falling into the category of submissive Asian women. They even wear geisha-esque make-up. It is easier to enjoy another culture when they are wearing brightly colored clothes, smiling and not threatening our own sexiness, our economy or our pride. But they should be threatening our clear conscience.
Editor's Note: This piece was originally published December 16, 2005 on a communal blog project that was way ahead of its time. After seeing Gwen Stefani degrade the Saturday Night Live music stage this past weekend, I realized that this issue is still very timely. Yodellay, yodallay, yodal-low.

Sunday, December 03, 2006


Family and friends came to visit me this weekend and I surprised my mom with a couple of tickets to "Martin Short: Fame Becomes Me." We had a great time, as we are both uber Martin Short fans. But as we left the theater, I saw something interesting. A young girl, probably 14 or 15 years old, walked by with a big, baggy, Pray for the Soul of Betty sweatshirt on. This, of course, is the catchy name of former American Idol Constantine Maroulis's former band. I was tipped off that it was indeed Pray for the Soul of Betty merchandise by the fact that the lettering was as large as Wham's "Choose Life" messages. Clearly, Pray for the Soul of Betty fans are a proud bunch. I pointed the sweatshirt out to my mom and noticed that the girl was heading across the street to the Al Hirschfeld Theatre, where Constantine is finishing up his run in "The Wedding Singer." It was only 4 in the afternoon, but she was clearly not straying too far from her idol.

Later that night, my mom and her friends went from restaurant to restaurant trying to find a place to eat. They learned that my neighborhood is the worst place to try to find a table between 6 and 7, because it's packed with theater-goers who are desparately trying to grab a quick, $100 meal before seeing a nice, $250 show. I tried to offer some places in other neighborhoods that we could go, places where I could get a substantial meal, but I was quickly rejected ("We just had vegetarian for brunch, I can't have it again for dinner"). I tried to explain that "vegetarian" can't be singled out as a food style, as it is far too broad, but I had no luck with this crowd. So while they hopped from restaurant to restaurant, unable to find a place with a wait time of less than an hour, I went home, watched Cheap Seats, and ate a leftover burrito. When they finally got a seat somewhere, at a place on Ninth Ave., I left to meet them.

As I got to Ninth Ave., I crossed to the East side of it, like I usually do, figuring the restaurant was on that side. I was wrong. So wrong. But I now realize why God sent me across the street that night. As I was walking between 46th and 45th street, I passed a long haired man who looked familiar. I knew exactly who it was. Constantine Maroulis. We made eye contact and he gave me one of those looks that said, "Yeah, you know me." It was that very same luring gaze that captured the hearts of tweens all across this great nation. I just kept walking, aware that a high kick from him could land me in the hospital for a couple of weeks. But I wondered what that girl I saw earlier would do if she was in my position. What Would The Girl In The Pray For The Soul Of Betty Sweatshirt Do? So the next time you see a rock idol, nay!, a rock GOD walking down the street, ask yourself, WWTGITPFTSOBSD?