Month: May 2010

Friday Film Series

So, I was wondering how I was going to cap off my Memorial Day Weekend. I mean, there’s the Oreo usual–a night of contemporary theater, getting my hair straightened, an improv show rehearsal, relaxing by the pool in my 1950s era bathing costume.

But come Tuesday, how am I going to keep the celebration going. Thank you Cinefamily for giving me an answer! They advertised this event (a night showcasing the 100 most important animated Looney Tunes cartoons) with this video. Out of the ostensibly, 100 videos they could have put on their website, they chose one that reminds me why I will work so hard to keep my freshly straightened hair out of the pool this weekend.

Please enjoy the classic (and important) animated short: Coal Black and de Sebben Dwarfs.

A special prize will seriously go to anyone who can get me a bottle of Cotton Gin!!

Coconuts – Pick Verizon for Coverage in Spainexico

Here’s an ad that Coconuts should enjoy. Nevermind that Mariachi and Sombreros are distinctly Mexican in origin, according to Verizon, they come from Spain. Also never mind that there are gorgeous landmarks, bustling city centers and lush natural areas with which to illustrate the country Spain, much better to boil a country down to stereotypes that keep the Coconut population booming.

Wouldn't you rather go here, to Verizon's Spain than....

...here "actual" Spain?

That second “Spain” doesn’t even look like they could make a decent taco!

Diary of a Mad White Black Woman – Texas

Dear Diary,

I’ve been reading about the Texas textbook brouhaha. The fairly Conservative Texas Public School Board is rewriting history, making it more conservative and leaving out information about things like slavery and 9 of the rights in the Bill of Rights. (Bearing arms…still safe!)

I am so totally pissed at this!

Where were they when I was growing up??

When I was a kid, the only black kid in most of my classes, btw, I had to suffer through super awkward conversations about racism and slaves and fire hoses and ill timed assassinations.

How much easier would it have been to ignore these parts of history and gain the invisibility I’m working toward now!

I hated being the only kid in class to which these gnarly conversations applied and I would have given anything to chat about anything else.

Thankfully, though, that ability is being given to a whole new generation of budding Oreos.

Thanks to these re-founding fathers, kids whose relaxers are more grown out than they would like won’t get the double insult of the appearance of nappy roots and having to hear about how oppressed and downtrodden their ancestors were. They get to avoid seeing pictures of black people in textbooks–pictures that usually just drew attention to differences in hair or nose structure. They get a jump start on their Oreo Ed and though I am jealous, I am also happy for them.

I hope that my alma mater still does the “How the West Was Won” play that we did in school. Even though I took my trained mezzo soprano voice, and auditioned for the role of “lead female settler,” as the only black kid, I got stuck playing…the black person…I still remember my line:

“After the Civil War lots of slaves moved out west and signed up as cowboys on cattle drives. We drove cattle over 1200 miles through Indian territory and farm land. And it was a toss up as to who was most hostile to us…the Indians, or the farmers!’

My instinct was to play the line dramatically. Luckily, my drama teacher at the time had me change it. We played it for comedy, and we got a laugh every time. 🙂

The Blind Side, a final tribute

Okay, so it’s many months after all the Oscar hooplah, but I finally sat down with a vodka gimlet,

Mmmm, vodka and limes. Delicious. And helpful.

 

 The Blind Side and some time. In all my work writing tribute songs and considering my Leanne Touhy Halloween costume,I realized I hadn’t fully articulated the reasons I love this film and why it is so Oreo-tastic.

So here’s why.

1. Apart from the snazzy federal investigator, every person of color in this movie is pretty fairly defective. Michael Oher, as portrayed by this film, is a gentle, hulking giant who scares little girls, can’t read and who barely stands up for himself when faced with pretty stark racism and manipulation. His mother is a drug addict, his neighbors are skeezy, his main compadre threatens to rape Mike’s adopted sister, the DMV worker is full of attitude, even the woman at Michael’s laundry would make the average suburbanite uncomfortable.

Meanwhile, there are a variety of white characters in the movie. Some are mean. Some are nice. Some are funny. Some are neutral. 

Thus, we have nicely reinforced that white people come in a variety, of colors do not. Watch just the first couple of reels of this film and your average Oreo will be hating themselves and worrying that they are what people seem to think they are.

2. Though Michael shows aptitude for leaning, his family eschews that fact to teach him to play football. Then, they only start reinforcing academics when Mike needs to make grades to get a football scholarship.  This serves to remind the audience that even though of colors may seem to be teachable, it’s much better to ignore this fact if there is financial gain to be had.

3. Michael isn’t good at football…but don’t worry. He gets good, thanks to the help of a nice white lady who forces the proper path on him. 

4. Michael learns to like school stuff…thanks to the football that he didn’t like in the first place! Mike gets all frustrated that he can’t learn, but then, his adopted dad tells him about how Tennyson was writing about colleges with big football teams…so now Mike likes books and stuff! Hooray! 

4. All the shit that happens in the black hood is fucking nuts! I mean, though there are plenty of wealthy of color neighborhoods in the south, thank goodness we don’t see any of them in this film. 

5. $250 million! That’s a lot of people who got to see these norms reinforced during the 126 minutes of this film. At least one of them even said when it was done “You know, I have always wanted to adopt a black child.” ABC already has the deal for the television run of TBS in place. So that’s even more people will see all of us in our boxes and ensure that the Oreo way of life survives. 

And that’s a perfect Hollywood ending! 

Speaking of sports, what do you think is the over/under on how old Sandy’s new son is when he watches The Blind Side and wonders just for a moment…?

Now That’s Hip Hop I Can Get Into!

Thanks, Swagger Wagon, for taking music that is usually scary and making it adorable!

Spitting about nuclear families and carpooling? Awesome! Ciphers about tea parties? I love it!

Me loving a parody of what started as a legitimate artistic protest against powers that be actually keeping people down, but now does damage to many of those same people? Oreo-tastic!

Non Colors: You Can Help Make More Oreos!

Hey non colors. Ever wonder how you can give The Oreo Experience to more people? You may already be without even knowing it!

But here’s a handy reference list to help you help your of color friends help themselves though alienation. Simply use the guide below and we Oreos will see our numbers grow!

1. Ask us about our hair. Apart from skin tone, nothing sets blacks and white apart like hair. While non colors can get up, run a comb through their locks and be on their merry way, prepping black hair for the day is a 20-60 minute process. During this time, with our arms in the air, salve under our fingernails and more and more curling iron burns on our necks, we have time to think about just what bum luck we got cursed with. It would be wonderful to take a shower, jump in the pool or stand in the rain without worrying that our $100+ hair treatment is about to get ruined.

So to keep our self loathing in check, ask us about our hair. Ask to touch it. Ask if something is…”different” about it (this is especially useful after an Oreo has a relaxer) or how often we wash it.

Variations on that theme include saying things about how you “would love black hair” because it’s so “different,” “cool” or because “it doesn’t move once you get it how you want it.”

If an of color has braids or locks, get right up close. Much closer than you do when Jennifer at the office dyes her hair a lighter blonde. Reach for the roots and ponder aloud how exactly that works.

That sad, awkward feeling that will well up in your of color colleague will probably be just what that person needs to ditch the natural styles and go straight for the relaxer.

For more research: Check out the joys of chemical hair processing and learn what black things Oreos can’t help but do.

2. Discuss how the word nigger is offensive, but the word nigga isn’t. This is a conversation you will only have around the least threatening of of colors. So it’s a sign to that person that they’re nearly an Oreo anyway, so they may as well commit.

The discussion around the n-word is old and boring now, but that doesn’t mean that with the right planning, you can’t make it work. Maybe describe how that time you lived in that very ethnic neighborhood–you know, when you first moved to LA or NYC and were just staring out. And the people in the fast food joint/gang/church found you so cool, that you got to say the a version of the n word and no one was upset.

You can always also throw it into your facebook wall post to an of color like this friend did: “nigga boo, I need ur Euro number  again.” Double Oreo points go to this of color recipient for a) living abroad and b) writing back.

For the record, any variation of the n word is perfectly fucking horrible**. But throw it into a quasi intellectual conversation and watch the Oreo population rise.

You can also make someone crawl inside their Oreo skin with variations like “what’s my ninjas!”

3. Tell us about that time you went to a black church and how fantastic it was. I was raised in a black Southern Baptist gospel church and I absolutely credit it for my turning into an Oreo. In that environment, I was treated to 4-hour long services with preachers singing call and response sermons. Church members got happy and fell out. And on a good day, we got a prophecy or two. And then after church, we were all treated to massive Sunday dinners of fried foods, sweet potatoes and hollerin’.

It was a culmination of every scene from every movie about black churches ever. And surprise, surprise, I didn’t fit in.

What’s Oreo-spiring to hear, however, are stories where non colors talk about the one time they went to a black church,  usually for a school project or because mapquest did something horribly incorrect. Sure, one day of all of the above is just fine. But every Sunday for 52 weeks a year for 17 years, makes me long for my quiet Episcopalian chapels.

***There are times when the n word isn’t so fucking horrible. Like in the right jokes (more on those later).  But not the wrong ones. (yes, if you click that link, you’ll find some off color of color jokes! C’mon.  You know you want to).

Pretty and of color? You must be a terrorist!

How dare she. How. Very. Dare she!

Here’s what I learned today that is sending me straight to the skin bleaching and hair dye.

If you are a person of color + you win a beauty pageant = The terrorists win.

More than one post went up today saying that  Rima Fakih’s Miss USA win is

a) an example of abusive reverse racism

b) funding terrorism.

Says Debbie Schlussel:

It’s a sad day in America but a very predictable one, given the politically correct, Islamo-pandering climate in which we’re mired.  The Hezbollah-supporting Shi’ite Muslim, Miss Michigan Rima Fakihwhose bid for the pageant was financed by an Islamic terrorist and immigration fraud perpetrator–won the Miss USA contest. I was on top of this story before anyone, telling you about who Fakih is and her extremist and deadly ties.

I normally applaud beauty pageants for their insistence upon an impossible beauty standard. I mean, how am I supposed to hate myself as a non size-0 woman if said women aren’t paraded around in front of me on the regular?

But now I love them even more! Now, more young girls who are off-model from the models in these shows will keep themselves off the runways lest they are accused of being anti-American. And the beauty standard will go unchanged! I have spent too much time getting this hair to lay flat for that to suddenly be okay!

Just like Ramin Setoodeh drove scores of gay actors back into their closets, writers like Schlussel are ensuring that of color beauties think twice before thinking they’re beautiful enough for America’s runways.