#Problematic: “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” Too Many “Ghostbusters” & Chloe Sevigny Is An A-Hole
Hey, y’all. I hope you drank some iced coffee and dusted off some booty shorts recently, because the end is near. A lot of weird things happened on the internet this week, probably because of the unforeseen consequences of daylight savings time coupled with all of the other unexplained effects of spring: fever, fling, cleaning, chickens, etc. Buzzfeed made a video of Mexican people trying Taco Bell, which is indicative of how committed they are to making commentary on the most inane topics possible. But watching elderly Mexican women hate-love Taco Bell is maybe the best thing since Pomeranian hotels. A Maine bed & breakfast owner also publicized that she will be giving her property to one lucky future custodian based on a 200-word essay writing contest. I say this as a warning that if anyone wins besides me, I will rent a room in your future B&B just so I can ominously stare at you while I eat eggs in that beautiful dining room. In the meantime, I’m just waiting for someone to write me a song like the leaked “Awesome” by Kanye, which he wrote for Kim. But alas, there are problems to be addressed.
1. I Have A Lot Of Feelings About “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”
Like a lot.
First of all, let’s take a moment to praise the god that bestowed the bounty unto us. Netflix emerging as a network has breathed a necessary new life into the interaction between viewers and television shows—giving us a break from being manipulated by weekly bullshit teasers laden with ads, and instead respecting us enough to deliver the goods all at once. If anything is obvious, it’s that we don’t have to be lured in front of our televisions anymore. I’m sure our weird cultural obsession with binge watching also has something to do with it, but Netflix is still a much more earnest media company in my book, especially when they give me a whole row of suggested programming about strong female leads in scientific situations. This new format is undoubtedly held up by the reputation for excellence of “House Of Cards,” but along with a great many other Netflix Originals, Tina Fey has finally decided to join the digital on-demand pack with “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” the first season of which was released on the 6th.
Obviously since we’re talking Tina Fey, the show wasn’t going to struggle despite its strange storyline. Most people (I pray) don’t really want to get behind yet another show about a woman taking New York by storm (in make believe, or real life — hear that Taylor Swift?). But Fey promised to freshen that tired trope with quirk and antics, when this one centered around a woman who finally escapes the underground bunker she’s been held in for 15 years after being kidnapped by an apocalypse cult. She decides that if she can survive that, then New York can’t be so hard. Fey turning the “If I can make it there, I can make it anywhere” concept on its head actually sounded like the perfect breeding ground for grade-A satire on the enormous privilege needed to succeed in New York now.
Instead “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” seems to illustrate that Fey’s brilliance hinges on experiences she’s more familiar with. “30 Rock” worked because Liz Lemon grounded all of the absurdities in a funny but real commentary on what it means to be a woman in a man’s world. It’s been a long time since Tina Fey has experienced any of the hazards of being a young, broke woman in New York, and it shows in the unrealistic resilience of Kimmy Schmidt. Kimmy is supposed to be a millennial, but was obviously created by someone who both looks down upon, and entirely doesn’t understand that generation. Fey instead created her own kind of stunted millennial with outdated cultural knowledge, and no experience relevant to any kind of economic or social ills witnessed by today’s twenty and thirty-somethings, and thus renders her entirely un-relatable.
There’s also been a lot said about the way the show handles race (and I’m taking a break from wine, so I’m lacking the tools to get into that), but what the truth seems to be is that there will always be a lot said when a show tackles racial biases, no matter how sensitively they are approached. What is really problematic is that Kimmy’s world is made up of an Asian love interest, a black roommate who is also gay, and a secretly Native American boss (not enough wine in the world to get into that one), and somehow Kimmy is supposed to be likened to them because of her cultural handicap based on her odd past. What is really problematic is that instead of creating a show about a character who is, for lack of a better term, as “other-ed” as her cast mates, Fey found a way to make an adorable, young, white woman the other so that the show could still be America-ready. “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” obviously has a lot to offer, but it clearly has a long way to go in deciding who its real audience is. In the mean time, it has brought to light a great deal of cult-sympathizers, and that might be the coolest part about it.
As #Problematic as the Real Housewives franchise:
2. There Are Way Too Many Ghostbusters To Call
Currently feminists are working on freeing the nipple, as well as the period, breaking the (still real) glass ceiling, ending the campus rape epidemic, reclaiming reproductive rights, and so, so many more worthy and necessary gains in gender equality. And yet, here we are having to waist energy on a fucking movie. The entertainment industry is obviously a feminist hell scape, but who knew that it would help to truly define how fragile the male ego really is, and just how far men are willing to go to ensure that women steal no spotlight.
Earlier this year it was announced that Paul Feig (“Bridesmaids”) would be directing an all-female “Ghostbusters,” starring Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Leslie Jones and Kate McKinnon. Then everyone everywhere heard Dan Aykroyd’s penis retreat into his body as he uttered, “The Aykroyd family is delighted by this inheritance of the ‘Ghostbusters’ torch by these most magnificent women in comedy.” What he meant to say was, “Long live the patriarchy.” Aykroyd has been trying to revive the “Ghostbusters” franchise for years, despite the fact that a much classier and pro-woman Bill Murray refuses to participate. Not a month later, Aykroyd went on “Unmasked with Ron Bennington on Sirius XM” to say that he was pursuing a “parallel release” that would be more “conventional.” It is uncertain whether or not he was masturbating under the table while he said it.
Aykroyd found some more dicks to be a dick with, and Sony has announced that they will be fulfilling Dan’s wish to be relevant once more and not let women steal his thunder. (I just had to take a 10-minute break to watch my cat play with some old tape on the wall. We both were pretending the tape was Dan Aykroyd.) I don’t even think the word problematic can apply to how truly fucked up it is that Hollywood would be so willing to participate in what is obviously a turf war with women. When they re-made “Annie” with Quvenzhané Wallis as the lead, no one said, “We’re gonna let you finish Q, but then we’re gonna make the white version, because that’s how it was before, and that’s how it should be now.”
Original director Ivan Reitman is not surprisingly down for the future circle jerk, oh excuse me, I meant to type the word “movie.” Channing Tatum on the other hand is very surprisingly signed on. I guess we can’t expect every man who looks good in a suit to also want to make progressive choices for gender equality. Wet dreams, pipe dreams, they all blend together.
What’s incredibly problematic here is something Aykroyd said in his own words. In that same interview, he said, “Let’s get this one made and that will reinvigorate the franchise, and then we’ll go on to maybe doing a more conventional third sequel as we were planning.” What Aykroyd is suggesting is that he and his team of old furniture wait in the wings for the female cast to refresh their very old movie with what will surely be an excellent remake, and then they’ll be able to make their own version. Men getting credit for the work of women is an antiquated, but enduring problem in the fight for gender equality, and the fact that Hollywood is letting Aykroyd make a monument to that is a tragedy.
As #Problematic as Sarah Palin:
3. Robin Thicke Is Still An Asshole
Robin Thicke, former husband and pop star, now just generally disliked human, has given us the gift that keeps on giving. “Blurred Lines,” the summer hit of 2013, stoked plenty of controversy when it was first released. The song muses about women meaning yes when they say, “no,” with lines like “I know you want it” and something about tearing asses in two. Let’s just say the song wasn’t necessarily made with the feminist agenda in mind. No one is very shocked by that on Thicke’s part, but Pharrell, a much more beloved, well-spoken and often feminist-leaning thinker was a surprising collaborator. The song continued to push boundaries when they released a music video with naked women as the focal point. Because the internet is forever I have to be forthright that I defended said video, in what is and feels like forever ago. Female sexuality should be celebrated, and shunning it only perpetuates the underlying belief that the female body makes men make poor choices. In reality, they do that shit all on their own. Also that same kind of female ass-bouncing aesthetic has been part of hip-hop for a long time, and it doesn’t help feminism when everyone only takes issue if it’s a white woman who’s being subjugated. Anyways, that’s an argument for another time though, feel free to find me on Twitter.
But “Blurred Lines” has blurred a whole new set of lines (lol), because it allegedly infringed on copyrights by none other than Marvin Gaye for “Got To Give It Up.” The family of whom sued Pharrell and Thicke (and T.I., but no one cares), and won this week, despite most thinking that they wouldn’t. Now millions of dollars are owed, and a very dangerous precedent has been set.
No, you can’t deny the similar feel at the beginning of the two songs. But that is the case for a lot of music, because people have been strumming things for a very long time. I mean there’s a reason that I think a lot of classic rock songs are “Hot Blooded,” but they in fact, are not. What’s astounding is that the alleged plagiarism is of what you might call a riff, a groove, a vibe, a sound, a fucking cowbell. You can’t copyright that. The songs are different in every fundamental way: lyrically, melodically, structurally, etc. The judge in the case did what he could to try to facilitate a meaningful comparison, not allowing the songs to be played side-by-side, but instead requiring the sheet music. Regardless the case was awarded to the estate of Marvin Gaye, and the legal system is about to be flooded with lawsuits by has-beens, crazy people, nobodies and I’m sure a very few big somebodies. If all you need to write a country song is three chords and the truth, then I hope Miranda Lambert has kept her secrets in her hair.
As #Problematic as Kylie Jenner lip truthers:
4. Aziz Ansari Is A Better Feminist Than You
With Netflix offering us the viewing smorgasbord discussed earlier, a new standard of media consumption has been set for better or for worse. There now is not just an infinite amount of archived TV and movies for when you need to eat ice cream or clip your toenails, but also a great deal of new entertainment that you know will be spoiled for you if you don’t watch it in an unhealthy amount of time. Or you’ll at least feel left out, and it’s 2015, so no one should feel that way. Anyways, I’m just trying to not be hard on you if you haven’t yet seen Aziz Ansari’s Netlflix comedy special “Live From Madison Square Garden.” I know comedy specials are daunting. We are uncomfortable with spontaneity and live audiences as a generation. And I even was a little skeptical about such a high profile actor having that kind of a platform. But it might be the most special special ever made.
There’s a reason Ansari is on a very short list of comedians to ever sell out Madison Square Garden, and it’s not just that he’s funny. If Lena Dunham is supposed to be the voice of our generation (which I will debate to my grave on Twitter on every computer I come across), then Aziz Ansari is the voice of the universe. When the aliens come, they will ask to speak to him. In a very short hour he manages to demystify our very real problems with immigration, racism, relationships, sex, online commenters and of course feminism. We’ve seen male celebrities wave the feminist banner before, and even though the support is always nice, it’s clear that a great many of them want to call upon the title rather than its implications. Ansari on the other hand does what every feminist man should, which is to use his sympathy for women as the foundation for helping lesser evolved men understand what is wrong with our male dominated society. He asks women in the audience to raise their hands if they’ve ever been followed by a creepy dude, and come up to the stage with their text messages from potential lovers. He doesn’t want to take the name of feminism to promote his own brand, he wants to make women know that their cause is understood by more than their own gender. Aziz Ansari basically gave a TED talk on how not to be a dick.
What is problematic is the backlash of feminists accusing him of getting too much praise for a simple sentiment. I need one million kittens and crunch wraps to calm the anger that brings me. The whole point is that feminism should be simple to understand. It is simple. Women should be equal to men. The ways in which we are not is very complicated, but the fact that we should be is simple. Ansari is highlighting just that point. He is asking men to think about the way they act. He is letting women know that he sees it, and using his own fucking Madison Square Garden show to bring attention to it. Sometimes feminists are the ones who give feminists a bad name, and that’s a shame. But in the words of Sky Ferreira, “I blame myself for my reputation.”
As #Problematic as the Bachelor:
5. Chloe Sevigny Is Also An Asshole
But everyone knows that. There is an excellent web series dedicated to just that. Let’s be clear, I actually love her, but I love a lot of terrible things, like putting ketchup on steak and secretly not wearing underwear. She and I also share a name, and I feel a certain responsibility to stand up for Chloe’s everywhere, even though most of them these days are Yorkies.
I will also argue that she has had a few moments of thespian agility outside of that live action blow job in “Brown Bunny.” She made getting swept up in social anarchy in “Party Monster” look like a really well-dressed time, and her role in “Big Love” showed range and understanding—even thought she was probably off telling everyone at the Beatrice that she was sick of playing a hillbilly. But now she’s talked trash on Jennifer Lawrence, and America will have its revenge.
She told V Magazine, one in about five magazines that are still arty enough to care about her, “Jennifer Lawrence I find annoying. Too crass.” COME ON PEOPLE. That’s fucking brilliant. To make that sentiment in an interview in which you know that you will be quoted, and to say it in that Dowager Countess way, has to be the highest act of self-acceptance I’ve ever seen. Chloe Sevigny loves herself. Chloe Sevigny has higher self esteem than you. Chloe Sevigny isn’t afraid to say exactly what she motherfucking means. Cheers to the true keeper of Manhattan.
As #Problematic as Maggie Smith not having an Oscar: