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Sons of Anarchy or The Walking Dead – Who…

In the wake of losing Breaking Bad I, like a lonely person after a break-up, have reverted to bad habits.  I wanted to give up on Sons of Anarchy for a variety of reasons. The first was once a biker gang was involved in international arms smuggling and getting in Civil War style battlefield escapades (but with rocket launchers), without a hint of law enforcement intervention I sort of had my eyes permanently rolled back in my head.  Then there was the burning of people alive.  And this season, in addition to the usual throat slitting and head bashing (this show is on basic cable – they cannot say fuck so they overcompensate with the word shit and insane violence – see this sketch as an example) there was a school shooting massacre by a 12 year old, which felt so out of place that it really just felt like the show’s creators said “I don’t think we are offending/shocking/repulsing enough people – PLOT AND SENSE BE DAMNED!”

On the other end of the living spectrum, but even further along on the violence spectrum is The Walking Dead.  The Walking Dead is like Breaking Bad’s dumber, sluttier, less attractive sister that I have decided to hook up with in an attempt to hurt Breaking Bad’s feelings.  Thanks to Netflix I have been able to “binge watch” The Walking Dead.  It is a show that I must admit, considering I bashed it for an entire podcast episode, that benefits greatly from the cinematic feel of binge watching.  I always maintained that the first season of Walking Dead was a strong season and that season two, for several reasons articulated on the podcast, was weak.  I actually enjoyed it a lot more on a second viewing (in two days), though my main complaints are still valid (lack of black people in Atlanta, Shane’s varying accent and enhanced physique despite wandering the earth in a gym-less apocalypse, etc).  But watching the show in the aggregate like that led me to see about 1000 head smashes, ligament tearings and eye gouges in a short amount of time.  The show really is incredibly violent and it is not restricted to “dead” people. As season 3 progressed (I am 4 episodes in) it seemed more slashes and rips and blood poured forth from living people.

The fact is with language restrictions and sexual restrictions still on basic cable shows it seems like the only envelope they push is violence and it is now pushed to the max.  I hate to sound like an old fogey (for the last time stop texting and walking!), but the violence on basic cable in these two shows is ridiculous.  I am just assuming that child rape is really the only place left to go.  And I am betting that Sons of Anarchy will be the one to do it.  It would make no sense on The Walking Dead, since most of the villains are zombies, though in season 2 a now-deceased character alluded to a roving gang that raped two teenage girls while their father watched.  But I think Sons of Anarchy is the show with the “courage” to actually showcase this as a climactic scene.  That show literally has nothing left to do except that when it comes to a checklist of awful things to show on basic cable, other than make Ariel Castro an honorary executive producer.  Either way I think we can all agree that the parents who bring their children in for that fateful/eventual audition should be arrested on the spot, or at least be featured in Bruno 2.

On a lighter note, it has inspired one of my new sketches for this month. Considering how crushing a skull to the point of hearing a brain get squished (that sound that sounds like moist fruit being stepped on) is the most in-demand sound in cable television (Boardwalk Empire, Dexter, Sons of Anarchy to name a few that now show that merely beating a guy to death just doesn’t get America hard without hearing the brain squish), my next sketch character will be the Spielberg of Skull Crushing Sound Effects.  Look for it in a couple of weeks, along with my Dante de Blaiso/Bill de Blasio parody.

For more opinions, comedy and bridge burning check out the Righteous Prick Podcast on Podomatic, iTunes and NOW on STICHER. New Every Tuesday so subscribe on one or more platforms today – all for free!

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To The Defense of “Girls” – It’s Not Its…

This past Sunday I watched HBO’s new show Girls.  It featured a perfect storm for me to potentially unleash new levels of hate and criticism. It was produced by Judd Apatow, who I think is the most overrated person in the comedy business not named Louis.  His movies always manage to take a 90 minute comedy premise and produce a 2 hour and 10 minute epic of inconsistency.  Then there is the critical acclaim for the show.  Nothing primes me more to hate something than universal acclaim.  My philosophy is simple – that many people can absolutely be wrong.  And lastly, the premise of the show: 4 white girls of varying levels of privilege trying to “make it” through life and love all with wit and and a few tears.  My assumption is that it would simply further influence the youthful dregs of Manhattan the way Sex and the City did (a classic that led to life imitating art) for young women.  In other words I just assumed that at the end of the pilot of Girls I would be saying, “They should have named this crap Cu*ts!”

Girls

Well I think I was wrong. I watched the first episode and I enjoyed it.  I thought it was fairly witty, thankfully lacking the Carrie Bradshaw puns, and because of the 30 minute length, Judd Apatow’s “More is More, which turns out to be less” style was impossible.  So after the pilot I thought, “Hey this show is worth a real look.”

But then I saw an immediate backlash among friends and comedians.  I felt like the main complaints I heard and read were misguided.

Four white girls of privilege in Manhattan do not speak for a generation or a city’s 20-somethings!

Why were there no meaningful people of color in the show?

Those two questions are good questions and they have a simple answer – rich, white people segregate. I went to, what is now, the most expensive private school in the country. I then went to an elite college and a top 20 law school. And I have been to a fair share of weddings where I have been the only person of (any) color or close to the only person of color. That includes guests, wedding party and plus 1s.  Walk into any bar in Manhattan and I guarantee you will see multiple groups of white girls only.  I have always maintained that racist white women have always gotten a pass for passive racism that racist white men, because of the threat of physical retribution that men have to deal with if they run their mouth with racist garbage, cannot (one of the reasons I liked the movie The Help – racist white WOMEN were the villains).  Now let me be clear, I am not accusing white people in white circles as automatically racist, but there is a segregation present all over America that people seem to ignore.  As Patrice O’Neal said, “White people now have that racism that black people can’t prove.”

The point of mentioning that is that there is nothing wrong or inaccurate about Girls. So they don’t appear to have friends of color? So what (acquaintances do not count)? The show has been written by a woman based on her experiences.  Those experiences, at least from my perspective growing up in NYC, seem entirely plausible.  Inserting a meaningful person of color, if not true to the creator of the show, would be the racist (or at least patronizing) thing, if only done to satisfy a quota (the way boy bands try add a beige member- I am talking to you Menudo!).  And Sex and the City was four white women of affluence.  Wealth just as easily insulates from societal changes as it drives change.  I think that is why Friends got more heat than SATC for its lack of minorities because Friends featured working class white people, who would be less likely to live in an all-white world.  I believe SATC represented life imitating art, given how women responded to it, but Girls feels more like art imitating life – an accurate reflection of a visible segment of the NYC population.

I won’t lie – I see a lot of diversity in various groups of my friends, especially in comedy, but to pretend like there is not de facto segregation all over this country, even in great melting pots like NYC is absurd.  The show is written from that background (would be my guess).  So be mad at society, but being angry at a show that comes from that truth seems misguided to me.

More offensive to me is be the casting of a show like The Walking Dead (my podcast interview with comedian Dan Soder about TWD is linked here – http://righteouspk.podomatic.com/entry/2012-02-06T21_59_09-08_00). The wildly popular show on AMC takes place outside of Atlanta and for two seasons has had… 1 regular black character.  1 black guy in Atlanta??!!!  Of course, imagine if The Walking Dead had 6 black and 6 white characters in its ensemble instead of the 11:1 ratio they have?  America would not tune in, because a large part of the population would no longer look at it as a “zombie show” and would look at it as a “black show.”

Apparently more white kids survived in Atlanta than black adults in The Walking Dead

 

HBO is not at fault.  They have provided minority-driven shows like The Wire for full series runs, despite bad ratings.  But as long as the market favors certain perspectives and certain narratives they will continue to provide those shows as well.

My point with Girls is that it is reflective of our culture, a culture we all seem to think we are better than or don’t exist in.  America is still segregated, maybe not in the work place or in the athletic field or in our Facebook friends, but in the places we keep closest it sure is. And that segregation is almost always exacerbated by wealth.  So don’t blame Girls, blame the market for which Girls is produced. It is the Girls’ world and we are just living in it.