Megyn Kelly and NBC

Alright, so I don’t really like Megyn Kelly, but I’m gonna at least half defend her.  Last Thursday, Megyn was fired from her show after saying “Truly, you do get in trouble if you are a white person who puts on blackface for Halloween, or a black person who put on whiteface for Halloween? When I was a kid, it was OK as long as you were dressing up as, like, a character.”

What she said stirred up a ton of controversy, and was probably not the smartest thing to say, but did she deserve to be fired over it?  So there is some speculation that her ratings were low, and that NBC was looking for an excuse.  I’m going to assume for this blog, that she was let go solely based on the statement above.

I don’t think she should have been fired for it.  Let me explain.  Blackface, initially wasn’t just the act of painting your face black and pretending to be black, it was specifically that with the intention of mocking/stereotyping the race.  CBS did a great piece about the history of blackface, but unfortunately they did drop the ball when mentioning Megyn Kelly’s case.  You see, they bring up their piece in regards to her remarks, and say so explicitly, however there is a bit of a gap that isn’t bridged.

Megyn, said “As long as you’re dressing up as, like, a character,” and that’s something that is missing from this conversation.  Now, I would personally say, it’s in bad form to do so, even with this caveat, and I think it stems from that initial history of blackface, but to conflate the two, which it seems her words did accidentally, while her intention was pretty clear doesn’t do, is dishonest.  The case that Megyn Kelly was talking about was a Real Housewife, who had dressed up and darkened her skin in order to play Diana Ross, and an example that’s been given a lot of attention over the last several years is Juliana Hough dressing up like the character of Suzanne ‘Crazy Eyes’ Warren.  In both of these Halloween costumes, white women seemed to admire the people they were dressing as, and it didn’t seem an attempt to mock, or stereotype, but were going for some form of authenticity in their costume.  So their intention is about as far as possible from say, when a sorority or frat have a ‘blackface’ party.

Intention isn’t everything, and so we can definitely make the argument, that these are still bad ideas for costumes, and should be discouraged, but intention should bare some weight in how we as a society handle the situations.  Now, perhaps Megyn Kelly would argue that intention should make or break whether or not it is an acceptable costume, and I don’t agree with that, but I do think it’s an discussion worth having.

People are acting like Megyn Kelly was endorsing or ok with Blackface in it’s traditional sense, but now that the term has come to encompass much more, it’s important to realize that, and weigh that.  Should she have apologized?  Yeah, because it seems like she genuinely misspoke, but the intention of what she mean is there, this isn’t a case of her saying “um… that’s not what I meant” when it clearly was, if you look at the words that she said, she meant something different.

The last thing that I want to mention, is that on Thursday night, NBC aired their Halloween episode of Superstore.  Now, I love Superstore, so I’m not trying to throw them under the bus, but if you go watch Superstore from Thursday, you’ll hopefully see that NBC clearly screwed up with Megyn Kelly.  You see that episode, is about cultural appropriation, and PC culture, and deals with the nuance of whether or not something is intended to be celebratory or derogatory.  Now, they don’t have anyone in makeup to appear to be other cultures, but they show a white man dressed as a ‘rasta guy’ and when he learns where the line is, he becomes ‘Bob Marley’ so that everything is ok.

If you were completely unaware of the Megyn Kelly situation watching Superstore, you’d see no issue, but I watched it fully aware it was the same network, and fully aware of what she’d been fired for, and it didn’t take away from the episode, but it did show a huge amount of hypocrisy, on the network’s behalf.

Did she deserve to get canceled, or fired, or whatever word they’re using for this?  If her ratings weren’t good enough, absolutely.  Did she deserve to have this used as the reason, and painted as a racist?  I don’t think so.

Emotional Torture on TV

When I was in my mid-twenties, both my little sister, Sam, and I were living with my parents.  One of the things that would happen regularly at that time, was that Sam and my mom would watch Grey’s Anatomy and Private Practice.  Nearly every episode of both shows would end with my sister sobbing and saying, “it’s emotional torture!”  That was how she described the shows, because they broke her heart every week, but she was so invested in the characters and stories that she couldn’t stop watching.  I would laugh at her, because I thought she was being ridiculous.  Why would she continue to watch something like that?

This season, I found out why.  I started watching the show This Is Us on NBC, and I feel myself being slowly brought to the brink of devastation every single week.  I will say that This Is Us tends to have a good amount of uplifting moments, and it isn’t just one hour a week of depression.

I continue to watch every week, wanting to know what is happening with the Pearson family.  I’m invested in each of the different storylines, and need to know what is going to happen next.  This week’s episode (spoiler alert) kills off my favorite character, William.  He is by far the most interesting, and deepest of the characters, followed by his son, Randall.  William is a soft spoken musician and poet, turned junkie, turned parent and he is a mixture of intellect, wisdom, and missed opportunity.  From his introduction on the show, we know that he is sick and dying, and so we knew this was coming, but as this show tends to do, it totally destroyed me when I watched it.

The whole season is leading up to how Randall’s adoptive father, Jack (who rounds off my top three characters) is going to die.  It’s in the past, but they have been building for us to see how it played out.  I think that Jack’s death may be the thing that persuades me to stop watching.  It’s not that I don’t like the show otherwise, but I’m not nearly as hooked on Kevin’s (Randall’s adoptive brother) love life, and while I do find Toby and Kate’s (Randall’s adoptive sister) romance is amazing, but I’m not sure I can take any more ups and downs.

This won’t be the first show that I’ve been forced to quit because I’ve been TOO into the rollercoaster ride.  I had to stop watching Law and Order: SVU after about ten seasons, because I was screaming at the TV, and feeling a pit in my stomach every episode by the end.  To be fair, This Is Us doesn’t create such a visceral reaction in me, and there is more of a feeling of progression, so I may have to consider that when deciding if I’m gonna stay or go.

I think that the show’s best bet in order to hook people for season two is to build up to another death, and ultimately that will become too gimmicky.  William and Jack’s deaths are organic, and not forced, and killing off anyone but Toby (DO NOT KILL TOBY!) would be to much to keep the earned feeling of realism that the show currently has going for it.

Ultimately, I have to decide when the show becomes more ‘emotional torture’ than it is worth.  For right now, I’ll continue to watch every week, after all I need to know how Jack dies!