When good Liberals go bad: Fakin’ the funk Part 1

Posted on February 23, 2013

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Honestly, I’d never heard or even seen a comedian by the name of Lisa Lampanelli, until this:

 

The Tweet Lampanelli will always regret

The Tweet Lampanelli may come to regret

 

 

Lampanelli is in her fifties, has a show on comedy central, and is called the Queen of Insult comedy by some. Ah well, she may want to ask Andrew “Dice” Clay how long that label kept him on top. Because inevitably, those considered individuals who’ll say anything, wind up saying the wrong thing and then fumbling when trying to explain themselves:

 

Trying to defend her position

Lampanelli tries to LOL her position

 

 

“The N-word ending in ‘er’ is far different context from the word ending in ‘a.’ Ask any person who knows the urban dictionary, it means ‘friend,'” she told the Huffington Post. “And by the way, if I had put the word ending in ‘er,’ that would have been a very derogatory thing about Lena meaning she is less than me, and I view her as very above me. ‘A’ on the end means ‘my friend.'”

She added: “I have been using these words since I started in comedy and guess what, people? I won’t stop anytime soon, just because your ass is up on Twitter. I have always used in my act every racial slur there is for Asians, blacks, gays and Hispanics. To me, it’s acceptable if the joke is funny and if it is said in a context of no hate. It’s about taking the hate out of the word.”

Link: http://www.eonline.com/news/389860/lisa-lampanelli-defends-calling-lena-dunham-the-n-word-mdash-it-means-quot-friend-quot-she-says?utm_source=eonline&utm_medium=rssfeeds&utm_campaign=imdb_topstories

 

 

 Let me repeat part of Lampanelli’s effed up reasoning,  and say her entire statement is pure bull:

“The N-word ending in ‘er’ is far different context from the word ending in ‘a.’ Ask any person who knows the urban dictionary, it means ‘friend . . . ”

. . . I have always used in my act every racial slur there is for Asians, blacks, gays and Hispanics. To me, it’s acceptable if the joke is funny and if it is said in a context of no hate. It’s about taking the hate out of the word.”

 

Taking the “hate” out of the word? Exactly how does someone proudly admitting that “I have always used in my act every racial slur there is for Asians, blacks, gays and Hispanics” somehow claim it’s “said in a context of no hate.” I note she doesn’t list her own racial group in her run down of who she likes to slur.

That’s why the terms, when done singularly are called a SLUR. They are, and never will be considered terms of endearment by those with a BRAIN. And notice she switched to saying “The N- word” in explaining herself.

If Lampanelli somehow believes she has the power to take the “hate” out of the word(s), then perhaps for her next trick she’ll make herself disappear.

 

 

And somewhere, Spike Lee is saying “I told you so” because Spike at least had the sense to see the bigger picture. Encouraging use of the word “nigga” especially by someone white, simply invites whackos who wanted to use it in order to feel “down” or either those who use the word anyway to fall back on the excuse that somehow its appropriate because there are rappers and others who use it. Never mind that there could be African Americans who don’t use the word and take offense. I mean, much like “bitch” is still considered a female dog in the dictionary, there are some women who don’t and never will believe either word is complimentary or an acceptable means of addressing them. Individuals like Lampanelli proceed at their own risk, especially when away from the circle of friends who think she’s some kind of comedic genius. In addition, Lampanelli may not even realize that use of term has already jumped the shark. Much like Fo shizzle is way past its prime, slang marches on. She’s dated herself and proven just how out of touch she really is.

 

There’s additional controvery over GIRLS writer and creator Lena Dunham being pulled into all of this by not speaking out earlier. But Dunham can’t control Lampanelli’s tweets. Dunham did come out with a response, saying that her silence up until that point did not mean she condoned the use of the word.

 

Which makes me wonder what would happen if Lampanelli had the nerve to try her theory of  “nigga” vs. “nigger” being considered non derogatory on a real, live person, especially someone not enamored with her act. I’m pretty sure what the Urban Dictionary stated would be irrelevant, as now-a-days many whites and blacks will soundly put this type of ignorance down.

 

 

At a time like this, thoughts of what Samuel L. Jackson would have to say run through my head, but only fleeting. The problem is, when the door is opened, a few folks like Lampanelli walk right into the wall.

For those unaware, Jackson defended Quentin Tarantino’s excessive use of the N word in several highly profitable and award winning films like Jackie Brown and Django Unchained. Jackson even tried to get a journalist interviewing him about Django Unchained to say the word, but the reporter wisely refused.

Link: http://www.cnn.com/2013/01/02/showbiz/celebrity-news-gossip/samel-jackson-n-word-ew

 

 

Okay, let me just cut to the chase. Lampanelli is an idiot. A big one. But there’s no law against being a dumbass. However, she illustrates once again, that someone who considers themselves highly “liberal” and also “funny” may want to check themselves. Apparently Lampanelli’s act is all about pushing buttons, and some love her for it. But in this case, I’m pretty sure she knows she stepped in it. And it also shows that age doesn’t bring wisdom. Lampanelli is in her fifties, having finally made it. Her “edge” depends on some of those same twitter followers who consider themselves fans to shrug and say, “Oh, she’s cool. She didn’t mean anything bad by it. That’s how she is.”

But see, Lampanelli’s explanation shows that she’s unable to separate her stage persona from her regular ol’ self. And that, is never a good thing. Being “on” all the time is not only tiresome, but it’s akin to believing your own hype. Her excuse is just as baffling and insulting as her attempt to use both words (Nigga and Beyotch, which is bitch) to make herself relevant. Meh. Sometimes its not worth the effort or aggrevation. Lampanelli, much like Quentin Tarantino, cherry pick the slices of culture to use in order to further their careers, sometimes aligning themselves with a minority “friend” or “friends” who cringe on the inside while pasting a grin on their faces in public.

Since I don’t watch her show (I’m told she’s on Comedy Central, but I usually watch snippets of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report online. Even their shows aren’t regular viewing for me, but some members of my family watch John Stewart and Steven Colbert religiously) I just chalk Lampanelli up as another clueless one. At some point those “following” her will realize she’d neither cutting edge or hilarious. Just someone trying to stay talked about in this age of ever changing gossip and newstories that can be viewed 24/7. But privately, I’m pretty sure her close black “friends” are dismayed that the woman they thought they knew has no real regard for them, no matter how many black men she had sex with (apparently Lampanelli reveals this in her stage act, as if somehow a sex act can make someone more racially tolerant. Guess she forgot about all the actual history of slave masters procreating with their black captives).

 

But still, Lampanelli joins an ever expanding list, now bulging with examples of “When good liberals go bad”

 

 

 

Screenplay of The Help that Dreamworks listed last year (they've since taken it down)

Cover page for the Screenplay of The Help that Dreamworks touted last year (they’ve since taken it down)

 

 

 

I’d started to make a whole new post on comparing one of original scripts of The Help (from 2009) to the final screenplay that was used for the movie, and also matching them with the novel, so I may move this next item to that new post.

It’s another example of how The Help managed to skirt controversy by linking Minny with chicken, while others who do so are soundly chastised:

 

“An Upper West Side Whole Foods has removed a sign that used a drawing of President Barack Obama to advertise a sale on chicken after complaints that the ad was offensive.

The sign outside the supermarket on Columbus Avenue and 97th Street featuring an apparent caricature of Obama advertising an upcoming sale on whole organic chicken outraged neighbor Woody Henderson.

“There are certain things that have been used to put down black people — watermelon, fried chicken,” he said.

Jason Nunez of the Bronx said, “Even if he’s not the president, you’re going to have an African American promoting the sale of chicken? They can do better than that.”

Link: http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/02/21/17042978-whole-foods-removes-chicken-ad-featuring-obama?lite

 

 

Now, take a look at how the eventual screenwriter for The Help first made his mark in films, with the movie short titled Chicken Party:

 

Tate Taylor's Chicken Party, starring Octavia Spencer, Allison Janney and of all things, "fried chicken"

Tate Taylor’s Chicken Party, starring Octavia Spencer, Allison Janney and of all things, “fried chicken”

 

 

And please take note of what was written for Octavia Spencer by Tate Taylor, her  “Good friend.” Both Spencer and Taylor admitted rooming together for a number of years, that’s how close of a friendship they had. Yet Taylor had no problem writing stereotypical lines like these, expanding on issues with the character that plagued the novel, but ironically, helped the actress win an Oscar:

 

Click image for larger view

The Fried Chicken Chronicles

The Fried Chicken Chronicles AKA Minny’s lines from a copy of The Help script

 

 

And Spencer, who’d later claim she wanted the younger generation to know all about this time period, thus she encouraged kids to see the film, saw nothing remotely wrong with saying these lines.

“I want to be proactive in bringing about change and enlightening people. I think the first way is to get as many people to see this film as possible, especially youth. They have no idea about this time period, no idea.” quote by Octavia Spencer

Link: http://articles.latimes.com/2011/jul/31/entertainment/la-ca-the-help-excerpts-20110731

 

 

Spencer’s also the one who jumped to Stockett’s defense at a public showing of the film, proclaiming that “It’s your job as parents to teach your children about our history,”  just before Stockett piped up with “I just made this shit up!” See more about that outburst here

 

Somehow, in Spencer’s zeal to play Mammie, I mean Minny, she forgot (or didn’t care, since she was desperate to play the part) about just how often blacks were linked with fried chicken for mockery:

 

1950s bigoted advertising, for of all things, blacks and fried chicken. This is just one of the many ways African Americans were used as symbols of mockery

1950s bigoted advertising, for of all things, blacks and fried chicken. This is just one of the many ways African Americans were used as symbols of mockery

 

 

Birth of a Nation, where a black legislator is eating a piece of fried chicken

The Birth of a Nation, where a black legislator is eating a piece of fried chicken.

 

 

Birth of a Nation movie poster

Birth of a Nation movie poster

 

 

This GE ad uses the stereotype of blacks and fried chicken, picturing a child.

This GE ad uses the stereotype of blacks and fried chicken, picturing a child. That’s right, not even children were off limits when promoting stereotypical behaviour of African Americans

 

 

Now, take a look how Taylor decided to amp up Minny’s coonery over fried chicken with what was written in the book. Minny is the first speaker, and she’s teaching Celia Foote about cooking:

“I reckon if there’s anything you ought a know about cooking, it’s this.”

“That’s just lard, ain’t it?”

“No, it ain’t just lard,” I say. It’s the most important invention in the kitchen since jarred mayonnaise.”

“What’s so special about” – she wrinkles her nose at it – “pig fat?”

“Ain’t pig, it’s vegetable.” Who in this world doesn’t know what Crisco is? “You don’t have a clue of all the things you can do with this here can.”

She shrugs. “Fry?”

“Ain’t just for frying. You ever get a sticky something stuck in your hair, like gum?” I jackhammer my finger on the Crisco can. “That’s right, Crisco. Spread this on a baby’s bottom, you won’t even know what diaper rash is.” I plop three scoops in the black skillet. “Shoot, I seen ladies rub it under their eyes and on they husband’s scaly feet.”

“Look how pretty it is,” she says. “Like white cake frosting.”

“Clean the goo from a price tag, take the squeak out a door hinge.. Lights get cut off, stick a wick in it and burn it like a candle.”

I turn on the flame and wed watch it melt down in the pan. “And after all that, it’ll still fry your chicken.”

“Alright,” she says, concentrating hard. “What’s next?” (Minny and Celia, Pg 44)

 

 

The line about “Frying chicken makes you feel better about life. At least me, anyway. Mmm. I loves me some fried chicken” was originally written in the novel as “Frying chicken always makes me feel better about life. I almost forget I’m working for a drunk”

 

 

Frying chicken quote from the novel

Frying chicken quote from the novel

 

 

 

Listen, if anyone, and I mean anyone wants to claim these characters are should be admired, please refer them to this site. Aibileen was an Uncle Tom and a Mammy, who practically loathed her skin color per several scenes of her inner dialogue in the book:

 

That night after supper, me and that cockroach stare each other down across the kitchen floor. He big, inch, inch an a half. He black. Blacker than me. Aibileen’s  battle of wills with a cockroach (Pg 189)

 

How his foot fell asleep and he say it tickle. I told him that was just his foot snoring. And how I told him don’t drink coffee or he gone turn colored. He say he still ain’t drunk a cup of coffee and he twenty-one years  old. It’s always nice to see the kids grown up fine. (Pg 91) Aibileen

 

 

Here’s Aibileen practically salivating as she talks about Yule May, a character who’s makes up one third of the closer to white trio featuring Lulabelle and Gretchen:

Yule May easy to recognize from the back cause she got such good hair, smooth, no nap to it. I hear she educated, went through most a college . . .

Aibileen mentions “black like me” when she tells Skeeter about Constantine’s lover and Lulabelle (character renamed Rachel for the film) and while the film decided to change whether Aibileen ever wanted to be more than a domestic, here’s what was in the novel:

“Did you know when you were a girl, growing up, that one day you’d be a maid?”

“Yes ma’am. Yes, I did.”

I smile, wait for her to elucidate. There is nothing.

“And you that…because…?”

“My mama was a maid. My granmama was a house slave.”

“A house slave. Uh huh,” I say, but she only nods. Her hands stay folded in her lap.

She’s watchin the words I’m writing on the page.

“Did you… ever have dreams of being something else?”

“No” she says. “No ma’am, I didn’t.” It’s so quiet, I can hear both of us breathing.  Skeeter interviewing Aibileen in the novel, Pg 144

 

 

Aibileen and Mae Mobley

Aibileen and Mae Mobley

 

 

And Viola Davis admitted she was playing a Mammy in several published interviews (items in bold are my doing):

 

“Of course I had trepidations. Why do I have to play the mammy? But what do you do as an actor if one  of the most multi-faceted and rich roles you’ve ever been given is a maid in 1962 Mississippi? Do you not  take the role because you feel in some ways it’s not a good message to send to Black people?”  – Viola Davis, in a quote from Essence Magazine

 

“I’m playing a maid, a black actress playing a maid in 2011 in Hollywood, is a lot of pressure. You don’t play a maid. That is something you don’t do. When you play a maid where a white woman has written a story and a white man is directing it, so there is no way that it’s gonna be. . . I’m essentially playing a Mammy. So I felt a lot of pressure. Absolutely. And then and of course pressure from the readers who all wanted Oprah to play the role. And saw her as being seventy years old and about two hundred and fifty pounds or you know, yeah, I felt a lot of pressure. But it’s like Tate says, if you work from that point of pressure and fear, your work is gonna crack. At some point you just have to leave it alone. And know that we have our own standard of excellence . . .”

Link: Atlanta Mom’s on The Move http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=shc0mdT-0Cc

 

 

But not Spencer. She was shrewd enough not to say anything negative, or that would diminish her chance at not only landing the part, but there’s published articles where Spencer claims one thing about the novel when it can be shown that scenes and dialogue read as insensitive and insulting to the black culture.

In other words, there’s a trail that shows Spencer was more than willing to sell her soul to get the part. For a bit more information, see this post.

 

The character of Minny was created as yet another stereotype which was just fine with Octavia Spencer, since she wanted the role more than anything. Well, she got it and an Academy Award. But unlike Hattie McDaniel, Spencer was “good friends” with the very people who wrote it. Hattie didn’t have the power to speak up. But Spencer did. She could have told both Stockett and Taylor where their writing veered into insulting caricature.

So the question is, WHY DIDN’T SHE?

 

For information on where the book went off track, see these additional posts:

 

https://acriticalreviewofthehelp.wordpress.com/ten-issues-that-tarnish-the-help/

 

https://acriticalreviewofthehelp.wordpress.com/2012/08/11/the-help-on-the-wrong-side-of-history/

 

https://acriticalreviewofthehelp.wordpress.com/2012/11/22/mammy-must-die/

 

https://acriticalreviewofthehelp.wordpress.com/2011/12/21/u-just-might-be-a-mammy-if/

 

 

To be continued .  .  .

Posted in: Blog