Monday, January 26, 2009

Gender Comedy

One of my favorite SNL skits of the year has been the "Single Ladies" video with Beyonce and Justin Timberlake. I laughed almost more the second time I saw it than the first - if you haven't seen it, I will post the link at the end of this story. Justin Timberlake, Andy Samberg, and Bobby Moynihan are dressed up like ladies and act as Beyonce's backup dancers for the video. There is something really funny about them acting very feminine - their clothes, their actions, the way they talk, etc.

What would happen if we reversed this? Dress up Beyonce and two other women and use them as backup dancers in Justin Timberlake's video for "Single Men" (there is no such song or video, but imagine just for the sake of this argument). If they acted very manly - dress, actions, speech - would we find it as funny? I say no.

This is just one example - but have you ever thought about what we find funny when it comes to men versus women? It's funny to laugh at a guy dressed up doing an impersonation of a woman, but usually not very funny to watch a woman dressed up doing an impersonation of a man. I know a girl that can do a great Sean Connery impersonation, but it's just not as funny as Darrell Hammond doing it. Men can be funny about men and also women, but women only seem to get laughs when impersonating other women. We, as a society, just don't find that to be as funny.

I don't have a lot of answers for this one, but here is where I'm coming from. I believe a lot has to do with the way men and women dress. It is acceptable for women to wear traditional men's clothing - such as jeans, t-shirts, tennis shoes, polo shirts, button-up shirts, khaki's. Almost anything men wear, women can also do the same. However that is not true the other way around. Men do not wear skirts, dresses, high heels, flats, tights, etc. It is acceptable in our society for women to dress and then act like men - however it is not acceptable, or considered by many as homosexual, for men to dress or act like women. When this occurs, it has to be taken in a humorous way because there is no possible way this is normal behavior.

It is a very interesting topic and something I don't think a lot of people think much about. There is definitely a gender gap in comedy and I'm not so sure that it's an easy fix. Being 'manly' doesn't have to be about having the biggest muscles, drinking the most beer, going hunting, not worrying about what you look like, never showing emotion, thinking it's funny to act stupid or having a garage full of power tools Maybe being 'manly' can be about being a gentleman, taking care of yourself, showing some intelligence, being respectful, helping with the kids and dishes and laundry and dinner. I think it will be hard to find a way to change how we portray men and women in comedy, but I believe that changing the way our society looks at roles of men and women will go a long way in closing the gender gap - including comedy.

SNL Video Link

Monday, January 19, 2009


As we celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. day today, I can't help but be reminded of dreams. We all have dreams. Every night we fall asleep and dream of something or someone - some dreams we remember, some we don't. But these aren't the dreams I'm talking about. The dreams I speak of are the ones we wish for - hope for - pray for.

We often hear our friends and family dream of a new car, a new house, the perfect job or winning the lottery. When was the last time you heard somebody dream for peace, or justice, or equality, an end to violence or an end to hate? Do we not have these dreams? Are they not realistic or are these things that we just don't think of dreaming about?

Perhaps the most famous dreams of all, were the dreams of Martin Luther King, Jr. Who at the time seemed to be speaking of winning the lottery to those who listened. Over 45 years ago today, he made his famous speech in Washington, D.C. He didn't talk of new cars or new houses or money or fame. He simply wanted this country of ours to unite as one.

I didn't write about the election of Barack Obama as our President, mainly because I hadn't started with this blog, but it was nothing short of historic. Over four years, after I witnessed Obama speak at the Democratic National convention in 2004, I had a feeling that this guy was the real deal. I like politics, I read about politics and I get into politics, but rarely do I get excited about politics. About three years ago, I asked people who would we elect President first: a woman or an African-American. Almost all of my responses were a woman - Hillary Clinton (although I think I got a Colin Powell in there from somebody). I came out and said no. I said it would be an African-American and it would be Barack Obama (see Amy A. to verify this if you like), and they said, "who?"

That was my dream.

As far as we have come as a nation, I knew that a good percentage of our population would never vote for a black man for President. I was excited, hopeful and yet cautiously optimistic when he decided to seek the nomination - especially starting out in Iowa. I wondered how many people could look past the color of his skin, or the Internet smear campaigns. But the American people came through and looked beyond what many couldn't 45 years ago. We elected Barack Obama as our President. This is, however, just a small step to reaching equality in America.

At this time in our lives, when we are fighting two wars, our economy is at it's worst since the Great Depression, jobs and houses are being lost, people struggle to put food on the table and provide for their families, we must again dream big. And at the same time we are also full of hope. Hope that this country will again be looked up to in the World, and hope that every kid today can live out the American dream of that big house, nice car, stable job and a wonderful family.

What will you dream for?

So on the eve of inaugurating the first African-American President of the United States of America, I leave you with his dreams from August 28, 1963:

"I say to you, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: 'We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.'

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi , a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day down in Alabama, with is vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of 'interposition' and 'nullification', one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers. I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day 'every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low; the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight; and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed , and all flesh shall see it together.'

This is our hope..."

Monday, January 12, 2009

Handicap Parking Spots

There are many times where I'm looking for a parking spot, someplace busy like the mall or Wal-Mart, and I think I've got one and *BAM!* Handicapped Parking sign. This happens to everyone right? I sometimes get very angry when this happens, but don't exactly know why. I'm either angry that I thought I found a prime parking spot and all of the other idiots passed it up or the fact that I can't believe there are so many handicapped parking spots. Is there some sort of regulation about how many handicap parking stalls you need? For example, my local Target has probably close to 10 handicap spots, to go with the senior citizen spots and employee of the month (if that still exists). I go to Target at least once a week and never have I seen even half of those handicap spots used up.

After my initial anger, I settle for a parking spot someplace else and don't really care about having to walk. Usually as I'm walking in, I will check out the vehicles parked in those spots. Have you ever watched the people that get in and out of some of those vehicles? I can't believe, literally, how some of those people ended up with a handicap tag or sticker. Unless you have a limp, a cane, a wheelchair, crutches or a missing limb, I prefer not to see you getting out of that vehicle. If you are parking in a handicap spot, you better look like you need it.

By now some of you are probably furious at me, saying how could he write these things - putting down the disabled and what about this person with this disease, etc. While others are thinking along the same lines as me. Here's what I'm getting at. I think some places go a little overboard with their handicapped parking stalls (Target), and some of those stalls get taken up by people who are taking advantage of the system and should be saving those places for people who really need them. Some parking lots only have one or two handicapped parking spots and when some stupid idiot throws their handicapped sign in the mirror from last year just to get a closer spot, somebody else might suffer.

I thank God that I am not handicapped and do not have to utilize one of these spaces and I also pray for those who have a disability and actually need a closer spot. I think my initial reaction to not getting one of those spots is a brief mentality of lazy America. Sure, I would love to always get a close parking spot - but never at the expense of somebody who could really use it. I would rather count my blessings and walk an extra few feet knowing that I am healthy enough to do it.

And what is lazy America you ask? It's parking in an Expectant Mother's parking spot because all of the other nearest ones are taken (which I have done more than once).

Monday, January 5, 2009

New Year's Resolutions

Happy New Year to everyone and a welcome back to myself. As you can see from my first post, I intended to start this blog in July. Unfortunately, I had nothing to write about. I am going to give this another shot. My goal will be at least one post every week, sort of my own weekly column. We will call this my New Year's Resolution.

Why is it that every year we hear about people making their New Year's Resolutions? When is the last time that on December 31st you heard somebody say "I am proud to say that I completed my New Year's Resolution I set on January 1st? I can honestly say that I have never heard of anyone actually complete a resolution. Now this isn't to say that nobody has ever successfully committed to and completed a resolution.

Here are some statistics for you from Stephen Shapiro: 45% of Americans usually set New Year's Resolutions; 8% of those people are always successful; 24% (1 in 4) never succeed and have failed on every resolution every year; 3 out of 4 people almost never succeed.

Some people will choose resolutions based on money, relationships or organization, but most of the resolutions have to do with your weight or physical appearance. Look at the ads in the paper that comes out around January 1st - it's littered with deals on exercise equipment, videos and clothes. Visit your local gym or YMCA - notice how busy it is. But all you have to do is wait a month or two and it will be back to the normal traffic.

So my question is why do people, year after year, continue to make New Year's Resolutions when they know they will never go through with it? Perhaps the goal is set too high or perhaps there is nothing pushing them to follow through after the initial craze. If Target advertised exercise equipment, videos and clothes every single week on the front page of their ad, would that persuade you that you should be exercising because that is the "in" thing right now? Maybe this year try this. Make a New Year's Resolution with your spouse or friend that you both agree on. This way you can look out for and push one another. And set a realistic goal. Don't try to lost 20 pounds a month, when you know you can only get to the gym 2 days a week. And if you know you won't follow through at all, don't set a resolution to begin with.

Whatever you choose to do, I wish everyone a happy and successful New Year.