Monday, August 28, 2006

Gimme an Emmy

Of the three major entertainment awards shows, the Emmy Awards are usually the least entertaining, behind both the Golden Globes and the Academy Awards. This year's show seemed like an improvement over previous Emmyfests — the pace was sprightlier (wonder of wonders, the show finished on time!), some of the humor bits were fresher — but it still lacked the warmth and charm of the Globes or the superstar punch of Oscar Night.

Some thoughts, nonetheless:
  • Conan O'Brien makes an enjoyable host. I generally prefer Conan the Barbarian to Conan the Comedian, but O'Brien's pleasantly wonky sensibility works well in the context of the Emmys. The National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (not coincidentally, its initials are "SATAN" backwards) should sign Conan up for a multiyear run.

  • Thank the stars that Ellen Burstyn's 14-second supposting role didn't win the category in which she was nominated. What was the Academy smoking the day that pick happened?

  • The bit about Bob Newhart being sealed in a glass box with only three hours of air to breathe make me chuckle. No one on the planet can generate more laughs with nothing more than a baleful expression than Newhart can.

  • Stupidest awards show tradition: Having people come to the microphone for no other purpose than to introduce other people who will come to the microphone. I know it's a way of giving a few more familiar faces their moment in the spotlight, but stop it. Stop it now.

  • Seeing Dick Clark on camera was only slightly less pitiful and sad than seeing him on New Year's Rockin' Eve. But then, hearing his impassioned words made the discomfort worthwhile. Almost.

  • What was Kareem Abdul-Jabbar doing at the Emmys? Or was that copilot Roger Murdock?

  • The One-Liner of the Night Award goes to Stephen Colbert, who opened his and Jon Stewart's presentation assignment by greeting the audience with, "Good evening, godless sodomites." Even the uptight right-wingers in the crowd had to laugh at that.

  • Best presentation bit of the evening: Hugh Laurie translating Helen Mirren's remarks into French, until he exhausted his command of the language. Deftly played comedy by two excellent actors, and genuinely hilarious.

  • A presentation bit that didn't work: Howie Mandel playing Deal Or No Deal with Will and Grace's Megan Mullally.

  • Speaking of the latter, does that woman own an evening dress that doesn't expose decolletage to the navel? Every time Mullally's on an awards show, we see far two much of her, if you know what I mean, and I think you do. And no, that's not a typo.

  • Nice of Tom Selleck to sober up long enough to help Mariska Hargitay present an award.

  • Speaking of the latter, her mention of her father (bodybuilder and bit-part actor Mickey Hargitay, for those of you who've forgotten) during her own acceptance speech was touching. Although it would have been worth the price of admission to hear Mariska say something like, "I wish my mother were alive to see this — she'd be out of her head right now."

  • Andre Braugher seemed surprised to win for his role in Thief. You could almost see him thinking, "So why didn't any of you people actually watch the [expletive deleted] show?"

  • The fawning tribute to Aaron Spelling proved that if you put enough money in enough Hollywood pockets over the years, when you croak you can skip the whole List of People Who Died Since the Last Show and get an homage all to yourself.

  • One benefit of the Spelling tribute: I had forgotten that the guy started his entertainment career as a comic actor, and a pretty decent one, too.

  • Quite a coup to regroup the three original Charlie's Angels for the Spelling memorial. Kate Jackson was always my favorite, and still is — can you not be enchanted by that voice? But holy Toledo, time and excessive plastic surgery have not served Farrah Fawcett kindly. Kate and Jaclyn Smith remain radiant in their late 50s (Jaclyn is actually 60 already — where did the time go?), while Farrah resembles a concrete gargoyle.

  • Speaking of dead people, the prized positions in the List of People Who Died Since the Last Show went, rather surprisingly, to Dennis Weaver (first) and Richard Pryor (last). I had expected Don Knotts to get one of the showcase spots, beloved as he was. The most surprising omissions from the montage were Nipsey Russell — I was certain we'd see him deliver one of his famous poems — and Wendie Jo Sperber, less for her considerable comedic talents than for her anti-cancer activism.

  • It was a relief when Helen Mirren won for her starring role in Elizabeth I. She'd already received mention in so many of the other winners' acceptance speeches that it would have looked odd if she'd been passed over.

  • When was the last time Calista Flockhart ate something? Not before this show, apparently. The creepiest visual of the evening — after the cadaverous Farrah — was seeing Calista and her grandfather Harrison Ford canoodling in the audience. They looked they were enacting a love scene from Tales from the Crypt.

  • Vindication of the Night Award: Kiefer Sutherland and 24, both of which should have won their respective categories in previous years. You go, Jack.

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6 insisted on sticking two cents in:

Blogger Mr. Fabulous offered these pearls of wisdom...

ROFLMFAO @ "I wish my mother were alive to see this — she'd be out of her head right now."

I spit out some of my diet coke.

Decapitation jokes are funny!

5:26 PM  
Blogger Janet offered these pearls of wisdom...

I initially started to jot down notes last night while watching the Emmys but then I thought, why do that when Swan Swadow can do it for me?:)

6:56 PM  
Blogger Anita offered these pearls of wisdom...

Thanks for your recent visit and comment on my blog.

I understand what you are saying - and it's a theme that has emerged in recent and personal e-mails I've exchanged with friends. These e-mails were detailed and elaborate, so I didn't bother adapting them and posting them to my blog. Perhaps you have given me the impetus to do so.

But I'm speaking here not of people who are genuinely caring and interested - and interested in real dialogue - but really in countering people who are really just trying to be mean-spirited.

Of course you have a point that I haven't directly experienced racism directed at blacks or those who are bi-racial, although on some level I can understand the bi-racial element because those who are Asian but don't have parents from the same country experience a really complicated kind of racism: they look Asian to white people, yet they are not accepted by the Asian community for being "mixed" - from being born to parents who are from two different Asian countries.

However... I have also seen and heard some outrageous things (I'm sure you have, too), and at 31, I choose to start speaking out about it to educate people and stand by idly while people say whatever malicious or vicious thing comes to their mind, then call minorities "over-sensitive" and "uppity" for protesting.

I have one friend, a very loving person, who still believes that black people should be grateful for ANYTHING they can get in the U.S. because, in Africa, they would die of starvation or AIDS, yet she claims to think of blacks as equals. Yet she mourns the fact that blacks are no longer slaves because, in her mind, people so genetically inferior should be. My friend isn't American either, she's European - she's an immigrant saying outrageous things to an American who was born in the Midwest.

She is also someone - like many others - who calls my alma mater to protest the fact that a black woman is the president of my university, which I think is just outrageous. The president of my university is American, not African.

I understand that it is very difficult for people who do not experience something to understand it.

But, I think that is why education is so important. It's also why I am involved in helping university faculty provide diversity training to other faculty and students.

Frankly, I am disappointed to see educated people with such narrow-minded and limiting attitudes in this day and age.

I think it's outrageous that some of the alums of my alma mater are calling to protest the fact that a black woman has become the first president of my university, which is historic. This received national attention.

If people who graduate from universities like mine or become physicians think people who have historically been without power are "less" as human beings, there is something truly wrong with our society and the creme de la creme of our educational system.

What you are describing is nuanced, detailed, yet it offers the chance of real conversation.

I'm describing things that close off dialogue, like when people come up and tell me that I don't deserve to be at my university because I'm taking the place of a white male who deserves it more, or that the only reason I was given a place here is because of affirmative action and being the university's "charity case."

Incidentally, I know many minorities who prefer to marry white - they somehow believe that a) their white spouse will protect them from racism, and b) if their children look more white, they will be more accepted, more American, that they'll experience less racism.

It is so sad to me that I meet so many minorities who wish they had been born white, but I don't think I have ever met one white person who has wished that he/she was born minority, especially black.

That conveys to me that whites know the advantage they have, they just don't want to admit it or are in denial about it.

There has been much more awareness around the issue of "black" vs. "white," but Asian-Americans have not received as much media attention because they have not historically been in this country as long as a cohort.

If I had children, I would be even more passionate about this issue - I would *not* want my children to face the same kind of discrimination and ignorance that I faced when I was growing up.

Those are just my opinions, but I think the only way that attitudes can change is when people speak up.

Incidentally, the reason I am aware of some of the issues that blacks face is because other people at the university and in my life have spoken up. Thank goodness. I can't speak for all Asian-Americans, but I'm willing and ready to listen - and to change.


7:03 PM  
Blogger Anita offered these pearls of wisdom...

Link to article you might be interested in that was actually sent to me:

One person I know suggested that all problems would be solved if all minorities and women would just, umm, die, but I think, umm, really think that's a reasonable or realistic solution.

People tried that more than once... It was called the Holocaust and Rwanda.

Another suggestion was to make "people like me" go back to our "own" countries, but umm, that didn't strike me as reasonable either. Would whites return to Europe? Because, technically, North American belong to Native American tribes. And most whites are so mixed in their countries of origin that they can't really can't return to one country.


7:30 PM  
Blogger Joel offered these pearls of wisdom...

I agree with Janet. Your post is far more entertaining (and more accurate).

10:45 PM  
Blogger Anita offered these pearls of wisdom...

Here's a bit more...

I like the word bigotry more - actually, I want to use that word more. Thank you. It's more descriptive and more inclusive at the same time.

Yes. If I have to generalize a whole attitude of the Asian-Am community, it is not to speak too loudly, not to complain too much.

You know, just work harder, achieve more, don't complain.

I think this is part of what has led people to have the stereotype that Asians/Asian-Am's are so submissive and docile, as well as having no opinions of their own.

Asians/Asian-Am's are also not well-represented in popular culture - via music, films, books, though this landscape is slowly changing.

Part of the reason why Asians seem to have excelled in the sciences and seem to be so well-represented in this field is because many Asians were allowed to immigrate to the U.S. to attend graduate school here in the sciences or to work in high-tech industries in Silicon Valley.

Asian immigrants encourage their children to enter into the sciences because: a) they perceive less bigotry - the perceive an "objectivity" that allows Asian-Am's to advance that the subjectivity of the humanities and social sciences might make difficult, and b) in the past, Asian-Am's faced a lot of barriers in popular culture - it was difficult to find work as actors and as rock stars (though that, too, is slowly changing).

This attitude is so ingrained in me (and in other Asian-Am's I know) that when I described it to someone (white female), she expressed genuine surprise.

There are those who don't know they are bigoted, but I know many who are - and freely admit it. They see it, they just don't want to change it. And they are intelligent individuals.

I used to not understand this, but I recently had coffee with a white male friend of mine (one of the most open-minded, kind, and thoughtful people I know), and I explained to him where I think this dynamic is coming from because we both saw this dynamic when we were in college together.

If you were an intelligent white male, and for generations, you had all the best opportunities automatically open to you - practically handed to you - you would be pleased. You might not realize this was happening, you would just see that everything was open to you and you had a right to do whatever you wanted to.

Fast forward many years... Now, women and minorities are speaking up, getting educated, wow, even getting the skills to get the highly-skilled jobs that used to automatically go to you. The women and minorities of the past worked as assistants or doing menial tasks or doing hard physical labor.

Now, they're not only running companies and universities - they're being "uppity" and demanding equal pay for it!

The power dynamics have become much more confusing and messy. Why can't everyone know their place (on the racial and gender "hierarchy") and just stay there?

Women and minorities aren't automatically relegated to second-tier jobs. Or at least that is how it seems.

In terms of bigotry and prejudice, I have seen examples where parents have been very upset that their children have married someone non-white. To me, on some level, this shows to me that these parents know that by looking "non-white," you might face some bigotry.

These people raised their children to be open-minded... But not so open-minded that they would go off and marry someone minority! It's fine to treat them with respect, work with them, believe that bigotry is wrong... But marrying someone minority, well, that's crossing the line and exposing your future children to bigotry - and now you can't ignore the bigotry because it's your blood, your children.

Why invite hardship into your life when you can just "marry white" and make life easier for everyone? You can still work with minorities and go to church with them and socialize with them... Just don't make them family.

Yup. I've seen this a few times. Painfully.

When I was younger, I was much more shy and that was part of the reason why I never discussed these issues and I wasn't politically active as a college undergraduate in race/gender issues. Because that was a big part of life at the college and especially with the black and Latino students, I felt a little like I was trying to be too mainstream (I wasn't, though) and Asian-Americans were felt to be a) not upholding their end of raising awareness about issues of race/discrimination, and b) they were also somewhat but quietly resented for the perception that they were more "accepted" by the white mainstream and therefore faced less discrimination. Also, the college had more opportunity to admit greater numbers of Asian-Americans from the middle- and upper-middle classes than they did with the black and Latino students.

So, it's all very complex. The changes that are happening are positive, but people who have had power under the status quo for generations aren't going to just give up their power without a struggle. Some of them might have to be removed from power while they are still kicking and screaming and grabbing the podium for dear life. (Those are actually the words of another minister I know, not mine - a white female, actually!).

More thoughts to stir the cauldron.


1:07 AM  

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