Wednesday, May 23, 2012

#BookReview: Bossypants - Tina Fey

This book has been on my "to be read" list for awhile.  I finally picked it up from the library in December and read it from then until April.  What's that? Yes, yes I did say that I had a library book for five months and it took me all of five months to read it.  Why? Because I didn't love it at all.

This will come as a shock to my literary twin, JNic.  We agree on books 99.9% of the time, but Bossypants? No ma'am.  No me gusta. Twas sucktastic. I think Tina Fey is hilarious on my TV.  Her Weekend Updates on Saturday Night Live used to be must see TV, but the path she traveled to get there?  Yeah, I could care less.

But why, you ask? I love her, you say.  I'll tell you why.  There's this thing that people do, whether or not its intentional and I don't think it is, but it annoys me.  When writers, or people I'm speaking to in real time, point out the otherness of people they're talking about, even though it adds nothing to the conversation, it bothers the dog stank out of me.  Why do they do it? Because to them, white is the norm and everything else is other and other must be pointed out.  Example:

The two African-American secretaries waiting at the light with my dad whispered knowingly to each other, "That's Don Fey."

Um, what did their race have to do with the price of tea in China? Not a thing. They were two women that worked with him, period.

And this whole notion that black equals bad and white is automatically good? Go fly that flag somewhere else.  There's a scene where her "cool" dad is in the airport parking garage and sees "two black gentlemen" approaching from afar.  So he automatically is apprehensive (but it's okay because he grew up in West Philly as a "Caucasian minority" and can handle himself), but it turns out they just wanted to compliment him on his clothes.  At this point, I was really ready to go tell Tina to go sit the entire hell down, but I trudged on and my dislike of her grew.

Spending time in Chicago, she remarked on how safe one of the el stops was for "young white women," enforcing the idea that white women are held on some higher pedestal than other women. Ma'am, your privilege is showing! Anyway, Tina tours with Second City, makes her way to New York and starts writing for Saturday Night Live, where she confirms for us that SNL is written by a group of white men with a few women, white that is.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the reason why the SNL we see today is so horrible.  It's pretty damn hard to write for a diverse audience when your writers lack diversity.  No, boys and girls, adding white women to the white male mix does not equal diversity.  It equals unfettered whiteness that projects stereotypes and their ideas of what is funny onto your TV screen every Saturday night for 90 minutes.  And don't come to me with "well there's Kenan and that other black dude," because seriously? Kenan is the new Stepin Fetchit and Jay Pharaoh is woefully underused.  And women of color? No need for that, they just throw a wig on Stepin, I mean Kenan, and have him play whatever woman they're degrading that week.

But I digress.  Now that the library has forgotten that I even have this book and have probably charged someone else's account for it (because it doesn't even show up on my checked out list), I'll gladly return it. With 30 Rock ending next year, maybe Tina can take up the helm of Weekend Update again and remind me of why I used to find her funny.

Published: April 2011


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