Thursday, September 21, 2017

Will this Emmy review be my last?

Hard to believe but almost twenty years ago I started writing snarky award show reviews. I wrote them exclusively for people on my contact list. I always wrote the recaps immediately after the show so if any of my jokes were similar to those others later posted it was clear I didn’t steal them. But that meant lonnnnng nights. And I had to weed out some people because certain radio hosts who were on my list were stealing my material and using it as their own (assuming I wouldn’t find out – but I did). Not cool.  They're gone.

My reasons for doing the reviews were to have fun and let off steam. To say the kind of shit everyone says at award show parties (where you're not proud of yourself but you laugh). And it was a great way to reconnect with people I hadn’t heard from in months. Friends would drop a note; we’d catch up, etc. As you know, months and sometimes years can go by as people inadvertently drift apart. Reviews were a fun way to say hello.

When I started the blog I decided to share the reviews with my readers. They seemed to really enjoy them. For a while some newspapers arranged with me to re-print them.

Each review would spark a flurry of comments. Some agreed with my take, others didn’t. That was totally okay. Sometimes the debates were more entertaining than the reviews themselves.

But lately things have started to shift. I don’t know how to state more clearly that my reviews are snarky, that I poke fun at everyone. And that if you take a stand in comedy there are going to be those who are offended. Larry Gelbart once said: “if you write something that offends no one then go back and start over.”

That’s COMEDY. At times it’s meant to challenge, meant to prick pompous balloons, meant to point out hypocrisy.

In my recent Emmy review I took issue with Jermaine Fowler’s announcing. He was loud, he was abrasive, he mangled copy, he sounded amateurish, he wasn’t funny, and moments that were supposed to be for the winners he made about himself. And since Fowler happens to be a person of diversity, a number of readers called me racist. (As blog moderator I chose not to publish them.) If it had been say Gilbert Gottfried and he had done the same thing and I offered the same complaints no one would have said anything. It’s not enough to not find something funny these days. The comic is now a racist. Forget that I praised numerous diversity winners and even took issue when Nicole Kidman was allowed to ramble on incessantly while Sterling K. Brown was unceremoniously cut off – no, I’m a racist.

It’s to the point where I wonder why I even bother. You make fun of anybody looking horrible in a gown and you’re body shaming. You needle an actress and you’re anti-women. You don’t praise a lame RuPaul “Emmy” bit and you’re homophobic.

What the fuck?!

It’s a SNARKY, BITCHY silly awards show review, meant to get a few laughs. Period. You don’t find something I said funny? That’s fine. You disagree with a particular take? Great. We’re all entitled to our opinions. But what I’m getting now is “Humor is one thing but that’s racist.”

When did comedy become the queen’s tea?

You hear of comedians now refusing to play the college circuit because audiences are too P.C. This is insane to me. You should be at your MOST subversive, most inappropriate, most rebellious in college. If you can’t challenge society who can?

ALL IN THE FAMILY was a groundbreaking show in the ‘70s. If it were on today people’s heads would explode. I find that heartbreaking.

But that’s the way it is today. I’m not going to change it. But for the Oscars, I’ll see how I feel in February. Maybe I’ll just go back to sending my review to my contact list. Those people don’t call me a racist. The worst I get from them is that I’m a dick.  I can live with that.

107 comments :

Pizzagod said...

I can understand your consternation, and if this was your last review, so be it.

I keep thinking of somebody asking "What's your favorite food?" and you answer "Steak" and the person replies "Wrong!"-so after you've made it clear that these are your opinions, and people still want to debate your feelings, what are you supposed to do?

I guess that's one of the drawbacks to a larger audience, and unfortunately, the internet has made a lot of people into overbearing bullies, whether or not that was the intention.

I say do what you want to do, and when you get some shit for it, just tune it out. I think you're great, and enjoy your unvarnished opinions.

Bill Jones said...

Ken--I agree with you completely. But the LAST thing you should do is stop doing what you're doing just because of these people. That's what they want: to shame you/shout you down so that you decide it's just not worth the effort any more.

Do NOT give into this. Imagine if all of the pioneers whose work expanded the boundaries of free expression (say, Norman Lear) decided to fold up shop because of misguided "outrage" hurled by a handful of people on the other side.

Also, if I may offer some constructive criticism. Your own post sort of feeds into this. You say that Jermaine Fowler is "a person of diversity." Um, he's black. It's okay to say this. If that makes you squeamish, you can say "African-American." But using doublespeak language like "person of diversity" is already playing into the notion that it's somehow no longer appropriate to use other (perfectly innocuous) words--because someone, somewhere out there might be offended by them. As your own post rightly notes, that way lies madness.

Ryan from Canada said...

Ken, don't stop recording and writing your reviews. They're a hoot and I, and I'll assume many others, very much look forward to hearing/reading them.

People are far too sensitive these days, fuck them. All the points you made were valid and you were spot on in the way you critiqued that announcer guy (I'm not even gonna look up his name)... he was terrible. Your Nicole Kidman comments... nailed them. Sterling K. Brown... should have been given more time, absolutely, and you admitted that!

Anyway if people are offended by your reviews there are many other places on the Internet they can fuck off to. Don't let a few narrow-minded pinheads ruin it for others.

Keep writing them and making us laugh. After all, these days we can use all the laughter we can get.



Scott H said...

The RuPaul Emmy bit and that horrible, amateur "announcer" were the two worst parts of the telecast. Any review that didn't point that out wouldn't be an honest one. Mentioning those doesn't make you homophobic or racist. That's absurd. Those are real words that apply to truly hateful people. They shouldn't be thrown around like that.

I was disappointed that so many reviews of the Emmys DIDN'T mention those elements. Now I know why--they were afraid of getting the response that you did. Please continue to do your reviews, Ken.

KimAT said...

Please keep writing your reviews. I thought it was funny

BobinVT said...

Ken, please don't give in to these morons. Shutting you up is their goal. They throw the racist charge around to silence people who dare say anything negative about a black person. Was it Daniel Patrick Moynihan who came up with the "soft bigotry of low expectations"? Blacks are just as capable of turning in a bad performance, or doing something stupid as whites, latinos, asians, etc. To exempt them from any critical remark is precisely what Moynihan meant. You're treating them like children. True equality includes getting slammed when you deserve it. It's amazing to me that the racism charge, which has been so overused in recent years, still can intimidate. Just keep blocking their posts, and put them where they belong, in the trash.

Annie C said...

You can thank the college kids for a lot of that.

The problem is, we have come so far as a country and so fast, that there really is nothing big left to struggle against. They are down to picking proverbial nits.

Their parents or grandparents marched in Selma, they have gamer-gate. It's sad really. There really is so much they could be doing to make the world a better place.





Anonymous said...

Hi Ken, for what it is worth I did enjoy your Emmy review. I have to be honest, I have never actually watched one of those award shows all the way through, not my cup of tea.

If you wonder why you were abused, you can answer your own question by reading your post from yesterday.

"I don’t care if he’s a good sport. I hate the son of a bitch."

The PC crowd has no sense of humor, just a fact, it is why comedians stay away from college crowds.

Stephen Robinson said...

Sorry you feel this way, Ken, and that you received so much personal backlash. I personally think you deserve the benefit of the doubt with your comedy. If Rush Limbaugh had trashed Colbert for the anti-Trump jokes or made fun of the announcer, it would have come across far less benign than it did from you. Not just because I follow your blog and know you're *not* a racist or homophobe or what have you but from the actual content and way the jokes were delivered. Context matters.

If it's any consolation, I do think ALL IN THE FAMILY would work today -- especially as an exploration of the blue-collar Trump voter we hear so much about. One possible change (that I'd actually find interesting) would be to switch it so that "meathead" is the feminist Hillary-supporting daughter-in-law and "dingbat" is the simple-minded son (or also, still, Archie's daughter... why not?). Ironically, I think it's M*A*S*H that likely would be challenged more if it aired today (more so Hawkeye's womanizing and perhaps treatment of women in general).

As for college campuses being too "PC," I can appreciate that, but I really don't recall there being a golden age of free speech even when I was there 25 years ago. It's not like Richard Pryor could have played at a conservative college in the 1970s. Also, a lot of what we find funny does change. I don't find a lot of Eddie Murphy's "Raw" era gay humor that amusing. I don't think it's a political stance but just... it's not funny to me any more.

But again, it's complex, and I can appreciate your frustration: I don't find someone coming out and being swishy "funny." It might have worked decades ago but not know. But that's a cheap joke, whereas I don't think a zinger about Ru Paul is automatically "homophobic."

A lot of comedy is about making fun of how people look. Is it snarky? Sure. But is it really body-shaming or bullying? FOX claims that people on Twitter did the latter to the First Lady when they made fun of her outfit when giving a speech. Let's have some context here. She's not the single mom working at Walmart that some snotty mean girls ridicule. She's a wealthy wife of the president. Comedy has always been about hitting up. And everyone at the EMMYS is *definitely* "up."

DwWashburn said...

The only reason to put a label on someone is to make a weak attempt to make yourself feel superior. Labels like racist, feminist, anti semite, etc. are used freely today mainly by people who want to show the world how exceptional they are. But it usually has the opposite effect showing the person as petty, crying for attention and judgmental. I hope these small minded people do not keep you from writing your humor.

Cliff said...

Very clearly it is your call to continue. I hope that you do.
This seems similar to all of the comments when there is some terror attack. That to pull back from doing what the terrorist is against, is letting the terrorist win.
PC is like that. Pulling back from honest expressions, or deliberate comedy or satire because someone may take offense, or just become a judge of what is allowed, well, that seems like letting the most biased of the PC judges win.
Cliff

Kenneth Nielsen said...

Well said.

Peter said...

You're absolutely right, Ken. This is sadly the Snowflake generation who want everything to be a "safe space" and for everyone to conform to their policing of language and thought.

There is barely a film or TV show that doesn't escape their self-indulgent bile. Joss Whedon quit Twitter after an army of snowflakes accused him of misogyny for having the Black Widow character in Avengers fall in love with Banner. I lost respect for Whedon when he later returned to Twitter and slammed Jurassic World for putting its female protagonist in high heels. It was a painfully transparent attempt by him to curry favour with his former fans who had turned on him. Resorting to attacking a fellow director's film with a spurious accusation of sexism was his way of saying to them "Hey, I'm still on your side! Come back!"

Could you imagine Airplane being made today? The snowflakes would be apoplectic just over the scene where Barbara Billingsley speaks jive.

How are these idiots going to cope once they leave university and enter the real world where people won't so easily back down and provide safe spaces or give in to every demand to adjust their language to avoid using words that would "trigger" them?

Sung said...

Ken, I'm so sorry that this is what some ill-informed people have gotten from your Emmy review. This is the sad state of affairs of our culture right now -- the only people you can safely make fun of are straight white men.

Sorry to turn political, but I think I have no choice. Is it any wonder that the alt-right has risen to new heights? I'm not kidding when I write this -- I have no doubt that the fact that anyone can safely shit on straight white males factored greatly into our current presidency. "We're white, we're not queer, get used to it!"

If it's any consolation, I could not stand Jermaine Fowler, either, and neither could my wife. In fact, when I first heard his voiceover, I thought it was Seth McFarlane doing a shtick (because I'd read he would be on the show)! "This is a joke, right? There's no way this is going to go on." Oh yes, it went on and on.

We are not alone in this. In this glowing review from Billboard, just read the comments:

http://www.billboard.com/articles/news/television/7965993/2017-emmys-announcer-jermaine-fowler-comedian

I'm being selfish here, but I hope you do continue to do your reviews (because they make me laugh), and that you do not censor yourself in the least. Comedians have always been the envelope-pushers, so keep pushing. Though of course I would also understand if you are tired of the fight. A recent New Yorker Radio Hour podcast featured an interview with Harry Belafonte, and he plainly stated that he's done fighting. He's done his job. You have done yours in the world of comedy, so if you do want to close up shop, all I ask is this: put me on your email list!

- Sung

Rob Hoffmann said...

There are many ways to create an opt-in mailing list that would allow those of us who understand that comedy is edgy to keep seeing your awards show reviews. Please consider one of them. :)

Kenneth Nielsen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Wendy M. Grossman said...

Ken: it is of course entirely up to you what you publish. But please note that I did *not* call you sexist. You made the same joke last year and I said nothing. I asked you for an evidential basis *this* year because making the same joke two years running sounds like a knee-jerk reaction and I wanted to know why. If one of the actresses had been Cybill Shepherd, given the widey publicized situation on CYBILL, you could have made the same joke 100 times and I'd have said nothing. It struck me as a *lazy* joke,, and therefore beneath *you*, the particular you who writes so often about not being satisfied with average jokes but finding better ones.

So I *asked*.

wg

Barefoot Billy Aloha said...

May i remain on all of your lists forever, Dick.
😀😀😀😀😀😀😀

Karan G. said...

In all things, "intentions matter." Your intentions were and should have been obvious to all reasonable people. Such a hostile label is ridiculous. Anyone who has been following your blog should know that ALL PEOPLE get made fun of...for the sole purpose of comedy. We follow your blog for your snarky funny point of view. Please continue to be snarky...the world needs your brand of funny...especially now.

Michael said...

Jermaine Fowler sounded like the home team PA announcer at a sporting event. That means he could have been the white guy who does the Dodgers or the white woman who does the Giants. And none of them deserves much of a compliment. Those who call you a racist do so to get attention. Others try to get attention by tweeting early in the morning.

Terrence Moss said...

I say fuck 'em. It's your blog. I didn't agree with everything you said, but there was nothing racist about it.


Besides, Fowler wasn't a good announcer PERIOD (though I put that more on the producers for selecting him than on Fowler himself who has a sitcom to promote).

The term racist has become so misapplied to everything that people have forgotten what actual racism is.

Tudor Queen said...

I loved your snarky Emmy review - and I was equally annoyed by Jermaine Fowler, even before, thanks to you, I knew who he was (In our house he was 'that annoying faux-hip announcing guy - who is he, anyway?'.

I love snark and I enjoy yours enormously. I'm only one fan, but I'm begging you not to stop. Although a liberal by inclination and philosophy, I'm not very politically correct. Remember Joseph Bologna's King Kaiser character in "My Favorite Year"? He believed - correctly, IMHO - that funny was the first rule. If it was funny, it stayed, If it wasn't, it went.

Almost everyone I was rooting for lost, so that may have influenced me.

The Moderate said...

Ken - For reasons I cannot understand, I am offended by your post. There is nothing offensive there, but I feel like I certainly must be offended by something there that I either don't agree with or insults some minor point of order that I'm not aware of.

Needless to say, I will continue to read the blog in order to find more things to be offended by because, in this day and age, I see nothing in our political order that offends me in the slightest.

I just think I offended myself, actually. I will tweet a response to my insensitivity post haste.

Glenn said...

Jerry Seinfeld (who thinks using profanity is like cooking with Hamburger Helper), the cleanest, safest comedian ever refuses to perform at colleges anymore thanks to PC culture. That says it all.

The Bumble Bee Pendant said...

Dear Ken,
Fuck those whiny pretentious people who hear or see a problem with any type of criticism.
These are the people if you say anything about a female politician, then you must be a sexist. Or say something about a politician that happens to be Hispanic because you then you are a white Supremist. Or you can't pick on Chicago because then you are an agonist.

Seriously. Fuck the snowflakes

Terry said...

Don't listen to the haters. I loved your Emmy review and agree 100% with your takedown of Fowler. And it never once crossed my mind that anything you said could be construed as racist. I had no idea who he even was or why he was there. I looked him up afterwards and it turns out he's on "Superior Donuts," a show I actually watched last season and found mildly amusing. Now if this guy is on a show I watched regularly and I didn't even know who he was when he showed up on the Emmys, does that say more about him or more about me? Maybe I'm a racist and I just didn't know it.

John Fox said...

Effective jokes contain an element of truth. The REALLY true ones raise hackles. You must have been spot on. Is there such a thing as too true?

AlaskaRay said...

Ken, it's just a fact of life that the internet has become a haven for anonymous (or semi-anonymous) ignorant, opinionated, self-righteous, mindless trolls. I know that you know this, just as I do. But sometimes we need reminding.

Lisa said...

If you are only going to send your reviews to people on your contact list, can I be on your contact list?
Please just delete the stupid comments & carry on.

Andrew said...

Ken, for the record, you offend me all the time. I'm a conservative, and I love your blog. I keep coming back because you provide insights into your line of work, you tell great stories about my favorite shows, and because you make me laugh. Please don't stop doing what you're doing. I don't watch the Oscars or the Emmys anymore, but I read your reviews. Just like I read your reviews of movies that I will never see. You're good at what you do.

I would suggest something, however, for you and your more liberal commenters. What you are describing here (regarding Fowler and the "racist" accusation) has so much to do with why Trump won. There's a phrase I hear now all the time, that's becoming a cliche: "This is how you get more Trump." It's true. You are on the receiving end of something that many people have been experiencing for years.

Another phrase I've heard: "the crime of noticing." If people notice something, and express an opinion, and are instantly reviled as racist, or sexist, or homophobic, or Islamaphobic, or transphobic... they may keep quiet, they may keep their heads down to avoid confrontation, but they also vote. And when given a chance to vote for someone, with many faults that should be disqualifying, who has the balls to say "political correctness is killing us," that's who they'll choose.

I'd suggest that being on the receiving end of false accusations of racism may give you an opportunity to understand people who have been there for many years, in the places where the entertainment industry doesn't visit, and have more empathy for them. The news media has been calling large groups of people "racist" for a very long time. I was personally accused of racism by a coworker simply because I said that immigration laws should be enforced (this was long before Trump came on the political scene). People are now accused of being transphobic because they believe men should not be allowed in women's restrooms. People are accused of Islamophobia because they are concerned about terrorism and want to talk about it honestly. Can we have genuine and open disagreements, without the "ism" and "phobia" cards being played? Can we hold black people to the same standards as white people, and women to the same standards as men, without false accusations being used as a way to stifle the conversation?

Here's a suggestion: The next the media, or the ACLU, or the SPLC, or the NAACP, accuse someone of racism, or any other unpardonable sin, take a closer look. Go back to the 80's and the 90's. Was Robert Bork really a racist? Was Charles Pickering?

Welcome to the party, Ken.

Jay Jones said...

I sympathize with Ken, and can only hope that in the future he--and all of the liberal echo chamber in his comments audience--will think twice before assuming the worst of people with whom they have political disagreements. It's quite a thing to watch people of the left eat their elders.

Professor Herb said...

Since when do you care if some readers don't like one posting. There's no reason you should. If they don't like it, they don't have to read it. And since you moderate the comments, you don't have to let an idiot mess up the list. And we, the regular readers, certainly don't want the same idiots to stop you from writing a comedy review of a television program. Or you can make them the joke. As I heard on SNL when the UN voted that Zionism is racism, "Sammy Davis, Jr. responded by saying that 'now I can hate myself.'"

You've said time and again that TV comedy sucks when commentators in the guise of network executives don't let writers write. I read your blog because I agree. I like the writing on your friend Mark Evanier's blog, though I don't like to watch, view or read his work in other formats. But that's just my taste. I don't have to watch a Garfield TV show. A teacher shouldn't quit because a few slackers in the class were offended when they had their beliefs challenged.

Write a humorous post on whatever moves you. And those of us that read can enjoy it, or not.

Scott Cooley said...

New law of comedy seems to be: To every action there is an equal and opposite asshole with a keyboard.

Please don't discontinue your snark or edit yourself in any way. It's why I enjoy reading this as much as I do.

Thank you!

Trent said...

Oh god, Ken, please don't stop. Women and minorities have so much attitude anymore, I think it's hilarious when you make them scream and yell because you won't bow down to them and kiss their behinds. Keep cuttin' at 'em, man.

blinky said...

Let me try to put this as politically correct and gently as possible: Fuck those ass holes!
The delicate flowers who can't take a joke should go back down to their basements and work on their manifestos.
Ken Levine, you keep doing what you are doing. I appreciate it and want more.
To the trolls: if it offends you , DON'T READ IT!

Mark Moretti said...

Jermaine Fowler is the racist here, at least if measured by behavior at the Emmys. What if a white announcer had swallowed all the names of black people but amped up the energy for the names of white people?

Barry Traylor said...

Please do not stop doing them as I REALLY look forward to reading them Plus it spares me the pain of watching them.

Carson Clark said...

I hate the way our society is moving toward this homogenized, Borg like collective. I sometimes feel resistance truly is futile.

George Tramountanas said...

Ken, I completely understand your frustrations (and I agreed with your assessment of Fowler's abilities). I hope you NEVER stop publishing reviews, your thoughts, stories, etc. - even if it means removing the ability for people to comment.

You're the comedic voice I want to hear and ponder on. Thanks for always sharing with us.

nyflyboy56 said...

Please keep 'em coming!

Andrew said...

Sorry, a couple of corrections to my diatribe. The near-last paragraph should read, "The next time the news media..."

Also, the controversy over Judge Pickering was from the early 2000's, not the 1990's. (Read his Wikipedia page, to see how a good man was slandered by the NAACP.) There are of course many examples from the 90's. How were the women treated who accused Bill Clinton of sexual assault or worse? How was Paula Jones treated? James Carville: "drag a dollar through a trailer park." And how did Hillary treat these women? But anyone who voted for Trump is a sexist.

End of tirade.

Steve said...

Don't let the bastards get you down, Ken. Your review was hilarious! (Sorry if this comment is considered to be bastard-shaming)

suesea7 said...

Ken, I like your reviews even if I don't agree with every opinion. It's too bad that you were called names. It could be because in this era of non-political correctness, some people feel that they should call out racism when they think they see it (and despite my liberal rose-colored glasses, we're seeing it more and more). The announcer didn't bother me - once or twice he said something that made me think "what?" but that was about it. As for diction and "good" voices, I remember when I was a kid in the 60s, hearing a radio announcer talk about how women's voices were too shrill to be on the radio. This was before NPR proved that wrong for once and for all. So, you know, different strokes and all that.

Hope you keep doing the reviews.

Sue in Seattle

suesea7 said...

And Trent - really?

Sue in Seattle

Jeff said...

Sometimes you wanna reach through your monitor and give someone a good slap. To quote the famous philosopher/orator Cicero, "Fuck em if they can't take a joke".

Anonymous said...

@Stephen Robinson:
Richard Pryor could have played anywhere in the 1970's because he was funny.
And it was either Bill Russell or Frank Robinson, both tough guys, who said you will true equality not when you have the first black manager or coach, but when you see the first black manager or coach fired.
Think about it.

Anonymous said...

The way I see it it's CBS that sees the world in only Black and White. Trying to hip up the show with a dab of urban flair. It's insulting and out of touch. The very same network that was progressive and dangerous in the 1970's. But don't worry, Young Sheldon is where it's at. Ugh.

Anonymous said...

Forget All In The Family or Airplane.
Today, they couldn't make one of the funniest movies ever made- Blazing Saddles

Demos Euclid said...

Ken,

Don't stop! Giving in to these fear tactics will only embolden this kind of behavior. Even worse, these type of statements or attacks have the adverse effect of encouraging extremism on the other side. With these vain attempts to purify speech and thought (a fallacy that affects both the left and the right), it only encourages more division. If bold minds cower, this pattern of behavior will inevitably worsen.

Your blog and television work has been an inspiration to me and your excellent writing tips have enriched my own work. As someone who has been breaking into comedy writing and humorous reviews of my own, I often am quite terrified about what innocuous comment can be misrepresented by those actively searching for outrage (especially in a time where even the study of Ancient Greek history is condemned as Eurocentric and racist - unless it involves ancient aliens). The true terror is of being singled out and condemned publicly as an individual. Lives have been actively been ruined to bolster the moral superiority of these digital prosecutors.

Your presence and honesty here has galvanized me to press on and (scarier still) invite conversation and debate with those I disagree with the most. The written word is the most powerful tool we as a people have at our disposal. We mustn't allow it to rust or dull down because of a fear of discord. The silver lining here is that, despite how it may appear at first glance, this irrationality isn't shared by most, belonging instead to a vocal minority that is sustained by outrage clickbait.

I implore you to continue inspiring and setting the good example of earnestness that has (as many of the comments here suggest) endeared you as a talent.

~ Demosthenes Euclid (Yes, that is my real name - akin to naming a child Aristotle Plato but I digress...)

Johnny Walker said...

Please don’t start using the term “snowflake” or “social justice warrior”. There’s a minority of fruitcakes out there, waiting to pounce on anything they deem to be wrong, but there’s still a majority of us who can see where the lines of “PC” are reasonably drawn.

Just ignore those who don’t get it. They’re not worth rising to. You’re the opposite of homophobic, racist or sexist. Anyone with a brain can see that, and we support you.

William Jansen said...

I didn't read your Emmy-review and generally ignores most postings on series and shows that doesn't air in Denmark, but after this post I went back and read through the Emmy-review. Of course it is not racist. It would be racist if you gave Mr. Fowler a pass because of his ethnicity. It would be racist if you expected so little of your fellow citizens of African descent that you believed them to be beyond criticism.

America needs people who insist on treating everyone equally and doling out praise and criticism based on merit and not race. You need to keep writing as one small battle in the war for equal respect for all people regardless of race, gender, creed etc.

Keep up the good work.

Gary West said...

Always look forward to your reviews, especially the fun Sam observations."Footstool to the stars" - just love it. And hopefully, Sam and his peers do to. It's all good.

Your observation about the "announcer" was spot on. Way over-the-top. Randi Thomas and other pros add one more thing - a little dignity and class. If you listened to the audio this time, you felt like it was a circus. All the voice-over types must have cringed.

The world today is so tight. Everyone seems on edge. I say, keep it coming. Put the complainers and winers in the recycle bin.

blogward said...

To cheer you up, here's a pic of Natalie Wood you may not know of (perfectly decent): http://flashbak.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/womens-boots-vintage-12.jpg

Roger Owen Green said...

I didn't actually watch the Emmys. I'm black. I wasn't offended by your diatribe.
(But I agree that your response that JF was a person of diversity was WAY too vague)

Aaron Sheckley said...

Ken, if you review your commentary with an open minded objective viewpoint and think you said something wrong, then apologize for it and move on. If you review it and don't think anything you said was bad, then for God's sake, don't start knuckling under to the opinions of a select portion of your readers and begin tailoring your commentary to that select portion. If you start censoring yourself based, not on your own reflections, but on the wailings of people who wait to pounce on something to be outraged about like a lion waiting to jump on a wildebeest, then where does it end? Will you start letting your conservative friends, or your feminist friends, or your LGBT friends, review your columns prior to publishing them so they can parse them for potential offense? And if one of your gay friends or liberal friends or conservative friends tell you that a joke is offensive to them, will you take that joke out, even if it's hilarious? If you let outrage culture dictate what you can write about, then you might as well hang it up now and take up gardening, because it's a safe bet that someone will always find something to be jacked up about in anything you write.

Blair Ivey said...

I've read your blog for several years, and it is a master class in writing in general and show business in particular. But Ken, as a Democrat, this is the world you helped create. Enjoy.

Mateja Đedović said...

If you give up they win! Don't validate their accusations! Don't give in to their pressure or one by one all shall fall and the world will turn into a nightmare fascist PC-police state. 1984? More like 2020 by the looks of it!

Dr Loser said...

"Jermaine Fowler ,,, was loud, he was abrasive, he mangled copy, he sounded amateurish, he wasn’t funny, and moments that were supposed to be for the winners he made about himself."

But other than that, Mrs Lincoln?

Rock on, Ken. This may sound a little existentialist, but we all need to recognise that these hopeless giddy little no-names with a hair up their have been around since before the Internet ever existed. Before, the chaff had no voice. Now, regrettably, they do.

It's up to the rest of us to ignore it.

ADmin said...

Relax, good sir. Channel John Lydgate's famous quote and soldier on. As you can plainly see here, most of us love what you do.

Anonymous said...

So which side of the current political aisle is to blame for this - the left or the right?
And that's a rhetorical question, by the way...

Jo Ann Singer said...

I couldn't agree more! But I recommend you ignore them all and keep doing exactly what you're doing! I love the snarky. Onward and upward friend!

Tom said...

If you stop writing coverage of the Emmys and Oscars then I officially will cease even knowing when they occur, let alone what happens at them.

I don't agree with many of the political comments above mine; the problem today is the immense platform offered to anybody capable of lazy us versus them team building. Not "left" or "right".

Anonymous said...

Hi! It's me, anonymous.

Ken -- Isn't name-calling a form of bullying? And isn't bullying a form of abuse?

As long as name-caller, like those who picked on you, behave like those now in Washington and those who support him, they'll keep the fire burning.

It's like It the clown, keep feeding it with anger and hate and it'll keep feasting on you. Rise above it, speak the truth. Know what you know and share it in the face of bullies. It can be hurtful in large and small ways -- and we're here for you, Ken -- but that's the only way. It's always been the only way.

Those who twist noble issues to their own selfish gains at the expense of others have been around for hundreds of years and they come and go. What's right gets through but not without struggle -- very often through laughter.

Comedy wins the fewest Oscars because it's not "important" enough, but look back and see how many film and TV comedies and altered the last decade and the beginning of this one.

Mr. Fowler may be a cool guy behind the scenes. CBS was doing their cross-promotion due diligence and trying to move things forward at the same. Fine. A lot of the PR now -- the Billboard article might be one of them -- is about clean up.

No matter how many on the surface aren't going to say so, he took his big break and blew it in the eyes of many inside the industry and out. Lots are thinking this but they won't say it. Not because of his "personage of color" but because of he did not meet expectations in his professional performance on a major national TV event.

We wish him well. May he not be inflated by those around him who, perhaps in their own best interest, use the same tactics on him as they used on you -- make it all about the "because" -- and keep him from learning from this experience as we all can do from any such incident in our lives.

Always nice to drop by!
Love, Anonymous

Cat said...

We can't make gentle fun of rich, beautiful people giving themselves awards? Then there's nothing left for me here.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, Anonymous again. One more thing.

To Roger Owen Green, who said:
"I didn't actually watch the Emmys. I'm black. I wasn't offended by your diatribe.
(But I agree that your response that JF was a person of diversity was WAY too vague)"


If I say anything negative about your comment, will some people call me names because you're a Green?
(Yeah I know. But I think even a pathetic joke like might help at this point.)

71dude said...

It's your blog and your house - write whatever you want. No one is forced to come here and read it. I appreciate you sparing us from having to watch the Emmys - I don't want to hear about the White House occupant and none of my lowly network shows are ever nominated anyway.

E. Yarber said...

I agree with Johnny Walker. Racism is indefensible, but most of us on the left can draw a clear line between genuinely offensive material and humorous criticism. Your remarks on Fowler were specific to his performance, not reinforcing ugly racial stereotypes like comparing him to an ape or suggesting he take the watermelon out of his mouth. Oddly enough, people called out for using that level of material tend to be far less bothered about accusations of bigotry than you, typically falling back on "It was only a JOKE!"

Damon said...

This is why we can't have nice things.

Ken, here's to hoping you review the Oscars.

Mike Bloodworth said...

I couldn't agree more. I didn't vote for either Clinton or Trump, but I can see why so many people did vote for "The Donald." By the way, "homophobic" and "anti-gay" are NOT interchangeable terms.

flipyrwhig said...

I like how the political group that feels deep personal outrage when a recorded voice on a phone is in Spanish, or when store clerks say "holidays" instead of "Christmas," ALSO thinks it's the other side that's sensitive and that BECAUSE OF THIS they just can't resist electing vicious idiots to every office. Cool story, bros.

Mike Bloodworth said...

"Person of diversity" is brilliant satire. It points out the ridiculousness of the compartmentalized, hyphenated, divisions that have become the norm these days. And Ken, you know me personally. I am diverse. I am ethnic. I am "hyphenated." I didn't take offense at anything you wrote. As for the repetitions. You could make your reviews like a form letter or Madlibs. Just make up a multipurpose, generic, Awards-show form. Just fill in the blanks. Most of those shows are pretty much the same anyway.

Roger R. said...

Sweet Creeping Jesus. This is your show! You can say whatever you want - and please keep saying it.
Can't speak from experience, but this has the appearance of receiving notes from a network.
And thank you, by the way, for this blog; readers are forgetting there are encouraging words to be found here.

404 said...

Keep 'em coming, Ken. It would be awful if you let a handful of no-wit fucksticks change who you are and what you do.

Nolite te bastardes carborundorum

Janh Ghalt said...

Picking up on Andrew's comment, I'm a classical-liberal (I take the liberty-enhancing sides of the liberal and conservative "agendas"), so when you espouse "lefty-positions" I'm amused (not offended, since "both sides" - as if there were only two have the potential to offend me and who has the energy to be constantly offended).

It so happens you are also smart, funnny, and decent, with fundamentally respectable old-school values. I like that you call b#!!$#!t and are rarely profane when so-calling (add to those adjectives - "classy").

Unlike Andrew, except for Mad Men nominees, I never had much interest for the Emmy's. At the Oscars, with DVR at hand, I get to see actresses, some of whom I've never otherwise seen, show up looking their very best (and the runway show is really good for that). The mute button allows the illusion to remain unsullied by the usual banal yak yak.

I fear that the nonsense has taken a small toll on your self-expression:

person of diversity

I had no problem decoding that (along with the fact that few women are named "Jermaine") to mean "Black Man" - but did an image search to confirm it.

(and who the hell is Jermaine Fowler, anyway?)

Johnny Walker protests the use of “snowflake” or “social justice warrior" for those who gratutiously deal out racist (and other -ist, -phobe) cards from a seemly endless deck. I'm open to other, more appropriate labels - what are some better ones?

Bottom Line - it really helps that you mainly strive to please yourself with this blog so the bottom line is if the occasional flood of nonsense makes writing award-show reviews too tiresome then withhold them.

(but watch out for the protests from your regulars)

Ralph C. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
MikeN said...

Why delete the posts that called you a racist? You've already been affected by them. Are you afraid that others will see them and agree that you are a racist? Let people see the arguments and know who made these comments.

Sharon J said...

As several others have said -- it's your column; write whatever you damn well please. Those that don't like it can find something else to read. Don't let the loud few drown out the sentiment of the silent many.

DetroitGuy said...

He never performed at colleges. The whole thing was him overreacting to an accusation by his own daughter that one of his jokes was homophobic. It also wasn’t very funny.

Myles Warden said...

As someone who completely disagreed with your comments on Fowler I also completely disagree with anyone calling you a racist as a result of those comments. Keep doing what you do man. If you read the link on the previous post regarding Fowler he basically said the exact same things you did about comedy and its subjectivity. He knew some would hate him just like you knew people would disagree with your post but anyone calling you racist as a result of that post missed the mark just like you did with your comments on Fowler (joking here). ;-) Keep your head up and give them Hell tomorrow.

Diane D said...

Ken
I can't tell you how lovely it was that you didn't start your post with: "I'm so sorry.......". It seems, as a sense of humor is slowly disappearing, it is being replaced by an insatiable need for apologies. I'm glad you're the kind of comedian and man who will not bow to the phony outrage of the holier-than-thou crowd. Anyone who reads this blog knows you are not racist, sexist, or homophobic.

To all those advising Ken to continue his snarky, bitchy review and not give in to the PC crowd, I don't think you need to worry. If anything was made perfectly clear in today's post, it was that he will change nothing! Apparently he would rather quit writing it than do that.

To The Moderate: That was hilarious! Biggest laugh I've gotten since Ken Levine's Emmy review! BTW, it sounds so much like Jane
Austin. Are you British?

Anonymous said...

Ken, I enjoy your writings and your perspective on things. I found Fowler to be annoying and sophomoric and thought he was better suited to a MTV Music Awards-type show and audience (younger, looser, hipper). Guess I'm racist too! Don't you just love when people try to tell you what your intentions were?Don't change a thing.
Janice B.

Anonymous said...

The joke about women being at each other's throats because one is more successful than the other is old and tired and quite frankly not that funny. You may find it funny. Others don't. Also personally I feel it's wrong to not stand up and say that something has gone too far even if it's SUPPOSED to be funny (and probably isn't). I don't ever want to go back to those days when it was fine to crack jokes and laugh at all minorities (and the corresponding derogatory ethnic slurs) and women and LGBTQ. No thanks.

Besides Fowler was really terrible. Just awful. And the RuPaul bit was stupid. They need to cut those stupid bits out of the show. Nobody likes them. They just add running time to it.

sanford said...

how do we get on your contact list if you change your mind about making your reviews public. I read them even if I don't watch the show. We really haven't gotten much to p.c.

sanford said...

I had never heard of Fowler and of course didn't know he was African American. Any you were not the only one who thought he was terrible

J Lee said...

The success of victimology and the heckler's veto through the rise of social media is what you're dealing with in large part here, Ken, and what others have dealt with for a while. People have come to seek power over others through social media interactions by playing the victim card -- they're offended, and therefore they own moral superiority over you, if they can get enough others on social media to join their protests. In the most severe cases, the desire is to write a person out of the social conversation if they failed to respect the new power and confess their sins for all to see.

You may not be an A-list celebrity, but you're well known enough to attract people seeking to control your actions by claiming offense. And for comedy, demanding no one ever be offended by anything (or they shouldn't be offended by anything the complaining people care about) is just deadly, and Mel Brooks made the same point in an interview on "Blazing Saddles" which was published by the BBC today.

Jabroniville said...

I'd rather it not be your last- the latest surge of super-PC whiners have basically made it impossible to converse on the internet, given Trump and his supporters even MORE ammunition (I fervently believe that backlash against this sort of thing cost Hillary the election as much as anything), and wrecked a ton of comedy, and now every comic has to look over their shoulders to make sure THEY'RE not the latest guy dragged out and publicly shamed over this nonsense.

Please, please continue. You've got the history, credibility and wit to bring the fight right to the PC-types (or "Social Justice Warriors" as they're called these days), and give 'em hell.

Cap'n Bob said...

The PC crowd attacking an avowed liberal--this is too delicious. But keep up the good work, Ken. I enjoy the heck out of it.

B. Murphy said...

Enjoying your blog for some time now, primarily for the posts informed by your wealth of experience on television writing (which nicely extends to topics like improv) and many of your tv/movie reviews. I was interested in your insights that come by working as a writer, directing as well, for the tv during a period that a scripted program could address tens of millions, and with comedy no less. From your posts, I get that achieving such audience figures, where big networks operated with an idea of a popular audience taste, concerns understanding a combination of proposed or imposed limits, that set the frame, within which writing has to be creative to develop funny, successful, mainstream tv set of voices.

The first-person blog format, and especially one open to comments is basically opposite to your past writing experience, which just made me more curious to see how you would approach it. Structure came fairly early—daily posts, certain average length of words, later some surprise guests, occasionally a video, and categories like reviews— and worked well, in my opinion as reader, to shape expectations as to your style and voice. It felt like you had prepped and made decisions before entering into that format, so I presume including some idea for measuring if it works, whether aiming for largest readership, or focusing on type of audience.

I personally don't feel you need to change anything regarding your writing, it's your blog and your right to go for the funny as "snark" (although it is a dated term now for a reason.) But that need not exclude the idea that writers are always into some kind of dialog with an audience (in their head or in actuality) and their moment in time. Blogs/social media confuse boundaries there, but that's the nature of that beast, which among other things, adores conditioning everything by a confrontational sensibility. It’s a mercurial environment, meaning format and content with it have to always be further defined, shoring up the particular voice with it, and so on. So it ends up sharing something in common with how programs and their characters are tweaked and refined over time in order to better explore certain options and the moment (Best case scenario.) Without going all “Colbert,” blogs are supposed to be about the author, you, but we also should get that means a comedic voice “you” is being shaped in some way too. Just to say, I don't think it makes sense to focus on favored readers, there are midway points before throwing out baby and bathwater.

The Moderate said...

Hello Diane - I take the "Are you British" question as a compliment! Actually, I'm 100% Murican.

Terrence Moss said...

Fowler wasn't racist for being happy to see so many people of color at the Emmys. That is to be expected because it has only really started to happen in recent years when "diversity" became the hot buzzword.

What he was behind that was unprofessional.

Mike Barer said...

Keep doing what your doing, don't stop because of internet trolls.

DG said...

Do you know why I didn't laugh at your Emmy podcast? Because I'm having the worst clinical depression of my life. So far as I can tell, that's the only reason. There ought to be some kind of recognition of that: "Patient presents as so depressed even Ken Levine can't make him laugh." Hey, I said I was too depressed to laugh, not too depressed to make jokes. I hope you continue to be deliberately bitchy about award shows. The rest of the time, I look forward to your largely positive outlook and occasional griping.

VincentS said...

No, Ken. Don't let a bunch of politically correct hotheads - who probably couldn't stand the slightest criticism leveled at them - discourage you from being cutting edge. As you pointed out, we need edgy humor more than ever BECAUSE of these lugheads. Larry Gelbart was so right!

McAlvie said...

When people decide to play PC police over every trivial bit of whatever, it is because outrage is the only emotion that makes them feel alive. Also, let's be honest, they are basically cowards. Because when something truly outrageous and offensive, something that absolutely deserves shaming and ridicule comes along, these are the people you will never hear from.

It's really all about them feeling good about themselves, and righteous indignation makes them feel a little bit alive without requiring them to actually DO SOMETHING; but they aren't about to take a stand when it is about someone else. That would require courage.

And inarguably the worst part is that when something truly horrible happens, all the faux outrage has created so much noise that real horrors no longer stand out. So the real villians? They get away with it because the snowflakes were only playing at being outraged.

So very many truly horrible things they should be fighting against, and they waste energy on the trivial and go into hiding when their voices might actually make a difference.

Roy DeRousse said...

I must admit that I cringed when you criticized Jermaine Fowler. I KNEW that you would get some accusations about you being a racist.

After the fun opening number, one of the first reactions that my wife and I had was, "Who is that horrible announcer?" We had no clue if he was black or white or Martian at the time. It does make me question my own sensibilities a bit. SOMEONE clearly thought that he would be good for the show. I'm 61; maybe he appeals to a younger audience? Maybe I shouldn't be judging him based on my own preconceived notions on what an announcer should sound like? I don't know...

Anyway, you should do whatever is fun for you. I hope that you'll be up for an Oscar review. If not, I understand completely.

Pat Howard said...

Fuck'em keep up the good work.

Diane D. said...

Hello to The Moderate

It was intended as a compliment. I fell in love with British humor the first time I read Austin's books. I'm surprised to hear you are "100% Murican"; not that we don't have terrific American comedians (as evidenced by Ken Levine and what I will always consider the gold standard of Situation Comedies---CHEERS). Your style (in that comment) just sounded so British---so funny!! Thanks for replying.
Diane D.

Charles H. Bryan said...

I didn't agree with your evaluation of John Oliver's performance on LAST WEEK TONIGHT, but I didn't think you hated people of britishness.

Anyone who's read your blog for any length of time would have an idea as to where your head and heart are at on these issues.

Please continue to write as you please. I am grateful for your work, your talent, and your willingness to masochistically watch the Emmys so that I don't have to.

Edward said...

Ken,

Keep writing your award show review. "F" the critics!

Just remember that.....

Suicide is painless
It brings on many changes
I can take or leave it if I please
That game of life is hard to play
I'm gonna lose it anyway
The losing card of some delay
So this is all I have to say

Carissa Pavlica said...

You're right, and it's so hard to keep on keepin' on. Still, never stop.

Johnny Walker said...

I don’t know if people realise that “snowflake” and “social justice warrior” (and “cuck”) are insults used by the alt-right. You may not identify with that movement, but if you’re using their terminology, you’re giving support to their myopic perspective, maybe without realising it.

When you’re attacked for being sexist, homophobic or racist, and you know damn well it’s not true, it makes you hate any sort of PC movement - just like the alt-right does. That’s why I said it’s important to realise that the crackpots don’t represent political correctness for the majority of us.

You can care about women’s rights, and the rights of minorities, without being a “social justice warrior”... but the alt-right want to throw anyone who cares about those things into that bucket. Don’t help them.

https://www.gq.com/story/why-trump-supporters-love-calling-people-snowflakes

MikeKPa. said...

Unfortunately, we've become a society in which many people look at life through very narrow prisms. I agreed with your assessment of Fowler, although many seemed to find him refreshing. I think it might be more of a generational issue than a diversity one. Maybe he thought there was an Emmy nomination for best announcer on an awards show that he was vying for.

John Parrish said...

Please keep the reviews coming, Ken!

The Bumble Bee Pendant said...

Dear Ken, in the spirit of the High Holidays I am suggesting to forgive the people who want to limit your comedy based on how they see the humor (or not).

At least as much as you can.

D. McEwan said...

As my Mormon grandmother, born in Salt lake City back in the 1890s, always said, "Fuck 'em if they can't take a joke."

Pete Sutcliffe said...

Maybe this has been addressed in other comments (I didn't read them all) ....

As a Canadian observer of you politics, this seems partly how you got Trump. A certain segment of society gets fed up with being called racist because he dared mention his black friend in conversation. "Why is it important to your narrative that your friend is black?" "Why didn't you call him African American?" "Racist!"

Notice how you even couldn't use the word "black" to describe Fowler. He's a "person of diversity." As a Canadian, that term sounds incredibly patronizing. In America, I guess you have to walk on eggshells. In Canada, we'd never call someone African Canadian. That in itself is stereotyping ... black Canadians come from Haiti, Jamaica, France in addition to a lot of other places. How does a New Yorker whose parents were born in Jamaica like being called African American?

I hope one day liberal Americans return to being actual liberals instead of trying to dictate their manners to everyone else like stodgy conservatives.

Gilbert Thomas said...

I mentioned once to a female friend that Amy Schumer's Comedy Special was really bad, and she called me a sexist.

The world is going insane.