Why Halle Berry is cool and why Saturday Night Live sucks
The following piece comes courtesy of my wonderful and (currently) very angry boyfriend Yves (pictured below):
So I was watching Saturday Night Live, and their first skit was "The 17th Annual Auto Show Spokeswomen Awards" -- an award show for all the models you see at auto shows. They presented the award for Best Overall Spokeswoman, and one of the nominees was a man. So, of course, he won, and I knew immediately where they were going with it. The man came out crying, gasping, and speaking note for note like Halle Berry did on Oscar night. He did all her mannerisms, and, of course, he wanted to keep in mind all of the auto show spokesmen who had come before him. Then, in a fit of unbridled comic obviousness, they flashed to Eric Benet (Halle Berry's husband) in the audience, then had the winner shout over the music cutting him off that this had taken 17 long years, and that they had to let him finish. Then, of course, they had "Denzel and Halle" on during the news segment (and added "Julia Roberts," so it could look like they were doing an equal-opportunity mocking of the sanctimoniousness of actors, I suppose) where "Halle" thanked every conceivable black actress she could -- Esther Rolle from "Good Times," Nell Carter, the Pine-Sol woman, "Tootie" from the Facts of Life, and every woman that appeared on the Cosby Show. And people wonder why African-American women don't win awards, with such a flattering cross-section of popular culture's favorite roles for them. Oh, wait -- they probably don't wonder....
Now, I'm all for satire, and even faltering, unfunny attempts at satire, but this is starting to make me a little fucking sick. I won't even acknowledge the allegory that was set up by the first skit, intentionally or otherwise (that the idea of a male Best Overall Spokeswoman is as absurd as, say, a black Best Actress). What I will simply say is that what I found to be a genuine demonstration of joy and catharsis (which I shared in as well) is being mocked as, at best, pretension, and, at worst, unnecessary solipsism. THREE African-American actresses have won Academy Awards. Halle Berry is the only African-American actress to win for Best Actress. It took 74 years for this to happen. And the reaction has been, "so fucking what?" Or, even better, "how fake" or "how excessive." I was the first person in my family to graduate from college -- would these people have told my mom the same thing after the ceremony? A faulty analogy, perhaps, but it seems that there are people who can't understand the fact that there are still color barriers, that there are still places in culture denied to people of color, and that it's to be celebrated when those places are accessed, not mocked.
My roommate Rachel and I came to the conclusion that people are giving Halle shit because she chose to acknowledge the political significance of what happened, and are not giving Denzel shit because he knew to keep his mouth shut. I guess people don't like to be reminded about decades of oppression and exclusion -- an argument I believe they used to use, say, forty years ago.
So, to everyone who thinks that Halle Berry should've shown a bit more "modesty" or "control" when accepting her award, I have one thing to say -- check out this Keith Knight cartoon, and this one, and get a fucking clue.