Dating // August 18, 2014

Ahhh, the one night stand. Whether they admit it or not, many people have had this casual sexual experience at least once, and usually during their 20’s. However common an occurrence in pop culture they may be, not everyone is sold on the one night stand (O.N.S) experience. Some view them as the greatest “after the party it’s the after party” night cap; in a glass half full kinda way. Others see them as the most embarrassing thing they’ve ever done after leaving the club; in a glass half empty kinda way. However you choose to look at your glass, there’s one undeniable fact: somebody quenched their thirst and got some.

One of the reasons why one night stands have become so prevalent is because the modern dating scene has become a little complicated. For some, dating has become something like the job interview process where, if you’re lucky, by the final stage of questioning you get laid. People don’t really have patience for the run around routine of dating anymore. The beauty of a one night stand is that it isn’t about checking your relationship resume. They don’t require confessing the background story on your last boyfriend or three dinner dates before you…. can show you’re qualified. The prerequisites for a one night stand are easy: as long as you have the complementary parts to get the job done, you’re hired.

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One night stands may seem like “the norm”, but trust me, they aren’t for everyone. Some are just using sex as a Band-Aid to cover up pain from past relationships, or as a tool to manipulate and hurt other people. (Payback for an ex maybe?) But O.N.S. do happen. So, when you leave the club this weekend, before for you decide to subscribe to the mantra of “YOLO” and go home with that cutie you JUST met, here are some questions to ask yourself: 


1) Can you accept responsibility for what is about to happen?

They say the first step to addiction rehabilitation is admitting you have a problem and thus accepting responsibility for it. Well, the first question of a one night stand is similar to that in that you have have to go into that experience knowing and accepting that whatever sexual encounter that is about to happen, is happening because YOU want it to. Far too often people find themselves making excuses for why they had a O.N.S because they feel embarrassed that this type of behavior may be deemed socially unacceptable. Don’t feel like you have to find fault with deciding to spend the night with someone you met hours before. So you slept with the guy from the wedding reception. Hey, it happens. We aren’t judging. But if you know you are going to end up making excuses for it after the fact by saying you were “soooooooo drunk “and blaming it on the a-a-a-a-a-alcohol, maybe the O.N.S. isn’t for you. Be a big girl and own your mistakes with the same fervor as you would own your triumphs. If you’re confident in your decisions, there’s no reason to be ashamed. And vice versa, if you aren’t confident then don’t do it!

2) Can you Get In, Get Off and Get Out?

When you choose to have a one night stand, there’s a 90% chance that you aren’t looking at the guy you’re going to marry (that remaining 10% only happens in movies that are rarely based on a true story). As a matter of fact, a O.N.S is probably the most non-committal thing you could ever do. One night stands are strictly about sex - not love, not relationships.  Don’t expect breakfast or for your night time fun to sprawl over into a day date or some whirlwind romance. He probably won’t call you the next day (even though he said he would) and you have to be OK with that. Typically women are emotional beings and we tend to attach ourselves to situations relatively easy. If you’re the type to ask “what are we” in a relationship, DO NOT, I repeat DO NOT partake in one night stand activity unless you want your feelings hurt when he says, “we aren’t anything”.  This all goes back to the #1 rule of a one night stand. If you know your reasons for sleeping with someone and you’re legitimately OK with the consequences, you won’t be shocked by the big let down that he doesn’t want to take you home to meet his mother because you don’t want to meet her anyway.

3) A One Night Stand Does Not a Whore Make

OK, so this isn’t a question but from the beginning of time, society has always classified women in two categories: the good girl and the bad girl. You’re either a virgin or a harlot. Marilyn Monroe or a Jackie O. Beyonce or Rihanna. Apparently as a woman, you can either have no sexual desires outside of the satisfaction of your marriage or you’re some wild woman out here bedding everyone with a penis. Don’t feel like you’re some skank or sexual deviant because you chose casual sex over companionship. We see it all the time with society’s double standard when it comes to sex: A man can have a wife, girlfriend and a side-chick and be considered “the man”, but let a woman sleep with people she is casually dating and she’s a ho. It’s ridiculous. I’m not encouraging you to change the way society views sex by hooking up with everyone to make a point, but I am telling you not to feel bad for getting it in a time or two. As long as you are responsible in your bed buddy choices, feel free to sleep with whoever, whenever and however you want to. Although they’ll try, nobody can really tell you what you can and cannot do with your body. Begin to own your sexuality. It’s surprising how empowered you’ll feel once you start being OK with your sexual preferences and stop comparing them to other people’s.

4) What’s Really Going On? Get Introspective...

Although it would be nice to say that all one night stands happen because you just felt the urge to get laid, there is a chance that your promiscuity is coming from someplace deeper. Contrary to popular belief, the best way to get over someone is not to get under someone else. Sex doesn’t equal love the same way a one night stand doesn’t equal commitment. A one night stand may sound like a great resolution to cure a bad breakup, but in reality it’s only masking an insecurity or self esteem issues you may have. A O.N.S works best when it is happening with purpose. Are you considering a one night stand because you want to let loose for a night or are you trying to get back at an ex by sleeping with his coworker in hopes to make him jealous? Be honest with yourself. Sex is more than just a physical act, it also warrants an emotional connection. Listen to your intuition and make sure you’re sleeping with people for the right reasons.

5) Are You Being Safe?

This isn’t just a PSA about practicing safe sex and using condoms (which is mandatory for a O.N.S by the way), but this is also about protecting your physical and emotional safety as well. Don’t sleep with someone who disrespects you or who doesn’t take your sexual boundaries seriously. Be cautious of who you give your address to and invite into your home. ALWAYS tell someone you trust (a girlfriend, a neighbor, your mom, etc.) your whereabouts and give as much detail about your partner as possible via text. Check in with your confidant if you can, so they know you’re OK. This tip may take the fun out of a casual hookup, but a huge part of owning your decision to partake in a one night stand is being responsible and protecting yourself.

So how do you know if you are capable of pulling off a O.N.S? Well for starters, make sure you aren’t just a girl looking for love. Make sure you aren’t just bed hopping in the hopes that someone will validate your worth and find you pretty or smart or funny. Don’t just succumb to the peer pressures of “if you don’t use it, you’ll lose it” and irresponsibly sleep with people to uphold some warped self image. One night stands are for the girls who know who they are and what they have to offer outside of the bedroom. They are for the women who can look at a one night stand for exactly what it is: one night of safe, no strings attached, see ya when I see ya sex. Make sure you know who you are, what you can handle and what you are getting yourself into before you attempt to execute a O.N.S. Because while you do only live once, you don’t want to live with regrets.


Published in Dating

Current // December 16, 2013

Since the recent passing of Former President of South Africa, Nelson Mandela, we have heard many comparisons. Some have compared him to George Washington – which is actually quite disturbing when one ponders it. Some have compared him to Martin Luther King. Jr – which is a bit better than the Washington comparison but still not in the right wheelhouse. But, the one that, I believe, needs unpacking are the frequent comparisons to President Barack Obama. Although both men can claim the rights to being “The First Black President of [insert country]”, their life journeys are quite different. The parallels drawn are just evidence of a general lack of historical knowledge and international awareness.

The Washington Post, aware of this fact, published a list of questions folks who were “too embarrassed to ask.” Questions like “What is South Africa?”, “So, Mandela was like Africa’s Gandhi, right?”, andWhat was the thing with rugby? I remember a movie about that” all made the list. While it is understandable that folks would be too embarrassed to ask these questions out loud, it is actually pretty disconcerting that many have such limited knowledge of our last living civil rights icon. Not knowing what South Africa is at all denotes a true ineptitude of global consciousness. The other two questions use further comparisons but never realize the complexity of Nelson Mandela’s achievements.

Though Mandela was a very educated man – like President Obama – he faced a life of intense struggle. He was imprisoned for almost three decades as he worked tirelessly to end apartheid in South Africa. His purpose was fulfilled in 1994 when the final remnants of apartheid’s institutionalized racism and segregation ended. He was the first democratically elected President of South Africa and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993. He is often credited with making South Africa a truly free and equal country. Now, South Africa is a thriving, developed nation.

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Conversely, President Obama really has had no lifelong sociopolitical endeavors. His accomplishments are to be lauded and respected, however, his age alone proves he’s had a very short time in political leadership. He too was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize but many have contested that honor. In many respects, he has a great deal more to achieve before his lifework can be compared to what Mandela did in his ninety-five years. He may get there but he certainly hasn’t arrived yet.

The President Obama linkage is pretty shallow. Having a similar hue and job title is not enough to deem two men alike. To me, it alludes to the fact that many Americans really have no clue what Mandela accomplished in his lifetime. And, out of a need to categorize, they’ve put the two men in the same column.

The continued absence of black history in schools is likely a culprit here. But, I can’t help but find fault in the American centrism thought process as well. We have our heads so deep in our own sand that we can’t see the beautiful beaches everywhere surrounding us.

None of this is to say that President Obama isn’t an honorable man. On the contrary, he has overcome many barriers to become this nation’s first President of African American descent. He is a symbol around the world of social change, minority empowerment and political efficacy. He, like Mandela, adds dimension to the sociopolitical facets of the African Diaspora. He builds on the King Jr’s and Mandela’s who came before him.

While these two great men have some things in common, each should be given the dignity and reverence to stand alone. The more we educate ourselves about the world around us, the less these trite parallels will dominate their legacies.

Published in Current

Entertainment // November 18, 2013

I hate trends. Trends in music, fashion, beauty, TV … it’s just not my thing. I learned my lesson with trends years ago (remember velour Juicy sweatsuits and Sidekicks? Terrible.) and now I’ve found that I’m better off remaining true to my individuality and not following behind something because it’s popular. More than my dislike of trends, is my disdain for the avalanche effect they cause. Often times, people rally behind a trend uninformed, dragging other ignorant supporters with them. Before you know it, the crazy train is so long and out of control it’s hard to tell where or how it even originated. Example? Hollywood’s obsession with telling the “Black Story.”

Within the past couple of years, Hollywood has had a resurgence in the trend of telling African American history through slavery or Jim Crow inspired struggle films and casting Black actors in self-deprecating roles. I started to notice the trend with 2011’s ever-popular “The Help.” “The Help” captivated audiences with it’s telling of life in the Jim Crow South.  The film’s success included Oscar nominations for Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer, followed by ample magazine covers, interviews and media coverage; thus, starting the snowball effect of Hollywood’s interest in African American history with Black actors and actresses portraying the less than glamorous side of their heritage. Since “The Help,” Hollywood continues to capitalize on that specific culture with studios releasing “Django,” “The Butler,” and most recently “12 Years a Slave.”

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Most of the aforementioned films have received rave reviews, but when you have to emotionally prepare yourself for the language, visuals and subject matter of a film, I think it’s time to dial back on the period pieces. We get it - African Americans have a rough history, but for many Black people having to hear depictions or see reenactments of their background over and over again, it becomes insensitive. Hollywood has OD’d on slavery/struggle films and should spark a new trend du jour in telling Black history. Black people were more than maids and field slaves; they also have made a wealth of advancements and achievements not only for their culture, but for American culture as a whole. But I guess those stories are not trendy enough for Hollywood.

I never thought I’d say this but the 1990’s fashion brand FUBU had it right ... with it’s focus on creating things “For Us, By Us.” If history is going to be told, no one can tell a story better than the person who lived it. When it comes to Black history, Black people should be the ones telling the story - the WHOLE story. Thanks to innovators like director Spike Lee or Howard Johnson, who’s publishing house highlights the achievements of Black people through their publications Ebony and Jet, is the true Black story told. Past and present, African Americans are a forward -moving people and that cannot be ignored. Recently, cable network BET (Black Entertainment Television) had a presentation honoring not just the achievements of Black people, but specifically of Black women titled, “Black Girls ROCK!” The showcase was a whirlwind of positivity displaying just how multi-dimensional Black culture truly is.

It’s high time Hollywood takes an interest in the constructive side of Black history  - for heaven’s sake, the leader of the free world is a Black man. There is a whole spectrum of colorful, rich stories from African American history. If the accurate and real portrayal of Black heritage is to be told by Hollywood, the least they can do is their research.

How do you feel about the trend in Jim Crow/slavery themed movies? Tell us in the comments below.


Published in Entertainment
Wednesday, 06 February 2013 05:59

Opinion | In Defense of the Made Millennial

Opinion // February 4, 2013

Driving home the other day I listened to a blatantly ignorant phone call on my local radio station's broadcast of the Tom Sullivan show, during which a caller stated that Millennials were not well-informed and were not knowledgeable about politics. I am a Millennial. I am married to a Millennial. A majority of my peers and colleagues are also of the millennial generation. (Millennials, in case you’re wondering, make up the generation of individuals currently between the ages of 18 to 29, though there is some debate on the official age range.) So yes, I took offense to this broadcast. But those who call in to the Tom Sullivan show aren’t the only ones beating up on Millennials. Articles like this one that suggests Millennials can’t handle the “real world” or a real workplace.

Most -- if not all -- of my friends and acquaintances have careers, educations and a vested interest in this country and in the direction our lives are headed. We are productive members of society, and we have vision. Some of us travel around the world volunteering, others obtain advanced degrees, and still others put in forty or fifty-plus hours per week at the office and are raising families. We work hard, we own homes and cars, we raise pets and babies, we take care of ourselves. We are blazing trails and setting values and changing societal standards for the better. We are not the, “pampered, over-praised, relentlessly self-confident generation...flooding the workplace,” Emily Matchar spoke of in a 2012 Washington Post article.

If you read and listen to what's being said among politicians, the media and our elders, Millennials are a hopeless generation that will drive society into the ground. We are all technology-obsessed, sloppily-dressed hipsters who can't formulate a proper sentence or sustain an intelligent conversation. Supposedly, since we all voted for Barack Obama, we all expect a handout and live in our parents' basements. Watch out!

Reality check: The individuals that make up this generation are much more colorful. What about the sixty-plus percent of Millennials pursuing or possessing bachelor's, master's and doctorate degrees? What about some of the young, visionary entrepreneurs who have not only started successful businesses, but have set a standard for social responsibility? What about those who are starting families and own homes and have secured solid retirement funds before the age of thirty?

Take, for example, the fifteen outstanding Millennials who won grants as part of the Millennial Impact Challenge. These leaders are taking on issues such as healthy eating, under-served students and safe, clean energy.

Or how about Adam Conner, a George Washington University ‘06 graduate and the first Facebook staffer in Washington, DC? He helped bridge the gap between traditional political outreach and a more progressive, digital approach to reach the Millennial generation through social media.

Another incredible Millennial role model? Check out our very own Made Woman, Eve Torres, or many of the other women highlighted on this very site.

This is one of the most diverse generations in history, not only demographically but socioeconomically and politically. We cannot be summed up in a single phrase or stereotype.

Instead of generalizing, perhaps members of the media, in Congress and in our families could take some time to talk to us and find out what we’re doing with our lives or ask us about some of our dreams and goals. For those who have, we appreciate you listening to us and believing in us (our parents, especially). In return, I promise to try not to make generalizations about those of Gen X and Baby Boomers, either.

Published in Current
Monday, 03 December 2012 08:05

Opinion | Are You Happy?

Opinion // December 3, 2012

We humans are so very unhappy. Regardless of the stage we may be in life, we always have something to complain about that keeps us from truly enjoying the stage of being that we’re currently in. In one sense, I guess that keeps us always moving forward, motivated to go to the next level. But on the other hand, it also keeps us from ever f*&%$#&! enjoying anything.

I have a hell of a list of grievances. I’m not where I want to be career-wise, not sure I am living in the right place, approaching 30 and no stable relationship to speak of for the past several years, not making nearly enough money, blah blah ad nauseum. So I usually look at people who possess one or more of these things and think, “they must be more satisfied than I am.” It’s dismaying how often this seems to be exactly the opposite of the truth.

An engaged girlfriend of mine is unhappy with her job, and when I say, “yeah, but… hey, at least you’re on the right track in your relationship, right?”, she’ll heave a sigh and say “sure but I hate my job so much!!” Another friend who recently got a better job and a raise isn’t doing so well in her love life, and I’ll be like “true, but you’re movin on up! When you focus on that, it doesn’t seem so bad…right?” And she’ll heave a sigh and be like “sure but God I’m not getting any younger and I’m so tired of these meaningless dates.” You’re not making me feel any better, ladies. Do we ever allow ourselves to feel happy about anything? I used to think I had some kind of problem, listening to people point out all the good in my life and telling me to quit bellyaching about not achieving this goal or that goal according to this timeline I had set up in my head. I thought it was my own personal flaw, and that everyone was happy but me. The more I stop and take a look around, I realize this is a shared problem.

I mean I get it. We all have this concept of happiness that usually equates with everything needing to be just so – this idealized version of how our lives should be. And we feel like we’re not going to be truly happy until we get there. We can overlook all the great shit we have going for ourselves and be heaving that sigh and going , “yeah, but…”

Do we ever stop and take the time to enjoy, be happy about…anything?

Will this help?


Published in Lifestyle

Dear Drake,

We understand that you love Aaliyah, and that as an artist it devastates you that you never got an opportunity to work with her. We understand that you found her to be one of the most beautiful and refined women walking (all of us Aaliyah fans wouldn't disagree with you). The gradual exposure of your infatuation with Aaliyah started off innocently enough, with mentions of her in various interviews.  At first, it was kind of nice to see someone reminding the world about the mark Aaliyah made on the industry. Then.....well....it got creepy.

You went from talking about her sometimes, to all the time. Writing open letters, penning love songs and then, you got a tattoo of her face on your back. Her face.  On your back. But even that wasn't enough.  You just added another tattoo of “416” on your ribcage, which is in part a shout out to your hometown area code, but you conveniently didn't shade in part of the 4, making it also look like “116.” Aaliyah’s birthday.


​In between plastering Aaliyah tributes on your body, you were working hard to create your own personal miracle. You got clearance to use her vocals on some old unfinished tracks for a "collaboration" with her over one of your beats. Drake, I implore you: leave Aaliyah and her legacy in the R&B world alone. You are putting out music that not only sounds unfinished, but also does not involve the key players that put her on the map: Missy Elliot and Timbaland. Aaliyah and her team were known for a certain sound and it isn't that single drum beat you've become famous for using. And in addition to all of that, do you not have any idea of how much of a crazy stan you're coming off as?  It's one thing to pay respect to a musical figure that inspired you, and hey, we all have our little crushes on people we’ve never met, but this is starting to become a bit much.

In case you missed the memo, a posthumous Aaliyah album was already released and it was successful. You can be fan of Aaliyah, but in your pursuit to fulfill your dream, you are exposing a new generation to a version of "Aaliyah" that did not exist. Let us remember her how she was, not how you dreamed it would be.

Signed,
Concerned Aaliyah Fan


Published in Current
Tuesday, 03 January 2012 06:45

Relationships | Is Monogamy Obsolete?

January 3, 2012

We live in an age where polygamists reign supreme. Hugh Hefner has three girlfriends. Kody Brown of TLC's "Sister Wives" has four wives. Lil' Wayne has "Project Twins": two children, the same age, by two different women. While their reasons for being with more than one lady may differ – Hefner's lifelong fear of commitment, Brown's adherence to a religious tenet and Wayne's apparent aversion to contraception – one thing is true. Lots of men seem to prefer a life with many women over a life with just one. There are, of course, commitment-phobic, man-loving women who would rather date several men at a time than settle down with one. However, women are evolutionarily hard-wired to seek one long-term partner to protect us from the wild, while men are programmed to propagate the race, spreading their "seed" far and wide.  I hate to get all Carrie Bradshaw (Ok, I actually love it), but in a media-inundated generation where “pimpin’” is glorified, does monogamy even have a chance?  

When you turn on pop radio, you are not bombarded with beautiful love songs.  To the contrary, artists like our trusty Lil’ Wayne remind us that they wish they could *bleep* every girl in the world on almost every, single song they put out. Drake, Canadian King of Contradiction (half black/half white, half gangsta/half wheelchair Jimmy), on his new “Take Care” album almost perfectly sums up this generation’s view on love and monogamy. It’s part “Bottles and Models” and part longing for The One. While in our youth monogamy may seem unimportant or unnecessary to many, we all, secretly or not, harbor a deep yearning to end up in the kind of seemingly impossible fairytale love we see lauded on the big screen. Everyone – man, woman and beast – who saw 2004’s seminal love story “The Notebook” will admit they shed a tear watching Ali and Noah’s story unfold. Who doesn’t want to one day hear some perfect love say, “if you’re a bird, I’m a bird?” And therein, my friends, lies the rub. We are a career-driven generation, less concerned with monogamy or likely to marry than any generation before us, but we all crave human companionship as the ultimate goal. The focus we give to the media’s images of love and marriage is proof. 

Kim Kardashian’s over-the-top wedding to Kris Humphries – which would famously end in divorce a mere 72 days later – was broadcast over the course of two days to over 8 million viewers.  The nuptials of Prince William and Kate Middleton drew 26.2 million viewers, the largest audience of 2011. Yes, many tuned in to see the dresses, the regalia, and the well-dressed guests, but many will admit they love a good wedding special because they love to see love.  Many little girls – and boys! – watching Prince William and his new bride share that kiss on the balcony dreamt that they too would one day find a prince or princess to make their castle feel complete. That dream never dies. It may fade, as bad experiences, lost loves and betrayals can often make us feel jaded, but deep down everyone holds on to a shred of hope that they’ll find that one special person. Their soul mate. Their lobster. The Beyonce to their Jay-Z. Monogamy may be old, it may even need to suck on an oxygen tank every now and then, but it’s definitely not dead.


Published in Love + Dating
Monday, 21 November 2011 22:28

Made Music | What Radio Should Sound Like

November 22, 2011

Without getting all nostalgic on you, let me just say that radio isn’t what it once was. Seriously, when was the last time you listened to one station for more than three songs straight without wanting to strangle whoever was responsible for the Ke$ha/Kreayshawn marathon that was assaulting your ears? Yeah, I can’t remember either. Despite what you may hear on the radio there are a lot of unique, dynamic artists out there. And if I could break into a radio station and take over the airwaves here’s what that would sound like:

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Kendrick Lamar

This dude has me really excited about hip hop right now. Repping hard for the west coast, and catching the attention of none other than Dr. Dre, I’m looking forward to the moves he’s about to make. If you haven’t already, check out his mixtapes, especially Overly Dedicated. My radio selection (from his other mixtape, Section 80): Rigamortis

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Yelle

This French band was actually brought to my attention when I was listening to Pandora one day. Though all their lyrics are all in French, the energetic beats and upbeat vocals made me want to dig for more from the trio. Have a listen (and try not to dance.) My radio selection: C’est Pas Une Vie

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Jill Scott

Pretty much anything from Jill Scott makes its way onto my list. Bold yet vulnerable, sexy and fearless and are just a few adjectives to describe Ms. Scott--and her ridiculous catalog of music. Make sure to check her most recent album, “Light of the Sun.” My radio selection: Le Boom Vent Suite

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Dom Kennedy

Dom Kennedy is definitely one to watch. With a one-of-a-kind flow and signature laid back demeanor, he brings a refreshing new dimension to the hip hop scene. He’s made some major independent moves over the past few years, and it will be interesting to see where his brand of “Grind’n” will take him. My Radio Selection: Locals Only

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Lana Del Rey

Recently signed to Interscope Records, Lana Del Rey is a tough one to characterize. Her haunting vocals, blunt delivery and almost folksy influence definitely caught my attention. I’m curious to see what an album from her will sound like. My Radio Selection: Blue Jeans

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SBTRKT

This British musician/producer’s music is influenced by dubstep, R&B and Chicago house music, among others. But I can’t say that I’ve heard anything quite like his particular combo of musicianship vocal styling. He’s definitely in heavy rotation right now. My Radio Selection: Trials of the Past

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Bago

I’m not sure where this chick came from, but I’m loving what I’m hearing. With the Slightly Portishead, slightly electro Amy Winehouse vibe, I’m all over this. There isn’t too much more to say--besides listen for yourself. My Radio Selection: Bad on the Bottle

What should I add to this list? Let me know in the comments!

Published in Entertainment

September 12, 2011

One of my favorite ways to relax and unwind is watching stand-up comedy. I love to laugh – something I’m guessing you and I have in common.  I honestly believe comics have one the most difficult jobs in entertainment.  There is a sort of magic required to keep huge audiences crackin’ up. Think about it: how many of us could tell laugh-out-loud jokes in front of a bunch of strangers?   It’s no easy feat.  And I know – my attempts at humor are usually met with blank stares (although that doesn’t stop me!).   

In an attempt to get recognition, comedians have always tackled edgy subjects, saying the things that we may think but are afraid to say out loud.  Look back at comedic greats like Richard Pryor, George Carlin, and even Eddie Murphy; all of these men were applauded for their expert handling of sensitive subjects. They’re the ones that we remember because they pushed the envelope and made light of issues that people had normally preferred to avoid, easing tensions and starting dialogue with their acts.  Today Pryor, Carlin and Murphy’s brand of fearless comedy is routinely mentioned as influential to all the big names in the game, with the likes of Chris Rock, Dave Chappelle, Louis CK, Bill Maher, Sarah Silverman, Lisa Lampanelli, Daniel Tosh, Denis Leary, Martin Lawrence etc. etc. etc. continuing their tradition of testing boundaries.  

While trying to capture the success of their predecessors, they talk about anything and everything controversial they can make a joke out of, sometimes going for the shock value and not necessarily the substance.  And we’re mostly an accepting audience.  We let comedians get away with a LOT...but sometimes they strike out on massive scale, attracting such harsh criticism that it threatens their careers entirely.  With media as pervasive as it is nowadays, there are endless outlets for people to express their disapproval and potentially threaten a comedian’s livelihood.  Today’s comedians are at the mercy of countless “comedy cops” and one wrong move might be their last.  Is it time for them to learn to watch their mouths, or is ruffling some feathers a part of the path to comedic greatness?

To understand the state of comedy today it’s important to know a bit about a few of the godfathers:

Richard Pryor hit his peak in the 1970’s and 80’s; his acts helped shatter racial barriers and opened doors for virtually every comedian following him.  He was truly revolutionary, bringing the vernacular black people would normally use amongst themselves to the mainstream and performing for integrated audiences at a time when very few others were doing such a thing.  He was fearless, uninhibited and helped make it okay to laugh about issues that might make people uncomfortable under normal circumstances.  His use of harsh language (the words n-gger and m-therf-cker were common in his acts) and exploration of race relations, along with drug and women issues, were raw and real.  

George Carlin, one of my personal favorites, is one of the most smart and thought-provoking comedians of our generation.  He discussed everything: politics, religion, sex, drugs, war, gender, children, consumerism, technology, obesity, and on and on; and he frequently used wordplay to drive points home (Watch this. Skip to :33 and let it play…how does he do that?).  He was hilariously critical and harsh, and although some might complain that he seems like an angry old man in his later work – that’s really just part of Carlin’s charm.  His delivery was dry and unapologetic; his keen observations and ability to pick at the flaws in society in such an ironic way make him crucial to comedic history.  He might be most famous for his 7 Words You Can’t Say On Television bit, which got him arrested and led to a Supreme Court case in 1978.  This controversy just propelled his career further.  

 

Eddie Murphy might not be one of the best comedians we’ve ever seen (some of his stand-up material doesn't hold up quite as well as the others) but it’s easy to see his influence now – especially in animated comedians like Chris Rock and Martin Lawrence.  His only specials, Delirious and Raw, have their funny moments, but his homophobic statements definitely wouldn’t go over well today.  In Delirious, his opening line is, “f-ggots aren’t allowed to look at my ass while I’m on stage,” and “I’m afraid of gay people,” and then he went on to do a whole bit involving a gay Mr. T (don’t ask).  The audience at the time laughed and cheered along with him, but this is because the gay community wasn’t well understood and didn’t have nearly as much support as they do today.  Still, Eddie’s lively and vulgar brand of humor was entertaining to watch (along with the red and purple leather outfits…) and there’s no denying the man had a hell of a stage presence.  He did something right, becoming a huge comedic movie star in the 80’s and 90’s  (Beverly Hills Cop, anyone?). 

   

The social and comedic landscape today is a bit different.   We’ve heard it all and are practically desensitized to vulgarity and touchy subjects... But apparently we do have a breaking point;  there have been a few times that  public backlash has caused the careers of well-known comics to falter. Take Tracy Morgan for example.  Tracy referring to his son while saying he, "better talk to me like a man and not in a gay voice or I'll pull out a knife and stab that little n-gger to death," …[ummm] and then adding that bullied kids should stop whining and just beat the hell out of anyone who messes with them, garnered HUGE public backlash.   Then, of course,  we all remember when Michael Richards aka Kramer on Seinfeld, went on a racist tirade in 2006, screaming “n-gger” repeatedly at a couple hecklers in the audience. Suffice to say, this didn’t go over well either.  Most recently, Ricky Gervais pissed off an entire room of celebs at this year’s Golden Globes, making Scientology cracks and trashing personalities and the work of people who were in that same room.  Hollywood was less than pleased.

Tracy went on a sort of apology tour, doing a press conference with GLAAD, visiting homeless gay teens in NYC and the family of a victim of gay bashing, while Michael appeared on David Letterman and said how sorry he was for his actions (clip can be seen here).  Tracy’s efforts have at least secured his long-running spot on NBC’s 30 Rock, but it remains to be seen if he can recover from the incident.  And Michael Richards…well, when’s the last time you’ve heard from him?   Ricky Gervais went a different route, refusing to apologize for his jokes: “If anyone was offended, then I don’t care.” Fair enough.  While he certainly won’t be getting hired back to host an awards show, I think he’ll be just fine (although some egos in Hollywood may still be licking their wounds...).

Obviously we do have a line, but it can be hard to tell what is going to set the public off. These examples were media nightmares for the comedians involved, but there’s a lot of stuff that slips under the radar. Take for example Louis CK, who is being heralded by comedians and the general public alike as debatably the greatest comedian alive right now (seriously, Google it!), and no one is batting an eyelash at his blunt and…at times, distasteful humor, such as this fake video he made interviewing a priest about the purpose of a Catholic Church.  Disclaimer: Do not watch this if you’re easily offended; it’s making fun of the slew of scandals involving priests and young boys.  

Then there’s Sarah Silverman, who says things like, “Also, I learned whether you are gay, bisexual, it doesn't matter, you know … because, at the end of the day, they're both gross. But mostly, I learned that elderly black women are wise beyond their years … but younger black women are prostitutes.”  You’d think jokes like this might raise some eyebrows, hey? 

My favorite example is Lisa Lampanelli.  Lisa routinely makes fun of people but never catches much flack for it.  Literally no one is off limits – whether it be people who are gay, black, Asian, Hispanic, or crippled (yep, I said crippled).  She’s famous for taking stereotypes and turning them on their head, and she has been nicknamed “The Queen of Mean” for her frequent crude shots at celebrities in roasts. Take a look at her picking on audience members of all races on one of her specials:

  

This may or may not be your kind of thing, but I’m betting a lot of you laughed at least once.  So how come the Lisa’s and Louis’s and Sarah’s of today get away with this material while others get in trouble? Lisa’s theory is, “I can get away with it because I'm a nice person, I have a warm personality, my intention is good behind it. The thing is, people sense when you have the least bit of anger or hate towards a group, it’s anyone’s guess.”  I think there's some merit to her reasoning.  None of these edgier comedians strike me as hateful, but Tracy and Michael definitely did - and the public turned on them immediately. 

As someone who appreciates a good laugh, I believe that comedians should keep right on doing what they’re doing. Whatever the reason may be for why we attack some and give others a pass, the truth is that most successful and loved comedians of the past are respected largely for their fearlessness.  That is NOT to say that you need to constantly make dick jokes or racist jokes to be funny, but if the price of comedy gold is few people getting offended, I say it’s worth it.  The things that make our jaws drop right now might be considered groundbreaking later on – our social landscape will continue to change and evolve, and the comedy that comes about as a result will continue to revolutionize as well.  

Occasionally a Tracy Morgan, Michael Richards or Ricky Gervais are going to take a wrong turn and piss us all off, but that’s a risk they accept when they get on that stage.  So comedians of today: I say keep the laughter comin’... Just be prepared to deal with the consequences if you f-ck up.  

No pressure.
Published in Entertainment
Friday, 09 September 2011 04:57

Opinion | Rise of the Manwhores

September 12, 2011

At the dawn of human civilization, somewhere after the Big Bang and the Dinosaurs, there came to exist a breed of man so lascivious, so lecherous, and so damned opposed to commitment, that he threw sexual caution and propriety to the wind in favor of a lifestyle of perennial seed-spreading. While the rest of the Neanderthals were playing house, settling into domestic routines with their cave-wives and cave-hubbies, this breed of homo sapien was bouncing from cave to cave impregnating all the unsuspecting cave-girls. Unfortunately for members of the female population, this species of male has survived evolution.

The Manwhore is the sexually aggressive, modern-day equivalent of the Village Idiot. Every society has one. Most societies have one too many. All members of the Manwhore population share a few qualities. First, he possesses an uncanny way with words, employing a kind of “sincere” sweet-talk that can turn any woman, from your great-granny to your 17-year sister into their sexual putty. This oratorical dexterity comes in handy as he is also a master manipulator, able to convince you that he doesn’t have an STD or a wife or a warrant out for his arrest, when all signs point the contrary. “Those are just rumors!” you’ll say to your friends as they attempt to save you from the clutches of this sneaky Lothario, “He’s actually a sweet guy!” Somewhere, not-so-deep-down you’re fully aware that the man is a snake, but you don’t care. He, like every other Manwhore past, present and future, emits an amount of swag so dangerous that you’re willing to ignore any number of red flags. This swag may or may not translate into physical attractiveness, but his level of sexy confidence and charm is so intoxicating that even the most skeptical female will overlook a shoddy sexual history and race into his arms/bed.

Though every Manwhore shares a few characteristics, many work certain “angles” in order to make themselves particularly attractive. For example, the “Reformed Manwhore” is a man who feigns distaste for the wild ways of his “past”, claiming that he’s ready to “settle down.” “Good girls” as well as the wildly naïve tend to flock. On the opposite end of the spectrum lies the “I’m an Asshole” Manwhore, a dude so unabashedly douchebaggy that ladies can’t help but be intrigued. “At least he’s honest," you tell yourself, as he charms his way into your pants. The “Talented Manwhore” is any man whose sluttiness one is willing to excuse, due to the fact that he possesses some extraordinary gift. Professional athletes, musicians, poets, and artists are often afforded an incredible amount of leeway. “But he’s so talented!,” you tell yourself. “Who cares if he’s ugly, broke and has a wretched personality!?” The list of Manwhore sects goes on.

Why do women continue to embark upon clearly doomed relationships with the Manwhores of the world? Why put themselves in situations that can only lead to heartbreak and the contraction of STDs? The reason is simple. Every girl who brings home a badboy, has a tiny, irrational thought lingering in the back of her mind; an idea so silly, and yet, so powerful that it will make her do crazy things: Maybe it will be different with me. Every girl wants to tame a badboy, to believe she is special enough to make a man say, sincerely, that he’s done with “the game.” But why even waste your time? For every slimy-albeit-tantalizing Manwhore, there also exists a genuine, good guy, worthy of your time. He won’t sleep with your best friend. He won’t ignore your texts, while attempting to seduce every female from California to Washington, D.C. Let’s reserve our affections for men that deserve them. Nice Guys need love too.

Published in Love + Dating
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