Why Saturday Night Live’s ‘Welcome to Hell’ Should Be the #MeToo Movement’s Anthem

Some might say “Another One Bites the Dust” by Queen sounds the like the ideal anthem to accompany the #MeToo movement, as another powerful, prominent man seems to fall from his pedestal every day, made to pay the price for his previous indiscretions.

Saturday Night Live, however, debuted the perfect anti-harassment song, chock full of comical references to the disgusting behaviors we women must rebuke regularly. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Hell.

“Hey there, boys. We know the last couple months have been frickin’ insane,” cast member Cecily Strong states at the beginning of the music video, referencing the onslaught of sexual harassment and assault allegations that continue to dominate the daily news.

“All these big, cool, powerful guys are turning out to be, what’s the word? Habitual predators?” cast member Aidy Bryant says. “And it’s, like, dang, is this the world now?” At which point Strong responds: “Oh, this been the damn world.”

“This ain’t a girl group, we just travel in a pack for safety,” Bryant adds as she, Strong, cast member Kate McKinnon, and host Saoirse Ronan — clad in pastels, surrounded by rainbows and lollipops that create stark contrast with the dark subject matter at hand — innocently explain the issues women have faced throughout history under the guise of some saccharine pop song.

“Now House of Cards is ruined, and that really sucks,” sings Ronan’s platinum blonde pop princess persona. “Well here’s a list of stuff that’s ruined for us: parking, and walking, and Uber, and ponytails, and bathrobes, and nighttime, and drinking, and hotels, and vans.”

But, beyond the comedic approach to these undeniable truths, the ladies of SNL — more specifically, Leslie Jones — briefly tapped into one harsh reality that deserves far more attention than it’s received: the impact sexual misconduct has on women of color.

Jones soon appears to inform the women that “it’s, like, a million times worse for women of color,” with which all the ladies were in agreement. After all, despite the fact that a woman of color, Tarana Burke, founded the “Me Too” movement long before hashtags existed, this marginalized demographic continues to be ignored.

In an Op-Ed published by the Washington Post last month, Burke explained that women of color have been “screaming about famous predators like R&B singer R. Kelly, who allegedly preys on black girls, for well over a decade to no avail.”

Burke also quoted actress Jane Fonda who, in reaction to Hollywood’s outpouring allegations against Harvey Weinstein, highlighted the fact that the skin color of his accusers helped the story earn national attention.

“It feels like something has shifted. It’s too bad that it’s probably because so many of the women that were assaulted by Harvey Weinstein are famous and white and everybody knows them. This has been going on a long time to black women and other women of color and it doesn’t get out quite the same,” Fonda said.

While SNL’s passing reference was a much needed nod to those who continue to suffer silently, as Burke wrote, “history has shown us time and again is that if marginalized voices — those of people of color, queer people, disabled people, poor people — aren’t centered in our movements then they tend to become no more than a footnote.”

“I often say that sexual violence knows no race, class or gender, but the response to it does,” she added. “’Me too’ is a response to the spectrum of gender-based sexual violence that comes directly from survivors — all survivors. We can’t afford a racialized, gendered or classist response. Ending sexual violence will require every voice from every corner of the world and it will require those whose voices are most often heard to find ways to amplify those voices that often go unheard.”

We’re all singing the same tune, but we need to give the voices in the back of the choir some time at the microphone. We have always had the power to lift up those who need help, but this time, by working together, we have the opportunity to command and direct the national dialogue regarding women’s health and safety. We must continue to speak out while others are willing to listen because, as history has proven time and time again, there’s no telling when society will opt to change the station.

(This post originally appeared on Storia.)

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MTV Presses the Rewind Button, Brings ‘TRL’ Out of Retirement—but Why?

Source: ABC News

For television executives, future success seems to lie in the past. From sequel series, such as “Raven’s Home”, to reunion reboots, such as “Will & Grace”, many TV networks are turning to old favorites to attract new audiences. Yet, while nostalgia certainly seems to sell these days, MTV’s upcoming “Total Request Live” revival fails to take the passage of time into account.

When “TRL” began its initial run in 1998, life was much different than we’re used to now. YouTube was still about seven years away from its debut, internet connections were primarily of the dial-up variety, and cell phones were bulky, analog devices that belonged to businessmen and… well, Zack Morris. Texting wasn’t possible, but beepers were still popular, and killing time on the “World Wide Web” meant monopolizing your family’s landline. Without music television, video never would’ve killed the radio star.

By the time “TRL” called it quits in 2008, the world had transformed dramatically. Smartphones existed, even if they weren’t yet widespread, social media was on the rise, though it didn’t retain the same level of influence it does today, and nearly every video you could imagine was accessible on-demand thanks to Wi-Fi networks.

Now, nearly 10 years later, MTV’s already fighting an uphill battle before “TRL” even premieres.

First and foremost, the team must tackle the elephant in the studio: social media. For those of us who grew up during Carson Daly’s “TRL” days—the days before DVR and live-streaming—our idea of “sharing” was talking about the latest Britney Spears video the next morning before the first middle school bell rang.

Source: Scott Gries/ImageDirect

Today’s teens and tweens, however, will likely spend more time staring down at their smartphone screen than their TV. Perhaps that’s why the network plans to split hosting duties among five VJs during this go ’round—they need to satisfy this generation’s self-induced ADHD. How they’ll integrate social media remains to be seen, of course, but it’ll likely distract the viewers from the true premise of the show.

MTV will also have to pad the show’s latest incarnation with plenty of appearances and performances by today’s top artists if the network hopes to gain and retain the interest of these fickle viewers. Anyone can watch the hottest music videos of the day via YouTube now—a luxury unavailable to its original audience—so even the countdown alone won’t draw people in, no matter how interested they might be. Plus, anyone who’s ever watched “TRL” knows that they only play videos in their entirety when they premiere and when they retire, so if they stay true to the nature of the show, they’ll need to find a way to alleviate the subsequent disappointment.

While “TRL” was our reason to rush home back in the day, it doesn’t hold much allure for modern audiences, at least not in its original form.

MTV lost its way for years as executives focused on developing reality programming that disregarded the “M” in “music television” entirely—think “Jersey Shore” in all its spray tan glory—but the current leadership hopes to return the network to its lyrical roots. If executives can channel today’s young music lovers’ fascination with social interaction and use these behaviors to enhance the “TRL” experience, they might just attract the audience they seek.

As for us oldies? We will probably take the Carson Daly route and leave well enough alone. If you need us, we’ll be off in the corner relearning the dance moves to “Bye, Bye, Bye” for old times’ sake.

(This post originally appeared on Storia.)

Does John Mayer Deserve Another Chance to Reinvent Himself?

Source: John Mayer’s Instagram

Back in the early ’00s, everyone in the Fairfield, Conn. region was eager to brag about their John Mayer connections. For instance, his father was my mother’s high school principal. Cue the “It’s a Small World” chorus. But when Mayer made mention of his racist body parts during that Playboy interview, Connecticut’s favorite export went from fame to shame in the blink of an eye.

Now, with the impending release of his new studio album, “The Search for Everything” promises to be Mayer’s remorseful reentry into the world of pop music. He regrets what he’s said and done in recent years and he’s ready to make amends. As he recently told The New York Times, his “GPS was shattered, just shattered” and he’s prepared to right his course and redeem his reputation.

However, for those in the limelight, second chances aren’t easy to come by, especially for someone who purposely went into self-induced exile to escape his own mouth.

Mayer told The Times that this attempt to reconnect with the pop scene reminds him of George Clooney. “There’s a guy who can make art house films and then just decide that he’s going to be in a blockbuster. I remember thinking to myself, O.K., I’m going to basically come out of retirement from blockbusters.”

But even blockbusters can’t become blockbusters if people aren’t willing to forgive and forget. Fans of Mayer’s music itself will be easy to win, but regaining the respect of the general public might not be quite that simple.

Does Mayer deserve this second chance? In short, yes.

While I certainly don’t condone his actions, it’d be hypocritical to shun his comeback before he comes back. You see, it seems unfair that men have ample opportunity to recover from their misdeeds—see Robert Downey, Jr. and Hugh Grant for reference—while women, such as Lindsay Lohan, have found it more difficult to break from their bad girl image. But dismissing Mayer’s seemingly earnest attempt would make me no better than those who shame women for far smaller offenses.

If Mayer truly means well, he should have no problem regaining the public’s approval. But if he screws up again, there’s no telling how vicious the media will be. He’s treading that thin line between love and hate, but since I still love his early work so much, I’d hate to see his (or anyone’s) potential go to waste.

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(This post originally appeared on Storia.)

Here’s to Goodbye

Music evokes emotion, plain and simple. For that reason alone, I will never forgive Eve 6 or Vitamin C.

By the time I graduated eighth grade in the spring of 2001, “Here’s to the Night” and “Graduation (Friends Forever)“ were seasonal mainstays. (Honorable mentions go out to “Closing Time” by Semisonic and that so-called song about sunscreen all our parents were obsessed with, as they were both irritating in their own right.) You couldn’t turn on the radio without hearing one or more of these songs on the nightly Top Five countdown, and you couldn’t attend one single school dance or graduation party without finding clusters of sappy 13-year-olds singing along.

Despite the fact that my friends and I were all moving on to the same high school, these songs triggered an odd sort of melancholy that I haven’t been able to shake since.

What’d I learn that year? I hate endings. Even endings that aren’t exactly endings. I’m like Jude Law in The Holiday—I cry all the time. I’m a major weeper.

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I’m overwhelmed with sadness whenever I watch the series finale of any television show, even if it ended years ago, because I realize how difficult it must’ve been for the cast and crew to go their separate ways.

I feel an ache—an emptiness—once the curtain closes on any live musical or theatrical performance, for I know that the experience itself and the ensuing high can never be recreated.

Heck, I even tear up during You’ve Got Mail, but not because I’m thrilled that Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan fall in love. I cry when Ryan’s character, Kathleen Kelly, locks up her bookshop for the last time, instead, because I cannot even imagine how heartbroken she must be to know she’ll never step foot inside again.

Now, as we say goodbye (ahem, good riddance) to 2016, we are bombarded by ‘In Memoriam’ reels that remind us of all those we’ve lost within the last year. (Turner Classic Movies ran one prior to their showing of The Shop Around the Corner—on Christmas Eve, no less—which really killed the ‘holly jolly’ vibe.) Some people still cannot seem to comprehend why so many internalize these celebrity deaths, as they’ve likely never met in person, but those who chastise fans via social media fail to recognize the influence such stars can have on the average individual.

For those mourning the loss of both Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds, for instance, the pain goes beyond losing two iconic actresses. Both women reached beyond their on-screen personas to inspire generations of women to embrace who they are and who they want to be. Public figures have the capacity to impact private lives, and any such guidance can transform total strangers into honorary relatives.

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Death also causes us to call our own mortality into question. We’re forced to admit that those we love will not be alive forever. Thinking about what life might be like without them by your side may cause some to hyperventilate, as your mind conjures all the worst-case scenarios, which may spark mild bouts of insanity and uncontrollable, ugly sobs. In fact, you might not want to jump down that rabbit hole if you can help it. Your head will feel like it’s about to implode and you won’t be able to see straight.

Might straightjackets and padded cells be the next step on this journey toward total mental collapse? I’m asking for a friend…

But if Semisonic’s “Closing Time” holds any truth, perhaps we need only focus on the positive side of even the bleakest situation in order to keep the sorrow from eating us whole. We must push our minds to look for the proverbial light, even when we’re lost in the metaphorical dark. We must be thankful for what was and excited for what will be, instead of longing for what will never be again. After all, every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end. If we don’t at least try to focus on the beauty of the future, we may all end up breathing into brown paper lunch sacks for the rest of our days.

 

(Images courtesy of Odyssey and The Los Angeles Times)