Sunday, April 24, 2011


Jim: It's the roundtable in which we answer all of your questions -- or at least the ones you e-mailed recently and that we have time to get to. Our e-mail address is Participating in this roundtable are The Third Estate Sunday Review's Dona, Ty, Jess, Ava, and me, Jim; Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude; Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man; C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review; Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills); Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix; Mike of Mikey Likes It!; Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz); Ruth of Ruth's Report; Trina of Trina's Kitchen; Wally of The Daily Jot; Marcia of SICKOFITRDLZ; Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends; Isaiah of The World Today Just Nuts and Ann of Ann's Mega Dub. Betty's kids did the illustration. You are reading a rush transcript.


Jim (Con't): Of last week's "Poor Little Historian Uninformed At Last," Jonathan e-mailed to ask about the lines running together in parts. That's a browser issue. And that brings up an issue that effects us all.

Jess: The best browser to use with Blogger/Blogspot is Flock. The run together that Jonathan's talking about happens less with Flock. Flock announced last week: "Support for Flock browsers will be discontinued as of April 26th, 2011. We would like to thank our loyal users around the world for their support, and we encourage the Flock community to migrate in the coming weeks to one of the recommended web browsers listed below." They list Mozilla or Firefox and Google Chrome. Marcia?

Marcia: Google Chrome is a nightmare. All of the browsers are these days. Flock was the last solid one left. I use Firefox in a pinch but prefer Flock. With Firefox, what happens is I'm pasting some lines in from an article or sometimes just a link and I get "blogger gif" of so some code in my post. I don't even see it on my end and only hear about it after the post has gone up. Google Chrome just gets on my nerves. But Kat uses that pretty much exclusively.

Kat: Yeah. Mainly because on my laptop it loads the quickest. That is a big deal when you're doing wireless. Wally, Ava, C.I. and I are on the road and you're in your hotel room and just wanting to go to sleep -- especially last week when I was sick for most of it -- so you want to be sure that it's going to load quickly so you know it posted. So I do use Google Chrome. I don't recommend it for any other reason than the one I just gave. We all repost the snapshot each day and what happens there is that "Iraq snapshot" ends up in bigger letters. And let's say I'm posting an excerpt from WSWS or something with a different font than I use? It posts it in that font and you have to go through and fix it -- although I'm lazy and sometimes I just leave it as is -- or you end with all these different fonts in the same post. The only reason I recommend Google Chrome is because it does go quicker, it loads faster and that's important to me on the road.

Jim: The obvious question might be, "Why aren't you using Explorer?"

Trina: It's a nightmare. I have no idea what version it is now. It seems like a year ago -- maybe a year and a half -- that I had to stop using it. The problem was the last upgrade made it a nightmare for Blogger/Blogspot. Let's say it's a Monday and Isaiah did a comic on Sunday? For me, that means open with the comic and then talk about something and then close with the snapshot. Copy and pasting is a nightmare in Explorer and you frequently wipe out entire posts when you go to copy. There's a thing in tools -- C.I. showed me because at first, after the Explorer upgrade, I didn't think we could copy and paste anymore -- you have to go in there and change the setting. And that works. While you're doing that post. If your computer freezes up and you lose the browser and have to reopen it, you can type but you better not put anything else in there via paste because it will knock out everything in the post. There really was not another good one. I do use Google Chrome from time to time and what Kat was talking about is the only good thing, the speed. In the last month and a half, I've especially had trouble pulling up Flock -- I have no idea if that's related to their going out of business or not -- and on nights where it was really bad I would just pull up Google Chrome. But it was not my first choice.

Jim: So what will people use? That's us too. We don't know. Anybody?

Mike: I had browser issues about two or three years ago and C.I. installed all these browsers for me. Some are gone -- Netscape is no more. But I know Maxthon and Opera used to work fairly well and I still have them on the computer. But I really am shocked that Flock is just going away.

Dona: On Trina's comments, I believe it's Internet Explorer 8. We had an e-mail asking if we'd use Camino -- an e-mail from Rochelle -- and we've never used that one. And we had an e-mail from J.B. asking what broswer we'd recommend for his blogging because he has problems with Explorer -- the same problems Trina was describing? I would have said Flock but obviously that's not going to work.

Jim: Next up. Ava and C.I., you have an angry reader, Steve Henley, who is "appalled" that you haven't written about Hot In Cleveland.

Ava: We started this site geared to college students -- which Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess and myself were. And Jim was the one who said we had to cover TV. And we had no rhyme or reason at the start but our readers e-mailed and we got to know them. The economy was bad in 2005 when we started but, in 2011, people are probably nostalgic for the comparative good times of 2005. Our core readers at the start were college students on a fixed budget and young couples on a fixed budget. In 2005, all the Water Cooler Set -- a species that replaced the TV critic -- cared about was HBO and FX. Our readers didn't care to read the Water Cooler Set because the Water Cooler Set obsessed over shows they couldn't watch -- they couldn't afford cable. They were newly married couples with a kid on the way or one just born. They were college students living on Ramen noodles. Everyone cannot stream but we did make adjustments in the last year or so and that is if you can stream it -- for free -- at Hulu or a network website, we'll cover it. We love Hot In Cleveland -- I'll let C.I. speak to the show itself, but we love it. We know a lot of the women working on that show. Season 3 starts in June. It's a great show.

C.I.: It's a great show. It's a great credit for everyone involved. The show's so successful that a spin-off is starting. For anyone who doesn't know Hot In Cleveland, it airs on TV Land. It stars Valerie Bertinelli, Jane Leeves, Wendie Malick and Betty White. Behind the scenes, some of the wonderful people are Suzanne Martin and Lynda Obst. Valerie, Jane and Wendie are lifelong friends on their way to Paris when the plane makes an emergency landing in Cleveland and the recently divorced Valerie falls in love with Cleveland and sees it as a place to make a fresh start. For various reasons, Jane and Wendie join her. It's a hilarious sitcom which frequently surprises. I don't think anyone watching the season one cliffhanger expected the events of season two. Betty White wouldn't go to jail, right? As funny as season one was, season two was even funnier and one of the standouts was Melanie Griffith's guest spot. Season three is set to be even better and the show's a hit, TV Land's biggest ratings ever. The show returns with new episodes June 15th. Season one is available at Netflix for streaming. The show's performed before a studio audience and stars four comedic masters so it's just a treat to watch.

Ava: And it has additional energy that you're not going to find in Modern Family or something else because they are not taped before a live audience. One of my favorite parts is the fact that Jane's character and Betty's characters do not like each other and it's the sort of thing that the audience responds to and the audience response means it gets developed. With these canned shows, by contrast, a producer-writer has an idea and executes it and supposedly that's a great thing but as many, many seasons of My Name Is Earl demonstrated, a studio audience can turn a bad show into one worth watching.

Jim: My Name Is Earl didn't have a studio audience.

C.I.: Exactly.

Jim: Still on TV, last week's "Books: One writes, the other types (Ava and C.I.)" noted Tina Fey's new book and there was a great deal of e-mail on that.

Dona: And a review of Shirley MacLaine's I'm All Over That.

Jim: Correct. Then "Does Jezebel ever call out 30 Rock for racism?" by Betty went up Friday night and even more e-mails came in. The main thrust seems to be why is Tina Fey seen as left when she offers some of the most right-wing and offensive portrayals on her show? Betty?

Betty: Well in that post I was just focusing on the race issue. I don't think I'm the first outside the community to do so and certainly Ava and C.I. have noted Tina Fey's 'strange' portrayals of people of color before. I'd been sent an e-mail of some comments left at Jezebel where they were defending Fey, in the comments and one idiot was praising the 'mature' handling of an adult teacher sleeping with a male middle school student. So I just read that and thought, "These little groupies will justify anything." And then I wondered if Jezebel had ever called out the portrayals of people of color on the show and couldn't find any. But, in terms of people of color, where are the women? There isn't one -- and this includes Queen Latifah -- who's been on the show that couldn't have been cast in a "Mammy" role. Don't toss out the dancers, they're rarely on and a joke when they are, portrayed as sluts -- a step up? I don't think so. But we can get Jennifer Aniston -- a very pretty woman -- and countless others as guest stars. Do the names Viveca Fox and Halle Berry not exist in Tina Fey's racist mind? And what it is about treating it as funny that Liz is considered a racist by people of color on the show? Tracy and Angie are only some of the people who've noted Liz's racism and it's not all hidden or subjective racism, Liz has done and said some really racist things on the show. So that's my point.

Isaiah: I'll pipe up. I liked Liz when the whole "call her racist" thread emerged on the show with people calling her racist and I could take that storyline and enjoy it but, like Betty pointed out, then Liz exhibited actual racism and it wasn't funny and she wasn't likeable anymore because she wasn't being misread. I'd also add that Liz is jut pathetic now days in every regard. But, until Betty brought it up, I hadn't thought about how there are no hot Black women brought on the show. There is a type of Black woman Tina Fey apparently loves and that's the Mammy stereotype.

Ann: And I hate Angie. Angie's the most prominent Black female character on the show and she's just an idiot. Tracy, her husband, is supposed to be a multi-millionaire with more money than can ever be spent so this year, when she was suddenly worried about how she'd pay bills if Tracy died, that was like the final insult. She's fat and she's ugly and she's materialistic and only married to Tracy for the money that she can never have enough of because his doctor tells him he might die this season and Angie is immediatley meeting with Alec Baldwin's character to get a reality show because she needs to make money in case Tracy dies.

Rebecca: And Tina really loves to make African-Americans sound stupid -- beyond not getting what's happening around them, she really likes making them use English incorrectly and ridiculing them for that. She didn't do the same on the "Queen of Jordan" when she had a White woman who was illiterate, did anybody notice that? But Angie's running around, last season or maybe season three, yammering away about "I gotta get my hair did." And Tracy's saying, "Woman, you just got your hair did!"

Stan: There's just a real malice towards Black people on that show. Like Isaiah said, at first, with the "Liz is racist!" it was like she was being misunderstood -- the character Liz -- and you could still like her but when she starts saying and doing racist things? It's not funny and it's not cute. Maybe to a small group of White people -- which would explain 30 Rock's low ratings -- but it's just not funny. And the show's also anti-woman and it's tremendously homophobic.

Betty: And that was the thing that surprised me the most about Jezebel. In the comments, a few would note how "lesbian" was tossed around as a slur on the show repeatedly. But no one really seemed to get how insulting all the gay characters have been: Devon Banks, Liz's cousin Randy who was on one episode, Dfwan -- or however you spell Angie's hair dresser's name, Jenna's presumably gay entourage -- including Patrice, Tina Fey really loves putting effeminate Black men on TV. Just go down the list. It's just a vile and hateful little show and you have to marvel that this woman was supposedly representing left-wing values in 2008.

C.I.: Tina Fey is not left, she is very much the product of two Republican parents and that's what you're seeing on the show, all these examples that are being provided.

Marcia: And it's too bad because I really did like that show. But as the seasons piled on, you started to get more and more of these offensive gay stereotypes and racial stereotypes and it really forced me to question the person responsible for the show -- Tina Fey -- and her true motives. I don't find the show funny anymore, just really sad.

Jim: On racism, Ashley Judd has a new book coming out --

Dona: It is out. All That Is Bitter & Sweet.

Jim: Okay, thank you. And there was some criticism of her for the book --

Betty: For racism. It was misguided criticism in my opinion. She doesn't like rap music that races up the charts. I don't think you'd find me educated people in the Black community who'd disagree with her. Yeah, there is that small academic contingent within Black academy that wants our race to be at its most base and ignorant, but outside of that tiny element -- most of whom were raised middle class -- you don't find the embrace of hoochie and bitch and all the rest, let alone the materialism that corporate rap culture is built upon.

Stan: Support. And the excerpts that got printed of that, it was very clear what Judd was writing about. That's a point James Braxton Peterson made in his very intelligent take on the issue at The Root. And I like hip-hop, like Braxton Peterson does. But I have had to draw a line at some of the rap songs and it's so toxic that I don't listen to corporate rap anymore. I disagree that it's refelcted Black culture -- disagree with some of its defenders, I'm going beyond Braxton Peterson now -- because Black culture on the street level is not living P Diddy's life. There's not enough money. Instead it's a fantasy, it's Blaxplotation set to a beat. And I think a lot of people in my generation were led astray by it, given false values and a false worship of money that is very harmful to our culture.

Jim: Ruth, your take?

Ruth: 'Cause I am the rapping granny? No, seriously. I am old enough to remember Elvis being a craze. So let me just note that sex is always going to drive interest in music among young people. It was true of my day, it is true of today and it will be true in years to come. But music can be sexy and it can be graphic without resorting to violence. I wonder what it says about men who resort to violence -- regardless of their race -- against women in their music. Think W.A.S.P. -- a group targeted by Tipper Gore's organization in the late eighties -- for example. Where does such hatred come from? Fear? What are they afraid of? How weak they actually are so they have to lash out at women? I do not know. But music can be sexy, can be about sex, can be graphic and never have to resort to degredation. I do not claim to be a Prince expert. My two youngest sons were into him so I know his eighties output and a few things after that I picked up my own. He has done very sexual and very graphic and very sexy songs and I have not heard any need to resort to violence against women. Maybe that is because he comes across as someone comfortable in his own skin? I do not know.

Jim: Another popular issue in the e-mails is Cedric and Wally's "Barack is the queen of exclusion" and "THIS JUST IN! LOOK WHO GETS INVITED!" Cedric and Wally do joint-post, humorous posts. In this one, they call out the White House for what I'll dub a summit on immigration. Cedric?

Cedric: Barack promised the immigration issue would be addressed in his first year in the White House. Then he got to the White House and lost interest. Because he wants to be re-elected, he needs the Latino vote so he's trying to make a grand show of suddenly remembering the immigration vote. But as Wally and I point out of the meeting that took place, we're talking about a lot of non-Latinos attending and a lot of Latino voices on immigration not being invited.

Wally: Right. This was one of those issues that the press didn't give a lot of attention to in this country. Or the English language press in the US. But this came up when we were speaking to a primarily Latino high school group -- Kat, Ava, C.I. and myself. I was completely ignorant of the meeting, I hadn't heard about it or read about it. And so I was learning about it that day. Later, on the phone with Cedric, I mentioned it and he said we should write about it the next day and, in the meantime, we were looking for articles but couldn't find any with any critiques. So Ava and C.I. went through the Spanish language media and translated multiple articles for us. This is not a minor issue even if the English language press in this country hasn't picked up on it.

Trina: And I had heard about it in my church and among my friends and this isn't going away. When notable organizations working on the immigration issue are denied an invitation but Al Sharpton -- Al Sharpton? -- is invited to the White House for the issue of immigration? Yeah, it is a problem.

Jim: Okay. That's going to be it. I was going to try to squeeze in a question just for Trina, the only one who hadn't spoken, but she just spoke. This is a rush transcript.
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
Poll1 { display:none; }