What the Hell Was SNL Thinking With This “Sexual Harassment Charlie” Skit?

On last night’s episode of Saturday Night Live (SNL), host James Franco and the cast frequently took on the sexual harassment scandals that continue to rock politics, media, and technology. From a cold open where Santa realized how many politicians belong on the Naughty List, to Weekend Update joking about a “sexual harassment Advent calendar,” the episode didn’t shy away from addressing how prevalent this problem is.

However, the “Sexual Harassment Charlie” skit eschewed the “mock predators” approach of most other jokes and went straight for super-reactionary.

In the skit, Franco plays a CFO, Doug Gifford, who’s being fired for sexual harassment, and Kenan Thompson plays Charlie, a “front desk guy” who’s also being fired for sexual harassment. The two come into the room to formally apologize to the female employees, and it quickly becomes clear that Gifford has been fired for remarks like calling women “my little honeybee” and telling them to “smile more,” while Charlie is far more explicit and inappropriate.

Now, I recognize that there’s a point underlying this. Our society does push different expectations on different types of men, and many of the excuses made for harassers include things like, “Oh, that’s just how he is” or “He doesn’t mean any harm” or “He’s from a different generation.” Some men don’t get coded as threatening, and as we’ve seen with cases like Louis C.K. and Bill Cosby, those men can then use that coding to mask their predatory behavior. I’ve also written before about the ways that our current discussion around sexual harassment leaves out working-class women and the harassment they face from their colleagues and customers. All of these are legitimate points to bring up in a sketch.

However, the optics and writing of this sketch are just … no. First and foremost, it seems to suggest that white male executives are somehow the most likely to face consequences for their actions, a perspective you could only seriously adopt if you’ve been paying attention to sexual harassment for maybe five minutes. Our current reckoning with sexual harassment has started at the top, with high-profile men like Harvey Weinstein and Kevin Spacey; that much is true.

But these men are also the starting points because they are serial harassers. And you don’t get to attack that many victims, over that many decades, if the system is somehow unfairly stacked against you. You commit that many crimes because you are enabled by your power and your privilege.

Franco also plays his character like he’s genuinely perplexed or confused about the way his comments were interpreted, but having been sexually harassed myself, I feel pretty comfortable saying that men always know it’s creepy. They just think it’s a level of creepy you should have to put up with. In addition, there’s no suggestion that his character “Doug” had any negative effect on these women’s careers. However, misogynist harassers don’t just make a passing comment and let you get on with your life. They’re misogynists. They block the advancement of women who don’t play nice, they promote and respect their male colleagues far more than they do their female colleagues, and they retaliate against anyone who reports them or chastises them. There’s no acknowledgement in this skit that, perhaps, powerful men’s transgressions are more strongly condemned than those of the front desk guy because they have a far more tangible affect on women’s livelihoods. 

I am much more concerned with Trump than I am with my friend’s Fox-News-loving uncle, but that’s not because I don’t have a problem with the Fox-News-loving uncle. It’s because Trump has a lot more power to hurt people with his attitudes than my friend’s uncle.

The race optics of this sketch are also … just, wow. The United States has a horrifying, racist history of painting black men as sexual predators (particularly when it comes to white women), a history that still spawns racist memes to this day. And so the fact that they had Kenan Thompson play Charlie, alongside Franco’s very white Doug, was deeply troubling.

(And, yes, devil’s advocates: some men like Clarence Thomas and Bill Cosby have disingenuously used this history to try and discredit the women who accused them, and that behavior is reprehensible. But SNL isn’t grappling with the nuances of allegations against incredibly powerful, conservative black men in this sketch. They’re talking about a front desk guy.)

Again, I understand that they likely wrote this sketch to make a valid point about double standards, but the one they ended up making is that poor powerful white men are suffering under the tyranny of overly sensitive women who say they hate being harassed at work, but secretly love and are amused by harassment as long as it comes from the right dude.

Which we are not.

As Teresa wrote last month, there is a weirdly prevalent idea that certain dudes “get a pass” where sexual harassment is concerned. In resurrecting this idea, SNL didn’t add anything interesting or incisive to the national conversation about sexual harassment and assault. Instead, they revived reactionary ideas which put the blame back on women, and turn the sympathy back toward white men. Execution is everything, and I just thought this one did a terrible job.

As you can probably tell from this 900-word piece, I really didn’t like this skit, but I’m curious to hear all of your reactions.

(Featured image via screengrab)

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Kelly Marie Tran, the Daughter of Refugees, Couldn’t Help Crying with Joy at the Last Jedi Premiere

Screengrab of a Twitter video where Daisy Ridley comforts Kelly Marie Tran at the Last Jedi premiere

At last night’s Star Wars: The Last Jedi premiere in Los Angeles, Kelly Marie Tran couldn’t help crying tears of joy as she took in where she was. The child of Vietnamese refugees, she’s spoken many times about how she wanted to live the life her parents didn’t get to. “They had given up so much so that I could live at the level that so many people are just automatically born into,” she told Buzzfeed back in November. “Now I have this [life], and it’s purely because my parents dropped everything and moved to a country where they didn’t know the language [and] didn’t have any opportunities.”

Speaking with The Star Wars Show‘s Andi Gutierrez the night of the premiere, Tran became understandably emotional as she was introduced as Rose Tico.

“Oh my God,” she said, starting to cry. “They told me not to cry, but it’s really hard.”

“That’s a completely unreasonable request,” Gutierrez said. “I would be losing it right now if I were you.”

“I’m losing it!” Tran agreed.

As she made her way down the red carpet, she stopped to thank producer Ram Bergman for the life-changing opportunity.

And later, Daisy Ridley – who probably understands better than anyone what it’s like to be catapulted into the Star Wars spotlight – comforted Tran with a big hug.

Tran has repeatedly spoken about her parents’ struggles as refugees from Vietnam, and how she felt that she had to honor their sacrifices by doing what she loved. “My parents are both refugees from Vietnam, and they spent their whole lives working towards a reality where my sisters and I would have choice,” she told the New York Daily News. “That was purely it. My parents never had the luxury of having a dream.”

“I remember thinking I was living for multiple generations,” she continued, “and if I wasn’t pursuing something that made me happy, if I wasn’t really living to my fullest, then I wouldn’t really be doing them justice.”

When we say that representation matters, we’re often talking about the effects that movies have on their viewers. It’s important for children to see themselves reflected as heroes in our stories. But representation also creates opportunities for actors like Tran, who might otherwise find themselves forever in secondary or stereotyped roles, instead of living their dreams on the red carpet.

(Via SYFY Wire; image via screengrab)

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Miles Morales Is Ready for His Big-Screen Debut in the Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse Trailer

Miles Morales is coming to theaters, everyone! We just have to get through the rest of 2017 and 2018 to see it.

Sony Animation has dropped the teaser trailer for Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse, an animated Spider-Verse movie that will hit theaters in time for Christmas 2018. True to the Ultimate Spider-Man comics, it appears that Peter Parker is dead in this movie (note the tombstone), and so Miles Morales has taken up his mantle.

But what about the plot? “Enter a universe where more than one wears the mask,” Sony Animation teased on Twitter, and the trailer itself ends with the question, “Wait, so how many of us are there?” Given those two teases, and the fact that Spider-Verse is in the title, I think it’s safe to assume that this will be a multiverse movie, where Miles must unite the many Spider-Man incarnations against a shared threat. Sony previously indicated that this movie will not connect to the live-action Marvel Cinematic Universe, where Tom Holland is currently playing Peter Parker, so don’t necessarily expect a Holland voice cameo. But hopefully we can expect some awesome multiverse cameos. Spider Gwen? Silk? Spider-Ham? Bring it on.

Some of the shots in this trailer look super gorgeous. I actually gasped at that shot where Miles appears to be falling between worlds, and so far I am loving the way they animated his arachno-acrobatics. (Though if you didn’t like the frequent cut-shots in The LEGO Movie, this one might leave you similarly queasy.) I’ll have to see a trailer with some actual dialogue to get a better sense of the feel and plot, but so far I’m pretty excited about this one.

What do you all think, though?

Shameik Moore (Shaolin Fantastic in The Get Down) will voices Miles, and the movie will be produced by The LEGO Movie‘s Phil Lord and Chris Miller. Directed by Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, and Rodney Rothman from a script by Phil Lord, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse will open on December 14, 2018.

(Via The Hollywood Reporter; featured image via screengrab)

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Since A New Hope, Women Have Gone from Speaking 6% of the Dialogue in Star Wars to 28%

A recent analysis of dialogue in the Star Wars franchise revealed just how far these movies have come for representation – and how much further they have to go. Shri Narayanan, an engineering professor at USC, has been working with his team of doctoral and undergraduate students at the Signal Analysis and Interpretation Laboratory (SAIL), to develop software that can automatically analyze a movie clip and determine who’s in the scene, details about each actor’s race and gender, and how long each person spends speaking.

Now, Narayanan emphasized that this tool is a work in progress. Given all the inherent biases that researchers can bring to the table, a tool which looks to quantify characteristics such as “gender” and “race” is bound to run into problems with misidentifying and leaving out certain identities.

Still, even with these caveats, Narayanan had some encouraging and intriguing statistics about Star Wars to share with Variety. In 1977, only 6.3% of the dialogue in A New Hope was spoken by women, and none of it was spoken by people of color. In 2015, women had 28% of the dialogue in The Force Awakens, and people of color had 37.5%. Rogue One, while not part of a main trilogy, had a franchise-high 44.7% of dialogue spoken by people of color, and a less impressive 18% by women.

(Sorry, readers, but I couldn’t track down the numbers for women of color specifically. That representation is crucial, and I hope the USC team is looking at those statistics. Even more, I hope they’ll publish them where I can share them with you all.)

“One of our motivations is to see more (diverse) representations, especially those that are facing children,” said Narayanan about his team’s research. “You create what this sort of norm is, implicitly or subconsciously: that women look like this or that mostly, [that] these movies should have this type of race, but the world is not that way.”

And with global, generation-spanning franchises like Star Wars, the impact of their casting choices is far greater than an average movie. As Narayanan pointed out, “the global reach of this media talks to people around the world, for years to come, for generations to come.”

Here’s hoping that, as it expands with more movies, the franchise will use that staying power to send a more inclusive, forward-thinking message to its massive audience.

(Via Variety; image via David James and Lucasfilm)

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A GIF-Based Consideration of Jon Hamm as Batman

Rumor has it that Jon Hamm is “gunning” for the role of Batman in the DC cinematic universe (DCEU). Given the persistent rumors that Ben Affleck would like to leave the role, it’s no surprise that other actors’ names have started circulating. According to an anonymous source who spoke to Radar Online (so, grain of salt), Draper is “gunning hard for the role” and has spent months “carefully courting” The Batman director Matt Reeves.

However, he’s not the only one who’s interested.

Jake Gyllenhaal has also been chasing the role,” said the source, “and Matt has definitely been considering him. But Jon is closer to Ben’s age and look, and will be a smoother replacement to fit into the plans already in place.”

So what do we think, TMS readers? How would Jon Hamm do as the DCEU Batman?

Let us consider the evidence.

I think we can all agree that Hamm could easily pull off the Bruce Wayne element of the character. His most famous role, the casual misogynist and alcoholic Don Draper on Mad Men, often involved projecting a very Bruce Wayne air of suave, privileged, masculine confidence.

Giphy of Jon Hamm in a suit

“Nothin’ to see here, folks! Just another rich kid running around Gotham!”

Giphy of Jon Hamm winking

Of course, Batman isn’t all enormous wealth and privilege. He’s also a deeply traumatized and sad character (especially in recent DCEU interpretations), and Hamm certainly has the range to convey that.

(Okay, okay, for real this time.) He’s played a serious emotional mess of a man before, so he definitely has the skills for any darker or more character-driven approaches they want to take with Batman.

And some of Hamm’s most interesting work on Mad Men happened when his character, Don Draper, came up against women who outclassed or outsmarted him, a revelation which at once intrigued and deeply threatened the character. Hamm is one of the few Batman contenders where I thought I’d actually be interested to see his Batman’s interactions with Catwoman or Poison Ivy. (Screenplay pending, of course.)

But Hamm is also – and I’m not trying to be ageist here – relatively old. At 46 years old, he’d be a limiting choice for a role that could last, should the franchise succeed, for a solid decade. (Chris Evans, for example, first played Captain America back in 2011. Robert Downey Jr. has played Iron Man since 2008.) A lot of this decision might have less to with Hamm himself and more to do with where Warner Bros. sees the franchise heading.

What do you think, though? Would you like to see Hamm’s take on the character? Would you be more interested in a Gyllenhaal Batman? Or are you just too done with the DCEU to care?

(Via CBR; image via AMC)

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The Alita: Battle Angel Adaptation Lives in a Very Uncanny-Valley Trailer – Cool Snapchat filter.

A reminder that massive anime eyes on an otherwiserealistic human face are pretty much terrifying.

But also, this movie looks nuts—not just in terms of what Director Robert Rodriguez and Writer James Cameron are trying to pull off visually, but the cast alone: Rose Salazar in the title role, Mahershala Ali, Jennifer Connelly, Michelle Rodriguez, Christoph Waltz … and that’s just a start. As far as what we can expect from the story, fans of the manga and anime have likely been watching this one struggle through development for a while, but for those just catching up, Cameron has previously said that he’s working with different elements of the story of the series first four books (of nine).

The series’ story centers around Alita, a cyborg who’s found in a dump and restored by Christoph Waltz’s character. She has memories of fighting skills left over from her previous life, but she doesn’t remember anything else and winds up putting her skills to use as a mercenary, and later in a sport called Motorball, which Cameron said he wanted to include.

The movie drops incredibly soon on February 19, 2018.

(via Jill Pantozzi on Twitter, image: 20th Century Fox)

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A Twist! Sir Patrick Stewart Would Love to Play Picard in a Tarantino Star Trek – Make it so!

I’m not necessarily interested in a Quentin Tarantino Star Trek movie—though I’m willing to keep an open mind—but mark me down as a very strong “yes, please” when it comes to the desire to see Patrick Stewart return to the role of Jean-Luc Picard, along with the rest of Next Generation. It’s too early to say yet whether that’s in the cards, but Stewart, at least, seems equally enthusiastic.

Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, Stewart explained that Tarantino is a big draw for him, saying, “[O]ne of my dreams is to work with Tarantino. I admire his work so much, and to be in a Tarantino film would give me so much satisfaction. So, if he is going to direct something to do with Star Trek and there was the possibility of dear old Jean-Luc showing up again and doing that for Mr Tarantino, I would embrace it.”

Stewart’s desire would line up pretty well with past Tarantino comments that Kaila recently pointed out, wherein he mentioned a specific Next Generation episode as something that struck him as the perfect material for a movie. That episode also involves getting into time travel shenanigans, so maybe there’s a way to use it to connect the current OG Trek movie franchise to our Next Generation faves (Geordie La Forge, pls).

What say you, Trek fans? Are we ready for the return of the Next Generation? Are you into Tarantino Trek already, and this would just sweeten the deal? Or are you not, and you’re now wondering how you can possibly resist Stewart’s return? Maybe you’ll never have to find out, but how this all unfolds will be interesting, to say the least.

(via THR, featured image: CBS)

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Amber Heard Addresses J.K. Rowling’s Defense of Johnny Depp’s Fantastic Beasts Casting

amber heard jk rowling johnny depp

Yesterday, J.K. Rowling finally responded to the anger a lot of fans feel regarding Johnny Depp’s casting in the Fantastic Beasts franchise. Many of us were hoping his role of Grindelwald would be recast for the second movie, since his presence only taints this otherwise beloved family-and youth-oriented series. For those who are unable or uninterested in separating an artist from their art, Depp’s history of alleged domestic abuse makes it impossible to enjoy watching his face onscreen.

But Rowling’s statement defended Depp’s casting. She used the divorce settlement and statement from Depp and Amber Heard as a defense, writing, “the agreements that have been put in place to protect the privacy of two people, both of whom have expressed a desire to get on with their lives, must be respected. Based on our understanding of the circumstances, the filmmakers and I are not only comfortable sticking with our original casting, but genuinely happy to have Johnny playing a major character in the movies.”

As Princess wrote yesterday, we can’t know what “circumstances” Rowling and David Yates–who has also defended Depp’s casting, trotting out the old “well, he never assaulted anyone in front of me” line–have knowledge of, but they apparently don’t involve the public documentation of Amber Heard’s bruises or her testimony.

Today, Heard posted an image of her and Depp’s full statement to Twitter. She doesn’t mention Rowling, but it seems safe to infer that’s who she’s responding to.

It seems the line being quoted out of context here is the bit about wishing Johnny the best in the future, as if that’s the same as hoping to see him paid millions of dollars and solidifying his place in an iconic and much-beloved franchise.

So long as we’re choosing individual sentences to focus on, though, this is the one I would go with:

Neither party has made false accusations for financial gains.

Through this entire process, Depp’s diehard stans–both fans and certain media outlets–have maintained that Heard was lying about being abused, that she was after money or fame or that joy they’re convinced women get from taking down a powerful man. She pledged to donate her entire settlement to charity and they still found ways to paint her as an attention-seeking villain.

You might have thought that by including this line in their joint statement, that would finally put those theories to rest. Johnny Depp signed a statement saying no one, including Amber Heard, made false accusations.

How is that the sentence that gets ignored? If J.K. Rowling is specifically going to reference their joint statement, it’s ludicrous to focus on “wishes [him] the best” and ignore the admission that she wasn’t lying about the assault.

(via Uproxx, image: Shutterstock)

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The Purple Man Is Back Messing With Jessica Jones’ Head in Season 2

Jessica Jones might’ve thought she did away with Kilgrave in the season 1 finale, but every comic book fan knows that you can’t keep your worst nemesis down.

David Tennant’s turn as Kilgrave, a.k.a. the Purple Man, was one of the most terrifying and effective villainous turns I’ve ever seen: Tennant has both the slick charm and the oily menace to pull off the abusive, conniving, manipulative mind-controlling character. And since Kilgrave burrowed so deeply into Jessica’s subconscious, it appears that even his neck-snapped death at Jessica’s hands isn’t stopping him from sticking around to haunt our heroine.

Entertainment Weekly has a first look at Jessica Jones season 2, which appears to be even darker than the first season’s considerably dark run. Jessica Jones is my favorite of the Marvel/Netflix collaborations so far, but getting through the season wasn’t always easy, and sometimes I had to pause in binge-watching and just take some time to breathe. Jessica isn’t your traditional superhero or traditional sympathetic lead, and the audience is drawn into her bleak life with her. It’s like plunging underwater into an ocean of despair.

Suffering PTSD from Kilgrave’s first takeover of her life, brain, and bodily autonomy, the Jessica we meet is angry, sarcastic, cynical, frightened, sunk into alcohol as an escape, and hardly gung-ho about saving the city, no matter what special strengths she’s gifted with. I think bringing back Kilgrave in some form makes a lot of sense: people who suffer from trauma aren’t miraculously cured if the cause of that trauma is removed.

Far too often, trauma stays with you, and it looks like Jessica Jones will be exploring this concept quite literally. Showrunner Melissa Rosenberg explained the decision to have Kilgrave return: “He’s such a part of her construction and her dilemma. I think just having him come back and be that mirror again is really important.”

And it seems like the rapport between star Krysten Ritter and Tennant remains—their chemistry is part of what makes the interactions between Jessica and Kilgrave all the more disturbing. “Having David back on set was amazing,” Ritter told EW. “We had such a great run the first season, and it felt like a celebration, having him back. The content is maybe not much of a celebration [laughs], but having him be present and spending time with him on a personal level kind of felt like one.”

As for how Jessica’s life has changed since the events of season 1 and The Defenders, Ritter explained, with perhaps a touch of shade on Netflix’s lukewarm superhero team-up, “I think Jessica is in a pretty dark headspace when we meet her at the top of season 2. The Defenders took place over the course of, like, a minute — well, it was a week long — so that was like a blip in time, and we didn’t focus too much on it.”

In describing the second season—and a hint that we might also get to see more of Jessica’s past, either before or with Kilgrave, Ritter said, “I think what we can say is that what we’ve done again is kept the story very personal. If season 1 was in her head and in her mind, then season 2 will be more in her heart. This season is more emotional.” More emotional?! I think I’m going to need to take a lot of breaks while watching.

Then EW asked a great question about how much Jessica Jones‘ themes are finding particular relevance today:

Now, this season was written and filmed before the deluge of headlines about sexual harassment. Jessica Jones is a show that deals heavily with sexual abuse and trauma, so how have you thought about the series’ relevance at this point, and about how the industry can be a safer space for women?

ROSENBERG: Well, we were ahead of the curve, you know? It’s just the nature of our show. A woman is starring in it, a woman is running it, and it’s a way of facilitating change.

RITTER: Yeah, I mean, we already felt like we were doing that. We have a really unique situation where our show is all women, the main character’s a woman, it’s written by a woman, and even when the crew comes in, they always make comments about how different our energy is on set… There’s a real, feminine power to our show that is noticeable, I think.

A deeper, more emotional, even darker headspace Jessica Jones created and dominated by feminine power? And also occasionally David Tennant drops by to scare the hell out of everyone? Season 2 can’t come soon enough.

Not to mention that Oscar-nominated actress Janet McTeer, who is the most captivating actor I’ve ever had the pleasure to witness live in a theater, has been cast as a mysterious character “who will have an enormous impact on Jessica’s life.” All of what we’re promised above, plus Janet McTeer? Why is Netflix even bothering with any other superhero stories besides this?

(via EW—click through to see a first look at Jessica and Kilgrave in S2, image: Netflix)

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The Autopsy Of Jane Doe Director Replacing Guillermo del Toro on Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark

The news that Guillermo del Toro would be directing an adaptation of the Alvin Schwartz books that haunted many of our childhoods, Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark, was met with immediate excitement. Del Toro, a huge fan of the series (he even owns 10 of the original Stephen Gammell illustrations) seemed the like perfect person for the project. Though he’s sadly since stepped down as director, rest assured, the haunting tales are in good hands.

Its just been announced that André Øvredal, the Norwegian director of The Autopsy of Jane Doe and Trollhunter will be replacing del Toro, though the The Shape of Water director will still produce with Sean Daniel, Jason Brown and Elizabeth Grave. Deadline also shared the first synopsis for the film as well, which reads:

“The thriller follows a group of young teens who must solve the mystery surrounding sudden and macabre deaths in their small town. Kevin Hageman and Dan Hageman (The Lego Movie) wrote the most recent draft based on the books.”

Scary Stories is a series that has always scared and fascinated its readers in a really special way, and I’m excited to see how the film will adapt that for the big screen. What do you think about the directorial change?

(via Deadline, image: Harper and Row)

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