THE REAL REEL | A Letter For Letterman
Dear Dave... I'm Happy You Have A New Show..But I'm A Little Disappointed
I am thrilled you have a new show (My Next Guest Needs No Introduction) on Netflix. We missed you Dave, you calmed lots of white people throughout the years, and during this troubled political time, white people, (mostly men I am guessing?) missed your gently probing humor that offended no one… literally no one. If one were ever to be offended by you, it could only be for what you didn't say, not for what you did. And for the record, your face calmed me too, your new show lulled me to sleep with stressless humor and non-bipartisan jokes. Yes, you had Barack Obama on, and made America feel like everything was cozy again, and we tucked ourselves to sleep sucking our thumbs, our Zoloft kicking in, while you and Obama remembered the good ol'days.
But...Obama's not president and the second episode of your new show features the overly praised humanitarian efforts of George, "throw up in my mouth," Clooney. Again, Dave, I love what you (and Clooney) have brought to the entertainment industry, you have made us laugh, brightened our spirits in hopeless times, and I 100% see the value and necessity of humor. Most of my articles are written about comedians as I love them more than most living creatures and think they contribute to the overall wellbeing of our society. What I don't see the value in is 50% of your interview with Clooney, showing us how Clooney's family essentially saved an Iraqi (Hazim Avdal) man from Isis.
I am not sure which is more embarrassing to watch, the footage of George Clooney's father showing us the house the Clooney's are paying for Avdal to live in, or the interview with Avdal where he has to show his gratitude for the Clooney's generosity on camera. The public praising of this event and the request that its beneficiaries extoll public gratitude to the Clooneys, truly dampens the believability of any sincerity the Clooney's were going for and can only serve to at least slightly humiliate Mr. Avdal.
In a time of Black Lives Matter, #Metoo, a democracy that is starkly torn down the middle, and immigration policy that looks like Nazi Germany, I was hoping for more… or maybe less…less obvious chivalry. Of course one of the wealthiest men in Hollywood (Clooney) is giving back. How gross would it be if he wasn't? And yes, the show title does suggest some obviousness to the intended ubiquity of the guest…but the interview with Clooney didn't have to be so base. Without conflict or laden with fluff. Here is a handsome Hollywood lead, here is his pretty and smart wife, and here is the selfless work that they do. I was listening to Dax Shepherd's new Podcast today, and he credits Jason Bateman in saying "there is nothing funny about perfection." There is also nothing transformative about it. In a time like today, can mega stars like Dave be held to a new standard? Is that not a fair request? A standard that demands transformative content?
Perhaps it is an unfair request. I admit it truly might be. I just have to explain that as a woman watching this show, seeing this 70 year old man, with likely little to no fuss over hair and make up needed to be on TV, sporting a fully grown-out grey beard, white socks peeking through his black suit, looking old and wise, and happy…I was jealous and maybe a little angry. How many women do we see on TV, 70 years old, makeup-less, un-quaffed, and able to interview anyone they want, and then given that choice, pick George Clooney, practically revering him as the white savior of the Middle East? Dave, perhaps I am just jealous?
Perhaps I am angry that I can't think of another equally famous 70-year-old woman, also likely sporting a grey beard, that has been given the opportunity to present to American audiences, likely because American audiences wouldn't listen. She would be too old, too womanly, and too invisible. But if you have the opportunity to greet America… would it be fair to ask that you leverage your exposure to shine a light on some of it's slightly more unsung heroes? And maybe even be just a smidge more contrary, challenging of convention, and dare I say, provocative? I know your just the funny harmless white guy who makes other funny harmless white guys smile… but it seems in 2018, that's just not enough.
Sincerely your mouthy fan,
PS: Yes, I know your next guest is Malala Yousafzai and that is fantastic.
By Rachel Hall, Rachel has a Masters in Cultural Gender Studies, and a BA in Communication & Culture, and works with all kinds of people to improve their ability to work with all kinds of people. She can often be found hiding in her laundry room from her two children. More about her on her website.
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