Also, Lauren Patten stops the show.
Jagged Little Pill, a new Broadway musical, is an inconsistent but ultimately triumphant reimagining of Alanis Morrissette's iconic 2019 album of the same name.
Show-writer Diablo Cody spun Morrissette's contradictory and conflicted odes to youthful angst into the story of the Healys, a picture-perfect Connecticut-dwelling family who—of course—have a few secrets. There's Mary Jane, an overachieving mom who finds herself in the midst of an opioid addiction; Steve, the father, a typically overworked lawyer; Nick, the beloved prodigal son who gets into Harvard but (shockingly) feels unfulfilled, and Frankie, the adopted youngest child, a budding activist struggling with being adopted and one of the few people of color in a mostly white and very wealthy town. Wealth hangs over the musical in a form that is never really addressed, but then again, Jagged Little Pill fundamentally bites off more than it could reasonably chew.
“Head Over Feet" Official Music Video | Jagged Little Pill www.youtube.com
As a character-driven musical, Jagged Little Pill shines and falters in this department. The three best-crafted characters in the show are Frankie, Mary Jane, and Frankie's best friend (with benefits), Jo, who struggles with her gender presentation (and her Christian mother's resistance to it) throughout the show. In a show so totally packed with disparate plotlines, the characters aren't always given the chance to fully grow into their personalities, and Jo's storyline could easily have been expanded. (Still, Lauren Patten's breathless rendition of "You Oughta Know" does make up for everything, despite being cut short by a dramatic revelation).
The show's overwhelming, kaleidoscopic nature may be be intentional. The musical was meant to be a maximalist work, one that reflects Morrissette's jam-packed songs by exploring tons of different social issues and the ways they intersect and bleed into each other. The show manages to tackle gun violence, sexuality, race and colorblindness, bullying, and—very prominently—#MeToo. Often the characters erupt into protests, holding signs that resemble those you might see at the next Women's March. For a show that tackles so many sensitive issues, Jagged Little Pill avoids the cringe-factor admirably, mostly focusing on the way the issues manifest themselves in characters' lives instead of excessively preaching.
Seeing the Present From the Future: "Jagged Little Pill" As a 2010s Time Capsule
Heading into 2020, it's intriguing to imagine how people might look back on this decade. Jagged Little Pill offers a window into what 2010s period pieces might look like: portraits of a time fraught with identity politics and addiction, whene the climate crisis and inequality loom large and yet at the same time, differing identities like queerness are becoming more and more accepted, and women's voices are finally being heard (in certain contexts) regarding assault and rape.
Despite the uniqueness of this time period, we're all still human, and the burning angst of Morrissette's songs meshes well with the chaos of the show's contemporary setting. The musical does an admirable job of threading Morrissette's slippery, elusive, cathartic songs into its narrative. Lyrically, Jagged Little Pill-era Morrissette works in contrasts and knots, and though the show's characters can feel underwritten at times, they're given permission to dive deep into their emotions and traumas through the music. Dance also features heavily; a battalion of athletic dancers often serve as physical manifestations of the same uncontrollable emotions that the music tries to express when the characters cannot.
Jagged Little Pill is at its best when it proves what we all know: that the people around us must be going through internal storms while smiling on the outside. Though unlike teen-angst-musical forefathers like Spring Awakening and Bare, it refrains from diving too deep into darkness, focusing instead on growing pains.
In the end, despite its roots in the present, this is the ageless story of an estranged mother and daughter. For Mary Jane, her arc is about letting go of her need to keep up appearances and addressing the pain and need for love that live under the ice sheath of perfectionism that cloaks her WASPy heart. For Frankie, it's about learning that she deserves to be seen for who she is—and that her race and her beliefs and her body shouldn't be swept aside. In the end, it's a tale of a mother and daughter both discovering themselves, setting themselves free in the present by confronting demons of the past. Their voices, like the best declarations of rage and hope, ring out a long time after the curtain closes.
Our Journey, Our Story | “You Learn" | Jagged Little Pill www.youtube.com
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The Trump-Twitter Industrial Complex continues to fester and mutate.
This week, President Donald J. Trump tweeted a false statement about mail-in ballots.
He wrote that secretaries of state were sending mail-in ballots to every person, when actually states are only sending out ballot applications. For the first time, Twitter jumped in to fact-check Trump's statement, adding a link to a webpage full of information about mail-in ballots.
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Was the Jimmy Fallon Blackface Skit Intentionally Released as a Distraction from the Murder of George Floyd?
Racist police violence is a modern epidemic. So why are we talking about an SNL skit from 2000?
At this point, celebrity apologies are incredibly common. In 2020, it seems like some formerly beloved actor or TV personality is being put through the wringer of public opinion a few times a week.
Most recently, Twitter canceled Jimmy Fallon after an unquestionably racist skit from the 2000 season of SNL resurfaced online. The skit features Fallon impersonating Chris Rock, complete with black face and an offensive imitation of Rock's speech patterns.
Jimmy Fallon Blackface youtu.be
This quickly led to the hashtag #jimmyfallonisoverparty trending on Twitter. While fans seemed split on whether Fallon should be forgiven for the 20-year-old misstep, most everyone agreed that Fallon should apologize regardless. This morning, he did just that in the form of a tweet.
As far as celebrity apologies go, Fallon's is a pretty good one. He doesn't try to sidestep the blame, he doesn't bring up the fact that there were undoubtedly many, many other individuals involved in the creation of the skit, and he doesn't even mention the fact that in 2000, many people still thought it was possible for black face to be done in the spirit of fun, because the deeply racist nature of the act was largely ignored in mainstream (white) media. Of course, we know better now, and it's easy to see that a white person doing an exaggerated imitation of a black person—darkened skin included—can only be a racist, belittling act with a long, dark history of racial oppression. With that in mind, Fallon's only option was to apologize without caveat or reservation. Indeed, it's refreshing to see a celebrity apology that doesn't try to justify or minimize their own misstep. While we can all agree Fallon made a terrible, racist choice 20 years ago, we have to believe that, like all of us, he's grown since then. If cancel culture is to have any efficacy in making the world a better place, it has to leave room for forgiveness and growth. Hopefully, the whole affair will leave Fallon (and those who witnessed it) more racially sensitive.
All of that being said, one has to ask why the clip was brought up now, given that it's been circulated around the Internet before, and the specific YouTube clip that was shared was posted on the site over a year ago. It's also worth noting that the version of the clip that was going around Twitter has a text overlay that reads: "NBC FIRED MEGAN KELLY FOR MENTIONING BLACKFACE. JIMMY FALLON PERFORMED ON NBC IN BLACKFACE."
Megan Kelly, an outspoken conservative, was indeed fired from her job at NBC because she defended the use of blackface in Halloween costumes, saying on her talk show, "Truly, you do get in trouble if you are a white person who puts on blackface for Halloween, or a black person who put on whiteface for Halloween," she said. "When I was a kid, that was OK as long as you were dressing up as a character." While Fallon's instance of racial insensitivity was in 2000, Kelly defended blackface in 2019, long after society at large had begun to acknowledge the hurt that blackface and other forms of racial impersonation could cause. This fundamental difference aside, Kelly also has a long history of racial insensitivity that Fallon does not, even once saying, "What is the evidence that what happened to Eric Garner and what happened to Michael Brown has anything to do with race?" in a conversation about the epidemic of racist police officers in America.
Given the text overlay, it's pretty clear that whoever began the #jimmyfallonisoverparty was not necessarily seeking justice for the black community, but was instead trying to imply hypocrisy in the cancellation of Megan Kelly, given that Fallon (who has been outspoken about the flaws of the Trump administration and political pundits like Kelly) is still on the air. One even has to wonder if, given that it's obvious that the #jimmyfallonisoverparty trend was begun by a conservative individual or group, if the trend was meant to be a distraction from the widespread racist police violence that has been emphasized in recent weeks by incidents like the death of George Floyd, a black man who was murdered in Minneapolis by a white police officer on Monday. It seems oddly coincidental that the clip of Fallon should flood the Internet with controversy the day after Floyd's murder, unfortunately serving to help steer conversation away from Floyd's unjust death.
Indeed, under the unquestionably racist Donald Trump administration, more and more black people are being harassed, attacked, and murdered at the hands of racist white civilians and police officers. But Trump and his supporters don't want you to focus on that–so much so that it doesn't feel impossible that the Fallon skit was intentionally weaponized as a distraction.
In the last few weeks alone we learned that Ahmaud Arbery was murdered senselessly by a white man while simply out for a jog, and we all witnessed the harassment of Christian Cooper, a black man who was threatened by a white woman in Central Park who didn't want to put her dog on a leash. It's clear that racism in America cannot be reduced to insensitive skits from 20 years ago but is instead a current and deadly problem. What Jimmy Fallon did in 2000 was racist, yes; but don't let that distract you from the deadly consequences of racism in 2020, don't let celebrity apologies make you take your eyes of our lawmakers, who aren't doing enough to protect people of color in this country. Don't let the latest "#_____isoverparty" trend distract you from the deadly consequences of racism in our laws, culture, and criminal justice system.
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