Thanksgiving has always been about food.

We suffer through the awkward small talk and often anti-climactic football games for the sake of the meal that awaits us at the end of the day, and even then that "meal" is representative of ethnic cleansing and genocide. But there are a few other pros that lay outside of gorging yourself on mashed potatoes. The holiday always falls on a Thursday, which means you always have a four day weekend. Black Friday is also the following day, so despite whatever infuriating experiences you may have on Thanksgiving with your family, you can at least rest easy knowing you can go out and buy enough stuff to numb the pain.

These reasons alone are enough to warrant celebration. So while you clench your jaw through what is almost guaranteed to be a painfully long afternoon, why not curate some music to help elevate your mood and remind yourself that a four day weekend of relaxation awaits?

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Culture News

The Persistence of Blackface Makes This Gucci Sweater Racist

The Virginia leadership, Fox's Megyn Kelly, The View's Joy Behar: What keeps drawing people to blackface?

Gucci's offensively high prices were overshadowed this week by the galling racism of its "blackface sweater," as it's been deemed by the public.

The high-end brand released a $890 "wool balaclava sweater," which is essentially a black turtleneck with a mouth cut out surrounded by cartoonish, red lips. Immediate backlash critiqued the apparel's resemblance to blackface caricatures.

In response, Gucci pulled the sweater from stores and online. In a statement issued on Twitter, the brand gave a generic, obligatory apology, stating, "Gucci deeply apologizes for the offense caused by the wool balaclava jumper...We consider diversity to be a fundamental value to be fully upheld, respected, and at the forefront of every decision we make." They add, "We are fully committed to increasing diversity throughout our organization and turning this incident into a powerful learning moment for the Gucci team and beyond."

The label doesn't share how the concept was approved in the first place, nor do they even acknowledge the disconcerting resemblance to racist minstrel imagery that proliferated well into the 20th century. Film producer Tariq Nasheed panned the apology on Twitter, posting, "So @gucci puts out a sweater that looks like blackface...On Black History Month...And then issues an apology because they didn't know that blackface images are racist."

Unfortunately, the racial insensitivity of blackface seems to be a trending topic this year, with two Virginian politicians exposed for donning blackface during their college careers. Governor Ralph Northam confessed to donning blackface in the 1980s as part of a Michael Jackson costume. Soon after, Attorney General Mark Herring admitted to wearing blackface at a 1980 undergraduate party where he dressed as rapper Kurtis Blow. In entertainment, Megyn Kelly was fired from Fox late last year for defending blackface (and "whiteface," which is not a thing) as parts of Halloween costumes. On top of this, recently dug up footage of The View captures Joy Behar showing off a photo of herself in an old Halloween costume as a "beautiful African woman" and dark makeup ("I was so cute!" she says).

What keeps drawing people to blackface?

David Pilgrim, director of the Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia, says it could start out as naive curiosity: "You get an opportunity to walk like, talk like, look like what you imagine black people to be." But Dwandalyn Reece of the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture points out, "they're not really trying to understand how the stereotypes work."

And as Gucci's bloodless apology demonstrates, "people don't seem to learn the lesson." Reece critiques that these incidents repeat because people mistakenly think they can separate blackface from the history of slavery and Jim Crow oppression that birthed it. "When you reduce someone to a stereotype," Reece adds, "it is a way of distancing yourself from them." Blackface, in particular, dehumanizes an entire racial community into a costume–or just an ugly, $890 sweater.

CNBC


Meg Hanson is a Brooklyn-based writer, teacher and jaywalker. Find Meg at her website and on Twitter @megsoyung.


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New Today Show Cast is Already Performing Better Than Megyn Kelly Ratings

NBC must surely feel like a Megyn Kelly-size weight has been lifted from its shoulders: ratings for the 9am hour—and the rest of the "Today" broadcast—are up.

NBC

When NBC canceled "Megyn Kelly Today" roughly three weeks ago, there were no specific plans for how the network would fill the "Today" show's third hour.

Since October 29—NBC's first Kelly-free morning after her departure—there has been no discernible structure to the broadcast. Anchors from the show's earlier hours have been playing a game of musical chairs around the elliptical table on Kelly's old set. NBC has dug so deep into its roster of personalities that even Natalie Morales, who was banished from the news desk at "Today" proper to the couch cushions and annals of celebrity news as co-host of Access, made an appearance this week.

In spite of the scramble to figure out how to re-work the hour occupied by its most expensive name, the network must surely feel like a Megyn Kelly-size weight has been lifted from its shoulders: ratings for the 9am hour—and the rest of the "Today" broadcast—are up.

According to Variety, viewership in the coveted 25-54 demographic has jumped to 2.63 million, up from the 2.52 million during Kelly's final week. "Today" has also bested its longtime morning rival "Good Morning America" in ratings for each of the last three weeks.

Perhaps this is because even an ever-rotating cast of personalities has been able to achieve what Kelly could not.

Mike Strobe / Getty

It was clear from her first appearances on NBC that executives had little to no idea what to do with Kelly. During a time when news media can so easily be categorized by how its consumers vote, NBC's scooping of the one-time Fox darling seemed like a bald-faced attempt to appeal to white, suburban housewives who voted for Donald Trump, who regularly criticizes NBC and its news division for their coverage of him. It surely didn't help that news of the $69 million they'd spent to bring her to 30 Rock was widely circulated, leaving both the network and the star with a gigantic paycheck to justify.

Kelly's debut on NBC was the shortest-lived of the three roles she'd signed on for, as host of newsmagazine "Sunday Night with Megyn Kelly." The prosecutorial, immediate-attack strategy that propelled her rise was not at all effective in her underwhelming sit-down with Vladimir Putin. She then drew criticism when she announced that she'd be interviewing Sandy Hook shooting denier and human vuvuzela Alex Jones. While most of the pushback occurred before the interview even aired, it was hard to ignore the stunning hypocrisy with which Kelly conducted it: admonishing Jones for spreading lies and conspiracies without acknowledging that the regularly inflammatory style of her former employer, one in which the volume and frequency of a claim is directly correlated to its truthfulness (the very style that made Kelly a star there), is responsible for fostering a culture in which Jones was able to slip right into the mainstream. "Sunday Night with Megyn Kelly" was canceled after 8 episodes.

Alexei Druzhinin / AP

It's easier to reason, in this context, that NBC's move to focus on Kelly as a morning TV personality and not a journalist was the right one. Yet even when covering stories of less consequence, Kelly remained on the offensive. She regularly opened segments she found unfavorable in mocking tones, and struggled to hide her disdain for the audience. In almost every interaction and on almost topic, Kelly seemed out to get her subjects. Her inability to calibrate her antagonism was an issue in its own right, but it was categorically out of place among its soft-news morning show counterparts. That Kelly's failure as a daytime host would come as a result of her going too hard on an innocuous topic (Halloween costumes) before spiraling out of control into something deeply offensive (excusing blackface) was practically preordained.

NBC's 9am broadcast is now simply called "Today Third Hour," which is a fitting name for the new format. Anchors and co-hosts hop over from studio 1A to 6A, bringing the hard news of the day into the more casual and conversational setting. It's essentially a return to the very format the program pioneered in 1952, and serves as an organic transition between the straight news of its earlier hours to the wine-and-chat mornings of Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb. It's news-lite, as it should be—notably, a time during which neither audience nor guest is under attack.

In the end, it was Kelly's incessant need to conquer her subjects that ultimately took her down. Kelly's priority has always been to win, and rarely did it matter which team she's playing for. But journalism isn't meant to be a competition; there are no "winners" in journalism. Especially not Megyn Kelly.


Rebecca Linde is a writer and cultural critic in NYC. She tweets about pop culture and television @rklinde.


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Once Again, Megyn Kelly Says the Wrong Thing

The TV host is reportedly leaving NBC after racist comments, but she has been dog-whistling her own tune since she first took over the 9am hour of the Today Show.

Phillip Faraone / Getty Images

Megyn Kelly is reportedly out of a job at NBC. Kelly, who opened her eponymous talk show yesterday morning with an apology, has been receiving a steady flow of criticisms and coverage from her own network following her comments about blackface during Tuesday's broadcast.

"What is racist?" asked Kelly, seemingly crystalizing her entire worldview into a single question. "Because truly you do get in trouble if you are a white person who puts on blackface," she observed. "Back when I was a kid, that was okay as long as you were dressing up as, like, a character."

She didn't need to wait long for an answer, as many, including her Today Show colleagues Al Roker and Craig Melvin, were quick to point out how obtuse her comments were.

"I learned given the history of blackface being used in awful ways by racists in this country," Kelly said during her apology, "it is not OK for that to be part of any costume, Halloween or otherwise." In response to an internal email Kelly had sent to colleagues and her show staff, Roker added, "she owes a bigger apology to folks of color around the country."

One thing her critics didn't express, however, was surprise.

Kelly has previously received backlash for voicing equally tone-deaf opinions on air, including a 2013 segment on her Fox show, The Kelly File, in which she rejected the idea of a black Santa Claus.

While this isn't Kelly's first on-air controversy, it is perhaps her most egregious. It's striking, in fact, that someone who has been a public figure in American news media for years would be unaware of the—very specifically racist—origins of blackface, which date back to 19th century minstrel shows that demeaned and dehumanized African-Americans for entertainment. If it wasn't yet clear that Kelly did not understand the magnitude of her comments, she added that, despite the fact that she's not a "PC person," she understands the need to be sensitive about issues of race in today's divisive political environment.

By equating her comments with those that have been criticized as not "politically correct," Kelly is adding her voice to the growing chorus of demagoguery and willfully relitigating history. Whether addressing the "middle easterners" amidst the caravan of migrants currently traveling from Central America to the Southern border (there are none), or claiming that transgender identity is a passing trend (there has been recorded evidence of self-identifying transgender individuals for over 100 years), our cultural conversation has come to a place where opinion is presented as fact in order to stoke fear and appeal to the lowest common denominator.

But Kelly has been dog-whistling her own tune since she first took over the 9am hour of the Today Show. She introduces every segment with her opinions already established and the temperament of a high school bully. Take, for example, how she sets up a discussion on "civility in politics:"

Where's The Civility In American Politics? Megyn Kelly Discusses | Megyn Kelly TODAY youtu.be

Kelly's tendency to operate at a baseline of aggression is off-putting not because her views don't fall neatly in line with those of her network colleagues, but because it is anathema to the celebrity promos and human interest fare typical of the morning shows. That's not to say that strong opinions are not a frequent part of the breakfast television landscape—it's the very foundation on which The View is based—the difference is that Kelly doesn't have a regular panel of people to debate with. So, her animus often stands alone, her eyes trained squarely on her audience. It doesn't help that she seems to actively disdain the lighter pieces her producers undoubtedly require of her. As such, almost every segment feels like a personal attempt to either punish or undermine her audience. Given her propensity to run hot right out of the gate, it's no surprise that she was enamored with Brett Kavanaugh's ranting testimony in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee last month.

To be fair, as a talk show host (and not a reporter or anchor), Kelly isn't required to uphold the same journalistic standards of impartiality as her broadcast counterparts. Still, when she feels strongly about something, her delivery becomes that of the class troublemaker, who knowingly taunts the teacher while glancing around the room to make sure her classmates are paying attention. Her tone primes her audience for the desired response, which is strange considering Kelly's stance on a given issue can be unpredictable: last October, she admonished Donna Karan for victim blaming after the designer suggested women need to consider how they dress in order to stave off sexual assault. Less than a year later, she all but rolled her eyes at the idea that the public should give women coming forward with stories of sexual assault the benefit of the doubt by believing them.

That Kelly, who moved to NBC from Fox News in 2017, had been given a time slot generally dedicated to fluff, was the first indication that no one knew how to leverage the big name she'd established for herself among Fox's more bombastic personalities. Kelly's takeover of the time slot was the impetus for the resignation of Tamron Hall, one of that hour's previous hosts, who left the network entirely, including her own live show on MSNBC. Hall, who was the first African-American woman to co-host Today, won an Edward R. Murrow award for her reporting on domestic abuse, to which she lost a sister in 2004. Side by side, the two present a contrast in empathy: one delivered impactful reporting by channeling personal experience; the other seems unable to see past her own.

According to Variety, Kelly had been in conversation with NBC about returning to political reporting and ending her morning hour, continuing conversations about her role that began once she walked in the door and seemingly never ended. Ultimately, the network was unable to decide what they wanted from her: is she a journalist, a pundit, or a talk show host? It seems that they may have finally landed on a decision: there's little room for assholes on morning TV.


Rebecca Linde is a writer and cultural critic in NYC. She tweets about pop culture and television @rklinde.



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Megyn Kelly Among Women Sexually Harassed By Pig Roger Ailes

Megyn Kelly Also Sexually Harassed by Pig Roger Ailes.

Megyn Kelly has told investigators that Roger Ailes sexually harassed her, joining a growing list of women who have accused the Fox News CEO of unwanted advances.

Earlier this month, when former Fox News Host Gretchen Carlson filed a lawsuit against Ailes, several female employees rallied around their boss to defend him.

Absent from this group was Kelly, whose silence was noteworthy.

According to Carlson's lawyers, at least six other women have come forward with allegations against Ailes.

Kelly, who is Fox News' most valuable star after her notorious conflict with Donald Trump, is currently in talks to renew her contract, which expires in 2017.

She has been criticized by Ailes spokesperson Irena Briganti for failing to defend her former mentor.

And now we know why.

According to New York Magazine, Kelly told investigators she was a target of Ailes' sexual advances early in her career at the network. Sources say she has described the events in detail.

Rupert Murdoch, CEO of Fox News' parent company, 21st Century Fox, has reportedly studied the findings of the investigation into Ailes' behavior and has asked for his resignation.


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Judging from the lurid details, women have long been subjected to outrageous abuse from the porcine executive.

You know what, let's just call him a disgusting fucking pig, alright?

Kelly Boyle, one of Ailes' many alleged victims, was a communications consultant when she met him. He offered her a contract with the proviso:

You know if you want to play with the big boys, you have to lay with the big boys.

Boyle recalls:

He said he would do things for me if I was his special friend. I said, "what if I am working for other men? Would I have to be their friend too?" He said I might have to give them a blowjob or two but they'd know you were my special friend. At this point, I felt sick.

Another woman who wishes to remain anonymous, recounts her experience with Ailes in Esquire:

When she was 16 and on a casting in 1967, Ailes locked his office door and exposed his genitals, which were "red like raw hamburger," and instructed her to "kiss them." After she refused, he chased her around the office before letting her go.

There is so much more, Popdust readers, but I will leave you with the raw hamburger image.

Let's hope that Fox News will be a safe place to work going forward, if not actually fair and balanced.