With 10 million viewers tuning in, this Donnie Darko nightmare of a singing competition has claimed the ratings' top spot.
Every contestant on The Masked Singer is a cross between a Vegas showgirl and the monster under your childhood bed.
Nearly 10 million Americans tuned in for the singing competition's premiere last week. Viewers' reactions range from horrified to conversion to furry fandom, as twelve so-called "celebrity contestants" compete while costumed as: Deer, Lion, Monster, Peacock, Unicorn, Rabbit, Alien, Raven, Poodle, Bee, Hippo, and Pineapple.
Official Trailer | Season 1 | THE MASKED SINGER youtu.be
Hosted by Nick Cannon, the bizarre show is the American version of the popular South Korean competition, King of Mask Singer (on which Ryan Reynolds has appeared as a unicorn singing "Tomorrow" from Annie). The concept is both simple and over-the-top, as costumed singers introduce themselves to give hints as to their identities–and not only are they dressed as giant anthropomorphic creatures, but each costume is replete with a ridiculous voice-changing filter. After each contestant karaokes America's most overplayed songs, a panel of C-list judges evaluates their performances and takes a stab at guessing who could be under the mask. At the end, whoever displayed the least amount of talent is eliminated and forced to remove his/her disguise.
With "celebrity" judges including Robin Thicke, Nicole Scherzinger, Ken Jeong, and Jenny McCarthy, the qualifications seem lax. As the judges make increasingly outlandish guesses, from Beyoncé to Barack Obama, social media has certainly enjoyed the joke. #TheMaskedSinger remained a trending topic on Twitter during both weeks' airtimes, with posts ranging from reality TV personalities to common, decent people.
I’m actually way too excited about this show 😂 Genius @MaskedSingerFOX https://t.co/hvrJMpx1VP— JoJo Fletcher (@JoJo Fletcher)1547088180.0
I really don’t wanna be so addicted to #TheMaskedSinger but it’s horribly amazing https://t.co/tYll9Jpalp— Jasmin N. Brown (@Jasmin N. Brown)1547087835.0
*performer walks on stage* Judge - well they have 2 legs so it must be Betty White #TheMaskedSinger— Brandon Gooley (@Brandon Gooley)1547088187.0
The judge that said Obama, that said Tichard Simmons, and that Beyoncé #TheMaskedSinger https://t.co/dKTs8CRODf— Fumy Rita (@Fumy Rita)1547088657.0
But The Masked Singer could very well become America's next favorite joke. After last week's premiere garnered over 9 million viewers only to reveal the identity of Hippo was NFL player Antonio Brown (he sang Bobby Brown's "My Prerogative"), the show's second episode still entertained over 7 million viewers. The contestant unmasked Wednesday night was Pineapple, revealed to be Tommy Chong of beloved Cheech and Chong's Adventures (he sang "I Will Survive" and it was brutal).
The Seattle Times
Ridiculous as it is, this Donnie Darko nightmare of a singing competition still held the ratings' top spot for Wednesday night among viewers from 18-49 years old. The Masked Singer airs every week at 9PM. Who do you think is Alien?
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Plus celebrities react to Nigerian protests.
Young people across Nigeria have been pouring into the streets for the last two weeks to protest police brutality, specifically the controversial special police force known as the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).
Tension came to a head on Tuesday when armed forces fired on protestors in Lagos, the biggest city in Nigeria, who were out past the state-mandated curfew. According to AP News, "Police also fired tear gas at one point, and smoke could be seen billowing from several areas in the city's center. Two private TV stations were forced off the air at least temporarily as their offices were burned."
Not all non-binary people prefer gender-neutral pronouns.
October 21, 2020 marks the third annual International Pronouns Day.
Created by an independent board and first observed in 2018, it's one of those small commemorative holidays that trends on Twitter in hopes of drawing attention to a pressing social issue, like International Women's Day (March 8th) or the ever so serious National Taco Day (October 4).
But Pronouns Day in particular "seeks to make respecting, sharing, and educating about personal pronouns commonplace." The organization's website further describes, "Referring to people by the pronouns they determine for themselves is basic to human dignity. Being referred to by the wrong pronouns particularly affects transgender and gender nonconforming people. Together, we can transform society to celebrate people's multiple, intersecting identities."
But in the words of nonbinary activist and Trevor Project's Head of Advocacy and Government Afairs, Sam Brenton, "Pronouns are hard." Never before have pronouns been scrutinized as closely as they are in 2019 for their power to (in)validate or accurately describe something as fluid as gender identity. In fact, it was only this year that the Merriam-Webster Dictionary expanded the definition of "they" "to refer to a single person whose gender identity is nonbinary" (thus codifying a long history in English language of using "they" to refer to a singular non-gendered entity).
‘Everyone has the responsibility to be respectful.’ — The @TrevorProject’s Sam Brinton is explaining why pronouns a… https://t.co/pMMO8KRvBR— NowThis (@NowThis)1571253180.0
But throwing an additional wrench in the works is the fact that not all non-binary people prefer gender-neutral pronouns.
Take me, for instance: Despite having female biology, I couldn't pass a lie detector test saying I'm a "woman." But my pragmatic, Puritan family is still endearingly confused by the idea of "liberal arts," let alone the notion of gender fluidity. And I'd rather share a communal language with them than do the emotional and mental labor of re-orienting their worldview for them. Plus, I have the privilege of passing as female without feeling too, too, terribly dysphoric (which non-binary people can definitely suffer from, despite not identifying as trans).
But enough about me, look at Queer Eye's beloved Jonathan Van Ness. While he's been outspoken about being genderqueer, gay, and HIV positive, he prefers he/him pronouns. "The older I get, the more I think that I'm nonbinary," Van Ness said. "I'm gender nonconforming. Like, some days I feel like a man, but then other days I feel like a woman." As he told Out magazine, he doesn't identify as a man, but he does prefer "he/him/his" pronouns. In his view, those pronouns don't detract from or contradict his non-binary identity, because gender is not about simple binaries between masculine and feminine identifiers. "Any opportunity I have to break down stereotypes of the binary, I am down for it, I'm here for it," he said. "I think that a lot of times gender is used to separate and divide. It's this social construct that I don't really feel like I fit into the way I used to."
On the other hand, last month non-binary singer Sam Smith announced that their preferred pronouns are "they/them." Smith posted to Instagram, "I've decided I am changing my pronouns to THEY/THEM ❤ after a lifetime of being at war with my gender I've decided to embrace myself for who I am, inside and out." People like Smith and Trevor Project's Sam Brenton simply feel more validated, seen, heard, and true to themselves with gender-neutral pronouns. Smith wrote, "I'm so excited and privileged to be surrounded by people that support me in this decision but I've been very nervous about announcing this because I care too much about what people think but f*ck it!"
Most importantly, as pretty much every non-binary person and activist is aware, changing cultural norms is hard. While LGBTQ+ activism is inspired and passionate and dedicated to expanding human rights to all gender identities, we all know that changing society's entire understanding of gender and pronoun usage is about slowly opening minds. As Smith wrote, "I understand there will be many mistakes and mis gendering but all I ask is you please please try. I hope you can see me like I see myself now. Thank you." Happy Pronouns Day to you/him/her/they/(f)aer/zim.