April 28, 2012

Roots of "Girls" Whiteness Crisis: "Tiny Furniture"

So, I watched Lena Dunham's 2010 indie film Tiny Furniture, which served as a trial run for her HBO series Girls

For a $50,000 budget film written, directed, and starring a 23-year-old, it's quite competently done. It gets lumped in with the "mumblecore" movement, but the dialogue is crisply written and well-recorded. The word that kept coming to my mind is "watchable." (Here's the trailer.)

Tiny Furniture is not laugh out loud funny, but it gets funnier a second time through as you pick up that you aren't supposed to feel terribly sorry for Dunham's dumpy character as she endures repeated humiliations trying to launch a career as a hipster media sensation. She isn't supposed to be likable, as she does selfish things to people trying to be nice to her. She's a young, female George Costanza, but an ambitious egomaniac to boot, lacking George's contentment with his own mediocrity. 

You sympathize a little with her for having a mother / role model who has, somehow, clawed her way to making a lot of money in the New York art scene by taking photos of tiny furniture (played in the movie by Dunham's real life mother, who, indeed, makes money selling in galleries her photos of tiny furniture). But, it's an inherently absurd situation.

So, who exactly are all the aggrieved People of Color who want to be Georgette Costanza's friend? And why?

And, would People of Color actually be watching this show in vast numbers if one of the four girls was nonwhite? Blacks famously wouldn't watch Seinfeld, and I doubt if adding Martin Lawrence to the cast would have done much for Seinfeld's black ratings.

We can actually test this hypothesis about "Girls" quantitatively right now by looking at how many blacks have bought tickets to see Whit Stillman's current movie Damsels in Distress, in which one of the four damsels is black. My guess is that Troy Patterson would go see any Whit Stillman movie no matter who was in the cast, and the vast majority of other blacks wouldn't go see a Whit Stillman movie even if the four damsels were played by Beyonce, Mo'Nique, Lil Kim, and Tyler Perry.

Speaking of George Costanza, that also raises the question of earlier New York sitcoms about People of Pallor, such as Seinfeld, where the only memorable black character was Kramer's Johnny Cochran-inspired lawyer. (I vaguely also recall a black executive who played straight man to George's fecklessness).

After Seinfeld and, especially, after Curb Your Enthusiasm (by which point Larry David had a half billion dollars, so even if he got Michael Richardized if a race joke went over wrong, he'd still have a half billion dollars), isn't it pretty obvious that Larry David's views on race are closer to mine than to those of all the folks who are in a huff over Lena Dunham's three titular friends being white? At least on the central issue -- Race Is No Joking Matter! -- me and Larry are on the same side of the barricades.

73 comments:

DCThrowback said...

It's 2012 Steve. Aggrieved minority groups are allowed to self-segregate, but if the majority does, it's considered very poor taste as it doesn't "represent America".

We've allowed the aggrieved to dominate the conversation so long that defending the position of "freedom of association" is considered gauche. Just ask Rand Paul. http://www.mediaite.com/tv/rand-paul-and-rachel-maddow-debate-the-civil-rights-act-in-theory-and-practice/

Liberals will go far and wide in their search to eliminate "racism" in all its forms. An absence of color is de facto racism in their eyes. Disagreeing with that position makes YOU a racist. As we know, being a racist is the worst thing in the world (for white people).

Anonymous said...

Funny the powers-that-be-at-the-Times didn't get upset there were no major black or Puerto Rican (after, all, isn't that the NY equivalent of West Coast Hispanics?)characters in HBO's "Sex and the City."

Of course, there were two recurring gay male characters, one very sweet, one very pushy, and black actor Blair Underwood played Miranda's love interest for a few episodes one season, but other than that...very white!

Whoops, wait: some actress who looked Hispanic but may have been Argentine, played Samantha's lesbian dalliance.

Still, pretty white. Great ratings.

Yes, I did watch all the seasons-- rented the dvds.

No, I am not a gay male. I am a woman.

Whiskey said...

I can't figure that out either Steve. Either its hubris, the Toures of the world figuring its time to take over EVERYTHING, or some weird backwards publicity angle, maybe to keep Conservatives on HBO because of Bill Maher's big mouth, or some vendetta against David Mamet (whose daughter is in the show).

My guess would be on the first explanation. No one really cares about this show, it gets no real ratings, HBO has not been "important" to the movie/art/hipster crowd since the Sopranos, and this reminds me of Maxine Waters demanding and getting "diversity" (read more Blacks) as leads on NBC shows which flopped big time: Undercovers, and the Event.

Anonymous said...

I watched "Tiny Furniture" a few months ago and really enjoyed it. Not great, but extremely impressive for a 23 year old. I feel sorry for Lena Dunham.

"Girls" will be the first show cancelled due to whiteness.

agnostic said...

People of Pallor shows seem to only get the go-ahead if they're urban and Jewish, whether openly like Seinfeld or in spirit like Frasier. Ditto the Simpsons from 1996 or so.

In the good old days, there were hardly any such shows. It was Northern Euros outside the big city. All in the Family, Family Ties, Cheers, Twin Peaks, just to name the super popular ones.

Seinfeld was a pretty accomodationist strain of urban Jewish humor, but that's about as close as we've gotten in the last 20 years to People of Pallor shows.

Basically the same for movies. Christmas Vacation and L.A. Story were about the last enjoyable portrayals of low-density WASP country. (In a weaker, gayer mood, I'd throw in Clueless as well.)

Anonymous said...

I think you will find Rhode Island's special dispensation for Jewish cousin-marriage to be explained by anti-Semitism. Because Jews were discriminated against, and were a very small community, Gentile bigotry left them no options but to sometimes marry their own cousins.

Anonymous said...

Great, thanks! I am downloading it right now and my wife agreed to watch it tonight.

beowulf said...

The word that kept coming to my mind is "watchable."

The words that kept coming to my mind are "she's no Brit Marling".
http://entertainment.time.com/2012/04/26/sound-of-my-voice-youll-want-to-listen-to-this-cult-leader/

Luke Lea said...

Wouldn't it be funny if Richard Pryor played Kramer?

Anonymous said...

A noteworthy CYE episode concerned his botching a prescription for his wife that eventually conflicted with a black dermatologist. David truly gets to have & eat his cake too.

"I think you will find Rhode Island's special dispensation for Jewish cousin-marriage to be explained by anti-Semitism"
--wow, the "Night at the Improv" element around here just keeps improving.

Anonymous said...

I think you will find Rhode Island's special dispensation for Jewish cousin-marriage to be explained by anti-Semitism. Because Jews were discriminated against, and were a very small community, Gentile bigotry left them no options but to sometimes marry their own cousins.

Ah yes, I look forward to the, yet to be written, history of those jews forced to live at gunpoint in Rhode Island. Oh the humanity!

Stormin' Norman Lear said...

agnostic-- there are so many odd errors in your comment ("Frasier" was culturally Jewish? "All in the Family" was a flyover sitcom?) that I assume you're either joking or practicing to become a Wikipedia editor.

Luke Lea said...

Tiny Furniture downloadable on netflix. They made that on $50,000? Amazing. Will watch it tomorrow.

MQ said...

Seinfeld may have been white (except for the immortal Jackie Chiles), but Curb Your Enthusiasm isn't. Leon is just one of the recurring black characters (starting around 4:00 in that video Leon becomes the perfect isteve hate object by pretending to be Danny Duberstein, Black Jew -- "Danny Duberstein is good at two things -- math...and fucking").

Lena Dunham is really sharp and talented. Girls is better and funnier than Tiny Furniture. The characters are unlikable but an uncomfortably accurate and penetrating representation of a certain urban world.

Anonymous said...

I knew a guy who actually made a living photographing the interiors of doll houses with a special tiny camera he built. The resulting photos looked like good architectural photography, and if the furniture was detailed enough and properly scaled it was virtually indistinguishable from real house rooms and furniture.

agnostic said...

You never see the big city in All in the Family. The setting is your typical large family-rearing, suburban-looking house. The audience doesn't realize it's set it Queens, or even the East Coast, except for throwaway references.

Same with Cheers -- set in a neighborhood bar, low-density enough that everybody knows your name. Doesn't matter if there are throwaway references to Boston.

But Seinfeld and Frasier was shot in urban locations all around their cities.

Frasier's schtick is your standard Jewish skewering of the goyishe kopf folks, although again mostly in spirit. The agents of this derision, Frasier and Niles, are played in a kind of blackface, wearing the Jewish caricature of an elite WASP costume and demeanor. Those damn WASP snobs!

There were a few such antipathetic portrayals of WASPs in the '80s, like Caddyshack, but they're mainly restricted to the past 20 years.

Mercer said...

I think Girls is mildly funny. I find it interesting because it is a show about twenty something women by a twenty something woman. What other TV shows or movies are by twenty year old women?

The sex scenes on the show look like something from Roissy. I would expect feminists to criticize it more then POC. Since I never lived in NY and am decades older I don't know how accurate it is.

Anonymous said...

Apparently anal sex is a major topic in one of the episodes on the show.

It's disgusting and disturbing how anal sex has been increasingly normalized in mainstream culture, in no small part due to shows like this.

Jeff said...

You write that Jackie Chiles, the black lawyer on Seinfeld was based on Johnny Cochrane. I think the character may be based, in part, on Willie Gary. Gary is an over-the-top civil rights lawyer of some fame but very great wealth. He owns a Boeing Business Jet titled "Wings of Justice" and brags on his website about the cost of the sound system. The videos on his website make him appear more as WWF entertainer than lawyer:

http://www.garylawgroup.com/gary/garyvideos.html

Go to the top video where the Rocky music is playing, then briefly watch the other videos. This man has made a fortune from civil rights laws. You have to see it to believe it (the videos are worth it).

Anonymous said...

The more interesting question about this show is how much the fertility of the young women who watch the show will decline.

Aaron in Israel said...

Judd Apatow more than Larry David. Apatow is your soul mate. Remember that affirmative-action episode of The Larry Sanders Show?

Reg Cæsar said...

played in the movie by Dunham's real life mother, who, indeed, makes money selling in galleries her photos of tiny furniture...

Hmmm... her Jewish mother has a Wikipedia page, but her WASP father (Carroll Dunham V) doesn't. And I'm willing to bet paintings to photographs they both prefer it that way.

Lemme guess... Laurie drives a Caddy, and Carroll a Buick.

Reg Cæsar said...

Rhode Island's special dispensation for Jewish cousin-marriage [is] explained by anti-Semitism... Gentile bigotry left them no options but to sometimes marry their own cousins...

Jews were hardly alone in this. Marriage to second cousins was common in colonial America. (I'm sure it disgusted the Jesuits who ran Quebec!)

Gardiner's Island was a very small community. David Gardiner, son of Lyon (the first English New Yorker), saw two of his grandchildren marry. (Or would have had he lived longer.) A first-cousin WASP wedding-- wow.

Anonymous said...

"lacking George's contentment with his own mediocrity."

So on the bright side, the self-esteem movement has worked out quite well. The feminists can also take some pride in women breaking down the stereotype of George Costanzas of the world being men.

"You sympathize a little with her for having a mother / role model who has, somehow, clawed her way to making a lot of money in the New York art scene by taking photos of tiny furniture"

In eras bygone, the labor of their fathers might've inspired boys to be even more hard-working. Today the father would be a schmuck who couldn't do anything better or wasn't 'creative' enough.
In the present case the poor girl has an uphill task to find something whackier.


"isn't it pretty obvious that Larry David's views on race are closer to mine"

I remember him calling Pat Buchanan a nazi in some affirmative action episode in the first season.
And then he had the whole blacks season, where the charismatic black man got white men to give up their cherished Baseball T-shirts as a favor to Larry(the London riots clothes exchange photo), and teaches Larry how to rip a neo-nazi skinhead a new one.

Of course, his views might be similar to yours, but he gets to make half billion dollars with his bald elderly man who screams like a little girl while arguing schtick.

Steve Sailer said...

"Judd Apatow more than Larry David. Apatow is your soul mate. Remember that affirmative-action episode of The Larry Sanders Show?"

When I was researching The Larry Sanders Show for a recent essay, I noticed Apatow's name in the credits for the first time and assumed he was the genius behind the show. But, Apatow's first credit on The Larry Sander Show is for the 15th episode, by which point the show was well-set. It looks like it was more the other way around: Gary Shandling was more the 25-year-old Apatow's mentor than that Shandling was being carried by the young Apatow. Shandling's had a lot of problems over the last 15 years so he's kind of disappeared, while Apatow is a workhorse.

Apparently, Shandling handled a large fraction of the writing of the Larry Sanders Show, which still matches up well with "Seinfeld," although its 1990s topicality keeps it from being as timeless as "Seinfeld."

Simon in London said...

I don't think Larry David cares about race in the black/white sense. He clearly cares about it a lot in the Jew/gentile sense. He seems a bit unusual among elite Jews in that he seems to think there are admirable gentile qualities and (especially) unlikable Jewish qualities.

OTOH the Californian Jewish elite in general seem to have a much mellower attitude to gentiles than do the New York Jewish elite. 'Hollywood' is certainly deserving of criticism, but I think it generally lacks the visceral loathing of white gentiles that is common in the New York based media, the New York Times, news TV et al.

green mamba said...

I caught an episode of "Girls" tonight for the first time. Having seen and been impressed by "Tiny Furniture", I was disappointed. Both the writing and acting seemed considerably less sharp. The subject matter was similar, but spareness and honesty of the indie film had ceded to labored, unfunny cuteness. (Perhaps Apatow, who executive produces the show, is responsible for this drop-off in quality. I liked "The 40 Year Old Virgin, but he has been producing some bad films lately.)

One thing "Tiny Furniture" got right - and which Whiskey and Roissy would appreciate - is sexual dynamics. Thus the homely female protagonist develops crushes on two alpha hipsters, an internet video maker and a sous chef, both of whom end up using her - the former for free room and board and the latter (eventually) for a quick lay. Dunham is more perplexed than angered by these humiliations.

Simon in London said...

Seinfeld's New York Jews do terrible things to white gentiles, especially shiksas (I remember many many years ago being horrified and revolted by the episode where George Costanza poisons his girlfriend with toxic stamps), and it's of course played for laughs - but not presented as admirable or desirable behaviour.

green mamba said...

The "Affirmative Action" episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm showed that Larry David had some isteve-like awareness of racial issues. In it, David and Richard Lewis run into Lewis' black dermatologist and David makes a quip to the effect that Lewis shouldn't trust a black doctor who may have gotten his qualifications because of affirmative action. Of course David ends up being humiliated as a result of this faux pas, but why did he committ it in the first place? Insensitive, socially awkward honesty is his character's comic bread and butter.

dearieme said...

"me and Larry are ...": oh my giddy aunt, Mr iSteve, you've taken leave of your grammar.

Svigor said...

"I think you will find Rhode Island's special dispensation for Jewish cousin-marriage to be explained by anti-Semitism"
--wow, the "Night at the Improv" element around here just keeps improving.


Yeah, I was going to say that a lot of people aren't going to know that's a joke...

I could see a whole skit using this routine. Jews in Iran practicing cousin marriage because of ANTI-SEMITISM!!! and the undiscovered effects of all that oil, in Siberia because of ANTI-SEMITISM!!! and the undiscovered effects of all that cold; big skies in Montana, humidity in Borneo, aridity in Uzbekistan, funny hats in Mexico, funny shoes in Holland, steatopygy in Africa, etc. All with the same effect!.

Anonymous said...

Soon even the respectable right will come to realize that the left is comprised of cults rigidly segregated, and for good reason.

Anonymous said...

The more interesting question about this show is how much the fertility of the young women who watch the show will decline.

Say what?? How does a TV show reduce fertility? Doesn't make sense.

Anonymous said...

David Gardiner, son of Lyon (the first English New Yorker), saw two of his grandchildren marry. (Or would have had he lived longer.) A first-cousin WASP wedding-- wow.

Lyon is a Jewish name.

Anonymous said...

You know how David Lee Roth said most rock critics loved Elvis Costello because most rock critics looked like Elvis Costello? The same principle is at work with Lena Dunham and "Girls." The entire class of brainy young women who write obsessively about television (professionally or otherwise--the femalecentric Television Without Pity site shows some impressively wikipedialike levels of devotion) look an awful lot like Lena Dunham and come from similar backgrounds as the show's protagonists.

So they simultaneously love the show because it speaks directly to them, but feel guilty when it gets criticized for lack of diversity, so they write hundreds of long, agonized think pieces working out their conflicted feelings.

TGGP said...

I know this is Missing the Joke, but a Whit Stillman movie starring "Beyonce, Mo'Nique, Lil Kim, and Tyler Perry" would no longer seem like a Whit Stillman movie. People would see it without paying any attention to who the director was, even if they might leave the theater disappointed. Trying to trick black people into imbibing "high culture" by wrapping it in a black facade wouldn't be at all surprising to me. They do something similar for school-children, and don't the cultural elite view blacks in some ways as similar to children?

Archie Bunker is an archetypal urban "ethnic" (regardless of his actual religion, references are commonly made to him in describing Catholic "Reagan Democrats"). It makes sense as a show set in an urban area because "urban" issues like racism, anti-semitism etc are highlighted. The most memorable thing about Archie is his bigotry, even if he has to eventually get along with his neighbors (such as the Jeffersons, who eventually got their own spinoff).

I watched that Willie Gary video, very amusing. Sort of reminds me of the "prosperity gospel". I found it interesting that a lot of the big damage awards he won seemed to be on behalf of white clients.

Anonymous said...

Stillman's characters of color seem like they were awkwardly stuck in there to appease PC.

Anonymous said...

Archie Bunker is an archetypal urban "ethnic
Queens was at the time 85-90% white - and still had a large number of white protestants.

This was an attempt by the Jewish elite to demonize WASPs, break WASP solidarity and ethnic power - and, most importantly, empower themselves, like just about everything else they have pulled for the past 100 years.

Anonymous said...

Archie Bunker is an archetypal urban "ethnic Queens was at the time 85-90% white - and still had a large number of white protestants.

This was an attempt by the Jewish elite to demonize WASPs, break WASP solidarity and ethnic power - and, most importantly, empower themselves, like just about everything else they have pulled for the past 100 years.


Still weren't a lot of WASPs in Queens. Why wouldn't it have been an attempt to break White Catholic solidarity and ethnic power?

ATBOTL said...

The reason these other shows did't get attacked for having all white casts is that they didn't start airing in 2012. The left is always pushing the envelope. This is just the start of increased demands for "diversity" on television. There already appears to be a rule in commercials that if there are three people, one of them must be black.

Steve Sailer said...

Irish-American Carroll O'Connor played "Archie Bunker" as an Irish-American (who would have been a JFK Democrat, of course), which contributed enormously to the success of the show. But for purposes of The Message, the character was a WASP Republican.

Anonymous said...

Irish-American Carroll O'Connor played "Archie Bunker" as an Irish-American (who would have been a JFK Democrat, of course), which contributed enormously to the success of the show. But for purposes of The Message, the character was a WASP Republican.

He played Archie Bunker "as an Irish American." Do you mean that Carroll O'Connor was an Irish American or that the character Archie Bunker was Irish American? Is the latter, how did that not muddle The Message.

Anonymous said...

Apparently anal sex is a major topic in one of the episodes on the show.

It's disgusting and disturbing how anal sex has been increasingly normalized in mainstream culture, in no small part due to shows like this.


We tend to associate this practice (which I disfavor on several grounds) to homosexuality in the West, but my brother is married to a high caste Indian (her family went American when they came here and are considered damaged goods castewise now, so a white guy was as close as she'd get to her own caste, as she told me) and to at least many Indians, this is simply the most convenient and standard method of contraception. Oral and anal sex are what is done for recreation when conception is not desired. The women do not regard this is demeaning but insist on it.

But IMO the Jewish fascination with it is probably quite different. I dated several Jewish women before becoming racially conscious and none of them spoke of this in any but the most negative terms. And a couple complained that Jewish men were too often inclined in that direction.

Anonymous said...

Still weren't a lot of WASPs in Queens.
That's beside the point but you're wrong: Forest Hills (like where the US open was played, get it?) Jamaica Estates (Trump for example) Bayside, and Richmond Hill were all WASP enclaves. I know, i was there. Were you?

Anonymous said...

Is the latter, how did that not muddle The Message.
the same way taking black criminal behavior and projecting it on whites (law and order) does not muddle The Message.

Anonymous said...

(which I disfavor on several grounds)
It is literally filthy and extraordinarily dangerous- a great way to cause seriously physical damage and spread diseases - keep in mind how effective sepositories are for getting medicines into the bloodstream.

Anonymous said...

her family went American when they came here and are considered damaged goods castewise now, so a white guy was as close as she'd get to her own caste, as she told me

What specifically caused them to be considered "damaged goods"?

Anonymous said...

Archie Bunker is an archetypal urban "ethnic" (regardless of his actual religion, references are commonly made to him in describing Catholic "Reagan Democrats").

Archie is Protestant; although this is not specifically mentioned in the canon, much less his actual denomination. His church does have a minister rather than a priest, and that alone is a giveway.

Anonymous said...

"Seinfeld's New York Jews do terrible things to white gentiles, especially shiksas (I remember many many years ago being horrified and revolted by the episode where George Costanza poisons his girlfriend with toxic stamps)"

Just as Archie was nominally WASP, George Costanza was nominally Italian.

Anonymous said...

to at least many Indians, this is simply the most convenient and standard method of contraception. Oral and anal sex are what is done for recreation when conception is not desired. The women do not regard this is demeaning but insist on it.

I had no idea. I'll have to ask next time I get curry.

Anonymous said...

What specifically caused them to be considered "damaged goods"?

I don't know the precise details but the other members' marrying out of caste, and one to a Muslim, had something to do with it. Eating meat in general and cow in particular probably didn't help either. They are all Christians now, of the fundie-lite variety, but that wasn't nearly as big an offense as eating cow.

Indian Hindus who become other religions still don't marry out of CASTE. Caste, or "naryu" (Sanskrit for 'color') transcends Hinduism at least to a degree.

Anonymous said...

at least many Indians, this is simply the most convenient and standard method of contraception. Oral and anal sex are what is done for recreation when conception is not desired. The women do not regard this is demeaning but insist on it.

IIRC, most Indians (this may vary among castes) consider anal sex to be filthy, and avoid it. With Oral sex, they have no problem.

Anonymous said...

Just as Archie was nominally WASP, George Costanza was nominally Italian.

With a Spanish surname?

Anonymous said...

George Costanza was nominally Italian.

George Constanza was nominally Jewish.

Aaron in Israel said...

Nominally Anglo-Saxon Archie Bunker was played as an "ethnic" (Irish-American?), but the character, including the racial bigotry, was based on a Jew: Norman Lear's father.

Judd Apatow has been credited with a strong influence on The Larry Sanders Show. One of the more successful former writers (I forget who) credited Apatow with helping him learn to write character-based rather than gag-based humor. According to Wikipedia, Apatow didn't write the episode I mentioned, but he was producing and still writing for the show at the time. Anyway, whether it's because of Apatow or someone else, the show seemed iSteve-friendly.

Reg Cæsar said...

Lyon is a Jewish name. --anon.

...the character, including the racial bigotry, was based on a Jew: Norman Lear's father. --Aaron

Neither Lion Gardiner nor Alf Garnett was Jewish.

el dorado said...

"George Costanza was nominally Italian.

George Constanza was nominally Jewish.
"

In one of the episode, George's father has access to a Knights of Columbus (Catholic) hall; he also sold Catholic statues in Korea.
But there's no sense of anything "Catholic" about the family other than that.
Perhaps they were in a witness protection program.

sailer's last fan said...

What exactly does "doing selfish things to people" mean?

fondatori said...

I'd guess the 'Johnny Cochran' lawyer is actually ripped off, as much of situation comedy is ripped off, from a character on the 'Amos and Andy' radio show. There's a lawyer character on that show with the same mannerisms as the black Seinfeld lawyer. 'Floyd the Barber' from the Andy Griffith show is another character rather obviously ripped from Amos and Andy.

Anonymous said...

Norman Lear used an Irish American actor to clearly portray the Jewish view of a working class white ethnic Archie Bunker. That they technically showed him as a protestant with a "metaphoric" surname rather than a real one was more or less for strategic reasons.

It's obvious Lear was trying to skewer the same types of whites who run the NYPD and FDNY.

No doubt there were WASPS in queens, but working on the docks they would be have quite a rare commodity.

Anonymous said...

My understanding is that the network at first deliberately wanted Seinfeld himself to be the only explicitly Jewish character so as not to alienate Middle America. Hence George was given an Italian surname. By the time his parents were introduced (not until several seasons in), any attempt at making this facade realistic or plausible had been dropped, but the family was never explicitly confirmed as Jewish and a few counter-hints (such as the aforementioned Knights of Columbus membership) were still occasionally made.

Anonymous said...

Lyon might have a French origin being a toponymic of the French city.

Sometimes it will have shared its origins with Lynn, Line, Linn, and Leon.

Sometimes surnames unrelated can have more than one origin such that people think that Smith is only of Irish or Scottish origin whereas it is quite common in England and Germany. ;-) ;-0

DR said...

Steve reads Eileen Jones?

Anonymous said...

What exactly does "doing selfish things to people" mean?

Good point.

People generally do selfish things for themselves. And mean, cruel behavior is rarely selfish in the true sense.

Marc B said...

Larry David is a race realist taking Jewish liberal/Jewish comedic cover. Remember, Michael Richards was his longtime associate, from at least as far back as his days on Friday's in the early 1980's. Minority characters on Seinfeld were never spared from the core group's misanthropy, and were just as likely cast as unpleasant and unreasonable. Long Island Jews were regularly cast as annoying and pushy. Even activist gays were taken to task.

I doubt Richard's opinions on race were completely unknown to David until the moment Richard's blew a gasket onstage after being heckled by some rude blacks. In all of those years of hanging out and brainstorming comedy routines, he likely expressed some similar sentiments to David. While defending himself on-stage, Richard's default comeback was a lynching taunt, and that's a pretty dark place to go for a low-key racial argument.

Seinfeld attempted to come to his defense on a very Seinfeldesque Letterman appearance a short time after the incident. It was a very predictable disaster and one of the most awkward moments in TV history.

Seinfeld maniac said...

Marc B said...
Larry David is a race realist taking Jewish liberal/Jewish comedic cover. Remember, Michael Richards was his longtime associate, from at least as far back as his days on Friday's in the early 1980's. Minority characters on Seinfeld were never spared from the core group's misanthropy, and were just as likely cast as unpleasant and unreasonable."

That's true. Asians especially--remember Elaine in the nail salon; the Chinese American lawyer (well, she was justified in getting angry later); the absurd faith in Chinese wisdom claimed by George's mom. One thing I noticed. Jerry NEVER dated or came close to dating, a black or anyone particularly dark. They were Jewish occasionally, one Chinese, one American Indian, and many European descended, but never black or hispanic. Elaine either. She wasn't sure of the race of one beau, and comdey ensued. Then she had a black runner staying with her during a tournament, but great pains were taken to show that was just friendly business.
The ones who dated blacks were George, who apparently was hot for Sierra Leone ladies in one episode, and goofy Kramer who tried to get a deep tan in order not to appear too pale for a black date.
I have heard the comments about how "gentiles" were dissed in various episodes--the girl whose rumbling tummy was the subject of jokes among Jerry and friends, and who (after forgiving him) later got hit with a bag of oil that could have killed her,
thrown out a window by George.
Still, you could have replaced most of the Gentiles with Jews and the stories wouldn't have changed. The other races though, were in race-specific stories.

Anonymous said...

David did bring a black actor into the fold in his show with J.B. Smoove's recurring role.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/J._B._Smoove

Don't think it changed the composition of the show's or HBO's audience much.

Simon in London said...

FWIW, Wikipedia says George Costanza was "Latvian Orthodox"(!)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Costanza

So I guess that's a sort of mirror to WASP Archie Bunker.

David said...

No one remembers "The Puerto Rican Day" episode of Seinfeld? (Not written by Larry David, btw.) Kramer burns and stomps on a Puerto Rican flag and mutters about automobile vandalism: "It's like that every day in Puerto Rico."

TGGP said...

Wikipedia says Costanza's father was born in Italy, which explains the Knights of Columbus bit. George converts to Latvian Orthodoxy to please a Latvian girlfriend, but that's a one-episode thing.

Marlowe said...

Could Costanza's family not have been Sephardi conversos who had moved to Italy? It would explain the ease with which he shifted denomination to the Latvian Church.

Anonymous said...

Marlowe said...
:Could Costanza's family not have been Sephardi conversos who had moved to Italy? It would explain the ease with which he shifted denomination to the Latvian Church."


Why not? I don't think religion was a major concern for them.

as said...

The female loser comedy:

I just watched this show. It seems to be part of a new trend in entertainment that might be called the female loser comedy. This began last year with Kristin Wiig in Bridesmaids, and Cameron Diaz in Bad Teacher, and Charlize Theron in Young Adult. The uniting thread in the female loser comedy is dysfunctional beta females who can't support themselves very well with a job, but also have too unrealistic dating standards to snag a suitable provider husband.


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