Tina Fey – Needs More Gay

Rantasmo takes a closer look at the work of everybody’s problematic fave Tina Fey, including Mean Girls, 30 Rock, and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.

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About rantasmo

Needs More Gay dissects the highs and lows of gay pop culture with the precision of a dull machete.

7 comments

  1. I can only speak for myself, but I would never use “problematic” to describe Tina as a fave. Of course, I’m biased because I am from her area and went through the same Summer theater program as she did, so is up there with Kevin Bacon, Will Smith, Benjamin Franklin, and that football player Kevin Bacon played in terms of hometown heroes. Of course, I’ve noticed over the years whenever her comedy has had the rare misstep that I’ll see on social media friends saying they are done with her. To which my reaction is “Sure. Give it five minutes and see how you feel.” Having been both a playwright and critic, I completely understand how she defends herself as trying to tell the funniest jokes regardless of it being politically correct. I just wish she would handle her rebuttals with a bit more grace.

    Paul is a bit of a sticky wicket because unlike the cis gay characters Tina creates, she really didn’t have the same frame of reference as she did with gay men. As originally conceived, Paul is simply a cross-dresser, but the show waffles back and forth based on the rule of funny. But also it is fair to point out that even though the show is Tina’s, the individual episodes aren’t necessarily her work. She isn’t one of the writers credited in Paul’s first appearance, for instance. Like many TV shows, a script is conceived by a roomful of writers, then it’s left to one or two writers to actually write the damn thing out properly. Of course, as the producer you could argue that she has final say in the matter, but a network television show isn’t a cohesive distillation of a given artist’s talent the way a novel or a movie is.

    That’s why Damian and Titus work the way that other LGBT characters in Fey’s work don’t as much. They were part of the original concept and crafted with a sense of purpose that had roots in the very concept of their respective media. Whereas the others were afterthoughts, comparatively and tend to be guest star comedy mules.

    • When it comes to race, I’d consider her very problematic. Her usage of Native Americans and Asian-Americans in Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is offensive. The episode involving “yellow face” is one example, compounded by her usage of the group acronym R.A.P.E. for Asian-Americans who were critical of yellow face.

      Tina Fey dismissing the criticism that came from a lot of people, particularly Asian-Americans, didn’t help matters.

  2. I really don’t understand why people consider everything to be problematic. The only thing that’s problematic is people who consider it a right to never be offended. Life doesn’t work that way. The world doesn’t work that way. And it shouldn’t. You should only be responsible for yourself (children etc notwithstanding) only and if some one does something that’s mildly offensive, IE referring to a a girl as a girl even though she wants to be referred to as a hym (which is bullshit) is nonsense. If someone goes around screaming racial epithets at people, that’s different. On one hand, someone can’t choose the colour of their skin. On the other, if you want to be known as hym or hir or whatever crap like that, that is something you choose to be.

    • I don’t think it’s a matter of everyone considering everything problematic; it’s an issue that non-white audiences have a voice through the internet now and can speak out when a creator does something offensive, like Tina Fey’s use of “yellow face” and “black face”, or her depiction of Asian-Americans who are critical of yellow face as one-dimensional caricatures in Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt to the point that she named the group R.A.P.E.

      • And black face wasn’t always used by racists or those who wanted to promote racism.
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al_Jolson This guy was a damned saint and he used black face. Listen, rape is a serious thing. I’m not saying it isn’t. Nothing should be above comedy or criticism. Just because you’re too uptight to enjoy a joke, doesn’t mean everyone else is.

  3. I know some people were in a rush to call Titus Andromedon from Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt a stereotype, but the creators and actor Tituss Burgess admit that the character is based on the actor. Thus, is it really a stereotype if the character is based off a real person?

    I feel like “problematic fave” is a great way to describe some of my favorite entertainers who I don’t necessarily agree with 100% of everything they do. But I do feel people have really missed the point of what that term means. It doesn’t mean that just because a celebrity said something bad, you should boycott every bit of their work. It’s really something we all need to recognize about famous people: They’re not perfect, and you should really be careful about idolizing them.

    I mean, would you completely cut off all contact with a close relative or best friend because they made one un-woke remark?

    • I suppose it depends on the respective person and what the issue was. I know Asian-Americans who found “Kimmy Goes to a Play!” very offensive (I know Anna Akana cited the problematic episode in her Asians in Entertainment key note speech), so why wouldn’t they cut themselves off from a creator who uses Asian-Americans in such a bigoted way?

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