Posts Tagged ‘TV’

The “Racial Sensitivity” episode of ABC’s Better Off Ted, which airs on Wednesday nights, offers a funny, if not particularly deep, examination of institutional racism.  Problems arise when the new motion-sensing system at Veridian Dynamics does not recognize African Americans.  Solutions include “Operation White Shadow,” in which Whites are hired at minimum wage to operate doors and lights.  Full episodes can be seen here.

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How I Met Your Mother is one of my favorite comedies (definitely better than the hackneyed show that follows it in CBS’s Monday night lineup), but as is the case with lots of popular media I sometimes feel uneasy about certain jokes.  Last night’s episode featured a side story about Marshall being diagnosed with Dancer’s Hip, leading to all sorts of gender-related jokes playing on the fact that women can be associated with masculine things but men cannot be associated with feminine things.  In fact, both male and female characters on the show make fun of Marshall’s diagnosis.  A sample:

  • Robin: Do any of the other little girls in your class have dancer’s hip?
  • Ted: Is it easier to dance when you don’t have external genitalia?
  • Lily: Clearly, the stirrups were set a little too wide during his last trip to the gyno.

And later…

  • Ted: Hey Marshall, I got you a light beer. I know how you dancers are always counting calories.
  • Marshall: It’s not funny, alright? The doctor says if it gets any worse I might need surgery.
  • Ted: Vaginal rejuvenation surgery?

Seeing the world from a sociological perspective can make it hard to enjoy movies and TV shows that reinforce the stereotypes sociolgists have worked to expose.  Sometimes, these stereotypes are enough to cause me to stop watching a show.  In the case of How I Met Your Mother, however, the show is redeemed by jabs at corporate America such as the following after viewing Barney’s video resume:

  • Lily: Barney, I don’t get it. You don’t do a damn thing in any of these clips.
  • Barney: Exactly, because that’s who corporate America wants. People who seem like bold, risk takers, but never actually do anything. Actually doing things gets you fired.

In a way, How I Met Your Mother is like your liberal friend who makes jokes about racial and gender stereotypes because he is “enlightened” enough to make them ironically and you are “enlightened” enough to interpret them that way.

Update: Here is a post from Salon that discusses sexism and violence in Super Bowl ads.  I guess that if How I Met Your Mother is your liberal friend, the Super Bowl is your drunk, sexist friend who you only put up with because he throws great parties.

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