Matt Damon, Race and the Anal Probe

19 09 2015
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 04: Actor Matt Damon attends

The Devil is in the Damon.

There was an apology followed by an enormous cadre of tweets.

That seems to be how it goes these days – if it can’t be said, redacted and commented on in 140 characters of less, you’re SOL.

Except, I come from a long line of talkers – real talkers. We can’t say hello in 140 characters. That’s where this blog post comes in.

For those of you who may not have seen the story – it pretty much goes like this: Project Greenlight, an HBO film project led by Damon, himself, and fellow bromancer, Ben Affleck, was the culprit this time. Damon apparently was caught “whitesplaining” (no, I am not making that up) the concept of diversity to a successful black woman producer (as if her success should have anything to do with it).

The guy apologized. I don’t know Matt Damon and I could be wrong, but he seems like the kind of dude I’d like to hang out with – not Affleck or Clooney, who also seem to make up his posse, but definitely Damon.

Here is where things get sticky for me, personally. 

In comedy, no one seems to care what race you are – they really don’t. Basically, it’s about being funny and even aside from that, being an “outsider”. I am so far from Hollywood that I can’t even think of a metaphor to describe it but what if, hypothetically speaking, you would like to have more friends or understanding of a community you are not part of? It’s not that easy. Take my word for it.

We have lots of discussions about race and I think I’m pretty much as open-minded and liberal as they get. That being said, I know that it is hard to establish deep ties with communities that you are not part of. It’s just the truth. 

Damon apologized and said he was grateful that it opened up a greater dialogue about diversity, blah, blah, blah. To me, the point is – are we looking for examples of exclusion or opportunities for inclusion? This is what I love about the comedy community. I have never, ever experienced that sort or inclusion, regardless of race, sex or creed anywhere else – not college, not work and certainly not in suburbia. 

It is a black thing -I can’t understand. Just like it’s a divorce thing, or a Jewish thing etc. But maybe we could all understand more if we didn’t allow this narrative of diversity to miss the point. We won’t be able to eradicate racism, sexism, or any “ism” if we automatically assume mal-intent. In other words, can we give somebody the benefit of the doubt? Ignorance is curable, if the participant is willing. 

I do a joke about being divorced and if you are not, it’s sort of like getting kidnapped by aliens and getting the anal probe. It sounds bad – really bad. It’s scary. But unless you’ve actually experienced it, well, you get the point.

In our conversation about racism, can we all get to the point where we move beyond assuming people can’t understand to the point where maybe they can at least empathize? Empathy goes a long way and sometimes I think we don’t take a long, hard look at what we are doing to keep others out – conservatives, liberals, socialists and others, alike.

I’m not sure this post makes sense or not. I guess what I am saying is that if you really are “open-minded” and want a community based on ideas, beliefs and positivity, then a good starting point would be to start to walk others into understanding what you have declared is not possible simply because they happen not to be born or raised in a particular way.

Makes sense to me. Though, truth be told, I think it’s a comic thing – you wouldn’t understand.

Until next time,

Marc

Thanks again for reading. I appreciate it. If you haven’t already, please consider enrolling to get my blog posts delivered straight to your inbox through this site, email me at marckaye91@gmail.com or follow me on Twitter @marckaye1. (Better yet, how about all 3). Also, through October 15, for every new follower I get, I will be donating $1 to Nechama, a disaster relief agency, in honor of my daughter who is raising money and awareness for this great organization for her Bat Mitzvah project! Thanks again, Marc

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Is Comedy a Pill or a Band-Aid?

11 01 2015

ComedyTragedy

With the exception of a few close friends, not many people I know really know the true me. I think this is probably a safe bet to say in general. That’s what makes them close friends.

However, when I decided to introduce myself to a new environment – one filled with comedians, writers and other creative types – it had a strange effect of feeling completely out of my comfort zone and, at the same time, like a fish finding it’s way back toward the sea.

Originally, the only reason I joined Facebook was in an effort to network with a creative community that I had no access to otherwise in an effort to take advantage of social media, especially as someone who was somewhat “late to the game” of comedy years ago.

Out of this community and into the “real” world, I have found some of the richest, most real relationships I could have ever hoped for. These are people who see the whole thing – warts and all – and not only accept it but understand it. This was something I had really never understood before. Acceptance is wonderful and for that, I am eternally grateful. When one has both acceptance and understanding, that is where real empathy enters the picture.

It saddened me to learn about the passing of a fellow comedian today. I say “fellow comedian” when she was clearly heads above my level and I had only worked with her a few times. I am not going to mention names nor post any of the photos I have with her out of respect for the seriousness and sadness of this. And while I do not know the circumstances nor the cause, based on a few comments I read on Facebook, I would not be surprised if it had to do with depression, bringing back the recent passing of the comedic powerhouse, Robin Williams.

I really contemplated whether or not to even blog about this, mainly for the reason that while many “accept” the fact that many comedians march to the beat of a different drummer, I was fearful that this would exacerbate the cliche that comedians are all “screwed up, manic depressives who can never manage through their issues.” Without defending nor supporting, this is just too simplistic to even begin to address in a blog post.

My personal opinion is that many of those in the comedy world who are just so incredibly funny, authentic and compassionate gather their creative expression from darker places, as many artists do. When I read about someone passing in a way that can have been avoided, it makes me sad to never know what is going to become of that person and vulnerable at the same time – vulnerable to the fact that we must all have a breaking point. I hope mine is beyond my grasp as I hope it is for you.

I don’t know if comedy is a pill or it’s a band-aid. Sometimes it feels like a bad hangover (either metaphorically or literally). What I do know, is that it isn’t some dumb hobby nor a call to gain attention. People express, celebrate and grieve in different ways and comedy is but one avenue. The comedian off stage, however, is no different than anyone else. Everyone needs someone who cares.

Regardless, I feel so grateful for every friend that calls, for every friend I can reach out to and most of all for acceptance and understanding. I hope I can return the favor.

Until next time,

Marc








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