The Thread For 2/5/14: The Comedy of The Colorless
No matter how much I tried to, and enjoyed a few episodes of the series, I could never fully get into "Seinfeld."
Now one of two parts of why I couldn't get into "Seinfeld" was that it was huge when I was still a kid growing up in the 90's, where there was no outward desire for me to watch it. Although my sister's love of the show, from the Soup Nazi to Newman, helped in me not labeling it as a overrated white show lucky to appeal to many white people like I did before watching it, it was still never enough to make me be an indelible fan of the series.
It's funny, because ever since the show has ended, we have seen its main protagonists and brains behind the legendary sitcom have incredible contrasts of success. There has been the good (Julia Loui-Dreyfus), the great (Larry David), the bad (Jason Alexander), and the ugly (Michael Richards and that lovable, memorable tirade of racism).
In the middle of all that post show history is fittingly the man at the center of that show, one Jerry "Seinfeld." He hasn't done anything epic since then, nor has he ever had a public humiliation like Richards. He has truly been in the middle, and nothing else.
That was highlighted in showing his myopic "white privilege" perspective in his BuzzFeed interview that received so much attention on Tuesday. It was indeed the second reason why I could never gravitate to Jerry Seinfield and his timeless NBC show.
It was always a battle as to whether "Seinfeld" or "Friends" was the whiter of the two megashows on NBC in the 90s. Both were set in New York and both were always subjected to the royal blunt of jokes made by many on how it basically seemed like no minorities existed in New York because of their lack of appearances on the two biggest shows around. "Friends" tried to fix that obvious embarrassment in the last season with a young Aisha Tyler appearing on there, but Seinfield felt like it had the population of a backwards town in Montana or Idaho with how it couldn't find not a single black person to be a friend of Jerry, Elaine, or George (since we know by now it wouldn't have made sense to give Kramer a black friend).
Thankfully for Larry David's sake, he has seen the error of his ways in not casting black people on Seinfeld and has at least acknowledged the presence of black people in "Curb Your Enthusiasm,"with Wanda Sykes regularly appearing on it and even touching/making fun of white people's awkwardness (including his own) when it comes to being racial sensitive to blacks in a few episodes.
That feeling of understanding that minorities do exist and that white people still largely have the powerful first say in our cultural mainstream mentality as an American nation hasn't carried over however to Seinfeld, who was more than comfortable in saying "who cares" about diversity in his BuzzFeed interview after he was annoyed over critics slamming his all white male cast in his new webseries Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.
"People think it's the census or something," Seinfeld said with no hesitation. "It's got to represent the actual pie chart of America? Who cares? It's just funny, funny is the world that I live in. Funny is the world that I live. You're funny, I'm interested. You're not funny, I'm not interested. And I have no interest in agenda or race or anything like that, but everyone else is with their little calculating. Is it the exact right mix? To me, it's anti-comedy. It's more about PC nonsense than, 'Are you making us laugh or not?"
Jerry Seinfeld is not a racist person in my perspective, let's get that clear here.
But at the very least Jerry Seinfeld, despite being born and raised in New York and is almost 60 years old now, can barely find a few black, Hispanic, or any minority friends not in the affluent bubble in his life. He has a typical, limited, bland, and colorless white privilege perspective and it does not surprise me whatsoever he feels this way. He probably thought Saturday Night Live has always been so funny without needing any diversity, when the opposite is true about SNL not being all that funny in the last decade and badly needing a female black child to join its cast.
An unofficial racial quota sure did not hurt MadTV now, did it?
It's what happens when you don't know that people other than whites exist in society, and that your white privilege, especially in success, can be so dismissive of diversity and annoyed with the talks about it. But Jerry Seinfeld sure isn't blind to the sight of colorblindness though.
(Sidenote: It should would have helped if BuzzFeed had someone not white and male interview Seinfeld. Then again, has he ever had some of another race interview him? Probably not).