Wednesday watch: why political correctness is good for comedy

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There’s a lot of handwringing about “political correctness” (a phrase I am hesitant to even use because I feel like it’s owned by people who say it disdainfully) and how it’s ruining comedy. People complain about censorship, when the fact is that no one is being censored; they just have to deal with the consequences of what they decide to say. While some comedians will argue that people have become too sensitive, there are plenty of comedians who have proven that you can respect people and also hilariously take on difficult topics like rape culture or race.

In this video, one of my all time favorite comedians Paul F. Tompkins shares his philosophy on the issue, and how he feels comedians need to adapt to the changing world.

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Wednesday watch: #1000BlackGirlBooks

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11-year-old Marley Dias was sick of reading books about “white boys and their dogs,” so she started a project to collect 1,000 books about black girls. This video from AJ+ features Marley telling the story of the campaign. With this inspiring project already under her belt at 11, I can’t wait to see what she does next.

Wednesday watch: the threat to voting rights

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver returned just when we need another dose of smart, cutting humor to relieve us from the insanity that is election season. In one of their signature long-form pieces, the show tackled the major threats to voting rights posed by voter suppression laws. Laugh, then lament this attack on democracy, then get involved.

Wednesday watch: Hollywood whitewashing

The latest example of casting a white actor to play a person of color is a particularly bizarre one: British actor Joseph Fiennes has been tapped to play Michael Jackson in a road-trip dramedy about 9/11.

This video shows the long, shameful history of Hollywood casting white actors to play characters of color, spanning from 1921 to the present day (h/t A.V. Club).

Wednesday watch: the Heller sisters

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Welcome to Wednesday watch, my new blog feature where I’ll share a weekly video recommendation. I’m kicking it off by urging you to check out the work of the talented sisters Marielle and Emily Heller.

Marielle Heller wrote and directed her debut feature film last year, Diary of a Teenage Girl. It’s an adaptation of a graphic novel, and provides a refreshingly nonjudgmental look at a young woman’s sexual exploration in 1976 San Francisco. British actress Bel Powley is phenomenal as the lead, and it also has great performances from Kristen Wiig and Alexander Skarsgard. Check out the trailer below, and then rent it to enjoy the whole thing.

It turns out there’s a lot of talent in the Heller family. Before I saw this movie, I was already a fan of Marielle’s sister, stand-up comedian Emily. Here she is on Late Night with Seth Meyers talking about how it’s easier to recruit for misogyny than feminism.

You can also hear her on the podcast Baby Geniuses and if you’re lucky you can catch her performing on the road.