Friday, November 15, 2013

The Cancellation of "Totally Biased" and What that Means for Diversity, New Narratives, and the Humor of Oppression

It's too late to tell you about the brilliantly subversive show, Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell. It has been cancelled from FXX, it is over, gone.

I can tell you that it was a mix of The Daily Show and oppression. A show that took the side of oppressed masses and highlighted the absurdities they face everyday. Totally Biased was one of the few shows that tried to change the conversation on race, homophobia, sexism, religion. They tried to make the conversation fun. Strange, right?

I can show you this example of the show's genius, where Kamau expertly explains the difference between Sikhs and Muslims and Shieks and Siths after the terrible shooting in Wisconsin over a year ago.  

Or I can show you this clip where the show confronts cat calling in New York City.

Or I can just tell you to subscribe to their Youtube channel here. Or maybe not, because it doesn't matter anymore, because the show has been cancelled. It had a short run, but it's gone.

It's the fault of Fox, for moving the show from FX (where admittedly it struggled) to new channel FXX, where Totally Biased saw its ratings plummet. Like 12,000 viewers total type of plummet.

It's the fault of a boring and cynical viewership that decries the old but still watches Teen Mom and Two and a Half Men every week.

It's the fault of our national makeup that normalizes absurd disproportions of white actors and white stars and can't seem to find room for much of anything else, no matter how post-racial we are (we are NOT post-racial).

Did you know Totally Biased existed? I didn't know until a month ago. But then I did know, and though I don't have cable, and I certainly don't have FXX, or FXXX even, I watched clips of this show religiously. But I didn't think of telling much of anyone, besides posting a Facebook link here and there. 

So, yes, it's my fault too. 

Minorities. I'm looking at all of you. What are you doing? We complain that America does not look like what we see on television. And then a show comes on that does look like America, the America that we know exists, that confronts issues Americans doesn't normally confront, a show that is actually good, biting, fun, and giving you a voice, and you ignore it until it dies.  

Or we hide it under our pillow, our little secret.  

We need to get better at finding these shows, these artists, these comedians, these writers, and sharing them with everyone we know. 

Because people don't know about them. That's how shows like SNL can get away with saying that there are no black female comedians that are ready for their show. But they're out there, SNL. Of course they are. Minorities need to work together on this. We need to share the outrage, together. Though I am not a black female, I understand. Give me one, just one Asian male lead in an American movie that doesn't involve Karate. You're telling me that there is no one? I don't believe you. And worse, you're boring me. 

Give Sung Kang a Leading Role Already
Understand: Diversity, especially in terms of media, is not just an issue of race (or sex or gender or sexual orientation). Diversity is an issue of Narrative. 

Diversity gives us different backgrounds, different experiences, different conflicts, different characters. Every individual is different, that is true, but imagine how different and unique a story will be coming from someone who is an entirely different race or sexual orientation from yourself? 

Shouldn't we be striving for something different? Shouldn't we thirst for it? Artists, I'm talking to you now. Because it's definitely your fault too. 

Totally Biased is gone. The real shame here is that the show was not ahead of its time, Totally Biased was of its time. No one person is to blame for it being cancelled. Everyone is to blame. 

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