Moms Mabley

Captain Uhura Snub: The Politics of Ava DuVernay’s Oscar

Not pictured: Steve McQueen and Kathryn Bigelow

It is appropriate, when celebrating the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr., to recall Dr. King’s words to Nichelle Nichols, as she considered quitting ‘Star Trek’ in frustration at the limitations of her role: “You can’t leave!… For the first time on television, we are being seen as we should be seen every day. As intelligent, quality, beautiful people … who can go into space.” Dr. King’s words show that he clearly understood the value of a token image, as a symbol, a precedent and a possibility model for future progress.

“Smurfette Syndrome”: The Incredible True Story of How Women Created Modern Comedy Without Being Funny

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Far more than a common trend in cartoons and superhero teams, the Smurfette Principle is an ingrained interpretative framework that limits female achievement to a model for male imitation, rather than an argument for female inclusion. In comedy, “Smurfette Syndrome” is a bias that asks whether individual women are “as funny as men,” rather than assessing women’s collective contribution as creators of comedy genres.

Women and Work/Labor Issues: The Roundup

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Check out all of the posts for Women and Work/Labor Issues Theme Week here.

‘Moms Mabley’ and The Hard Work of Show Business

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People who don’t work in the arts don’t realize how much work goes into it. Writers write hundreds of pages before any reader (who isn’t a blood relative) loves their work. Musicians practice for countless hours and write a lot of shitty songs before they compose a tune that makes someone want to sing along. Moms Mabley, the Black, queer woman comedian born in 1894 in the Jim Crow south, ran away at age 14 to become a performer and spent much of the next 66 years onstage, performing and polishing her own comedy routines. Her long experience may be why her work, nearly 40 years after her death, still elicits laughs.