“Some white chick wants to talk about race. Great.” – Aasif Mandvi
In a Netflix docuseries, Chelsea Does…, Chelsea Handler examines Marriage, Silicon Valley, Racism, and Drugs through extensive interviews and travel. I want to focus my critique on Chelsea Does Racism.
Let me start out by saying that this docuseries, along with its producer and star, Chelsea Handler, have their flaws. The biggest gripe I have with Chelsea Handler is her White Feminist attitude. Her comedy uses stereotypes and racism as the butt of her jokes, and she can’t quite seem to grasp how all stereotypes are bad (especially when they are seemingly positive, i.e. Asians are good at math or Black people are good at basketball).
Another major flaw with Chelsea Does Racism is that she cannot seem to acknowledge her privilege in this docuseries – her whiteness and her affluence. She seems to think that because she dated 50 Cent and loves to have sex with Black guys, that she can consistently hypersexualize and hypermasculinize them – as if dating a Black man or being friends with Black people are adequate prerequisites for being able perpetuate stereotypes (here’s a hint: nope).
Handler takes the stance that she will not publicly apologize for her comedy or for offending people. She also expresses her belief that, by making fun of everybody, she is not being racist because she is being fair to all (btw that is what many Trump supporters say about him, so that is a slippery slope of logic that I cannot get behind!). This is especially problematic, and something that other participants in this project point out to her.
“I think it’s important to see intelligent people being so stupid about race.” – Chelsea Handler
However – despite major flaws, this docuseries episode does a respectable job of carefully examining discrimination in the United States. It gives Chelsea a chance to learn the errors of her problematic logic, challenging her perceptions of stereotypes and race. She allows for others to address and criticize her openly, especially when it comes to her comedic body of work.
By consisting almost completely of interviews, Chelsea Does Racism gives a voice to those who actually identify with a marginalized group; rather than Chelsea speaking for Black people or Muslim people, she provides members of those communities to speak for themselves.
In addition, she allows a platform for those that one would consider ignorant, racist, or xenophobic, to explain their reasonings. Using smart editing techniques, she points out how ridiculous and uninformed these people and their opinions are, such as strategically cutting to her facial expression of disgust or disbelief, or asking leading questions that address the underlying prejudice of the subject.
“The reality is, if I go to a maternity ward at a hospital and there’s a Black baby, a White baby, a Latino baby, and an Asian baby, they’re going to lead completely different lives. Even now.” – Reverend Al Sharpton
Overall, I think think this episode of the docuseries, Chelsea Does…, is definitely worth the watch. It is a poigniant perspective on racism and stereotypes in the modern United States. What do you folx think of the series? Or of this episode in partcular? Let me know in the comments below!
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