Truth Said In Jest

Jose Vilson

Avenue Q

Things to Keep In Mind When Attending a Movie / Play:
1. Please turn off your cell phone when you come in the theater. I mean, as soon as. Especially if you know you have one of those annoying ringtones of some random celebrity telling you to pick up the phone. Morons who violate will tempt this young man to dropkick your piece of technological annoyance.

2. Shut up. I mean, really, shut up. It’d be one thing if you’re supposed to interact with the film, but this is not Blue’s Clues; it’s Definitely, Maybe, and I don’t need you to tell the whole movie theatre how corny a romantic comedy is! The absolute gall! The audacity! Go home now, ladies! The Knicks are only a couple of blocks away; you can make all the noise you want over there.

3. Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze. If you can’t, then you skipped 1st grade. Please take a refresher course. When I’m watching a musical like Avenue Q, I don’t need you spreading your disgusting viruses all over the back of my head and neck, you leprous sore. I never had to take a shower so badly after that.

Speaking of which, my girl and I saw Avenue Q, a great musical using Jim Henson-type puppets. I hear it’s popular, and even won a Tony. The premise of the whole musical is that … well, people may not necessarily have a purpose, even with all the college degrees and jobs we accumulate. We all have some redeeming qualities that will somehow lead us to a happy ending. Overall, I found it fun and well put-together. At some point, we all forgot that there were humans actually controlling the puppets and doing their voices.

One part of the musical that bothered the both of us to some extent was the song “Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist.” I knew they were going to be raunchy, and offensive, so I didn’t mind the humor much. But my girl kinda stayed silent while the rest of the predominantly White crowd (and I) laughed, especially when one of the actors quipped “Mexican busboys should learn to speak English!”

She wondered, “Are all these people laughing because they’re uncomfortable, or because they really hold these views about us? Some of the people in the audience, you can tell, really believe what they were saying.”

I laughed a little, because the leper behind me, with his venomous racket in back of me, definitely believed it, laughing so hard, he might have come all over himself. I suspect that others at the show, though, might not necessarily be racists, but products of racial prejudice, and thus act out in ways they might not even be conscious of. For instance, you ever notice how many people take everything Dave Chappelle says seriously and ignore everything Cornell West says? Yes, it’s two different ways of delivering the same message, but they’re both critical of the establishment in their own ways. Many people don’t know how to handle issues except if there’s that giveback of entertainment. “Yes, I’ll talk about how prejudice I am, but only if you promise to make me laugh or at least attempt to.”

Maybe that’s the point of the song, anyways. They wanted to show people just how racist they could be, and prove it by making them laugh at racist ideas. And what’s worse is that, during the jokes, I laughed at the apparent racism, from the Gary Coleman shtick to Christmas Eve (your average Asian-American lady stereotype). Not because I believed them, but because when people make such egregiously ignorant comments like the one above, I can’t help but laugh. Kinda like watching the Faux News Network.

what do you think?

jose, who will definitely write tomorrow to make up for my missing Monday …