Media tagged Comedy & Satire

JC Penney - Everybody Wins

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This 2011 ad is for men’s clothing at mega-retailer JC Penney. It uses a split screen to run a decades-old scene from the film Fast Times at Ridgemont High alongside images of men in JC Penney’s clothing. As 18-year old actress Phoebe Cates emerges from a pool, soaking wet in a red bikini in an iconic scene from the film, the ad’s spokesperson -- 54-year-old ESPN reporter Kenny Mayne -- empathizes: “JC Penney understands that you don’t like advertising for clothes,” and bargains with the audience, “but if you look at these smart fashion choices from Van Heusen, we’re gonna show you this. That way everybody wins.”

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Jon Stewart - “Signs of Anarchy”

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In this 2014 clip, satirist Jon Stewart analyzes tensions in Minneapolis after mayor Betsy Hodges posed for a photo with a young black man while both were volunteering for a voter registration drive. The photo, specifically, the two pointing at one another in said photo, sparked controversy, including the local media and police department describing their gestures as a notorious gang-sign. In the video, Stewart plays to the absurdity of this framing by drawing comparisons to babies pointing as their first form of communication, the gestures associated with N.W.A, an influential rap group tied to antipolice sentiment in Los Angeles during the late 80’s and into the 90’s, and what happens at sporting events. Stewart draws the conclusion that the comments from the officers are likely influenced by criticisms the mayor made previously about the police department needing to work on building trust and bettering community relations, including rooting out officers that abuse their positions. Stewart ends the piece by adding pointing to his “list of innocent things black people do that look suspicious,” thereby signifying that this politically motivated exchange between the mayor and law enforcement catches black citizens in its crossfire.

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Key & Peele - Negrotown

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            “Negrotown” is a five-minute clip created by comedy duo Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele for their television show Key & Peele on Comedy Central. Key & Peele uses satire, comedy, and popular culture in order to address current social issues, especially about race, gender, and ethnicity. “Negrotown” premiered on their show in September 2015 in their final episode. The sketch begins with Key walking down a dimly lit alleyway while suspenseful piano music plays in the background. A white police officer pulls up in his vehicle and tells Key, an African-American man, to “hold it right there.” The two get into a verbal disagreement about what Key did to deserve being stopped by the police officer. Angered, the officer forcefully hits Key’s head into the police cruiser. After this, a homeless-looking man approaches Key and the two African-American men walk down the dark alley together, which ultimately leads into a bright magical portal that transports them to “Negrotown,” a “utopia for black people.” Here, the man who once looked homeless is dressed in a bright pink suit and joyfully sings about the positive aspects of Negrotown. A chorus of people recite lyrics about Negrotown having no “trigger-happy cops,” no white people “stealing your culture and thinking it’s theirs,” and no people making you their “token black friend.” In short, Negrotown is a place where African-Americans do not face any racial prejudice or discrimination which occurs in the outside world. After the song and dance about Negrotown is over, the clip goes back to the same back alley and we see Key laying on the ground, forced to face reality again. The police officer asks him to get up. Key looks at him surprised, stating, “I thought I was going to Negrotown.” The officer answers, “You are.” 

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Key & Peele - Pirate Chantey

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            In this 2015 sketch by comedy duo Keegan Michael Key and Jordan Peele, a group of pirates sing about how they have interacted with women over the years. However, unlike most depictions of pirate chants, the lyrics to their song demonstrate feminist values and are respectful to women. The pirates sing about not taking advantage of women when they are intoxicated, about a women’s right to choose, and about not sexually objectifying women’s bodies. The main chorus of the song highlights the message of respecting women by saying, “we say ‘yo ho’ but we don't say ‘hoe,’ ‘cause ‘hoe’ is disrespectful yo.”

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Kraft Milk Bite Bars

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This ad plays upon the familiar trope of a family meeting, in which a child sits on the living room couch across from both parents. It introduces the “MilkBite” product - a “hybrid” cereal bar that combines granola and milk. The ad begins with an anthropomorphized snack bar accusing his out-of-frame parents of “not thinking” about what life would be like for him, and then pans to reveal his mother and father – a glass of milk and a bowl of dry cereal.

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