[or The Green Valleys of Silliness]

“a serious and good philosophical work could be written consisting entirely of jokes”

i’m under the impression that it’s unacceptable to speak with a stranger outside of designated

locations in twenty seventeen; which is a gender issue – and an issue of public speech, maybe –

and also begs the question of whether we want to keep on printing flyers…

internet is the venue for connection and context, now – google it yourself; don’t ask me for any

thing… i forget whose netflix connection i’m borrowing; but, i apparently decided to write about

consent thru the lens of 1990s alpha sitcom: “Friends“.

so, i guess, let’s do this-

an examination of white supremacy in broadcast sitcoms would engender several questions i’m

not sure i can entirely square with this essay -let’s leave behind those concerns about what must

have happened to all the negroes in manhattan. here we are in season two at the airport and we

even have a brother with dreads getting background acting work. must not be an issue, then.

“our greatest stupidities may be very wise”

i am mildly curious about the women in this show’s writers room.

introducing marta kauffman. great- this world must not be sexist. but our world has changed since

’94. is this the same town where time is illmatic and the wu rule over shaolin- right- not about race.

the camera’s gaze feels inherently male on this show, even if you only look at the cover photo. or you

could listen to the constant criticism of courtney cox’s figure, and reminders that the thinnest person on

the show used to be a huge unlovable monster. and should never be allowed to forget it. i actually think

monica is hilarious in the fat suit, which is pretty ableist- i would assume. on my fourth re watch, i finally

realized how much work lisa kudrow and matt le blanc were putting in on the set. it’s fun to watch rachel

finally getting jealous – the give and take… perhaps, the simplicity soothes- in a world overtaken by nazis

and white nationalists -although, where are all the negroes in manhattan?

“the human body is the best picture of the human soul”

two of the FUNNIEST JOKES on the show, judging from frequency, are Ugly Naked Guy and – oh no –

Lesbians! in coffee shop era new york, skinny people procreating is the order of the day. and, as the ever

friendly camera person peeks up skirts and deep into blouses- with the enthusiastic lighting of a classic

waffle house- i found it fascinating that ross’s ex wife was insignificant enough to replace after only two

appearances, but her life partner was real consistent.

in season two, rachel invites sexual assault into her apartment, at pheobe’s expense – to make ross jealous,

instead of communicating directly. lies and secrecy are essential to any farce, which is more or less the line

Kauffman and Crane are riding, with their pratfalls, hookups, identity confusion and sudden entrances.

lisa kudrow is the only actor i recall acknowledging the camera, one of the most arresting moments of season 1.

am i crazy to hate the idea of ross having to argue about the name of his unborn son with his ex wife’s new girl

friend? in the earliest episodes: themes were monogamy, friendship and consent – primarily engendered through

ross’s unrequited mutual loves. meanwhile early in the second season, chandler is molested by a man, to laughter

and applause.

“humor is not a mood but a way of looking at the world”

i categorized the first season in terms of three basic types of episodes – my least favorite were sentimental &

schticky. what’s left are either standard episodes or classics, depending on how deep the chasm of depression is

you’re staring down- which i assume would be the only reason to look at these white people for so many hours in

a row. later in season 1, chandler explores the politics of sex in the office, when he gives his lover a raise instead

of firing her, and spreads a rumor that she’s psychologically unstable. how are you supposed to meet people again?

clearly the standards of beauty are unequal across the lines of gender here- i’ve been tracking tribbiani’s progress-

he doesn’t start out as such a lothario – more of a horny guy. actually, chandler’s ladies are more conventionally

attractive in the earlier episodes.

“One often makes a remark and only later sees how true it is”

some of these ethical questions seem to stem from writers guilt at the money they are making and possibly the quality

of the show. i have to wonder whether Friends invented the friend zone, watching ross engage in chores to bring him

self closer to the women he can’t bear to speak his feelings for.

i saw an interview with hank azaria about his desire to have played le blanc’s character- somehow, the gaze is only

palatable one way – although the gang stares across the street into stranger’s apartments with great frequency, they are uncomfortable being watched themselves, through a telescope – joey calls to confront the peeping tom, only to find he

is alright with being watched by a woman, as long as she remains complimentary.

joey gets laid mostly through duplicity early on, it isn’t until later that his very catchphrase is enough to land hotties-

he’s still slinging perfume in season two, to pay for his half of the apartment. joe clearly cares about consent, while also

seeing “no” as temporary. chandler’s mistreatment of janice, his inability to either be kind or let her go – did i consent to

this theme song? does chandler have a fetish for the chosen people? why is serial monogamy superior to polyamory –

this show is so normative. Where Are the Negroes?

“if people never did silly things nothing intelligent would ever get done”

i watched the break up recently and somehow hollywood convinced aniston to lose weight after Friends, which i actually

find horrifying. hold up a woman as the epitome of an unrealistic standard (to convince us all that even your ideal is never

good enough). chandler is more superficial than joey. rachel felt violated by joey’s play – because local art is terrible?

what else is on? still, joey understands the rules of the dating game- his approach is more shotgun than sniper.

the theory follows as such – probabilities of a woman sleeping with you lie somewhere between one and one hundred

percent – how many women must one approach, before receiving consent? as ck has pointed out – being a hetero-oriented

man is inherently creepy. o’neal put it another way – can’t i harass you, a little bit. a typical male argument suggests the

difference between a compliment and catcall is in the eye of a beholder. if ross’s quiet obsequiousness is not the path,

and joey’s constant projection of arousal would be rapey in a nonfictional universe, the rule of three suggests chandler’s

awkward self deprecation and mumbling as the golden mean.

“nothing is so difficult as not deceiving oneself”

they killed off mr heckles in season 2- rightfully so. public sex is acceptable in the world of the friend folk, although public

urination falls into gray area reminiscent of international waters. it is also wholly permissable – in this world – if men negotiate

their rights to women as a gentleman’s agreement. femininity seems to be the binding force here, both of obligation & comfort

in community. ross competes with a lesbian to be the father of his child- the societal parameters of cinematic dating are refined

and complex as courtship rituals in the elizabethan era. thank god for rent control, right monica?

what ever happened to that one pretty extra? did rachel ever learn not to be such a passive lover? who will kiss us on NYE?

janice deserves better than she gets on this show. maybe we all do. is it the residuals that keep her laughing through the tears?

the show doesn’t care- they settle so often for sentimental bullshit – laziness? still, i am lost in “the green valleys of silliness”.

~baraka noel

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By baraka noel

"barakanoel is an emcee"