Seinfeld was a trailblazing show when it came to new wave comedy. Elaine Benes consistently sticks out as a reinvention of the "typical" woman throughout the show because she is extremely strong, sex positive and self aware for the time. She primarily spends her time with Jerry, George and Kramer, the men of the show, but she is consistently depicted as an equal, both in the comedic sense as well as their day to day lives. How did this depiction of an everyday woman set the scene for more characters to be written like this? Do you think her character suited the show and did its due diligence to women in the US? What could have been done differently?
Elaine's participation in the masturbation competition was a particular trailblazing episode in that respect. So too was her particular fondness for her birthcontrol she stock piled. These are a lot of interesting avenues to explore in this topic for sure! – cchaisson1 year ago
I wonder how Susan Ross, George's short-lived fiance who died from licking too much envelope adhesive, would play into this discussion. It certainly doesn't seem particularly empowering, but should this be viewed through a feminist lens? Does it have anything important to tell us, or was it just a funny gag? – BenWoodIsMe1 year ago
For the past while, Jerry Seinfeld has become quite vocal about his disdain for political correctness in comedy. Independent of one’s personal stance on this highly-contested issue, their is something strange about Seinfeld making himself a spokesman for this somewhat adversarial position, considering how tame his comedy has historically been in that respect. Discuss the nature of Seinfeld’s seemingly unlikely position, what factors may have led him to it, and what influence he has had in the debate.
Great topic. Seinfeld was a popular in the 90s. Could be he is finding a generation gap: Boomers vs Millennials? I found his conversations with Jon Stewart interesting because Seinfeld has in the past always eschewed political satire and Jon Stewart of course is so different. Both comedians though. He did make a career though of portraying a shallow superficial character on TV so it is possible that such a role rooted in his real life persona should not come as a real surprise. Remember the 90s were a time of economic prosperity and so perhaps the inequities of today and post 9/11 tone has changed our global and national discourse. We live in different times and I think comedy has veered toward political satire given the nature of the material present in today presidential race. I am sure Seinfeld's kids will get him up to day though. Kids have that effect on aging parents. – Munjeera7 years ago
It's definitely a matter of shifting standards; watching Seinfeld reruns, a lot of the jokes seem mean and target already disenfranchised groups. Things that were funny or even just acceptable socially 20 years ago don't always hold up today, so I think he's finding out how much of his material was catered to his 90s/early 2000s audience. – chrischan7 years ago
I think an interesting thing to consider with Seinfeld's stance on political correctness is the difference in media representation when he was rising to fame as a stand-up comedian and his subsequent TV show. Even in the 90's, there wasn't a popular voice for many minority groups in the mainstream media to speak up for or against the status quo, as compared to today where there are many prominent figures, as well as social media, whom make their feeling known. Does Seinfeld have a point in people getting softer or have those people always been around, but without a voice. – Dominique Kollie7 years ago
Seinfeld was popular amongst people who felt there should be some backlash against the politically correct movement. Seinfeld has his philosophy about comedy and what he is committed to as a comedian. He avoids politics, swearing and personally ascribes to a colorblind attitude. If you watch Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee with Jerry and Chris Rock, Jerry and Trevor Noah and Jerry and President Obama, you will see how committed he is to eschewing any political hot topics. Social justice and equity are not his thing and he makes that clear. I mean it is up to him how he does his job. You can't argue with success. I personally never really liked Seinfeld as I enjoy political satire and parody. The show was proud to celebrate the inconsequential. – Munjeera7 years ago
To build off of what chrischan said, my understanding of his backlash was that it stemmed from college students not laughing at a joke he made at the expense of the LGBTQ+ community. Meanwhile, we have comedians like Sarah Silverman and Amy Schumer (very 'edgy' comedians) stating that, while they don't regret jokes they made in the past, there are certain culturally insensitive jokes that they would not make today. I find this topic so interesting in virtue of this split: the issue to me doesn't seem to be about PC culture stifling free speech, but rather it involves that the creator of a joke think about what they say from multiple perspectives. Seinfeld, in contrast to Schumer and Silverman, may represent that divide in terms of a more inclusive culture for an historically pretty conservative field of creative expression. – Derek7 years ago
Spineless Seinfeld is too wimpy to have a crusade. Him criticizing PC culture is like a paraplegic punching a quadriplegic: the weaker attacking the weakest, How can he, a guy in a show one could easily watch with a pious grandmama - rage against PC culture? "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia?" Now that's a challenge to PC culture. – Tigey7 years ago
I was always a fan of the show Seinfeld, as that was part of my generation, well, the tail-end of it. Personally, in my belief, I think Seinfeld is doing all of this as a talking point, or publicity stunt to stage some form of comeback. He's always been relatively private or on the quiet side, so I've laughed all this talk off, take it all in stride as another means of acting, and I'm just waiting for his announcement or punch-line that will clear up what this all means. – danielle5777 years ago
I have heard Seinfeld speak on this topic of equity and PC and Seinfeld believes that America is a meritocracy. In the past his view was you work hard, you get ahead if you are good enough to be better than everyone else. Clearly that worked for him. But since then, Seinfeld has become a parent, which can radically alter most people. Perhaps in the past Seinfeld did not feel that being PC was a positive aspect but now he is a parent. I don't know what Seinfeld's religious beliefs are, as mentioned he is private. Good for him on the privacy issue but as a parent I hope he recognizes that there is a lot of anti-Semitism still in the world today, which sickens me. Whenever I hear it, I always speak up ... strongly. I hope despite his public persona of focusing on trivial issues, he supports his kids over dealing with prejudices. There are still a lot of reprehensible stereotypes about many groups and all of us have to rethink our ideas when we encounter hatred, especially irrational hatred and prejudice directed at our children. This can help make a person stronger. No matter how weak someone is, moms and dads have a killer instinct to defend their kids. Even though I didn't really like the show, I respect Seinfeld because he had integrity to quit while he was doing immensely successfully in his field. I believe he will carry that same integrity on to his parenting. – Munjeera7 years ago
From Seinfeld, I don't expect Lenny Bruce's "comedy" - which challenged polite, suburban, white-flight, Northern racism - nor do I expect anyone to be as funny as Richard Pryor. I expect from Seinfeld, to quote Bob Dylan, to "do what's necessary and then repent"; it's generally what we all do to save our own skins. I think Danielle nailed it: it's a posture; I think Munjeera nailed it: parenthood is a game changer; but I think I nailed it too: he's just not compelling enough to garner my attention. Bob Dylan belches and I take notes; Seinfeld speaks and I yawn – Tigey7 years ago