As a white feminist
I idolize Greta Gerwig in all of her kickass contributions to the 21st century film industry. I convince myself that discussing the hypocrisy behind self-serving phenomena like voluntourism and slacktivism just might fulfill my “woke quota” for the week. I eat up marketable feminist media like it’s my job, plastering every device and notebook I have with Frida Kahlo and RBG stickers with pride.
Lee Minora, actor and writer of “White Feminist” presented by University Musical Society hits on all of these buzzing third-wave feminist topics and more in her one-woman comedy show running through Sunday at the Duderstadt Center. The show is structued around a mock-talk show called “Becky’s Time,” hosted by Minora’s version of a decidedly woke, caricatured white feminist bursting with promises of character comedy and witty political satire.
A pop-feminist prologue — woke karaoke!
Kelly Clarkson, Megan Trainor and a stream of other girl-power pop beats bounce off the walls of the studio theater before fading away to the karaoke track that underscores Minora’s beginning remarks. Minora struts out in the staple spanx, bra and pussy hat get-up that serves as the show’s poster advertisement. In her assertive attempt at shock comedy, Minora caters to the “obnoxious woman” motif that has colored much of the rhetoric surrounding third-wave feminism as she launches into her karaoke-scored spoken word.
In the first couple minutes of the prologue, Minora covers marital rape laws, abortions, inaccessible healthcare in Alabama and reproductive rights politics and throws in a couple of F-bombs accompanied by two middle fingers for good measure.
I’ve seen this somewhere before …
Minora reappears clad in a white cocktail dress with an attached cape. Using a slew of audience participation bits where Becky polls the audience on questions related to social activism, Becky hits on dozens of loosely-related hot topics like one long stream of Twitter hashtags: millenials and self-care culture, Instagram selfies, Trump and fake news, voluntourism, cat-calling, Disney+, Kim Kardashian’s lawyer status, publicized apologies and cultural appropriation, to name a few.
While the advertisement for the show likens Becky’s robust offering of cultural commentary to a blended “concoction that is as absurdly hilarious as it is painfully true,” it is one that tastes all too familiar. Sure, her in-your-face type of political satire might have been striking to the frizzy-haired, wrinkled folks who filled up the entire row in front of me. However, to the younger people in the audience who have to look no further than our Twitter feeds or an SNL Youtube video to consume politically-charged satire, Becky had nothing particularly provocative to say.
Becky gets real
Becky’s live Twitter feed reveals that her followers are boycotting her show and attacking her political authenticity. She reads the hate tweets aloud, each nastier than the next with one tweeter delivering the harshest blow: “I wouldn’t f*ck Becky without … at least a bag over her head.” After the segment, we watch Minora hobble over to the prop craft service table in utter defeat. She leans over the display of pink desserts and emits hurling noises, motivating uncomfortable giggles from the crowd. Minora milks the audience’s disgust before finally vomiting all over the cupcakes and cookies.
Humiliated, Becky begins a desperate apology on behalf of all white women, articulating the internal conflict experienced in their unique position as both the oppressed and the oppressor: we’re deemed “not hot enough for the men” and “not woke enough for the allies.” So what do we do? Her exasperated sequence of “I’m sorry”s is profound in the way it highlights the paradoxical nature of asking white women to simultaneously apologize less to men but more to the minorities ignored within the mainstream feminist movement. Post-vomit, Minora offers the fresh take on white feminism we were waiting for.
The show takes a suddenly serious turn as Becky dives into a melodramatic monologue concerning her experience with sexual assault. Seemingly out of nowhere, Minora sheds her cake-faced persona to reveal Becky’s struggle. In these last five minutes of the show, Minora asks us to humanize the same character who just spent the past hour flipping her Superwoman-esque cape and chanting “WINE TIME” with manic energy. Her strike of vulnerability seems incongruent with the rest of the show’s hyperbolic demonstrations of humor, and the audience becomes silent in our attempt to adjust to the show’s newly somber tone.
“White Feminist” is playful and powerful and quite entertaining if you’ve never heard of Kristen Wiig and have never dabbled in political Twitter humor. While it may have been topical in 2017 when the show was first created, political satire is so embedded in today’s entertainment that Minora offers little we haven’t seen or laughed at before.