I remember almost two years ago, we were having a fun time at the expense of John Travolta. After the Steve Harvey Miss Universe incident it seems it is his turn.
Back to Travolta. His name gaffe with Idina Menzel at the Oscars was both legendary and bewildering, prompting people all over the world to say, “How’d he mess THAT up??” He explained the mistake on an episode of Jimmy Kimmel, and says both a rushed presentation and a phonetic spelling of her name led to the slip-up.
I excused the mistake as the majority of America did, and we went on with our days. And Travolta’s career wasn’t bruised, nor was it belittled. His actions or defense of the issue never came into question. He was humble and contrite, and the world had fun with him shortly and was accepting of his error. Life goes on.
Steve Harvey, however, is enduring a less enjoyable situation.
The incorrect country-calling of the Miss Universe pageant was told ‘round the world. I say ‘told’ and not ‘heard’, because in order to hear something, you have to be paying attention to it in some capacity. No one has really ‘heard’ about the Miss Universe pageant in quite sometime; I think even some parents may have recently had to explain to their young children exactly WHAT the pageant is, being that it has been kind of an archaic feature of the 20th century (at least from an American perspective), and has been admonished by feminists as a vehicle that continues to perpetuate misogyny and objectification of women in our world today.
Steve Harvey took the job with honor and respect. He didn’t have to come to this thing but he did, and handled it with a great deal of professionalism. But unlike Travolta, Harvey’s mistake prompted a universe of people (see what I did there?) to leap on him with contempt, racism, controversy, and, in some corners, the fiery hatred of a thousand suns.
Let’s put aside the controversy of whether the mistake was intentional or not as these The Daily News and ET Online reports might suggest with concerns that Harvey was cued by a misleading teleprompter, but they both express the fact that he missed the final hour of rehearsals. Maybe he didn’t take it super-seriously. I mean, it’s the MISS UNIVERSE pageant; it’s a special that hasn’t been relevant in America since they were filming episodes of Family Ties. If I was Steve Harvey, I wouldn’t put that much work into the rehearsal process myself, especially if I’m reading from a teleprompter through the majority of it. I’d say something like, “Ok guys, I got this,” and get back to writing more best-selling books and producing more of my popular daytime talk show from my laptop in my trailer, because I HAVE BETTER THINGS TO DO THAN THIS!
Some talking heads making fun of the situation even had the nerve to act like they’ve never heard of Steve Harvey, or that he’s just the product of only one media vehicle. Radio personalities like Stugotz from Dan LeBatard Show didn’t even know of his career and only recognized him from Family Feud.
The opening description of said episode even says ‘Have we run out of hosts if Steve Harvey is hosting the Miss Universe pageant?’, as if Harvey is caliber to some bottom-of-the-barrel, D-list celebrity in America. It’s not like he’s Hammer or Gary Busey; he’s an accomplished, respected comedian by many and a prominent role model of Black America, and THAT is the direct issue.
The most distressful observation of this whole incident is the continuously widening disparity between Black and White America, which almost prompted me to put both terms in quotations, but I chose otherwise, being the situation is so hideously apparent. The fact that a man who is viewed upon as a beacon for guidance and understanding in one circle, can be relegated by mainstream public opinion to an inexperienced, illiterate second-rate talk show host in another.
Everyone knows White America’s celebrities (whether we choose to or not); they are thrown in our face on a regular basis, be them creative, charismatic figures who actually DO something, or just affluent debutantes that don’t contribute to the craft of artistic expression. However, Black comedians, musicians and artists (not counting the handful in the American spotlight presently) are segregated into our BETs, TV Ones, Hot 97s and Centrics and asked to make our living in our respective corners of the world. The fog of a lack of willingness to include and embrace ALL Black culture, only approved, polished pieces and certain perspectives, shows the glass ceiling in a higher resolution.
Plus, when we Blacks slip up in the mainstream, it seems we are sent back to corners and told to stay there. White America’s celebrities have seemingly more room for belief of contrition, public acceptance, and second chances given once they make mistakes in their mainstream status. White America has given people like Justin Bieber, Michael Richards, Riley Cooper, and Charlie Sheen second chances to further their careers after making less-than-flattering remarks about minorities and even using hateful slurs.
Seemingly, Black America’s celebrities rarely get the same understanding. Isaiah Washington used a gay slur during rehearsals on the set of Grey’s Anatomy, and I haven’t seen that dude SINCE. Columbus Short of Scandal fame has all but vanished from ALL memory. And Harvey didn’t do or say anything THIS bad.
Yeah ok, haha. He messed up, and kinda big. But let’s not diminish Steve Harvey’s contribution to ALL of America while we playfully joke. The man has had two network television shows which were in production for a combined number of eight years. He’s co-written one New York Times best-seller and two other self-help books. He has a body of comedic work that spans over two decades. He continues to be a pillar in the community of Cleveland from which he hails.
And he’s hosted before at the Image Awards. So he knows what he’s doing.
AND he’s hosted the Daytime Emmy Awards before. TWICE.
So I think Steve Harvey deserves to make a mistake without name-calling.
And if you don’t think there was name-calling…. you are sorely mistaken.
The gap is wider than some may want to believe.
The want to keep that gap in existence is completely evident.