Men On Film
On A Lot Of Other Things

From: In Living Color
Damon Wayans and David Alan Grier

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"Men on..." (colloquially known as "Men on Film") is the umbrella title for a series of comedy sketches that appeared in episodes of the Fox sketch comedy series IN LIVING COLOR. The sketch featured two gay cultural critics, Blaine Edwards (Damon Wayans) and Antoine Merriweather (David Alan Grier), commenting on aspects of popular culture, including movies, art and television. "Men on..." first appeared on the premiere episode of In Living Color and continued throughout Wayans's tenure on the series. The sketch was revived on the late-night comedy series Saturday Night Live when Wayans hosted.

"Men on..." engendered controversy for its portrayal of black gay men. Both Blaine and Antoine were portrayed as extremely effeminate. Some LGBT people and organizations felt this portrayal was insulting to gay men, although response within the community was split. African American cultural critics have identified "Men on..." as having affected how African American men view homosexuality within their communities.

MEN ON FILM and Men on various other subjects was an ongoing skit initially ran on the Fox Network from April 15, 1990 to May 19, 1994. Brothers Keenen and Damon Wayans created, wrote, and starred in the program.

The first installment of "Men on...", "Men on Films", established the basic pattern for the sketch series. Over the strains of "It's Raining Men" by The Weather Girls, an announcer introduces the public access program "Men on Films". Hosts Blaine Edwards and Antoine Merriweather introduce themselves and explain that they will be discussing films of the day "from a male point of view". They review Do the Right Thing, The Karate Kid, Part III and Great Balls of Fire! and upcoming video releases for Black Widow, Miss Firecracker and Dangerous Liaisons. In each instance the film is reviewed with an extreme gay male interpretation regardless of any actual gay content or sensibility. Do the Right Thing is praised for its supposed message of "Do the right thing, come on out the closet, don't be afraid to be who you is", whereas Karate Kid is panned for not exploring the possibility of a pederastic relationship between Mr. Miyagi and Daniel Russo. Black Widow and Miss Firecracker, both of which feature women in the leading roles, are dismissed with a simple "Hated it!" Blaine initially praises Dangerous Liaisons for its courage in casting Glenn Close in a female role; Antoine informs Blaine that Close is actually a woman, prompting Blaine to exclaim "Clutch the pearls!" The pair signify approval of a film by giving it "two snaps up!"

Subsequent sketches would explore other aspects of popular culture, including art, books and television. With each installment the sexual puns would become cruder and more abundant, the costumes would become more flamboyant and the "snaps up" would become more and more elaborate.

Fox was hesitant about the "Men on..." sketches before the series premiere. According to series creator Keenan Ivory Wayans, the chairman of Fox sat down with him to try to persuade him to pull "Men on Films" from the premiere episode.[4] Damon Wayans reported that after Fox moved In Living Color from its original 9:30 PM Eastern Time to 8:00 PM, Fox censors began exercising more editorial control over the sketches. "David will say something to me [in a "Men on... sketch] and it will cut to me and I'm smiling. What I said was taken out. It happens a lot."

The "Men on..." series was controversial within the LGBT community. At the time Blaine and Antoine were the only recurring gay characters on network television, also making them the only African American gay characters on the air.[6] As evidenced by a 1992 survey by the San Francisco chapter of the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, opinion was split roughly down the middle on the sketches. Half of respondents found the sketches humorous while the other half found them offensive and dangerous.[7] Gay African American filmmaker Marlon Riggs sharply criticized the sketches, saying that they perpetuated "a notion that black gay men are sissies, ineffectual, ineffective, womanish in a way that signifies inferiority".

In an appearance on The Phil Donahue Show following In Living Color's second season, Damon Wayans responded to critics of "Men on..." by saying:

Well, first off, all the sketches on the show
have to be looked at within the context
of the context of the show, and it's not as
thought we isolate any particular group.
We make fun of everybody, and so I don't think
anybody should have a chip on their
shoulder—when it's a free-for-all. And the
other thing, too, is, the sketch is not
a bashing sketch. We don't do jokes about any
issues related to gay people. It's
really a play on the extremes of the stereotype,
and that's it.

Author J. L. King, whose writings explore the down low phenomenon within the African American male community, cited Blaine and Antoine, along with drag performer RuPaul, as images of what the word "gay" means to African American men who have sex with men to explain one reason why such men do not identify themselves as gay.[10]

Cultural critic Angela Nelson places Blaine and Antoine in the context of what she identifies as the "sophisticated sissy" alongside characters like Lindy (Antonio Fargas) from the film Car Wash. These characters depict African American homosexual males as effeminate and/or cross dressers. The "sophisticated sissy" characterization frequently appears in dialogue between two (ostensibly heterosexual) black male characters, often in the context of one character accusing the other of being weak in his handling of women, and is often accompanied by a stereotypical limp wrist or hip swishing gesture.[11]

Keenen Ivory Wayans left the show in 1992 after the end of the third season, over disputes with Fox about the network censoring the show's content and rerunning early episodes without his consultation. Wayans feared that Fox would ultimately decrease the syndication value of In Living Color. During the fourth season in 1992, he appeared only in the (1992–1993) season opener, though he remained the executive producer and thus stayed in the opening credits until the thirteenth episode. Marlon Wayans left with Keenen. Shawn Wayans and Kim Wayans both left the show at the end of the fourth season. Damon Wayans left at the end of the third season to pursue a movie career, though he made a few "special guest appearances" in the fourth season.

Fox censored scripts. In the originally aired version of the sketch called MEN ON FITNESS – February 7, 1993, there was a simulation of Damon Wayans' character Blaine enjoying receiving facial ejaculation while being sprayed with a water bottle. Such segments have been cut from reruns. The DVD version retains the facial ejaculation simulation.

When airing reruns on BET, most curse words (such as "ho" and "bitch") are muted out. One line ("drop the soap") during the second MEN ON FILM sketch was muted out by Fox censors before ever airing on TV for its implications of prison rape. The DVD version has the language intact (except for the "drop the soap" line), but numerous sketches have been cut, particularly the music video parodies due to copyright reasons.

By the fifth and final season, none of the Wayans family had any involvement whatsoever with the show. The show's traditional reliance on the character-driven sketches featuring Damon and Keenan gave way to an increasing reliance upon walk-on cameos and guest appearances, including Nick Bakay, Barry Bonds, James Brown, Rodney Dangerfield, Sherman Hemsley, Biz Markie, Peter Marshall, Ed O'Neill, Chris Rock, Tupac Shakur and various stars of the NBA. Kelly Coffield, who, prior to Alexandra Wentworth's arrival in the fourth season was the lone white female cast member, left at the end of the fourth season. Jim Carrey, David Alan Grier, Tommy Davidson, T'Keyah Crystal Keymáh, Jeremy Wayne and Fly Girl Deidre Lang were the only cast members to remain on the show throughout all five seasons, although Carrey's presence during the fifth season was limited due to his rising movie career. Wayne left the show in the middle of Season 5 to focus on his own show and his movie career while Davidson missed most of the fourth season for unknown reasons.

Where it was originally produced by 20th Century Fox Television on Fox, the series was in reruns on local affiliates and on the News Corporation-owned FX Network, where it was distributed by Twentieth Television.

Reruns of the show aired on BET from 2005–2008, and returned in 2010. Reruns are also currently airing on Sí TV and on BET owned Centric.

The Best of In Living Color aired on MyNetworkTV from April 16 to June 18, 2008. Hosted by David Alan Grier, it was a retrospective show featuring classic sketches, along with cast interviews and behind-the-scenes footage. The show aired on Wednesdays at 8:30 pm Eastern/7:30 pm Central, after MyNetworkTV's sitcom Under One Roof