An impersonation of former President Barack Obama used during the filming of a sex tape lands the lead character in Showtime’s White Famous in hot water with the black community. The episode, titled “Scandal” aired December 3.
Stand-up comic Floyd Mooney (Jay Pharoah) is dating a popular female star and she films a sex tape of the two of them which promptly goes viral, thanks to the marketing skills of her manager. The funny part of this is that Pharoah (best known for his impersonation of Barack Obama on NBC’s SNL) uses his impersonation of Obama in the video. This sets off "the black community."
Ron Balls: You gonna get roasted by black folks for making fun of beloved black folks, man.
Floyd: But I'm a comedian. It's what I do.
Balls: Yeah, but it's Obama and Michelle, man. People got tender feelings about that shit right now.
Cornel West calls Floyd “a punk” and Tavis Smiley Tweets to Floyd, “You should be ashamed of yourself.” Ice Cube, however, says the tape is “dope,” so there’s that. Poor Floyd doesn’t understand what all the hubbub is about, simply for just doing an impersonation during an intimate time with a woman.
A damage control expert is brought in to help fix Floyd’s problem. Nelson Youngblood (Malcolm-Jamal Warner) tells Floyd he’s been disrespectful to “one of the most beloved African-Americans in history.” Floyd must “pay reparations” by apologizing.
Nelson: I would be happy to voice my support but you need to pay reparations, brother.
Floyd: Okay, but that's the thing that I don't get. What am I apologizing for? I'm a comedian. I do impressions. That's what I do.
Nelson: Yeah, but you did an impression of a U.S. President who just happens to be one of the most beloved African-Americans in history.
Nelson: And you put him in a sexual situation with the first lady, who also is one of the most fiercely respected and iconic African-American women of all time. From that angle alone, it's incredibly disrespectful.
Nelson: And you impersonated Bernie Mac, who's not even here to defend himself.
Floyd: But what's to defend? I love Bernie Mac. It was an impression that was made out of love.
Nelson: Okay, point taken, Floyd, but we are in strange times. The best thing he could do right now is to humble himself and apologize.
Nelson throws a bit of virtue-shaming at Floyd when he asks him if he wants to be known as someone who is “throwing noise at our culture” or as an icon. Oh, brother! C’mon, it was a silly impersonation. Nevertheless, Floyd agrees to apologize.
A nice touch in this episode is Floyd’s concern that his grade school-age son will see the video online. Floyd explains the existence of the video to him and, of course, the boy has already seen it. He ends up reminding Floyd that he must be careful of cell phones – everyone is taping everything. Smart kid.