Please Mama, don’t eat the government cheese.
Words that are seared into my memory forever. All of us have that Little Magic spirit inside of us, lately I’ve been thinking a lot about my future in that little magic ecstatic-like fashion.
Let’s backtrack. I grew up in a household where good comedy, and emphasis on good, was appreciated. While a young second-grader whose peers were often restricted from access to to the saucy avant-garde programming of early 1990s Fox television, I on other hand was far from restricted, in fact encouraged, I got to watch some of the most cutting-edge portions of our popular culture in action, and I applaud my parents for being so cutting edge.
The Simpsons were and have always been a family staple. Second, came In Living Color. My parents, always supporters of comics of color, have a sweet tooth for such since they both grew up very Chicano, and I think it was important for them to let me watch In Living Color to have a more working sensibility of the real world. If I ever had questions I was always allowed to ask, my mom being the wonderful historian that she is, can unpack and explain anything, even to a seven-year-old who just asked what government cheese? And so I would say this was my first introduction into the welfare state, understanding what government cheese was, where it came from, and how particularly shitty it was, I have learned the meaning of layers in comedy.
But this is about Little Magic, who stars as the government cheese in Please Mama, Don’t Eat the Government Cheese. Little magic and her mama got some big dreams. Mama, David Alan Grier, and Little Magic (Kim Wayans) take every opportunity to get Little Magic the chance to be discovered and go on to fame and fortune. Needless to say Little Magic is quite talentless but that doesn’t stop her or her Mama from helping her garner all eyes on her. After a talent agent in the audience sneaks off, a confused Little Magic thinks things went well, and starts planning her fame filled future.
Little Magic: And then I’m going to get my own TV show….
Little Magic: Called the Little Magic of Bel Air…
Mama: Uh-huh (irritated)
Little Magic: and then I’m going to fly to Hollywood on a plane that says Liiiiiiiiiitle Maaaaagic
Mama: Oh hush now! You better go get that agent in the parking lot before he leaves.
Little Magic: Sorry Mama! (Grins widely and earnestly)
When I’m deep in my work and planning on the future, making plans for websites, the next documentary, what can happen with this one and then I explained my partner what I’m planning, I start feeling like Little Magic moment and I start saying things like “Oh when I screen at SXSW…and then screen on TV…and get my PhD…and then have a big plane that says Little Magic! [Probably more appropriate is Little Yoya, my nickname] But I got to hush up now and perform step one. For Little Magic, her step one was to lock down that talent agent, for me step one is to keep steady on my path. I’m allowed to get excited but I can’t be in the future and the present, I need to work in the trench that I’m in now, a big plane in the sky will come later. When I need that boost optimism for my endeavors, as long as there’s youtube, there will be Little Magic. But I have the secret of being able to call upon her all I want deep down in my permanent pop culture memory.