Friday Hoyden: Whoopi Goldberg

This Friday Hoyden is in video, thanks to the wonders of Youtube! Everything you wanted to know about the wonderful, forthright Whoopi Goldberg. Scroll down for descriptions.


Clip One: On The View, Whoopi Goldberg asks Elisabeth and Sherri if they’ve seen the Sex and the City movie. Squealing and flapping ensues, with breathless, incoherent huffing about the Fashion! and the Relationships!

Whoopi looks increasingly incredulous, then eventually launches into an eye-rolling, hand-twirling Valley Girl routine:

“You know, I just feel soooo strongly, that relationships, as opposed to just the sex in the city, is soooooo intense, so I’m totally gonna see it.”

Clip Two: A slideshow tribute to Whoopi’s career, with the song “Makin’ Whoopie”.

Clip Three: Bravo comedy standup show: Whoopi talks about aging, swearing, and racism. Transcript:

And I’m just not gonna pretend, try to hide it from you. [holds up piece of paper] This is the show. OK? So you see me go back there, look at it, that’s what I’m doing. I am in that phase of life when nothing sticks. And it’s kinda ok.

I don’t mind it, really, I’m just glad that I made it this far. Because, you know, I’m from an era when you ingested things that weren’t really, you know, that – well, it was different. You could do different things. I could roll a joint with one hand. I could do that. You know, I can’t do that now, I can’t even tell the different anymore between the oregano and the weed, I just can’t.

I went out, and I thought, “Oh, this is gonna be great, it’s a night out, I’m gonna just go do [dances].” And I’ve got a little bag of something- I was so excited! And I thought, “Now, I’m in the club, you know, in the cluuub!” Looking good, hair was going, I had my club lips on. I rolled up the little thing, I was like [drags on joint] “Mmm, this is good! Whoah, this is reeeally good, man!” And when I got home, my friend said to me, “You do know that’s oregano, right?” And you know, I’ve been careening into people, trying to pick people up – it was so sad, it was so sad. Anyway.

So I’m learning, and feeling now, because I kind of feel just so much is going on. So much is happening. And you know, I love words. I’m a big fan of words. Because I think words are very important. And now, you know, there’s a whole new set of words for me not to say. Now they say they’ll bleep ’em if it should slip from my mouth. Let’s test it, shall we? I’m not gonna say when, but you’ll know when it happens.

But it’s very interesting now, because everything that’s going on has got people all freaked out. There’s been this whole hazarah, because a word was uttered, and repeated. And people have lost their minds. They’ve lost their minds. They’ve said, “Ooh, there’s a moratorium on that, you can never say it again.” All the black people I know say, “You can never say that word again.” And I keep saying, “Why not? Why not?” They say “whgrrr.” They say, “It’s a whgr!” I say, “I don’t understand!” They say, “It’s a bad word.” I say, “No, I know bad words.”

And people keep telling me what a bad word is. You see – I like words. I have a very different thought about them. See, there are certain words that I can’t say on television that are great words. Like “Fuck.”[bleeped] Now here’s the thing about that word. I have an idea that there’s a really horrible word out there that people say all the time. They say it to their kids. They say it in the presence of anyone. They utter it all the time. And no one ever says “[gasp] How dare you say that word!” Because it’s ok. Nobody has a problem with it. Do you know what it is? Can you guess? No no no – someboody has – some of you have been to my shows, I can tell. See – now- that’s it. “Stupid.” That is a word, that when you say it to a child, sticks with them for their entire life. They know that word. They keep that word in their heart, like love. You see. And you can’t say “stupid” with a smile. You can say “fuck” with a smile. I think “stupid” is much worse than anything anyone has ever heard me say. And yet people say it all the time: “You’re so stupid. That was so stupid.” And nobody ever goes [gasp].

Because really, it’s the intent, isn’t it. It’s never the word. Like the “N Word”. That’s what we’ve got to call it now. The “N Word”. And everyone says “Don’t say it again. We should put a moratorium on it, because it’s a bad word. It’s a word that raises all kinds of connotations to people.” And it’s mad! But see it’s not bad to me, because I don’t know any, and I’ve never been one. So when I hear somebody say it, I don’t turn around! Because I know they’re not talking to me.

But apparently other people don’t feel like that. Apparently other people feel like it’s a very bad word. But is it the word? Because just because you don’t say it, doesn’t mean you’re not thinking it, you see. And you can’t stop anybody from thinking it. So what is it that really upsets us? It’s not the word, it’s the intent of the word, all the things it’s supposed to mean. Like the word “stupid”. So to me, it’s kinda the same. Though I can say “stupid” endlessly, and nobody is shocked. But if I say “The N Word”, everybody gonna get mad.

And you know, white folks, I’m talking specifically now to y’all. Because the problem with white folks is you hear the word, and you say to black people, “Well you all say it, why can’t we say it?” Now here’s your first problem. You ask permission to say a word you already are not comfortable with. And then you’re surprised when somebody pops you in the eyeball. Come on. What did you think was going to happen? See, in the olden days, nobody asked for permission, they just said it. And when you ask permission, you want permission to say something to me that you don’t think is right. Why would I give that to you? And as you see, people get in a lot of trouble. People lose their minds, and go “rr rr rr rr rr.”

Now you see, this situation that I am referring to that I’m not actually speaking towards changed a little bit because it went one step further. It went to a place where you thought, “Dayum. Dayum!” See because normally to get that that place, you’d have to go into your brain, look through your files, go through the paperwork, and then whip that out. This was in, like, the side pocket. This was like [whisk! throwing motion] You remember Goldfinger? He was like Oddjob. Remember the guy with the hard hat? And he went [whisk], and every head in the audience rolled. People didn’t know what to do.

So now we’re in a moratorium state of mind. And of course we never actually deal with the idea that race is still an issue. It is still an issue. Come on. And I’m guilty of it. I’m guilty of it. If you cut me off in traffic, [pause] – I’m just sayin’. I have had these things fly from my mouth. “You As and Ms, you white [mfmff], son of a b[muffled], rsha rsha”. I’m not gonna lie. I’m not gonna lie. It comes, it flies right out of my mouth. Because it’s the first thing you think you see.

Kinda like the phrase, “African American”. This – please. I’ve visited Africa, ok? I’m not an African American, I’m an American. Because every time – I don’t know, maybe you’ll disagree, maybe you won’t – but every time I hear something hyphenate-American, it means you’re not supposed to get all the rights and privileges allowed to Americans. I had this big debate, because I’m tired of changing what we are. Do you know? I was fine with “Negro”. I was cool with “Black”. Now – I’m afraid of what’s going to come, I’m tired of changing. Why can’t I just be “Whoop”? You see me. It’s not like I was Spanish yesterday, and woke up Black the next day, I’m just “Whoop”. I’m tired of – you know, I think part of what’s happening is I’m at this time of my life when I just don’t want to make any more compromises. You know – I just don’t This is it. This is what it is. I say stuff, pisses you off, that’s ok. I say stuff, doesn’t piss you off, that’s ok. I care – You know? No, I do care. But the point is, here, in this wonderful country, it is my entitlement to have an opinion, and voice it. I can do it when I vote, I can do it when I chat, I can do it when I hang out, I can do it whenever I want to. It’s my entitlement. So I’m glad you’re all here. It makes Bravo very happy that you’re here, you know. But if no one had come, it would still be ok, because I would still think the same things. I would still be the same person. Strange, yes I agree. But thinner.

Clip Four: interview with Dawn French on More Girls Who Do Comedy. [click for Part Two and Part Three]. This deals a lot with her personal history, going right back to childhood. Sorry, it’s long, I couldn’t transcribe the whole thing. One clip:

Dawn French: “Do you think that anybody who knew you then would have described you as a funny person?”
Whoopi Goldberg: “No. Weird. Just very weird. Because they do it now – ‘You know what? You were weird.’ “
DF: “You said you were shy as a little kid. Are you still shy?”
WG: “Yes. “That’s why I live in the middle of nowhere. I live on top of a mountain. You know. But I can handle things in certain contexts. That’s why I can perform. I can do that, and that’s my social time – that’s when I’m the most social. I can meet a lot of people at one time, and then I don’t have to see anybody for like nine months. I’m getting a little bit better, because I come out for longer periods.”
DF: “Obviously you’re very protective of your very rich inner life that you’ve got.”
WG: “That sounds wonderful. If only that were it! I just don’t have – people people skills. I’m good on a certain level, but if there are too many people, I just can’t handle it.”
DF: “Are you a grumpy person, then?”
WG: “Not – No. I turned fifty about two weeks ago. I got grumpier after that.”

Categories: gender & feminism, language

Tags: ,

2 replies

  1. She has done some terrible films – Sister Act etc which have kind of made me forget just how smart she is, this was a great reminder, thanks. She contributed a terrific chapter to a pro-choice book I read once – women writing about their experiences of abortion and why they were pro-choice.

  2. I saw her live in cabaret in London in the early 80s, before she was famous. A lesbian impresario brought her over from NYC.

%d bloggers like this: