‘Entourage’ Creator Loses His Mind and Misses the Joke After Satirical Essay Suggests That the Show Undergo ‘Sensitivity Readings’
Yesterday, McSweeney’s published a humor essay by Max Davison, titled, “HBO’s Sensitivity Reading for Entourage,” in which Davison poked fun at the hand-wringing publishers and producers behind the recent push to sanitize so-called “problematic” media of the past. Written from the point of view of an HBO executive in charge of re-editing Entourage in order to remove non-PC elements, the clearly satirical tone of the piece should have been plainly apparent when it favorably referenced the recent and widely criticized revisions of the works of Agatha Christie and Roald Dahl in the second line, or when Davison opened the second paragraph with, “Entourage was very much a product of its time, and 2011 was an entirely different chapter in this nation’s history. We have since undergone vast shifts in our views on women, race, and Ed Hardy.”
Davison’s essay is a spectacularly entertaining read for anyone who rolled their eyes at the decision to replace guns with walkie talkies in E.T. and can enjoy a lighthearted laugh at the expense of the first show to score a sponsorship from Rohypnol. Critically, however, the piece is aimed at readers who understand the literary device known as “sarcasm” and have a vague notion that a famously humorous publication might employ it — Entourage creator Doug Ellin is not one of those readers.
To be fair, “HBO’s Sensitivity Reading for Entourage” runs for almost a page-and-a-half, which is a strenuous length for the average Entourage fan, let alone its creator. It’s understandable that the essay would go over some meaty heads when Davison surreptitiously snuck his jokes into daunting paragraphs, such as…
“We are merely removing a handful of problematic elements that were more socially acceptable back in Entourage’s time. These include sexism, homophobia, misogyny, anti-Semitism, dubious sexual politics, Asian hate, toxic masculinity, the casting couch, racial slurs, ethnic slurs, sexist jokes, abusive workplace language, mockery of sex workers, cameos by James Woods and Armie Hammer, the fact that any woman was willingly attracted to Turtle or Johnny Drama, and the way in which white men were able to get away with absolutely anything and succeed despite having no discernible skill set or work ethic.”
The specific changes listed in the piece probably should have given it away to those with the attention span to make it to the bullet-pointed list — lines like “‘Let’s hug it out, bitch’ will be ADR’d to say: ‘I value your male friendship and recognize your vulnerability, bro,’” and “‘Harvey Weingard,’ a stand-in for He-Who-Will-Not-Be-Named, will be digitally replaced with Shonda Rimes, urging Vince to use his power to ensure pay equity with his female costars” should probably read as jokes to a guy who made his living off of comedy.
Davison tweeted a response to Ellin shortly after the outburst, writing, “Doug, I wrote this piece. It’s satire. It’s taking sensitivity readings to the extreme of editing shows from 15 years ago. The ET joke was quite intentional. I’ve always wondered what it would be like to have Ari Gold scream obscenities at me. Now I know.”
To his credit, Ellin has handled the flub graciously since calling Davison a “talentless nobody,” following up the exchange with tweets of “I’m not a very strong reader” and “Don’t tweet on edibles.” Nobody let Mark Wahlberg read this, assuming he knows how — he’ll add an entry for Davison to the lengthy list of “Legal Issues” on his Wikipedia page.