Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Amber Ruffin sings through the pain of another truly terrible week in America

Amber Ruffin
Amber Ruffin
Screenshot: The Amber Ruffin Show

Amber’s back! After taking a little time off, Ruffin and trusty side-man Tarik Davis caught up on everything that’s been going on in the country since they took a bit of a break. And, sure, there were some restorative laughs to be had at the expense of plummeting GOP star and seriously alleged sex criminal (and Nazi-chum) Matt Gaetz, plus an extended monologue bit about The Rock’s apparent seriousness about a presidential bid that allowed Amber to write herself a Peacock-subsidized shot of hooch on the air. But, as Ruffin confided to Davis, her week back at work was undeniably “shitty.” You know, with, as Ruffin dutifully ran down, the ongoing Minneapolis Police Department officer Derek Chauvin trial (for murdering an unarmed Black man), the beating and pepper-spraying of U.S. Army officer Caron Nazario for no reason by white Windsor, Virginia police officers, the “piece of shit officer (Kim Potter) who shot that 20-year-old,” and the caught-on-camera killing of 13-year-old Adam Toledo by a cop named Eric Stillman in Chicago.

“You see those videos of a police officer deciding whether or not to commit murder, and it gets to you,” admitted Ruffin. Noting that, while she has no qualms about hating “those super-shitty cops” in each all-too-frequent incident of police violence against Black and brown people, “all that hate and anger has an effect on you.” As she told the similarly downhearted Davis, “So, instead of just the horrible thing, you have to deal with the horrible thing, its effect on your safety, and the anger it gives you.” Clearly ramping up to something, the slyly affable host, pasting a ready-for-TV smile on her kisser, sighed, “All I’m saying is, I’ve had a week.” Man, that sucks, Amber. Hey, why don’t you sing about it?

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With some bouncy music kicking in, she and Davis then swapped verses about how a Black person copes with a week off with nothing to do but watch and rewatch body cam footage of police making questionable traffic stops and escalating the unnecessarily tense “armed debt collector” part of their job until another Black or brown person ends up dead in the street. “This is the week I hit the wall, problems couldn’t solve ’em all, I failed and failed,” the smiling-so’s-not-to-weep Ruffin crooned, before tossing to Tarik, who shared his own experience of helpless fury, tossing out his own inadequate coping method of alternately staying up all night and refusing to get out of bed for Ruffin’s fruitless remedy of non-stop crying. Leave it to Ruffin and Davis to find a way to do their job and entertain us with a jaunty tune while, as Ruffin consoled her beleaguered and pandemic-frazzled viewers, “We’re all taking turns just hittin’ the wall.”

Oh, and then Amber pulled herself together to deliver a blistering takedown of the way that criminalizing poverty has joined forces with systemic racism in policing to make simply going for a drive one of the most fraught and potentially deadly things a Black person can do in America. Amber Ruffin will sing for you (and her own sanity), America, but she’s not letting you off the fucking hook.

Contributor, The A.V. Club. Danny Peary's Cult Movies books are mostly to blame.