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FoxNews, You Got Some 'Splainin To Do.

I've been meaning to write about this for a week or so now. Part of what's held me back is that it's just so mind-numbingly over-the-top hideous that it's kind of hard to know where to start. Let's start with this quote:

“For women, frump isn’t funny any longer. The new female comedian has to be the sexual aggressor, sexually provocative, dominant and successful," says entertainment expert Patrick Wanis. "Hollywood is now portraying women as the dominant force – the boss, the rescuer, the heroine, the hunter. Now women are being sexually provocative and sexually aggressive, rude and funny without the femininity or the class. Lucille Ball would never have played the aggressive, domineering nymphomaniac that Jennifer Aniston portrayed in ‘Horrible Bosses.’"

I, for one, think it's a good thing that Lucille Ball wasn't playing "aggressive, domineering nymphomaniac[s]." Are aggressive, domineering nymphomaniacs funny? Because I think most people will agree that Lucille Ball was funny. Also, everything I've heard points to Horrible Bosses being a terrible movie.

Last night, I went to see a screening of Miss Representation (those of you with cable TV should check it out on Oprah's network this evening). One of the concepts that this movie crystallized for me was that of "the fighting fuck-toy." The term was coined by Occidental College associate professor Caroline Heldman to describe the female heroes of action films who are supposedly empowered, but who are dressed and presented in a way more akin to inflatable dolls than powerful heroes (see Lara Croft, Catwoman, Charlie's Angels, et al). I don't remember who asked the question initially, but who would wear those outfits if they were planning on kicking butt and saving the world? Who in their right mind prefers to fight crime while wearing a push up bra and stilettos?

For me, it's yet another disheartening reminder that the thing I love (movies, film, television, comedy) is still very much a boy's club. It's a lot of why I burned out on production work a decade ago. I started out, fresh from film school, in 1992. I was going to change the world, or at least the film industry. My first mission was the electrical department. See, the electrical department is one of the most entrenched boys-only clubs in the production business. The next time you're at a movie or watching a DVD, stick around for the credits. Look to see if you see any female names under the headings of "Gaffer," "Grip," or "Electric." The IMDb page is less than complete, but even Miss Representation only had one or maybe two female grips listed. As a matter of fact, do you know what they call the head assistant in the Grip and Electric departments? "Best Boy." Seriously.

I have one single "grip" credit to my name: "Solstice" (which was a great crew to be on, BTW. I have very strong memories of the knowledgeable electrics being very willing to teach the novice grips). My next gig (whose name I have blocked out), I was a Production Assistant ("PA"). I showed up on the first day and was told to go make coffee. More recently, a month or so ago I volunteered to help Upright Citizens Brigade get UCBeast ready for opening night. I walked in to find the all-male crew hanging lights and painting walls. "I'm here to help!" I declared. They showed me to the vacuum cleaner.

In both of those cases I did what I was directed to do, but in both of those cases (and neither, sadly, were isolated incidents) I found it profoundly disheartening. UCB is one of the few (if not the only) places in comedy where being a woman doesn't mean I'm in the overwhelming minority. I'm well aware that I seem to have chosen yet another boy's club to try to break into.

And now FoxNews, that bastion of equality, has declared that it's a happy happy day, because the new Hollywood comediennes "all combine funny bones with bangin’ bodies." "Hollywood doesn’t want a woman that is not sexually enticing like Rosie [O'Donnell]," they declare (I'm guessing Rosie's not a virgin anymore, so presumably she's sexually enticing to someone). But my favorite quote has to be this one:

"People are realizing that you don’t have to have a penis to tell a joke about one."

Because it is all about the penis, right?


( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 20th, 2011 11:46 pm (UTC)
You know, when I was a lot younger (teen years) I really wanted to get into writing comedy for movies or television. A lot of people in my life around that time encouraged it, like teachers and friends I was brave enough to show my writing to when I wasn't off on some bad Goth poetry kick. I always heard, "You're really funny, Nicole. Keep it up." I can't really pinpoint exactly what happened to cause me to forget my dreams, but part of it had a lot to do with the sense that comedy was a boy's club and I felt like it wasn't going to change. I mean, I grew up in the 90's and got into the whole Riot Grrl tough punk rock chick thing, and in the end I still ended up feeling like it was worthless/impossible to pursue my dreams because the industry I had an interest in was so male dominated. When I was going to college, taking classes in film/TV writing never occurred to me. I could fucking kick myself for not remaining strong and determined.

I really hope something comes out of this for you.
Oct. 21st, 2011 03:32 pm (UTC)
I was bubbled the other way -- taking film/TV classes in college, it never occurred to me that the reason so few women's names were in the film credits as directors or cinematographers wasn't because there weren't trained and talented women in the industry, but rather because those jobs were only offered to men. If you watch Miss Representation, there's a section where Twilight director Catherine Hardwicke talks about the crap she went through to convince people to put money behind the original Twilight film, and the fact that she was thanked for her efforts by being told that the studio would prefer if men directed the sequels.

Randomly, I see that today is her birthday.
Oct. 21st, 2011 12:48 am (UTC)
Oct. 21st, 2011 07:10 am (UTC)
Only tangentially related...
Is it a coincidence that I read this about two minutes after reading your post?
Oct. 22nd, 2011 09:01 am (UTC)
Sexual discrimination is also alive and well in the IT industry as I found out when I completed my degree in Computing back in 2006. It took me SIX months after getting a very good result on my degree. I went from one interview, got turned down for the job and then invited back for another job. I later found out the man they hired for the first interview I went for, actually had no work experience what-so-ever and a far poorer results on his degree than I did. He also got £6,000 more a year than me even though I had WAY more responsibilities than he did.

My second job as a technical support engineer I constantly had people asking to speak to another a male engineer rather me even though I was competely capable of resolving their issues! And my colleague was paid £3,000 more than me a year and didn't have a degree. Go figure.

When I got laid off (made redundant) for the second time, I stopped looking for jobs in IT...I was just too pig sick of poor pay despite busting my backside all time and all the breast jokes and sex jokes. Some men (not all) really don't see woman as humans at all.
Oct. 22nd, 2011 09:02 am (UTC)
Oops, I mean SIX months to get a job.
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )

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