Women of the Daily Show speak

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Women of the Daily Show speak

Postby apeman5291 » Tue Jul 06, 2010 8:53 pm UTC

The 32 women who work for the Daily Show, both on and off the camera, wrote a lovely response to Jezebel.com's article calling the show a "boys' club". Copied below:
Spoiler:
Daily Show female staff wrote:Dear People Who Don’t Work Here,

Recently, certain media outlets have attempted to tell us what it’s like to be a woman at The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. We must admit it is entertaining to be the subjects of such a vivid and dramatic narrative. However, while rampant sexism at a well-respected show makes for a great story, we want to make something very clear: the place you may have read about is not our office.

The Daily Show isn't a place where women quietly suffer on the sidelines as barely tolerated tokens. On the contrary: just like the men here, we're indispensable. We generate a significant portion of the show's creative content and the fact is, it wouldn't be the show that you love without us.
So, who are the women of The Daily Show?

If you think the only women who help create this show are a couple of female writers and correspondents, you're dismissing the vast majority of us. Actually, we make up 40% of the staff, and we're not all shoved into the party-planning department (although we do run that, and we throw some kick-ass parties). We are co-executive producers, supervising producers, senior producers, segment producers, coordinating field producers, associate producers, editors, writers, correspondents, talent coordinators, production coordinators, researchers, makeup artists, the entire accounting and audience departments, production assistants, crew members, and much more. We were each hired because of our creative ability, our intelligence, and above all, our ability to work our asses off to make a great show.]

Is it hard to work at The Daily Show?

Absolutely. When it comes to what makes it onto the show, competing ideas aren't just hashed out between the faces you see on camera or the names that roll under the "writers" credits. Jokes and concepts come from our studio department, our field department, our graphics department, our production department, our intern department, and our control room. Jon's rule is: the strongest idea and the funniest joke win every single time, no matter who pitches it--woman or man, executive producer or production assistant. And of course none of these jokes and ideas would get to air without the layers of production talent working behind the scenes. The fairness of our workplace makes competition tough and makes the show better.

So if it's so challenging, why have we stayed for two, five, ten, fourteen years? Because it's challenging. We feel lucky to work in a meritocracy where someone with talent can join us as an intern and work her way up to wherever her strengths take her. But also because it's an environment that supports our being more than just our jobs. The Daily Show (to an extent few of us have seen elsewhere) allows us the flexibility to care for our families, pursue our own projects, cope with unexpected crises, and have lives outside the show.
Also... are you kidding? It's The Daily Show for Christ's sake. You ask some stupid questions, imaginary interlocutor.

What's Jon Stewart really like?

Jon’s not just a guy in a suit reading a prompter. His voice and vision shape every aspect of the show from concept to execution. The idea that he would risk compromising his show’s quality by hiring or firing someone based on anything but ability, or by booking guests based on anything but subject matter, is simply ludicrous.

But what’s he really like? Well, for a sexist prick, he can be quite charming. He's also generous, humble, genuine, compassionate, fair, supportive, exacting, stubborn, goofy, hands-on, driven, occasionally infuriating, ethical, down-to-earth and--a lot of people don't know this--surprisingly funny (for a guy brimming with “joyless rage”). How else to describe him? What's the word that means the opposite of sexist? That one.

In any organization, the tone is set from the top. Since taking over the show, Jon has worked hard to create an environment where people feel respected and valued regardless of their gender or position. If that’s not your scene, you probably wouldn’t like it here. We happen to love it.

And so...

And so, while it may cause a big stir to seize on the bitter rantings of ex-employees and ignore what current staff say about working at The Daily Show, it's not fair. It's not fair to us, it's not fair to Jon, it's not fair to our wonderful male colleagues, and it's especially not fair to the young women who want to have a career in comedy but are scared they may get swallowed up in what people label as a "boy's club."

The truth is, when it comes down to it, The Daily Show isn't a boy's club or a girl's club, it's a family - a highly functioning if sometimes dysfunctional family. And we're not thinking about how to maximize our gender roles in the workplace on a daily basis. We're thinking about how to punch up a joke about Glenn Beck's latest diatribe, where to find a Michael Steele puppet on an hour's notice, which chocolate looks most like an oil spill, and how to get a gospel choir to sing the immortal words, "Go f@#k yourself!"

Love,

Teri Abrams-Maidenberg, Department Supervisor, 11 years
Jill Baum, Writers’ Assistant, 4 years
Samantha Bee, Correspondent, 7 years
Alison Camillo, Coordinating Field Producer, 12 years
Vilma Cardenas, Production Accountant, 14 years
Lauren Cohen, Production Assistant, 1 year
Jocelyn Conn, Executive Assistant, 4 years
Kahane Cooperman, Co-Executive Producer, 14 years
Pam DePace, Line Producer, 14 years
Tonya Dreher, Avid Editor, 4 years
Kristen Everman, Production Assistant, 2 years
Christy Fiero, Production Controller, 13 years
Jen Flanz, Supervising Producer, 13 years
Hallie Haglund, Writer, 5 years
Kira Hopf, Senior Producer, 14 years
Jenna Jones, Production Assistant, 2 years
Jessie Kanevsky, Department Coordinator, 5 years
Jill Katz, Producer/Executive in Charge of Production, 4 years
Hillary Kun, Supervising Producer, 9 years
Christina Kyriazis, TelePrompter Operator, 14 years
Jo Miller, Writer, 1 year
Jody Morlock, Hair & Make-Up Artist, 14 years
Olivia Munn, Correspondent, 1 month
Lauren Sarver, Associate Segment Producer, 5 years
Kristen Schaal, Correspondent, 2 years
April Smith, Utility, 14 years
Patty Ido Smith, Electronic Graphics, 12 years
Sara Taksler, Segment Producer, 5 years
Elise Terrell, Production Coordinator, 6 years
Adriane Truex, Facility Manager, 12 years
Juliet Werner, Researcher, 1 year
Kaela Wohl, Wardrobe Stylist/Costumer, 2 years

PS. Thanks for the list of funny women. Our Nanas send us a ton of suggestions about "what would make a great skit for The John Daley Show." We'll file it right next to those.

PPS. Thanks to the male writers who penned this for us.
I thought the letter was an excellent response to what were essentially senseless accusations of sexism based on the fact that a couple people don't think Olivia Munn is funny.
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Re: Women of the Daily Show speak

Postby General_Norris » Tue Jul 06, 2010 9:44 pm UTC

I approve of this response. I disapprove of Jezebel.com and their easy gurgle tactics.

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Re: Women of the Daily Show speak

Postby Xeio » Tue Jul 06, 2010 10:07 pm UTC

apeman5291 wrote:a couple people don't think Olivia Munn is funny.
To be fair, I was a little skeptical at first (probably because she started on the attack of the show shortly before it began its fall into shit, not because of her, but mental associations and all that). Still, I thought she was hilarious, and am looking forward to more. :mrgreen:

Not that people need silly 'facts' to write articles on the internet.

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Re: Women of the Daily Show speak

Postby Goldstein » Wed Jul 07, 2010 10:15 am UTC

Looking at that list of signatories, I think the bigger issue is the Daily Show's blatant disregard of child labour laws.
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Re: Women of the Daily Show speak

Postby the_bandersnatch » Wed Jul 07, 2010 11:32 am UTC

Goldstein wrote:Looking at that list of signatories, I think the bigger issue is the Daily Show's blatant disregard of child labour laws.


I find it amazing a 1-month-old can even sign their name.
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Re: Women of the Daily Show speak

Postby zombie_monkey » Wed Jul 07, 2010 2:21 pm UTC

Something's bothering me about Olivia Munn's delivery too.

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Re: Women of the Daily Show speak

Postby JonScholar » Wed Jul 07, 2010 5:23 pm UTC

I've heard Jezebel.com mentioned passively before in conversation. All I've gathered up to this point is that it's some ridiculous feminist blog site. Love the daily show. Love this letter. You tell em ladies!

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Re: Women of the Daily Show speak

Postby fjafjan » Wed Jul 07, 2010 9:05 pm UTC

I dunno, I havn't found either of Munn's pieces to be funny, though to be fair she barely in her first one. She might grow on me, we'll see. But I think the best point they make is that the lack of women is not based on their sexism but society, there are fewer women who pursue comedy(because it's not usually a womans role to be funny, men are supposed to be funny), way fewer, and it should stand to reason there are way fewer good female comedians.
That said, I don't think the Daily Show has a perfect record on feminist issues (The Colbert Report is far better there), for example I recall a piece about men having meetings where they try to express more emotion and open up, and the correspondent basically went and called them womanly/pussies in a derogatory fashion.
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Re: Women of the Daily Show speak

Postby Xeio » Wed Jul 07, 2010 10:26 pm UTC

fjafjan wrote:That said, I don't think the Daily Show has a perfect record on feminist issues (The Colbert Report is far better there), for example I recall a piece about men having meetings where they try to express more emotion and open up, and the correspondent basically went and called them womanly/pussies in a derogatory fashion.
I'm pretty sure I remember this happening at least once, but they make it a pretty big point that it's satire. Though I don't recall exactly what the group in question was for... (EDIT: I think it had to do with getting men to a point where it was more acceptable to take traditionally female roles, such as stay-at-home-parent)

It's probably easier to see the Colbert Report has a better record because it's also been on the air for ~9 years less.

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Re: Women of the Daily Show speak

Postby *bird » Wed Jul 07, 2010 10:29 pm UTC

I'm a little disturbed by the "ridiculous feminist blog site" remark because that's essentially what all feminist blog sites (and actually most of feminism) is branded as, ridiculous. Or anything that challenges the status quo (hell, how many people who posted actually read the Jezebel piece?).

I actually get that people get hurt when things they like are criticized harshly. People get defensive. But as far as I can tell, I think most of the people at Jezebel do love the Daily Show because they do so well normally on matters pertaining to sexism, which is why they criticize it.

Jezebel complains about 3 things (again, this is my opinion and you should read the piece, but since the OP said the criticism was based on "Olivia Munn wasn't funny"):
1) Not enough women correspondents
2) Not enough women writers
3) Olivia Munn

1-2 are endemic to the industry and to say TDS (or any show that you like) is immune to this is silly (because by the time people get to be in a position where they can audition for TDS, the ratios are already skewed). Women do get stereotyped as being unfunny by nature which doesn't help. Neither does the fact that to appear on TV at all women are held to a higher standard of beauty.

So TDS is probably not worse than the industry when it comes to women correspondents and writers. It's probably even better. But is it enough better? Or should we work on the industry? How would we work on the industry?

Most of 3 seems to come from the fact that Olivia does buy into the sexist gamer geek culture thing, and probably does buy into the status quo to get ahead.

General_Norris wrote:I approve of this response. I disapprove of Jezebel.com and their easy gurgle tactics.


Why is it easy? Jezebel knows it's going to have oodles and oodles of TDS defenders slamming them for even trying to criticize the Daily Show. I think criticizing something you like is harder than criticizing something you don't.

fjafjan wrote:That said, I don't think the Daily Show has a perfect record on feminist issues (The Colbert Report is far better there), for example I recall a piece about men having meetings where they try to express more emotion and open up, and the correspondent basically went and called them womanly/pussies in a derogatory fashion.


TDS and TCR have their moments of genderfail and racefail though they're generally better than most shows on TV (people are human after all). "Most shows on TV", however, is an appallingly low bar.

Also, responses to excuses from Jezebel: http://jezebel.com/5571826/5-unconvinci ... e=true&s=i

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Re: Women of the Daily Show speak

Postby fjafjan » Wed Jul 07, 2010 10:47 pm UTC

Xeio wrote:I'm pretty sure I remember this happening at least once, but they make it a pretty big point that it's satire. Though I don't recall exactly what the group in question was for... (EDIT: I think it had to do with getting men to a point where it was more acceptable to take traditionally female roles, such as stay-at-home-parent)

I know that it's satire, but the jokes were in "the wrong direction", in other word the butts of the joke were the men. They were making fun of it with satire (in the same way they make fun of racists with satire). Which is what I found pretty terrible.
Xeio wrote:It's probably easier to see the Colbert Report has a better record because it's also been on the air for ~9 years less.

Well I meant in the ~four years I've been watching both (I started watching TDS pretty much as TCR was starting, I think maybe a month before).
EDIT:
And it's not only the Colbert is better at not being sexist, he's more actively engaged feminist issues, he's had a number of good feminist guests (not just Jane Fonda but I recall the author of "Female Chauvinist Pigs" Ariel Levy was there (I remember because I went on to read it after I saw it in the library)). So I get the feel it's a topic he clearly cares about and wants to use his show to spread, even if he's views are quite possible not "as feminist" as I would like.
EDIT EDIT:
I think it's is supported by the fact that searching the TDS archives for Feminism/Feminist gives a dozen or so pieces in the last ten years most of which are about Sarah Palin calling herself a feminist, whereas doing the same search on TCR it gets more than thirty hits, a good number of which are interviews with a (self proclaimed) feminist author.
*bird wrote:Jezebel complains about 3 things (again, this is my opinion and you should read the piece, but since the OP said the criticism was based on
"Olivia Munn wasn't funny"):
1) Not enough women correspondents
2) Not enough women writers
3) Olivia Munn

1-2 are endemic to the industry and to say TDS (or any show that you like) is immune to this is silly (because by the time people get to be in a position where they can audition for TDS, the ratios are already skewed). Women do get stereotyped as being unfunny by nature which doesn't help. Neither does the fact that to appear on TV at all women are held to a higher standard of beauty.

So TDS is probably not worse than the industry when it comes to women correspondents and writers. It's probably even better. But is it enough better? Or should we work on the industry? How would we work on the industry?

Most of 3 seems to come from the fact that Olivia does buy into the sexist gamer geek culture thing, and probably does buy into the status quo to get ahead.

I agree. After her first appearance a lot of people on the Penny Arcade forum seemed to recognize her in a bad fashion, so I looked up some of what she does and yeah, she seems very much to use the fact that she's pretty, and thus support the system which judges on looks. It's clearly what most people do, but someone not doing that would be nice.
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Re: Women of the Daily Show speak

Postby thc » Thu Jul 08, 2010 1:32 am UTC

PPS. Thanks to the male writers who penned this for us.

I lolled. I wonder if they're serious... or if it actually matters.

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Re: Women of the Daily Show speak

Postby Aetius » Thu Jul 08, 2010 2:55 am UTC

*bird wrote:I'm a little disturbed by the "ridiculous feminist blog site" remark because that's essentially what all feminist blog sites (and actually most of feminism) is branded as, ridiculous. Or anything that challenges the status quo (hell, how many people who posted actually read the Jezebel piece?).

I actually get that people get hurt when things they like are criticized harshly. People get defensive. But as far as I can tell, I think most of the people at Jezebel do love the Daily Show because they do so well normally on matters pertaining to sexism, which is why they criticize it.

Jezebel complains about 3 things (again, this is my opinion and you should read the piece, but since the OP said the criticism was based on "Olivia Munn wasn't funny"):
1) Not enough women correspondents
2) Not enough women writers
3) Olivia Munn


Did you read the original Jezebel piece? The accusation that I'm sure ruffled the TDS staff's feathers was that Stewart himself is a sexist asshole who rules the show with a "joyless rage." Cultural critique is one thing, basically calling Stewart a phony who's actually a raging dickhead behind the scenes is another.

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Re: Women of the Daily Show speak

Postby (╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻ » Thu Jul 08, 2010 3:27 am UTC

Women currently on the Daily Show: slightly more likely to convince me than someone who got fired for being too much of a fangirl.
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Re: Women of the Daily Show speak

Postby meatyochre » Thu Jul 08, 2010 3:49 am UTC

Meaux_Pas wrote:Women currently on the Daily Show: slightly more likely to convince me than someone who got fired for being too much of a fangirl.

I have to do some follow up on that when I get home. Reading that article was like watching a humiliation comedy. Awkward and embarrassing FOR ME. Did she seriously ask Jon Stewart if he had downloaded a big black cock onto her monitor, or was she exaggerating all those incidents for comedic effect? Because if not, she sounds like the single most awkward and embarrassing and UNFUNNY person I've ever known or read about.

yikes.
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Re: Women of the Daily Show speak

Postby BlackSails » Thu Jul 08, 2010 3:55 am UTC

Yeah, that article was not at all funny.

All that article said was that when you make your boss uncomfortable, you are going to get fired.

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Re: Women of the Daily Show speak

Postby meatyochre » Thu Jul 08, 2010 4:07 am UTC

Yeah. Agreed. I'm wondering how a person who is that awkward (and self-admittedly bad at cold reading) could have had an audition vetted by an exec producer on TDS! :shock:
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Re: Women of the Daily Show speak

Postby aleflamedyud » Thu Jul 08, 2010 5:36 am UTC

As a related matter, how the hell do I get an internship with the Daily Show?
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Re: Women of the Daily Show speak

Postby *bird » Thu Jul 08, 2010 8:15 am UTC

Aetius wrote:Did you read the original Jezebel piece? The accusation that I'm sure ruffled the TDS staff's feathers was that Stewart himself is a sexist asshole who rules the show with a "joyless rage." Cultural critique is one thing, basically calling Stewart a phony who's actually a raging dickhead behind the scenes is another.


Errr... I'm confused. I don't see anywhere in that piece where they call him a sexist asshole directly. The "joyless rage" thing was a quote from a former exec. They showcase former members who had a beef with Jon Stewart, but they balance that by quotes from women who defend him as well.

In fact, http://jezebel.com/5576290/jon-stewart- ... xist-prick seems to indicate quite the opposite, that they were intending to showcase the experiences of former women and not intending to tear him down personally.

There is that section about the newspaper throwing and stuff, but I guess I treat it critically like I do with any other hearsay argument.

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Re: Women of the Daily Show speak

Postby Aetius » Thu Jul 08, 2010 10:00 am UTC

*bird wrote:There is that section about the newspaper throwing and stuff, but I guess I treat it critically like I do with any other hearsay argument.


I'm the same, but it's still telling that they made effort to feature those hearsay arguments in a piece that ostensibly has nothing to do with Stewart's personal character.

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Re: Women of the Daily Show speak

Postby BlackSails » Thu Jul 08, 2010 12:15 pm UTC

So in one of the followup articles on Jezebel, the first comment says that it is "UNCONSCIONABLE" for the daily show to send that letter (from the daily show women) because women would be pressured into signing it. Apparently, people are supposed to never defend people they like against groundless accusations.

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Re: Women of the Daily Show speak

Postby Texas_Ben » Thu Jul 08, 2010 1:52 pm UTC

Meaux_Pas wrote:Women currently on the Daily Show: slightly more likely to convince me than someone who got fired for being too much of a fangirl.

That was extremely awkward for me to read and I felt extremely uncomfortable throughout.

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Re: Women of the Daily Show speak

Postby Le1bn1z » Thu Jul 08, 2010 3:42 pm UTC

BlackSails wrote:So in one of the followup articles on Jezebel, the first comment says that it is "UNCONSCIONABLE" for the daily show to send that letter (from the daily show women) because women would be pressured into signing it. Apparently, people are supposed to never defend people they like against groundless accusations.


Frankly, it is impossible to believe that a few dozen proffessional and successful women could possibly take the initiative to independent thought or action, undirected by their male superiors.

Duuuhhhh.

Thanks to Jezebel for striking yet another blow for chauvinst sexism accross the world.

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Re: Women of the Daily Show speak

Postby jestingrabbit » Thu Jul 08, 2010 5:29 pm UTC

Meaux_Pas wrote:Women currently on the Daily Show: slightly more likely to convince me than someone who got fired for being too much of a fangirl.

When you search the TDS archives for Lauren Weedman you get stuff from about mid 2001 to late 2002. They still had both stevphens working on the show, Stewart had been on the show for about two and a half years. If you look at the clips you see how young the guy looks compared to now. So daily show then compared to daily show now - visually its very different, I imagine that it would be very different from a work environment perspective too.

Re Olivia Munn: Yeah, she got famous using the teenage boy demographic and their particular foci (some like the T, some like the A), but I don't think I, a man, can really judge how a woman responds to a sexist culture, or at least, I don't think its right if I do. This reminds me a lot of fox correspondents talking about if Obama was black enough. I think it really depends on whether she's used for the T and A, or if she's used for the funny. That's the make or break on whether that's a sexist move imo. fwiw, she was up against a water backdrop and they didn't have her in a bikini.
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Re: Women of the Daily Show speak

Postby *bird » Thu Jul 08, 2010 8:36 pm UTC

jestingrabbit wrote:Re Olivia Munn: Yeah, she got famous using the teenage boy demographic and their particular foci (some like the T, some like the A), but I don't think I, a man, can really judge how a woman responds to a sexist culture, or at least, I don't think its right if I do. This reminds me a lot of fox correspondents talking about if Obama was black enough. I think it really depends on whether she's used for the T and A, or if she's used for the funny. That's the make or break on whether that's a sexist move imo. fwiw, she was up against a water backdrop and they didn't have her in a bikini.


It's not the T&A aspect I care about - that's again systemic and not her fault. From the quotes I've seen (specifically http://www.hollywoodlife.com/2010/06/24 ... -the-show/) she seems to be anti-woman and anti-fat for the sake of keeping her (male geeky misogynistic) fanbase.

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Re: Women of the Daily Show speak

Postby jestingrabbit » Thu Jul 08, 2010 8:47 pm UTC

Yeah, that quote at the end is pretty horrible. For the link wary -

Olivia Munn wrote:I never tried to use anything besides my own sweat and blood and talent to get somewhere. I think that anyone who’s out there trying to bring down why any woman would get anywhere, or why we’re different, just needs to f***ing turn her f***ing computer off, take the sandwich out of her mouth and go for a god**mn walk f***ing walk. You know what? Just walk it off, b***h. Just walk it off, b***h.


That's not even in the same timezone as funny, to me at least.
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Re: Women of the Daily Show speak

Postby pseudoidiot » Thu Jul 08, 2010 8:51 pm UTC

Huh. I didn't really like her the couple times I saw her on Attack of the Show (actually, the whole show irritated me whether I saw her on it or not). Now I definitely don't like her.
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Re: Women of the Daily Show speak

Postby Jessica » Thu Jul 08, 2010 9:15 pm UTC

Sady once again is an awesome columnist and write well. I think she is cool.

Article under the spoiler
Spoiler:
Ladies! Are we tired of talking about The Daily Show yet? I know I am! You know who’s not tired of talking about it, though: DELETED COMMENTERS. There are dozens of them, apparently! Many of them angry that I haven’t published their first-time, openly hostile comments right away, and willing to leave a series of increasingly unhinged comments to that effect! (This isn’t a customer service gig for me, folks. I am not here to optimize your trolling satisfaction.) (Although I like to imagine the thought process. “Hmmm, she didn’t publish the one where I called her a bad feminist and accused her of damaging all women everywhere with her damnable 500-word blog posts. Maybe if I just called her a bitch? Yes! That’s it! That’s the move that will GET MY COMMENT PUBLISHED.”) Yes, my past few days have been FILLED with deleted commenters. Like this one:

Think there’s sexism on TDS? Don’t like it? Stop watching the fucking show. You’re stupid as hell for making as big a deal about this as you are, you’re dumber for having written this ignorant ass letter, and well…change your tampons already. I’m a feminist who’s watched the show for years, and I don’t see anything racist going on.

Ah, yes, the eternal problem of the person — sorry, “feminist!” — who wanders around the Internet screaming “I DON’T SEE ANY [INSERT X PREJUDICE] GOING ON”: Sometimes, you just forget which problem you’re supposed to be not seeing! I feel for you, “Chelsea,” I really do. But here’s the thing. I’m also deleting comments that run like so:

bitch poses for maxim and tries to act like men and women are equal. please. she was graced with an uber sexy bod and shes crazy if shes trying to act like she hasn’t used her looks to get her where she is. i guess that the part that pisses me off the most and will make me tivo right through her segments.

And now, I will piss you all off by explaining why.

The thing is: I have actually seen Olivia Munn’s former show. It was called Attack of the Show, and my former boyfriend watched it, because he liked video games and comic books very much. Olivia Munn’s job, on this show, was not to be funny. Her job was to be a girl — a real, live, female girl! — who actually quasi-interacted with and tolerated her audience of primarily male, 20-something geeks, and gave them the impression that she would be their girlfriend, if only she weren’t trapped on the other side of the TV screen. Maybe when the new holo-technology hits, right, guys?

Now: Given that she was playing to an audience of dudes whose expectations of women were primarily informed by ever-more-anatomically-impossible video game heroines, the flying thongs of superhero justice to be found in comic books, and cooing, squealing, saucer-eyed anime girls, did it help that she was pretty? AYUP. It also helped that the show continually cast her in misogynist skits that “proved” to the audience that they could control her and she would like it: Skits that played to the audience’s frustrations with women, their feelings of inadequacy and insecurity, and their continual rage that real-life girls couldn’t be controlled by mashing the buttons on their PlayStation consoles. One golden example of this — so effective, apparently, that they repeated it over and over again — was the comedy/technology news chestnut I like to call “We Can Make Olivia Put Her Mouth On It.” It went like this:

ANNOYING FRAT DUDE HOST WITH BAD RYAN SEACREST HAIR: Guess what, presumed-to-be-male audience members? A new piece of technology, relevant to your interests, has come out today! And now, Olivia Munn will lick it.

MALE LIVE AUDIENCE: (Creepily.) Wooo!

OLIVIA MUNN: Oh, no, I’m not going to lick that!

RYAN SEACREST HAIR: Oh, yes, you are, Olivia! Lick it! Lick it because I am a man, and told you to!

MALE LIVE AUDIENCE: (Extremely creepily.) Woooooooooo!

OLIVIA MUNN: (Licks it.)

MALE LIVE AUDIENCE: (At this point, creepy enough to merit several dozen restraining orders.) WWWWWWOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!

RYAN SEACREST HAIR: Wow, you sure do like to lick it, Olivia!

OLIVIA MUNN: Ha, ha ha ha ha! You are so funny!

[END SCENE.]

If no new tech had come out for a while, they used a hot dog. Now: You don’t need a lot of comedic talent to do this, if you are Olivia Munn. What you need is a steadfast desire to keep pulling paychecks, and maybe an iPhone to lick. This doesn’t mean Olivia Munn has no comedic talent; it just means that her comedic talent was not what her audience wanted to see, and so we never really got to see it. The fact that it was her job to appease her audience’s geek misogyny, and that she built a brand that gave her misogynist audience what they wanted (read: hot bikini pics) doesn’t mean she’s a bad evil slutty bimbo. It just shows that she was smart enough to capitalize on her fan base, and that hot bikini pics were the surest way to keep that particular audience interested. Ain’t none of this slut-shaming. Girls have to get by, and if you are a girl and work in the entertainment industry, this is one of the ways to do it. It’s depressing, but it’s true, and hating on individual players for seeing the options open to them and taking them isn’t cool. Or feminist. No matter what Olivia Munn has done with her career, this and this are still fucking gross and anti-girl.

It’s true that Olivia Munn does bring out a certain amount of hateyness and frustration among girls. She brings it out in me! So I know! Up till now, she’s been getting it maybe specifically from girl geeks. And, although this isn’t fun to hear, or to recognize in yourself, this particular form of frustration is based on insecurity. (THERE WAS AN ARTICLE WHICH WAS IN PART ABOUT THIS AND YOU HAVE ALL READ IT AND IT IS BY SOMEONE WHOSE WORK I LIKE AND RESPECT.) An entirely understandable insecurity, based on the fact that (as girls never stop telling us, in Tweets and e-mails and in blog comments) it’s fucking hard to be a lady and like comic books. Or video games, or computers, or anything else. Nerd culture is, famously, sexist as all hell; all of that frustration with women, those unrealistic X-Lady nourished expectations, that need for women to be as controllable and fun as the lines of code you’re working on — it’s not just expressed on Attack of the Show, it’s expressed in the day-to-day lives of women who try to have fun with this stuff and find that dudes (a) are the cultural gatekeepers and (b) have some ISSUES with the ladies that they are oh-so-ready to take out on any lady that crosses their path. If you’re not hot, you’re shit; if you’re not prepared to concede that dudes know more about this stuff than you, you’re shit; if you’re not controllable and acquiescent and ready to laugh at all the dudes’ jokes (even the jokes that are on you), you’re shit. And then we see Olivia Munn, and we see that she is hot and she is allowed to possess a (secondary) authority on this stuff, and she is laughing at all the jokes, even or especially when she’s the butt of the joke, and we’re mad. She’s doing it! She’s playing along! She’s making it harder! If there’s one Olivia Munn in the world, those dudes will expect all girls to be Olivia Munn, and the girls who don’t want to, or can’t, will keep getting shit on! She’s perpetuating our oppression.

Or, you know, not. Because Olivia Munn is not the one running this show. If she weren’t willing to play this role, she wouldn’t have her job; if she didn’t have her job, someone else would. And even if, by some miraculous circumstance, there were no girls in the entire universe willing to do this job, the dudes still wouldn’t let you in. They wouldn’t change their expectations. The key thing about those expectations is that they are unrealistic, because they are based on a dislike of real-life, three-dimensional girls. Olivia Munn embodies geek-misogynist expectations and desires for women, in this one specific job she does, but those expectations and desires are what make girls’ lives hard, not the women who are paid to fulfill them. If there were no girl in the entire universe that men could point to and say, “well, she likes it,” they’d still keep doing it, because, here’s the secret: Misogynists don’t care what girls like. Being angry at a girl because you’re constantly told that you’re not enough, and you’re constantly told that she is enough, being angry that she won’t take your side (because not being on your side is part of what makes her “enough,” part of what she’s paid to do), is really, really tempting. And, honestly, human. But it’s not feminist, and it’s counterproductive as all hell. Taking that one girl down, or taking down all the girls who are like her, isn’t going to change anything. Because girls — girls like you — still won’t be the ones in charge. And they still won’t be valued. Guys who want to treat girls like shit are going to treat girls like shit, and I recommend we keep on getting angry at the motherfucking guys about that, because they’re the ones calling the (bikini) shots.

And then, you know, there are Hot Girl Problems. Turns out they have those! I myself have never been a particularly Hot Girl, so I haven’t had a share in it. But I do have friends — friends who are entertainers, or models — who fit the Hot Girl Mold, at least for the 0.5 seconds after people see them and before they open their mouths, and I’ve seen what the Problems are like. Guys who want to date them because they’d make nice trophies, and then turn nasty and try to “knock them down a peg” when they turn out to be people with, like, opinions and needs and such; guys who just want to knock them down, period, because pretty girls make them feel inadequate and angry; people who assume they’re stupid, who “like” them but refuse to respect them; constant allegations that they got where they are, wherever that is, because of their looks, which honestly does sting, what with the continual people-assuming-they’re-stupid problem. And, in a twist that is perhaps relevant to this conversation, some of those girls are geeks.

My best friend K has worked as a model. She’s tall, she’s blonde, she’s super-duper skinny, people comment on her looks when she leaves the room: She’s a Hot Girl. Also, her favorite things in the world are comic books, Ultimate Fighting Championships, and books with dragons on the cover and/or as subject matter. She is a geek; it is her passion; she carries it with pride. When she told me about it, this is what she told me:

“Guys are always so happy to talk to me about comic books,” she said. “Which is great, because I don’t know that many people in real life who will talk to me about comic books. It goes really, really great, with these guys, until they figure out that I’m not going to sleep with them. And that’s when they start getting cold and assuming I’m stupid or shallow like everybody else.”

So, yes: Hot Girls are subject to misogyny, just like everybody else. The fact that some Hot Girls can pull paychecks from it isn’t the actual problem; it’s a manifestation of it, which individual Hot Girls are not primarily responsible for. And everybody needs paychecks. I sure as crap do! And, unsurprisingly, when girls get shitty at them, when they have to deal with assumptions that they’re “anorexic” or slutty or “Mean Girls” or just plain dumb, this doesn’t exactly make them feel that they can get support from girls when dealing with all this. And when they see people framing it as “feminist critique” whilst talking about how modeling is fundamentally a useless and awful profession, and GOD who cares about the problems of SKINNY GIRLS like I bet they have it SOOOOO HARRRRRRD right, and UGH these girls are just UPHOLDING THE MAINSTREAM BEAUTY STANDARD and look SO UNHEALTHY (maybe they’re anorexic), the idea that feminism could provide some meaningful support seems increasingly unlikely.

That said, Olivia Munn seems like a real douchebag in her interviews. And hiring Olivia Munn did bring up legitimate questions about the role that The Daily Show plays in the Hot Girl system. (THERE WAS AN ARTICLE WHICH WAS IN PART ABOUT THIS AND YOU HAVE ALL READ IT AND IT IS BY SOMEONE WHOSE WORK I LIKE AND RESPECT.) Olivia Munn worked on a misogynist TV show — not “misogynist” in the way that people are alleging “The Daily Show” might be, the kind of sexism that’s expressed through hiring practices and office culture, but misogynist in terms of what they put on air, the kind of show that’s pretty much openly not interested in women except as hot objects and things to quasi-humiliate on camera. She worked her way up through the industry by building and capitalizing on a misogynist fan base. And, honestly, good for Munn for branching out — and, hopefully, getting out. But now she’s on a show whose on-air content is, famously, “progressive.” Not far left enough to be unmarketable, but still to the left. And the left usually keeps its misogyny in its back pocket (unless you are mean to Jon Stewart, in which case WATCH OUT). I don’t know if Munn is down with misogyny — she seems pretty invested in not criticizing it, probably because it’s made her name and paid her bills for years, although she’s also been open about the ways being objectified can be traumatic and shitty — but the sudden disjoint between seeing someone on a misogynist show where she was required to serve as a pinata and fantasy-gratification-dispenser, and then seeing that same person on a progressive show where she’s required to have good delivery and tell relatively smart jokes, produces a certain amount of cognitive disjoint.

People wondered if Munn was supposed to play the same role for The Daily Show’s audience that she did for Attack of the Show’s audience, because we’d simply never seen her play any other role. I really, sincerely hope that she will be doing something else for TDS — that she’s got a ton of skills that Attack of the Show just never utilized, and that we’ll get to see them now. Jon Stewart and Tina Fey think she’s funny, apparently, so that’s really promising. And to see someone escaping the Hot Girl Ranks and displaying some talents that aren’t primarily about feeding weird XBox Live players’ fantasies of female subjugation is, or should be, heartening. But to see a girl with this history hired to work as, essentially, a stand-up comedian — when she’s never worked as a stand-up comedian — is weird, and raises questions about which qualifications are important to the people doing the hiring. And to see that The Daily Show is responding to criticism of its gender politics with nothing but defensiveness or that Olivia Munn’s first response to questions about her talent was to say that anyone who asked those questions was a girl who should stop eating so much, only added fuel to the fire.

Basically, I wish Olivia Munn were more like Megan Fox. Granted, I wish everyone were more like Megan Fox, because I love her. But still! Fox has been open about the fact that she’s working as a product, selling Hot Girl because that’s what people want from her, and that it is an act. She’s felt free to point out the ridiculousness of what she’s selling, and to criticize her bosses. She’s also felt free to point out that women are sometimes threatened by her, and assume that she sees herself as “hot shit.” Which is almost always met by women who feel threatened by Megan Fox complaining about how Megan Fox must think she is such hot shit, but whatever. There’s a level of self-awareness there, an ability to pinpoint her own place within the system and acknowledge the oft-shitty nature of the system, that Munn — maybe because she’s still nominally working at Attack of the Show — doesn’t seem to share. Asking her if the bikini shots have helped her career, if there are different expectations of her because she’s a woman, only ever produces the response that she’s funny and pretty. Which, sure, maybe she is. But that’s not what the interviewers are asking, and anyway, you’d hope that the “funny” part would be more important, if she’s being hired to do comedy. And thus far in her career, the “pretty” has been way more central. Her indignation that Jezebel described her as “primarily known for putting things in her mouth” is understandable on a human level (no-one likes to be told that they’re not qualified for their job) but doesn’t necessarily take into account the fact that she’s worked for years at a TV show that produced a greatest-hits package of her putting things in her mouth, and that there are over seven million hits on a G4TV-posted YouTube video of her (at first, reluctantly! Like fucking always, because that’s the dynamic her gross-assed viewers find sexy!) deep-throating a hot dog. (One of the recommended videos, also from G4TV, is entitled “Kevin Pops Olivia Munn From Behind!” It involves balloons.) G4TV knows what they’re selling; so does Munn, most likely. She has every reason to. Whether she thinks that’s cool or not? I’m of the mind that, if she doesn’t, she’s probably too smart to say so while she’s still getting paid.

Even if she does think it’s cool, though — even if she is a misogynist, even if she is one of those dreadful people who just thinks girls should have to be pretty and that being thin and cute is a sign of “self-control” or greater value or whatever (and there are plenty of girls who think this way, too), even if her politics are more Attack of the Show than Daily Show(‘s stated on-air politics) — there’s still a solution that would make everyone happy, I think, and it doesn’t require anyone to get rid of Olivia Munn. The Daily Show could just put some more fucking women on the air.
There are women who make their living off the misogyny of our culture. That isn't inherently bad. Is Munn bad at her job? Maybe maybe not. Haven't seen her on the daily show. But, when I see her (and I will, I watch TDS enough to see most of the correspondents) I won't be comparing her to what she did before. Her job before was to be eye candy to nerds. I hope she actually has the comedy skills when I see her.
doogly wrote:On a scale of Mr Rogers to Fascism, how mean do you think we're being?
Belial wrote:My goal is to be the best brain infection any of you have ever had.

Aetius
Posts: 1099
Joined: Mon Sep 08, 2008 7:23 am UTC

Re: Women of the Daily Show speak

Postby Aetius » Thu Jul 08, 2010 9:28 pm UTC

Jessica wrote:Sady once again is an awesome columnist and write well. I think she is cool.

Article under the spoiler
Spoiler:
Ladies! Are we tired of talking about The Daily Show yet? I know I am! You know who’s not tired of talking about it, though: DELETED COMMENTERS. There are dozens of them, apparently! Many of them angry that I haven’t published their first-time, openly hostile comments right away, and willing to leave a series of increasingly unhinged comments to that effect! (This isn’t a customer service gig for me, folks. I am not here to optimize your trolling satisfaction.) (Although I like to imagine the thought process. “Hmmm, she didn’t publish the one where I called her a bad feminist and accused her of damaging all women everywhere with her damnable 500-word blog posts. Maybe if I just called her a bitch? Yes! That’s it! That’s the move that will GET MY COMMENT PUBLISHED.”) Yes, my past few days have been FILLED with deleted commenters. Like this one:

Think there’s sexism on TDS? Don’t like it? Stop watching the fucking show. You’re stupid as hell for making as big a deal about this as you are, you’re dumber for having written this ignorant ass letter, and well…change your tampons already. I’m a feminist who’s watched the show for years, and I don’t see anything racist going on.

Ah, yes, the eternal problem of the person — sorry, “feminist!” — who wanders around the Internet screaming “I DON’T SEE ANY [INSERT X PREJUDICE] GOING ON”: Sometimes, you just forget which problem you’re supposed to be not seeing! I feel for you, “Chelsea,” I really do. But here’s the thing. I’m also deleting comments that run like so:

bitch poses for maxim and tries to act like men and women are equal. please. she was graced with an uber sexy bod and shes crazy if shes trying to act like she hasn’t used her looks to get her where she is. i guess that the part that pisses me off the most and will make me tivo right through her segments.

And now, I will piss you all off by explaining why.

The thing is: I have actually seen Olivia Munn’s former show. It was called Attack of the Show, and my former boyfriend watched it, because he liked video games and comic books very much. Olivia Munn’s job, on this show, was not to be funny. Her job was to be a girl — a real, live, female girl! — who actually quasi-interacted with and tolerated her audience of primarily male, 20-something geeks, and gave them the impression that she would be their girlfriend, if only she weren’t trapped on the other side of the TV screen. Maybe when the new holo-technology hits, right, guys?

Now: Given that she was playing to an audience of dudes whose expectations of women were primarily informed by ever-more-anatomically-impossible video game heroines, the flying thongs of superhero justice to be found in comic books, and cooing, squealing, saucer-eyed anime girls, did it help that she was pretty? AYUP. It also helped that the show continually cast her in misogynist skits that “proved” to the audience that they could control her and she would like it: Skits that played to the audience’s frustrations with women, their feelings of inadequacy and insecurity, and their continual rage that real-life girls couldn’t be controlled by mashing the buttons on their PlayStation consoles. One golden example of this — so effective, apparently, that they repeated it over and over again — was the comedy/technology news chestnut I like to call “We Can Make Olivia Put Her Mouth On It.” It went like this:

ANNOYING FRAT DUDE HOST WITH BAD RYAN SEACREST HAIR: Guess what, presumed-to-be-male audience members? A new piece of technology, relevant to your interests, has come out today! And now, Olivia Munn will lick it.

MALE LIVE AUDIENCE: (Creepily.) Wooo!

OLIVIA MUNN: Oh, no, I’m not going to lick that!

RYAN SEACREST HAIR: Oh, yes, you are, Olivia! Lick it! Lick it because I am a man, and told you to!

MALE LIVE AUDIENCE: (Extremely creepily.) Woooooooooo!

OLIVIA MUNN: (Licks it.)

MALE LIVE AUDIENCE: (At this point, creepy enough to merit several dozen restraining orders.) WWWWWWOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!

RYAN SEACREST HAIR: Wow, you sure do like to lick it, Olivia!

OLIVIA MUNN: Ha, ha ha ha ha! You are so funny!

[END SCENE.]

If no new tech had come out for a while, they used a hot dog. Now: You don’t need a lot of comedic talent to do this, if you are Olivia Munn. What you need is a steadfast desire to keep pulling paychecks, and maybe an iPhone to lick. This doesn’t mean Olivia Munn has no comedic talent; it just means that her comedic talent was not what her audience wanted to see, and so we never really got to see it. The fact that it was her job to appease her audience’s geek misogyny, and that she built a brand that gave her misogynist audience what they wanted (read: hot bikini pics) doesn’t mean she’s a bad evil slutty bimbo. It just shows that she was smart enough to capitalize on her fan base, and that hot bikini pics were the surest way to keep that particular audience interested. Ain’t none of this slut-shaming. Girls have to get by, and if you are a girl and work in the entertainment industry, this is one of the ways to do it. It’s depressing, but it’s true, and hating on individual players for seeing the options open to them and taking them isn’t cool. Or feminist. No matter what Olivia Munn has done with her career, this and this are still fucking gross and anti-girl.

It’s true that Olivia Munn does bring out a certain amount of hateyness and frustration among girls. She brings it out in me! So I know! Up till now, she’s been getting it maybe specifically from girl geeks. And, although this isn’t fun to hear, or to recognize in yourself, this particular form of frustration is based on insecurity. (THERE WAS AN ARTICLE WHICH WAS IN PART ABOUT THIS AND YOU HAVE ALL READ IT AND IT IS BY SOMEONE WHOSE WORK I LIKE AND RESPECT.) An entirely understandable insecurity, based on the fact that (as girls never stop telling us, in Tweets and e-mails and in blog comments) it’s fucking hard to be a lady and like comic books. Or video games, or computers, or anything else. Nerd culture is, famously, sexist as all hell; all of that frustration with women, those unrealistic X-Lady nourished expectations, that need for women to be as controllable and fun as the lines of code you’re working on — it’s not just expressed on Attack of the Show, it’s expressed in the day-to-day lives of women who try to have fun with this stuff and find that dudes (a) are the cultural gatekeepers and (b) have some ISSUES with the ladies that they are oh-so-ready to take out on any lady that crosses their path. If you’re not hot, you’re shit; if you’re not prepared to concede that dudes know more about this stuff than you, you’re shit; if you’re not controllable and acquiescent and ready to laugh at all the dudes’ jokes (even the jokes that are on you), you’re shit. And then we see Olivia Munn, and we see that she is hot and she is allowed to possess a (secondary) authority on this stuff, and she is laughing at all the jokes, even or especially when she’s the butt of the joke, and we’re mad. She’s doing it! She’s playing along! She’s making it harder! If there’s one Olivia Munn in the world, those dudes will expect all girls to be Olivia Munn, and the girls who don’t want to, or can’t, will keep getting shit on! She’s perpetuating our oppression.

Or, you know, not. Because Olivia Munn is not the one running this show. If she weren’t willing to play this role, she wouldn’t have her job; if she didn’t have her job, someone else would. And even if, by some miraculous circumstance, there were no girls in the entire universe willing to do this job, the dudes still wouldn’t let you in. They wouldn’t change their expectations. The key thing about those expectations is that they are unrealistic, because they are based on a dislike of real-life, three-dimensional girls. Olivia Munn embodies geek-misogynist expectations and desires for women, in this one specific job she does, but those expectations and desires are what make girls’ lives hard, not the women who are paid to fulfill them. If there were no girl in the entire universe that men could point to and say, “well, she likes it,” they’d still keep doing it, because, here’s the secret: Misogynists don’t care what girls like. Being angry at a girl because you’re constantly told that you’re not enough, and you’re constantly told that she is enough, being angry that she won’t take your side (because not being on your side is part of what makes her “enough,” part of what she’s paid to do), is really, really tempting. And, honestly, human. But it’s not feminist, and it’s counterproductive as all hell. Taking that one girl down, or taking down all the girls who are like her, isn’t going to change anything. Because girls — girls like you — still won’t be the ones in charge. And they still won’t be valued. Guys who want to treat girls like shit are going to treat girls like shit, and I recommend we keep on getting angry at the motherfucking guys about that, because they’re the ones calling the (bikini) shots.

And then, you know, there are Hot Girl Problems. Turns out they have those! I myself have never been a particularly Hot Girl, so I haven’t had a share in it. But I do have friends — friends who are entertainers, or models — who fit the Hot Girl Mold, at least for the 0.5 seconds after people see them and before they open their mouths, and I’ve seen what the Problems are like. Guys who want to date them because they’d make nice trophies, and then turn nasty and try to “knock them down a peg” when they turn out to be people with, like, opinions and needs and such; guys who just want to knock them down, period, because pretty girls make them feel inadequate and angry; people who assume they’re stupid, who “like” them but refuse to respect them; constant allegations that they got where they are, wherever that is, because of their looks, which honestly does sting, what with the continual people-assuming-they’re-stupid problem. And, in a twist that is perhaps relevant to this conversation, some of those girls are geeks.

My best friend K has worked as a model. She’s tall, she’s blonde, she’s super-duper skinny, people comment on her looks when she leaves the room: She’s a Hot Girl. Also, her favorite things in the world are comic books, Ultimate Fighting Championships, and books with dragons on the cover and/or as subject matter. She is a geek; it is her passion; she carries it with pride. When she told me about it, this is what she told me:

“Guys are always so happy to talk to me about comic books,” she said. “Which is great, because I don’t know that many people in real life who will talk to me about comic books. It goes really, really great, with these guys, until they figure out that I’m not going to sleep with them. And that’s when they start getting cold and assuming I’m stupid or shallow like everybody else.”

So, yes: Hot Girls are subject to misogyny, just like everybody else. The fact that some Hot Girls can pull paychecks from it isn’t the actual problem; it’s a manifestation of it, which individual Hot Girls are not primarily responsible for. And everybody needs paychecks. I sure as crap do! And, unsurprisingly, when girls get shitty at them, when they have to deal with assumptions that they’re “anorexic” or slutty or “Mean Girls” or just plain dumb, this doesn’t exactly make them feel that they can get support from girls when dealing with all this. And when they see people framing it as “feminist critique” whilst talking about how modeling is fundamentally a useless and awful profession, and GOD who cares about the problems of SKINNY GIRLS like I bet they have it SOOOOO HARRRRRRD right, and UGH these girls are just UPHOLDING THE MAINSTREAM BEAUTY STANDARD and look SO UNHEALTHY (maybe they’re anorexic), the idea that feminism could provide some meaningful support seems increasingly unlikely.

That said, Olivia Munn seems like a real douchebag in her interviews. And hiring Olivia Munn did bring up legitimate questions about the role that The Daily Show plays in the Hot Girl system. (THERE WAS AN ARTICLE WHICH WAS IN PART ABOUT THIS AND YOU HAVE ALL READ IT AND IT IS BY SOMEONE WHOSE WORK I LIKE AND RESPECT.) Olivia Munn worked on a misogynist TV show — not “misogynist” in the way that people are alleging “The Daily Show” might be, the kind of sexism that’s expressed through hiring practices and office culture, but misogynist in terms of what they put on air, the kind of show that’s pretty much openly not interested in women except as hot objects and things to quasi-humiliate on camera. She worked her way up through the industry by building and capitalizing on a misogynist fan base. And, honestly, good for Munn for branching out — and, hopefully, getting out. But now she’s on a show whose on-air content is, famously, “progressive.” Not far left enough to be unmarketable, but still to the left. And the left usually keeps its misogyny in its back pocket (unless you are mean to Jon Stewart, in which case WATCH OUT). I don’t know if Munn is down with misogyny — she seems pretty invested in not criticizing it, probably because it’s made her name and paid her bills for years, although she’s also been open about the ways being objectified can be traumatic and shitty — but the sudden disjoint between seeing someone on a misogynist show where she was required to serve as a pinata and fantasy-gratification-dispenser, and then seeing that same person on a progressive show where she’s required to have good delivery and tell relatively smart jokes, produces a certain amount of cognitive disjoint.

People wondered if Munn was supposed to play the same role for The Daily Show’s audience that she did for Attack of the Show’s audience, because we’d simply never seen her play any other role. I really, sincerely hope that she will be doing something else for TDS — that she’s got a ton of skills that Attack of the Show just never utilized, and that we’ll get to see them now. Jon Stewart and Tina Fey think she’s funny, apparently, so that’s really promising. And to see someone escaping the Hot Girl Ranks and displaying some talents that aren’t primarily about feeding weird XBox Live players’ fantasies of female subjugation is, or should be, heartening. But to see a girl with this history hired to work as, essentially, a stand-up comedian — when she’s never worked as a stand-up comedian — is weird, and raises questions about which qualifications are important to the people doing the hiring. And to see that The Daily Show is responding to criticism of its gender politics with nothing but defensiveness or that Olivia Munn’s first response to questions about her talent was to say that anyone who asked those questions was a girl who should stop eating so much, only added fuel to the fire.

Basically, I wish Olivia Munn were more like Megan Fox. Granted, I wish everyone were more like Megan Fox, because I love her. But still! Fox has been open about the fact that she’s working as a product, selling Hot Girl because that’s what people want from her, and that it is an act. She’s felt free to point out the ridiculousness of what she’s selling, and to criticize her bosses. She’s also felt free to point out that women are sometimes threatened by her, and assume that she sees herself as “hot shit.” Which is almost always met by women who feel threatened by Megan Fox complaining about how Megan Fox must think she is such hot shit, but whatever. There’s a level of self-awareness there, an ability to pinpoint her own place within the system and acknowledge the oft-shitty nature of the system, that Munn — maybe because she’s still nominally working at Attack of the Show — doesn’t seem to share. Asking her if the bikini shots have helped her career, if there are different expectations of her because she’s a woman, only ever produces the response that she’s funny and pretty. Which, sure, maybe she is. But that’s not what the interviewers are asking, and anyway, you’d hope that the “funny” part would be more important, if she’s being hired to do comedy. And thus far in her career, the “pretty” has been way more central. Her indignation that Jezebel described her as “primarily known for putting things in her mouth” is understandable on a human level (no-one likes to be told that they’re not qualified for their job) but doesn’t necessarily take into account the fact that she’s worked for years at a TV show that produced a greatest-hits package of her putting things in her mouth, and that there are over seven million hits on a G4TV-posted YouTube video of her (at first, reluctantly! Like fucking always, because that’s the dynamic her gross-assed viewers find sexy!) deep-throating a hot dog. (One of the recommended videos, also from G4TV, is entitled “Kevin Pops Olivia Munn From Behind!” It involves balloons.) G4TV knows what they’re selling; so does Munn, most likely. She has every reason to. Whether she thinks that’s cool or not? I’m of the mind that, if she doesn’t, she’s probably too smart to say so while she’s still getting paid.

Even if she does think it’s cool, though — even if she is a misogynist, even if she is one of those dreadful people who just thinks girls should have to be pretty and that being thin and cute is a sign of “self-control” or greater value or whatever (and there are plenty of girls who think this way, too), even if her politics are more Attack of the Show than Daily Show(‘s stated on-air politics) — there’s still a solution that would make everyone happy, I think, and it doesn’t require anyone to get rid of Olivia Munn. The Daily Show could just put some more fucking women on the air.
There are women who make their living off the misogyny of our culture. That isn't inherently bad. Is Munn bad at her job? Maybe maybe not. Haven't seen her on the daily show. But, when I see her (and I will, I watch TDS enough to see most of the correspondents) I won't be comparing her to what she did before. Her job before was to be eye candy to nerds. I hope she actually has the comedy skills when I see her.


Except Sady's first response to this Daily Show kerfluffle was one of the worst things I could imagine being penned on the subject.

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Re: Women of the Daily Show speak

Postby Xeio » Thu Jul 08, 2010 9:48 pm UTC

I am glad that I stopped watching before they started to have Olivia Munn licking stuff on AotS. *facepalms*

I think on behalf of male geeks out there, I must apologize that there are a lot of douchebags. :?

EDIT: Incidentally, I think this may sum up a lot of the reaction (from the article Jessica posted)
I don’t know if Munn is down with misogyny — she seems pretty invested in not criticizing it, probably because it’s made her name and paid her bills for years, although she’s also been open about the ways being objectified can be traumatic and shitty — but the sudden disjoint between seeing someone on a misogynist show where she was required to serve as a pinata and fantasy-gratification-dispenser, and then seeing that same person on a progressive show where she’s required to have good delivery and tell relatively smart jokes, produces a certain amount of cognitive disjoint.

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Re: Women of the Daily Show speak

Postby *bird » Fri Jul 09, 2010 12:25 am UTC

Olivia responds to the whole thing:

http://www.salon.com/books/int/2010/07/ ... index.html

Will probably edit in what I thought later.

EDIT: quote: "If you stand up for women, then don't bash me."

I disagree with that, because it presumes women can't be sexist and perpetuate their own oppression. Olivia seems to be under the impression that they're bashing her because she's pretty, but that wasn't the main thrust of it (which again seemed to be more about TV in general casting women mostly based on appearance).

And I sympathize with the parts of the interview where she said she was on the other side of the equation, and the pressure in her cover shoots to objectify her and to get her to go naked. I also sympathized with the part where she was talking about her stepdad criticizing her about her Asian features and in general abusive.

But still, proactively appeasing the fanbase through things like the quote about the sandwich in the mouth...
Last edited by *bird on Fri Jul 09, 2010 8:27 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Women of the Daily Show speak

Postby sje46 » Fri Jul 09, 2010 12:38 am UTC

meatyochre wrote:
Meaux_Pas wrote:Women currently on the Daily Show: slightly more likely to convince me than someone who got fired for being too much of a fangirl.

I have to do some follow up on that when I get home. Reading that article was like watching a humiliation comedy. Awkward and embarrassing FOR ME. Did she seriously ask Jon Stewart if he had downloaded a big black cock onto her monitor, or was she exaggerating all those incidents for comedic effect? Because if not, she sounds like the single most awkward and embarrassing and UNFUNNY person I've ever known or read about.

yikes.

I'm pretty sure she exaggerated a lot. Unless you actually believe that they wrap Emmys. But yeah...I got the sense that she wasn't telling the truth in that.
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Re: Women of the Daily Show speak

Postby zombie_monkey » Fri Jul 09, 2010 4:24 am UTC

Hm, I had never heard of her until she appeared in TDS. And as I said, something is bothering me about her delivery. I wondered what's supposed to be funny about most of her appearances. And the moments I did find funny I thought her intonation is weird, but I attributed that to her being Vietnamese, I thought that's Asian intonation patterns I'm not used to but Americans might be. Am I wrong to surmise they're actually supposed to be... "sexy" or something?
EDIT: I worte that before her third appearance, which the posts after mine are referencing. Haven't seen it yet.
Last edited by zombie_monkey on Sat Jul 10, 2010 8:46 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Women of the Daily Show speak

Postby Aetius » Fri Jul 09, 2010 7:39 am UTC

She missed a huge opportunity for a Speedy Gonzalez joke. Putting speed cameras on the border? Cmon, that joke practically told itself.

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Re: Women of the Daily Show speak

Postby Jessica » Fri Jul 09, 2010 2:24 pm UTC

I thought that whole segment was fantastic, personally.
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Re: Women of the Daily Show speak

Postby Aetius » Fri Jul 09, 2010 4:58 pm UTC

Jessica wrote:I thought that whole segment was fantastic, personally.


I actually thought the segment as a whole was pretty good, but that opportunity was so glaring I'm surprised any comedian missed it.

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Re: Women of the Daily Show speak

Postby Chai Kovsky » Sat Jul 10, 2010 6:39 am UTC

Here are some more feminist responses worth reading.

The issue here is not whether Jon Stewart is actively a sexist asshole. The issue is that many feminists are disappointed that, for a liberal/progressive, he pays astonishingly little attention to addressing structural sexism in his own field, and that he interviews far, far more men than he does women. It is perfectly possible to have a supportive work environment and to have a lovely boss and to have 40% women (though, frankly, I wouldn't brag about the majority of the population being 40% of the company, and am not impressed with the lack of women of color in that picture) and still have problems of structural sexism in your work environment. You can have problems with the window dressing of the article (whether or not Jon Stewart has "joyless rage"), or you can address the substance.

I don't have a tremendous problem with people hiring Olivia Munn. I don't think she's funny, I think she has exploited herself in a way that disadvantages other women, especially in geek culture, and I think her reaction to this kerfluffle was exceedingly troubling. I do not support a Sarah Palin run for presidency as a feminist; I oppose it because she is doing antifeminist things. It is perfectly possible and even likely for some women to do antifeminist things. I even think that if they wanted a hot girl they could have found one with a better sense of humor who didn't tell those durned angry feminists to "Just walk it off, bitch," after taking the sandwich out of their mouths (because feminists are fat, get it? Get it?). But it's an individual hiring mistake, and hopefully one that will be rectified over time. Y'know, with her firing.
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Re: Women of the Daily Show speak

Postby sje46 » Sat Jul 10, 2010 7:40 am UTC

though, frankly, I wouldn't brag about the majority of the population being 40% of the company,
Women are barely a majority....especially since the reason why women are more numerous than men is because men have a shorter lifespan, and I doubt many senior citizens apply for jobs at the Daily Show. Wikipedia says that the male/female ratio for 15-64 is 1/1. So you have a 10% difference, which is a problem, yes, but I don't think it's really The Daily Show's fault. It's quite possible that job applicants are exactly 40% female, or maybe even 20% female (assuming that women are equally qualified), and that the Daily Show actually gives women 200% preference. We can't really know without context. And maybe I'm naive, but...40% really does seem like a high ratio to me for that kind of job. Women are simply more attracted to different jobs than men are. I mean, would you complain if a construction company was 40% women? Maybe you should, but it certainly isn't the hirer's fault for not reaching out or blatant sexism or anything...it's society's fault for having gender roles.
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Re: Women of the Daily Show speak

Postby cephalopod9 » Sat Jul 10, 2010 8:02 am UTC

I don't see much good coming from criticizing Munn's being hired, negative things are going to come across as a personal attack (anti-feminist) and positive things are going to look like a defense of sexist beauty standards and hiring practices(anti-feminist).
The Jezebel article seemed a bit messy to me, and didn't benefit from the video stuck in the middle.
*bird wrote:Olivia responds to the whole thing:

http://www.salon.com/books/int/2010/07/ ... index.html

Will probably edit in what I thought later.

EDIT: quote: "If you stand up for women, then don't bash me."

I disagree with that, because it presumes women can't be sexist and perpetuate their own oppression. Olivia seems to be under the impression that they're bashing her because she's pretty, but that wasn't the main thrust of it (which again seemed to be more about TV in general casting women mostly based on appearance).
Well, no. Bashing is a personal attack, and tearing her down is still tearing down a woman. Of course, that doesn't mean you have to like or approve of her or her position, but if you're feminist your point should be "this is unfair" not "look at this bimbo".

Overall, I think one of the big problems is that taking steps to correct the imbalance is going to draw attention to how bad it is. So even though TDS is not the worst about it, it is getting the most attention right now.
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Re: Women of the Daily Show speak

Postby Chai Kovsky » Sat Jul 10, 2010 3:09 pm UTC

sje46 wrote:It's quite possible that job applicants are exactly 40% female, or maybe even 20% female (assuming that women are equally qualified), and that the Daily Show actually gives women 200% preference. We can't really know without context. And maybe I'm naive, but...40% really does seem like a high ratio to me for that kind of job. Women are simply more attracted to different jobs than men are. I mean, would you complain if a construction company was 40% women? Maybe you should, but it certainly isn't the hirer's fault for not reaching out or blatant sexism or anything...it's society's fault for having gender roles.

Yes it is. You don't sit around and passively wait for women to come to you in a massively misogynist field. You actually have to recruit. You don't get a pass on sexism for just passing the buck on structural problems.

I don't just link things for my health, sje. You might have found some feminist responses to your post if you'd read them.
cephalopod9 wrote:I don't see much good coming from criticizing Munn's being hired, negative things are going to come across as a personal attack (anti-feminist) and positive things are going to look like a defense of sexist beauty standards and hiring practices(anti-feminist).
Go back to the part where personal attacks are anti-feminist? What the frack? Unless I woke up this morning to find that the word "feminism" completely changed meaning, personal criticisms of a given woman are in no way anti-feminist. Maybe the Straw-Feminists decided that it is unfeminist to criticize a woman, ever, but the rest of us aren't on that boat.
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