Sunday, October 12, 2014

TV: The WTFs

As feminists these days, we spend a lot of our time asking, "WTF?"

Take the never-ending yammering about what took place a week ago on the dreadful HBO program (is that redundant -- dreadful and HBO?) Real Time with Bill Maher.  Bill Maher and Sam Harris on one side and Ben Affleck, Michael Steele and Nicholas Kristof largely on the other.  Ben and company largely took a positive take on humanity while Bill and Sam saw destruction everywhere.

If you wanted to spend more than 90 words on it, and some people clearly did, you might get to the reality of the problem -- both sides were talking around the other and could have made concessions.  (The only point where Maher was correct was in noting that the left -- which includes us -- is very comfortable calling out Christian and Jewish fundamentalist zealots but goes wobbly when it comes to calling out their Muslim equivalents.)

No one seemed eager to make that point.

Nor did they seem to grasp the more pertinent issue.

Bill Maher is a pig.

Trina noted some ridiculous idiot who wrote last week that "now" Maher was attacking women.


For three decades on television Maher has attacked women non-stop.

And there was Bill Maher on his hideous program insisting that Muslims were against women and this to women and that to women and blah blah blah.

And what stood out to us as feminists, as Maher pretended to give a damn about women in order to justify his attacks on Muslims, was the panel.

Maher silences women.  He had a four guests and himself making up a panel allegedly concerned about women and not one of them was a woman.

If you don't get what a hypocrite and liar Bill Maher is, that's on you at this point.  When he's pretending to care about what happens to women while staging an all male panel, if you can't grasp it, we're really shocked by your stupidity.

"You" would especially include a woman at the trash dump that is Salon.  To make her anti-Maher argument she rewrote history (as more than one person leaving comments to her awful article noted).  She also wanted to insist Ben Affleck was not called "angry" because he was White while another commentator was called "angry" and this was some form of racism.  The other commentator wasn't on the show.  If Chris Cuomo called O.C. "angry" and not Ben it may have been because Ben took part in the screaming circus exchange that is Maher's program whereas O.C. was on CNN providing commentary of the HBO exchange.

We get it, Myriam Francois-Cerrah, you're a bad and dishonest writer, it's why you post at Salon.  We get that your issues are not women's issues or issues of racial justice, you're the Muslim equivalent of Billy Graham.  So you're light on facts, you appear to lie (or maybe you're just that stupid) as you create a timeline that appears intentionally false and, in the end, you smear a lot of people with your fake timeline and, even when called out on one error/lie after another in the comments to your article, you offer no correction.

Myriam is as a big a fraud as Bill Maher.

And we're honestly worried about Ms. magazine's blog as well.

Last week, Brianna Kovan wrote a post attacking The Mindy Project.

Again, we were left with someone who 'created' facts and a timeline (see the comments to Brianna's piece) and we were also bothered by what seems to be an orchestrated effort -- by Jezebel and others -- to attack Mindy's show and Mindy herself.

Mindy Kaling can be critiqued -- negatively and positively.

She is the only woman acting on network TV who is also producing her own show and writing for it.

But that doesn't mean she can't be criticized.

She is also the rare lead in a sitcom who is female or a person of color.

But that doesn't mean her work can't be examined and found worthy of praise or lacking.

Reality: In a 22-episode season, Mindy will make mistakes as a writer, as a performer, as a producer -- as will anyone else.

Commentary on the show -- positive or negative -- can only help word of mouth and can only help feminism as we use The Mindy Project (or whatever series) to explore what we believe in and what we don't.

But commentary needs to be based on reality.

Brianna condemns many things including the character of Danny.  Danny is who Danny is, the character was created long ago and it's a strong character (we agree with Ann that the character of Jeremy no longer adds anything to the show and should depart).  Because of Danny's attempt to pursue anal sex, Brianna is offended.

She writes:

To start, Mindy focuses on Danny’s pleasure over her own throughout the episode: acquiring sedatives so she can please Danny without being fully conscious; getting sex advice from Peter for the same purpose; and discarding her grandma’s bathrobe purely for Danny’s enjoyment. As the plot complicates, never does Mindy prioritize her sexual desires or her right to consent—an unfortunate and familiar narrative in women’s lives.
The last two scenes reinforced this theme, leaving me squirming in my seat. Danny, who performed a sexual act without Mindy’s consent, is somehow positioned as the ultimate boyfriend at the episode’s close. Somehow his character doesn’t need to apologize for overstepping boundaries. Rather, Mindy is characterized as being dramatic (per usual), and the problem is normalized as something that must happen to all couples. 

We disagree with that summary strongly and think people need to be a little more factual in their presentations.  But let's assume she's right, let's assume Brianna has captured what took place on the show, okay?

So what.

That's no reason to condemn the episode or be offended.

We're reminded of the film Wolf.  The Mike Nichols directed thriller with comedy elements stars Jack Nicholson and Michelle Pfeiffer.  Michelle wanted to work again with Nicholson and was eager to work with Nichols as well so she signed on to a so-so role in the midst of re-writes.  Of non-stop re-writes.

As the film neared its start date, one script after another attempted to 'solve' issues with her role by making her character this or that.  But, as Michelle pointed, it didn't really make Laura Alden a character as one (male) writer after another came up with a busy-work job for Laura Alden but didn't really address the character.  Michelle and Elaine May grasped that the character could be stronger if they embraced what was at the root of Laura, she was living a hollow life (which many women -- and men -- do) and that the attraction to Nicholson and becoming a wolf is about owning her power.

Life is a journey.

Too many forget that when they slam this or that woman.

Artist Mindy did not embrace anything in that episode, it was an exploration.

She was recently slammed for not wanting to do an abortion story on her program -- judging by Ms. magazine's over-reaction to an anal sex storyline, Mindy was right to avoid the topic of abortion.  (Though she's avoiding it because she doesn't feel it fits her storylines currently.)

What the f**k is going on?

Lena Dunham is semi-responsible for her hideous show Girls.

Bill Maher needs to do a program on how fat White women who are psuedo intellectuals get away with anything.  Ms. refuses to call Lena out.

Her show is set in NYC and has an all female cast -- four women -- all White.

When some -- not Ms., of course -- began crying racism in season one, Lena immediately announced she would be adding a woman of color in season two.

No such character emerged and Lena took to NPR's Fresh Air to explain that she couldn't write people of color.

See, Lena can talk to death White women but, to Lena, women of color are animals or less, things and not people, things she can't understand.

That's racism.

And the the Grand Dragon of the Media's KKK got away with it.

If she were seen as 'low class' -- yes, feminism can be very classicist -- she'd be ignored the way the hilarious Melissa McCarthy has been by Ms. despite delivering laughs forever and a day in Molly & Mike (also set in NYC, like Girls, but features people of color in the cast).

Dunham is a racist.  When you say you're unable to write women characters -- as many men have claimed over the years -- you are a sexist.  When you say you can't write people of color, you're a racist.

That's all she is, a  racist.

Ms. has failed to call her out but they can't seem to leave Mindy alone.

They -- and other so-called women's sites -- can't stop picking on Mindy.

Mindy's actually funny.

Not whimsical, not 'ironic,' she's laugh out loud funny and very talented.

If Ms. wants to create this standard to hold Mindy to, okay, but why is it just Mindy?

And while Ms. wants to present the anal sex attempt as something akin to rape -- no, it wasn't -- why weren't they joining us in condemning 30 Rock when 'feminist' Tina Fey's show was promoting -- as hilarious and 'no foul' -- Pete having sex with his wife who was asleep?

That was treated as the norm and something cool.

And where was Ms?

If you can become a feminist hero -- as religious fanatic and professional sex-hater Tina Fey did -- you can write whatever s**t you want and get away with it.

You can sexualize Sarah Palin and then whine that Chevy Chase never got called a sexist for doing a parody of Gerald Ford.  But, of course, he never wore a skirt as Ford, let alone, as Fey did, pulled the skirt up in a skit.  That was disgusting and, again, where was Ms?

The blog's becoming a joke with its purple prose and mash notes about non-feminist Beyonce whose weak-ass efforts (strongly marketed) are making Madonna look like Bella Abzug by comparison.  But it's also attacking women for the wrong things.

The Mysteries of Laura.

A reader writes that we're "pimping" the show because we attacked NBC last season (repeatedly) for failing to add even one show to their lineup that revolved around a woman.

"You had an impact," the reader writes, "and so now you praise the show."

No, we praise the show because it's good.

The Mysteries of Laura is also a hit.

Right now, it's pulling in twice the audience that, for example, NBC's Parenthood delivers.

The reader didn't know that (what a surprise) but he did want to explain to us "how wrong you are because Rotten Tomatoes had the last word, 'Despite a talented cast, The Mysteries of Laura is dated both as a cop show and as a representation of single, working mothers'."

Is that the last word?

Did the reader not know how to read?  We covered this already.

If you can't grasp a show, sit your tired ass down.

Rotten Tomatoes?

Who gives a f**k about an aggregator that produces nothing and can't even handle a single sentence synopsis.

Debra Messing is not playing "a representation of single, working mothers."

The reason?

She's not single.

She's married to Josh Lucas' Jake.

How do you criticize the show, how do you critique it, and presumably watch it to do so, and not notice that Laura is married?

When we dealt with the show before, we explained how sexists (men and women) were displaying their sexism.

If someone doesn't like the show, that's fine.  As long as they can call out the actual show.  But when they're inventing things -- like Laura's a bad mother because her twins can't read -- they're not reviewing the show.

And it's really telling just how much sexism greets women that the egregious Rotten Tomatoes can get away with falsely labeling the married character of Laura as "single."

The Mysteries of Laura is in the tradition of The Rockford Files and Hart to Hart and many other shows that aren't in production today but remain popular in syndication.

The Water Cooler Set needs their cocks -- real and imagined (imagined for the women trying to be men) -- teased with displays of crimes scenes where dead women in bras (or less) are covered in blood.  They need the edging to enjoy a show.

So they're not going to care for The Mysteries of Laura but the reality is The Water Cooler Set rarely knows what audiences want.

And they clearly want The Mysteries of Laura.  Why wouldn't they?

It's a funny look each week at a mystery that allows us to explore the talented cast led by Debra Messing but also including Lucas, the awash in physical chemistry Laz Alonso and the always interesting Janina Gavankar.

It's a wonderful show and it's so nice to see Debra not disgrace herself the way other women have as they've rushed to join existing shows.  We're not the only ones calling out a few actresses privately.  Jennifer Lopez is attempting to develop her own detective show and she has (rightly) made clear that she will be playing a character not a cock-tease.  Everyone knows what actress Jennifer is referring to but Ms. hasn't called that woman out and probably won't.

In the meantime, they ignore Debra Messing and The Mysteries of Laura.

But considering how they've savaged Mindy Kaling, maybe that's a good thing?

And maybe at some point, Ms. can explain why they cover the 'arts' but never found time for Nikita or for Scandal or for Revenge or How To Get Away With Murder or . . .

Oh, that's right, feminism has a strong strand of elitism in it.  So if it's not on cable, they're not going to cover it.  It's the same reason it was The New Republic, and not Ms. that first explored the feminism in the sitcom Roseanne.  Ms. is too busy trying to be Water Cool Cred to cover shows that women actually watch.  See, shows that women actually watch, are ghettoized by The Water Cooler Set and Ms. is too chicken s**t to stand up to the sexism that dismisses programs women watch as unworthy of exploration or coverage.

You'd think Ms. would be championing shows women watch, shows that feature women, but instead they're as much into torture porn (Homeland, seriously?) as The Water Cooler Set.

To be a feminist these days is to live through a series of never-ending WTFs.


Note.  We would praise Ms. for their post on Joan Rivers which attempted to explore Joan's place in history.  We would praise it.  But they published it twice -- one as written by Michele Kort, the second time as written by Audrey Bilger -- the exact same piece, and we have no idea who wrote it.  For the record, we would call Joan a feminist and a feminist pioneer.  But we're open to others interpreting and exploring otherwise.

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