Monday, October 05, 2020

Media: The people holding back women -- including other women

 FOX has a new show, FILTHY RICH.  If we told you the lead was a woman would you be surprised by the critical reaction?  That's right, longterm readers, the critics largely hate the show.



It's a soap opera -- some hiss, as though their BREAKING BAD, THE WIRE, et al aren't soap operas.  As we've pointed out dramas on TV learned they had to become soap operas starting with the critical hit HILL STREET BLUES.  No more FAMILY where one episode wasn't connected to the other except for the cast.  You need a story element that stretched over several episodes to keep the viewers paying attention.  MTM grasped this and began making it an element of their TV shows starting with HILL STREET BLUES (continuing through ST. ELSEWHERE, LA LAW, etc).  

The Water Cooler Set loves a soap opera . . . unless a woman heads the cast.

For FILTHY RICH, the woman is Kim Cattrall.  She is Margaret Monreaux who co-founded THE SUNSHINE NETWORK with her husband -- a religious TV network.  She co-hosts programs on the show and becomes the person running it when she thinks her husband has died.


He hasn't died.  His plane crashed but he survived.  He's played by Gerald McRaney in a strong performance but everyone's giving a strong performance -- Melia Kreiling, Corey Cott, Steve Harris, Aubrey Dollar, Mark L. Young, Aaron Lazar and Olivia Macklin. Cattrall heads the class and deserves applause for her performance as well as for her choices.

In the 90s, she was the big star of SEX AND THE CITY on HBO.  She then acted in two films based on the series -- the second one was a huge embarrassment what with the racist attitude in the script (regarding the Middle East) and the critical reaction.  It was best to leave the show alone at that point.

But Sarah Jessica Parker, who starred in the film, has nothing but the past.  She tried to return to HBO and be a star again but no one watched DIVORCE and, after three low rated seasons, even HBO wouldn't indulge the show anymore and decided to axe it.  How far had SJP's star fallen?  By the end of DIVORCE, only 250,000 people were bothering to tune in -- this at the same time that as many as 13 million people were watching an episode of HBO's GAME OF THRONES.

SJP has nothing.  She's eager to let the world know she's number one at the box office this past weekend.  Of course, she's not number one.  First, TENET will be the number one film for the past weekend when all dollars added.  Second, HOCUS POCUS is not SJP's film.  It's Bette Midler's film and SJP has a supporting turn in it (as does Kathy Najimi).  The film was re-released due to the upcoming holiday (Halloween) and due to studios having little else to offer (both the new Wonder Woman film and the new James Bond film have been postponed) because so few are going to the theaters in these Covid days.  HOCUS POCUS will make less than two million dollars in ticket sales.  It's not going to help SJP's career but then what can?

While SJP white-knuckle grips the past, Kim Cattrall tries to go forward with new projects and new challenges.  Her decision to be done with SEX IN THE CITY has angered her co-stars which is possibly an argument for just how important she is to the success of the project.  But instead of condemning Kim, we should be applauding her for going after new challenges and her former co-stars should think about all the additional screen time they could have in another bad film that they might make without her.

The media doesn't want to applaud Kim or any strong women.  US media exists to render women invisible.  We were reminded of that again when we checked in on ALL SONGS CONSIDERED.  In August, we looked at the program and its gender imbalance in "Media: The hatred of women runs deep -- even at NPR."  We looked again this past week and the numbers had only gotten worse.

For those who don't know, ALL SONGS CONSIDERED looks at new music every Friday.  And they do this with a roundtable of guests.  It's a small circle of critics and the circle is predominately male.  The weekly program has now, since it started in January of this year, brought on men 119 times and women?  49 times.  Women have made up 29.17% of the guests on this weekly show.

Women can't discuss music?

And excuse us but preening Ann Powers has always been a bit of joke to people who know her actual writing -- a joke when you consider some great feminist -- but how can even Ann not notice that she's sitting down with three men or four men week after week?

NPR's aware of the problem.  They just don't think they have to address it.

Grasp that.  

NBC, ABC and CBS are all publicly working to address inclusion but NPR -- National Public Radio -- which receives tax dollars doesn't think it has to address its rank and institutionalized sexism which has led women to be left out as guests in every program they offer.  

Women, according to NPR, can't discuss music.  We lack some gene apparently.  Therefore, NPR's okay with women making up only 29.17% of the panelists on ALL SONGS CONSIDERED's new music Fridays.

That's the world we live in.

We were reminded of just how invisible women are when, last week, we were speaking to a college group and a drama teacher asked if we could grab one of her classes and speak to her students?  Sure.  Due to Covid we mainly do online encounters but we'd been asked to do a social distancing event and we'd gone to the campus for that one event.  We could certainly do another.

We were talking to theater majors.  About the wars, of course.  And we always try to shape things to the audience we're speaking too.  So, as we brought up the struggles that we face working for peace, we likened it to the struggle women have had in the theater and we noted Rachel Crothers and how she was followed by Lillian Hellman who in turn -- 

Rachel Crothers?

That's what our group asked us.

Who is Rachel Crothers?

Now if you're a poli sci major and ask us that, we wouldn't be surprised.  But how do female theater majors with female professors not know Rachel Crothers?

In the first part of the 20th century, she was the most acclaimed and most successful female playwright in the US.  She wrote her plays and frequently directed them.  She worked with people like Katharine Cornell and Tallulah Bankhead.  Twelve of her successful plays were turned into films.  Her achievements were major and helped pave the way for other women.

How do you not know that when you're a woman majoring in theatre and when you have female professors?

It left us confused -- a bit like 'rape babies.'

Did you miss that last week?  We had.  We call out Bill Maher repeatedly.  He'd used the term 'rape babies' and that's offensive and typical Bill Maher.  RBG died and that's the fault of Jill Stein, according to Bill, and rape babies should be named after Jill.

Krystal Ball called his nonsense out.

Then Katie Halper did.  And that's where our problems began.

Katie and a fat idiot male wanted to talk 'rape babies.'  Turns out, Katie's used the phrase before.  We hadn't heard her use it before.  We find the term appalling.  It's not a joke to be raped and it's certainly not a joke to become pregnant from a rape.  Katie self-presents as a feminist.  So we were appalled.

We were further appalled by the fat idiot on her show who wanted to use the term too and wanted to talk about what he'd name his 'rape baby.'

Katie missed this somehow so let's go slow.  Outside of THE BLACKLIST, men are not giving birth.

Is that confusing?

The only way her male guest could have a 'rape baby' would be if he fathered it -- that would mean, pay attention Katie, he raped the woman.

None of it was funny.  It was disgusting.

What does that have to do with the theatre women?  They'd never heard of Rachel Crothers, remember.  Somehow the women who taught them (as well as the men) had betrayed them.  Apparently, the women didn't feel their female students needed to be educated about women.

In other words, women themselves were eliminating women from the discussion -- kind of like NPR or, for that matter, Katie Halper.  In the last six days, she's done nine new segments online (we're not counting her co-hosting work, only her solo work).  In those nine segments, she's had 12 guests.  All were men.

There's no way she doesn't notice that.  And women can speak on any topic -- yes, NPR, even music.  But let's note that since Katie repeatedly wanted to talk about the Supreme Court -- RBG's death and nominee Amy Coney Barrett -- where were the women?

We're tired of people looking away.  We're supposedly all in this together.  If that's the case, why are we the first ones to note Katie Halper's gender discrimination?  Why are we always the first on this issue?  

It gets old real quick.  The only thing older than the refusal to call out gender discrimination?

Gender discrimination itself.

FILTHY RICH airs Monday nights on FOX.  Tonight's episode has some strong scenes for Kim as her character goes on camera with Ginger (her husband's daughter with another woman) and issues of control of your body as well as shaming are raised.  It's powerful stuff.  But when we get powerful scenes with two women, The Water Cooler Set just yawns.  Don't let their sexism influence your own judgment or enjoyment.

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