I have a confession to make. I have been living a lie. Well, at least, I now know I have been living a lie. Thanks to the writers and commenters at Jezebel and other feminist sites, I am now aware of the fact that my previous self understanding was wrong and that I am not as dynamic as I once thought I was.
You see, until feminist blog Jezebel skewered The Daily Show over their choice of Olivia Munn as the next female correspondent, and the so called blogosphere lit up like a christmas tree, I thought that it was entirely possible for me to be sexy, funny, geeky and smart all at the same time.
For those of you who are unaware, The Daily Show has been hosting a search for their next female correspondent. In their search, they hired former Attack of The Show host and Playboy and Maxim cover girl Olivia Munn. This choice led Jezebel columnist Irin Carmon to publish an article titled “The Daily Show's Woman Problem”, in which she lambasted the show for hiring too few woman and interviewed former female employees of the show who indicated that host John Stewart is sexist and given to fits of rage. In response, the women who work for the show published an open letter proclaiming that Stewart is not, as he joked in reaction to the article “a sexist prick”, but a fair and decent boss. Fair enough, right?
Apparently not. Once the reaction to the initial article was published on the site, commenters quickly popped up to explain that the real problem is not that the Daily Show may be sexist in their hiring practices, but that Munn herself could not possibly be a good fit for a smartly funny TV show. The reason? Because she is sexy, and flaunts it. Munn's sex appeal, and her willingness to play it up on the covers of Maxim and Playboy as well as in her role on Attack of The Show, evidently, indicate that she is incapable of delivering smart and satirical comedy on late nite TV. She is especially not capable of doing so in a setting that is geared toward political and social satire and any claim she makes toward her own abilities, her own geekiness or her own sense of humor are lies which are in place to cover up the fact that she is nothing but boy bait.
Leaving aside the fact that this sort of characterization of a successful woman is totally counter to what I understood feminism to be after, this revelation, that being sexy means one cannot be anything but sexy, puts me in quite a personal bind. As I stated above, I was previously given to thinking of myself as being sexy, smart, geeky and funny. I obviously can't be all four, if you believe those feminist bloggers, so lets look at each one in turn and see how they all don't work together.
Sexy- I need to first say that I am in no way attempting to indicate that I am as sexy as Munn. No one from Playboy is banging down my door to get me in a bikini by any stretch of the imagination. However, in the real world, I am often told that I am sexy, and I often play that up as much as possible. I have never jumped into a cream pie in a maid outfit, but I have worn a pinup costume and reveled in the attention it brought. I have never eaten a hotdog on a string on live television, but I have been given to amusing myself and others with fellatio jokes. I think it is hilarious when my boobs jiggle and someone points them out, and I love to wiggle my ass. I do this because, frankly, it feels good to get attention. What I was previously unaware of is the fact that enjoying this attention means that any other attention I get is just bullshit. Fortunately, in explaining how Munn's physical assets cancel out her other ones, the sweet darlings of the feminist blog world have also shown me how they cancel out mine.
Sexy VS Smart- Prior to being enlightened, I assumed that, somewhere in her audition process, Munn would have had to read a Daily Show script in a manner that showed her intellectual prowess. Apparently, not so. To those who are attacking her, it is blindingly obvious that Munn's achievement (and becoming the second ever female correspondent is an achievement!) was delivered to her on a silver platter by a group of sex hungry men who wanted to inject some eye candy into their lives. It could not possibly be because she showed some proficiency or intelligence in an interview or audition. This makes me wonder if my high GPA, delivered by mostly male professors, was earned by wearing low cut blouses and very high heals. Well, if you follow the hidden logic of Jezebel et al, it obviously was. It's a shame that no one clued me in, because I would have spent a lot less nights in front of my computer screen working though papers and a lot more planning outfits. Not to worry though, this lesson has been learned. I don't need to be smart, because I am sexy.
Sexy VS Geeky- This is my favorite of the issues. You see, Munn often talks up her own geekiness, especially in the context of her prior G4 network show. This is unsurprising, since G4 is a video game themed channel and, I assume is watched by a lot of geeks. Munn also does things like attend comic conventions in costume. This seems pretty geeky to me. But wait! She attended one in a Princess Leia “slave costume”. You know, the infamous gold bikini from Return of The Jedi? Well, evidently, this costume is sexy. Too sexy for a geek. I suppose that, if Munn had gone in a long robe and was still dressed as Leia, she might not be called out on the carpet as a fake geek, but I can't be sure. As it stands, she was obviously just there, to paraphrase one commenter, to taunt the geeks, who must be sex starved, with her sexiness. Now, aside from the fact that I own a gold bikini, which I purchased because it reminded me of ROTJ, I have also done things like spend weeks researching and sewing a Poison Ivy costume. Why did I choose Ivy? Because she is the sexiest of the Batman villains and I wanted to look hot at a Halloween party. The fact that I chose this particular costume, and made it as boobilicious as possible, obviously cancels out any actual geekiness I might have. The comic collection? The sci-fi addiction? The gaming? They're all, on the feminist line, obviously just there to lure sex starved boy geeks into paying attention to me. So, if we, once again, follow the logic here, I should sell the comics and not bother with the movies, books or games anymore because I couldn't possibly have come to my own appreciation of them. Check. (Also, as a side note to any boy geeks who might be reading this, I am very sorry to inform you that you must be horribly open to manipulation by sexy women because you can't get one yourself.)
Sexy VS Funny- After the hubbub started, some well meaning yet clearly misinformed, and probably male, commenters came to Munn's defense by saying “oh hey, you know she might actually be really funny if she's given the chance.” Obviously, this is impossible. You see, Munn thinks boobs and farts are funny. She also thinks it's funny to jump into a giant cream pie. This splits into two issues for the aforementioned bloggers. On the one hand, Munn probably doesn't even really think this is funny. She probably just says that because she knows that men, who can never progress past 3rd grade in the humor department, like it. On the other, if Munn does think these things are funny, then it indicates that she cannot possibly grasp a more complex humor. This dichotomy confuses me as I imagine it would be quite fun to jump into a giant pie, and I love a good boob gag as much as the next guy. However, I also used to think I was pretty witty with the satire. I even once read Parker, and understood her, or so I thought. In fact, my 80 year old grandmother is often yelling at me for being funny, because boys don't like it. I never realized that she might be halfway right before, but now I see the light. I can not be funny if I am sexy, because “sexy” humor is sophomoric and silly, and that means that I can not grasp anything more complex. Lesson learned. Goodbye Parker, hello Peter Griffin.
So, readers, given what I have learned from all this controversy, I suppose I now have a choice to make. I must choose between sexy and everything else. Well, if Jezebel et al are correct, then being sexy means I really don't need to bother with anything else. Obviously, choosing sexy is the right thing to do. I mean, why would I want to put myself in position where I actually had to try? I suppose that if I wanted to hold on to my other assets, I could accept a demotion down to merely “cute”, as some commenters have posited is the case with the other Daily Show correspondent Sam Bee and other funny women such as Tina Fey, but why would I want to do that when being sexy makes things so much easier for me? In this case, I am opting for sexy. My life will be much more simple from here on out!
But wait! Won't that be boring? What is there was another way? What if Munn is funny and Fey and Bee are sexy? I know it may seem like a stretch, but maybe we can just pretend, for a while, that we live in a slightly evolved culture where a woman can have more than one asset. Say, one where women once fought for the right to be seen as something more than just one thing. If only such a reality existed, what a fun world it would be.
You can watch Munn's first solo correspondent clip here: http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/thu-july-8-2010/arizona-s-photo-radar.
-Shannon (Who Shakes It Like Polaroid Picture)