Join 3,430 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Women and the Daily Show
July 6, 2010 11:59 PM   Subscribe

Jezebel calls the Daily Show a boys club (in part for hiring Olivia Munn). Women on the Daily Show responds. Slate jumps in. (hat tip)
posted by phyrewerx (292 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

 
This, like many stunts Jezebel pulls, seems to be a big angst-fest that doesn't exist beyond the borders of the internet. It doesn't really warrant a post in my book...
posted by Taft at 12:08 AM on July 7, 2010 [5 favorites]


In short, shut your pie hole Jezebel. She's probably funnier than you are.

/feminism
posted by cmfletcher at 12:11 AM on July 7, 2010


It's time like this that I really wish we could post images on MeFi.

That Women of Daily Show response?

Oh snap.
posted by effugas at 12:19 AM on July 7, 2010 [14 favorites]


What's particularly insulting is that Olivia Munn had to audition just like everybody else who wants to be on The Daily Show. (Which, incidentally, is a lot of people.) But apparently, she did not get her job on the basis of a good audition and subsequent interview with the producers (who number among their ranks at least four or five people who signed that open letter); she apparently hypnotized them with her magical titties.
posted by mightygodking at 12:25 AM on July 7, 2010 [24 favorites]


Jezebel is right, sort of. TDS aside, there just aren't as many performing female comedians as male. It seems like a bigger issue about comedy than just The Daily Show.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:25 AM on July 7, 2010 [3 favorites]


FWIW, Jezebel responded to the Daily Show method.

"I just wish the show had agreed to answer questions or make anyone available to talk when I approached them for comment before the piece was published.

Translation: "Why should I be accountable for my jaded reporting? They didn't defend themselves so I'm off the hook!"
posted by Taft at 12:32 AM on July 7, 2010 [20 favorites]


*message.
posted by Taft at 12:33 AM on July 7, 2010


In terms of commediennes with a measure of nerd cred, Aisha Tyler >>>>>>>>>>> Olivia Munn.
posted by uri at 12:34 AM on July 7, 2010 [3 favorites]


Never heard of Olivia Munn. And I thought I was up on all the hottie female nerdettes out there.

Morgan Webb: Call me, k?
posted by bardic at 12:39 AM on July 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Also from Salon:
As for the letter's substance, I'm relieved to hear that the show's current female staffers feel highly valued and don't find Jon Stewart to be a sexist ass. Selfishly, it'll make it easier for me to continue to enjoy the show, and I will feel that much better about the world if I can believe in one more mainstream space where funny women can thrive. But the letter entirely misses some of the valid issues that the original Jezebel post raises. What of the fact that, as Irin Carmon writes, the show hasn't taken on a new female correspondent in seven years? That female correspondents have generally "been a short-lived phenomenon" on the show? And that when it comes to television comedy as a whole, women are "universally scarce, whether in the writer's room or on the air"?

Ignoring and discounting these well-documented issues seems defensive and maybe even, dare I say, traitorous (and that's coming from someone who cringes at the word "sisterhood"). I'm not demanding a sober dissertation on the current state of women in comedy or anything -- but if "The Daily Show" has taught us anything, it's that it's possible to be both politically incisive and riotously funny. You won't find me holding the show's women to a lesser standard.
posted by nooneyouknow at 12:40 AM on July 7, 2010 [11 favorites]


I only recently learned of Olivia Munn when I accidentally happened upon the g4 e3 coverage, where she was inexplicably interrogating a game developer about whether he was circumcised. She went on to make fun of the booth babes and just be funny, weird, kind of irritating and bizarrely charming. I really like her. And I'm glad she's getting so much publicity thanks to the eternal, raging assholes of Jezebel-- just in time for her new book.
posted by stavrogin at 12:42 AM on July 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


I like how your ordering of links in this post ensures the truth in the final link title.
posted by peacay at 12:45 AM on July 7, 2010


It must be hard to hide someone people love to watch. Any would-be comedian can do open mic pretty much anywhere bigger than a one-horse town. Audiences will love her or not. If they love her, she'll go on to better things and other people (managers, clubs, television and movie executives, etc.) will go along with her to make money off her. If she's a moneymaker, those coattail riders will make sure she gets work, even if those guys aren't personally amused by her.

My bet is that the average Fred (and maybe Wilma, but particularly the average Fred) is more likely to laugh (heh heh heh) at Barney's jokes than at Betty's, and that Fred mainly wants to see Betty half-naked with a dinosaur. If they're competing for the same comedy spot, Barney, based only on audience demand, is going to get the comedy gig and Betty is going to get nothing. Or One Million Years B.C.
posted by pracowity at 12:52 AM on July 7, 2010


Shorter TDS: "Some of our best friends have vaginas!!"

Observation 2: There are about 30 women in that picture, and with the exception of one, they're all white. Of course it's kind of low res so it's hard to tell. But I saw one black girl and one girl that could have been Mexican or might have just been really tan.

Observation 3: I don't think Jon Stewart is a racist and I actually think he realizes that diversity isn't easy. I think the show has actually been making an effort over the past couple years. If you hire your friends, and your friends of friends, you're likely to end up with a bunch of people like you. Just look at the show Friends. You ever see any black people on that show? And that was shot in New York City.
posted by delmoi at 1:45 AM on July 7, 2010 [4 favorites]


By my calculations, the ratio of "The Daily Show" correspondents who are also MetaFilter members is still 100% male (to the best of my knowledge).
posted by ColdChef at 1:57 AM on July 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Shorter TDS: "Some of our best friends have vaginas!!"

No. Shorter TDS: "40% of the staff has vaginas, and as that 40%, here's what we, vagina-people were are, have to say."
posted by flibbertigibbet at 1:59 AM on July 7, 2010 [6 favorites]


Olivia Munn's a poor man's Morgan Webb, and Morgan Webb is a poor man's Megan Morrone (words cannot describe how much I miss her). Basically put, Munn needs to stop making fun of the booth babes that she is a mere exaggeration of. Watching her jokes flounder while she attempts to make up for it with skimpy outfits is an insult to both real comediennes and women in news and technology.
posted by june made him a gemini at 2:03 AM on July 7, 2010 [8 favorites]


I'd never heard of Olivia Munn, but Jezebel seems to really dislike her. I realize her hiring is not the only reason for their pretty valid complaint about The Daily Show, but jeez. Kinda cringeworthy to see how they write about her.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 2:10 AM on July 7, 2010


The last line of the "Women of the Daily Show" response was:

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

The fact that they collectively thought that was funny, made it closer to the truth than I wish it was.

I, for one, still believe Linn Winstead (one of the show's original creators) could do a better job than Jon Stewart, but that's just one male's opinion.
posted by oneswellfoop at 2:12 AM on July 7, 2010 [4 favorites]


You know who would make a perfect Senior Female Correspondent? Sarah Haskins. The "Target: Women" segments she does for Current TV (discussed previously) are hilarious, effective, and appealing to both genders. She'd be a great weekly addition to the show.
posted by Rhaomi at 2:37 AM on July 7, 2010 [54 favorites]


It doesn't really warrant a post in my book...

If you are putting posts about blog entries in your book you are beyond all admin hope.
posted by srboisvert at 2:47 AM on July 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


And then there's this video of Munn in a French maid costume, jumping into a giant whipped cream pie.

Yeah, there is probably some room for criticism of Munn here.
posted by mek at 2:51 AM on July 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


Blazecock Pileon : there just aren't as many performing female comedians as male. It seems like a bigger issue about comedy than just The Daily Show.

Why do we have this bizarre insistence that we "should" see roughly 50/50 participation by gender in any and every field?

Men and women have different priorities and enjoy different recreational activities; Why shouldn't the working world reflect that?

Oh, wait, it does. And no matter how much money we throw at, for example, getting women into IT - Free degrees at top schools; a year's starting bonus??? Gimme a second frickin' X chromosome please! - After a decade of "success" in inflating the numbers, we now have those same women fleeing the field in droves because, it turns out, many women hate the work!
posted by pla at 3:33 AM on July 7, 2010


Rhaomi, you're a genius. Sarah Haskins + Jon Stewart = unstoppable belly-laugh generating machine!!
posted by Salvor Hardin at 3:34 AM on July 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


But the letter entirely misses some of the valid issues that the original Jezebel post raises. What of the fact that, as Irin Carmon writes, the show hasn't taken on a new female correspondent in seven years?

...maybe it's because the current team, as they have it, is working just fine?

Seriously -- if you were running a business, and that business was wildly successful and had a well-working team, you wouldn't just decide to up and fire some of those team members because "oh, we need more women in here", would you?

Personally, I find THAT to be sexist. It implies that some of those new hires are being hired BECAUSE of their gender. Even though it benefits some women, that's still sexist to me because it is encouraging the powers that be to look at gender first. And when I get hired for a job, I want it to be because of what is between my ears rather than because of what is between my legs.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:51 AM on July 7, 2010 [14 favorites]


And no matter how much money we throw at, for example, getting women into IT - Free degrees at top schools; a year's starting bonus??? Gimme a second frickin' X chromosome please! - After a decade of "success" in inflating the numbers, we now have those same women fleeing the field in droves because, it turns out, many women hate the work!

Can you cite, like, any of this? Not saying you're wrong, but there's a lot of claiming going on in this sentences of sorts.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 3:52 AM on July 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


We're all trying to make it. Who cares how it happens? Ronald Reagan was in a movie with a fucking monkey, for fuck's sake. And THAT Olivia Munn got to be leader of the free world.

Also, I'm tired of this whole fucking "comedy writers are all white males" thing. Does anyone know where comedy writers come from? Schools like IO West, UCB, and Second City. From clubs like Gotham, SUNY, and The Comedy Cellar. They're not created out of thin air; these are the pools of talent that the comedy world draws from. 90% of the people enrolled in these classes and performing at these venues and who compose these pools are nerdy white males. Why is it so puzzling to find that same number of white males writing on comedy shows? Jesus Christ. If everyone who bitched about not getting hired as a comedy writer actually went out and performed comedy, maybe they'd change things. It's called paying your dues, motherfucker.
posted by V4V at 3:52 AM on July 7, 2010 [10 favorites]


This Jezebel needs to get laid.

But seriously, this has about as much to do with feminism as Taco Bell has to do with Mexcan food or Miley Cyrus with rock music.

(and is this where I mention that surprising numbers of straight women I know want, at least on a fantasy level, to sleep with Colbert or Stewart or both?)
posted by fourcheesemac at 3:54 AM on July 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Jezebel's brand of feminism is disturbingly similar to junior high school. Sure, all the women are sticking together and standing up for one another in the face of sexism and male privilege bullshit ("boys being icky"), but they ruin it all by ganging up on the girls they don't like, and drown them in cattiness and backhanded compliments.

Ugh. Jezebel.

(fourcheesemac, most straight women I know want Stewart and Colbert to make out with each other. I don't really see the appeal tbh.
posted by elizardbits at 3:56 AM on July 7, 2010 [19 favorites]


Personally, I find THAT to be sexist. It implies that some of those new hires are being hired BECAUSE of their gender.

Far be it from me to defend Olivia Munn (who clearly needs no defending) but I think she got it right:
What do they want? Do they want a funnier show, or just more vaginas on the show?
Now, a plausible response would be that they could make it a funnier show and have more women in visible positions on the show. But I would have to be convinced that Stewart et al aren't simply putting the best team they can together from the available pool of talent.
posted by Justinian at 3:57 AM on July 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yeah, there is probably some room for criticism of Munn here.

I'll NEVER criticize someone for putting on a French maid costume and jumping into chocolate.
posted by scrowdid at 4:05 AM on July 7, 2010 [5 favorites]


The Daily Show is also the only place on my TV with an actual pregnant woman. In her Fresh Air interview, Samantha Bee declared the show the best possible workplace for people with a family.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 4:35 AM on July 7, 2010 [3 favorites]


To be fair, if you watch that French-Maid-Jumping-into-Giant-Pie bit, the male co-host also turns out to be wearing a French Maid costume, and also jumps into the pie.

The whole kerfluffle essentially comes down to people tearing down Olivia Munn for being pretty and actually daring to acknowledge it. Make 1000 funny jokes, you might get barely noticed. Jump into one pie, you're a bad feminist.
posted by explosion at 4:38 AM on July 7, 2010 [11 favorites]


Also: all I get from the Munn interview is that G4 and book publishers are sexist.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 4:39 AM on July 7, 2010


All this criticism of Munn seems unfounded. She's being brought on as a junior member of the show. i.e. she has been seen to have potential, but needs on-the-job training and experience.

Just like any other bloody job ever!

I hope she, like so many others before her, grows into the position and shines. I hope she is given good material, good advice and good training from a top-notch team.

(still holding out for The Daily Show with Samantha Bee)
posted by Danaid at 4:40 AM on July 7, 2010


I wasn't all that familiar with Munn before this post. I watched that pie video and I think she's hilarious, though. You could criticize it on some level, I just don't think it would hold much weight. I'm sure she'll be great.

It rubs me the wrong way that they're assuming she got hired because she's hot, like it's some bad thing for women to want to be sexually attractive and they can't possibly have any other good qualities if they are. I get tired of this "if one woman does something she's ruining everything for everyone else" attitude. I get offended when guys assume I want to be sexually attractive to them, but I get offended at them for making assumptions and being asses about it -- I don't get offended at women who really do want guys to think they're attractive sometimes. I don't think she's sexist to think it would be funny to dress as a French maid and jump into a pie. I don't think guys are sexist for wanting to see it. The whole thing seemed pretty tongue-in-cheek anyway. At some point this whole blaming women for acting sexy (even when they're really coming across more as silly, like Munn does in that video) and blaming men for being attracted to hot women is just ridiculous. I'm one of those people that would watch Stewart and Colbert make out and there wouldn't be anything wrong with it as long as I didn't see that and expect that all men want to make out in front of me. We shouldn't shame people for their sexual feelings or behavior (as long as it's legal), and shaming them doesn't make it go away anyway.

A lot of the things people want to pin on Munn (and people like her) have less to do with her behavior and more to do with men making idiotic assumptions about women in general based on the behavior of individual women. I would much sooner work at pointing out why those assumptions are flawed than get mad at women who are comfortable behaving sexually. If anything, I think that Munn comes across as more human than some random, unspeaking model most shows would have used; if she convinces anyone that hot girls are real people, then great. I don't think a lot of people realize how much crap attractive women have to put up with: hate from other women; even more crap from men; horrible assumptions about their intelligence or personality, etc. I know it's fashionably cynical to say "oh boo hoo for the hot people" but whenever someone says something like that I think incredibly little of their perceptiveness and even their self-awareness, because they can't realistically imagine anything other than what they already want to believe and they don't realize how self-centered they sound. If anything the Jezebel article just pushed me firmly to Munn's side.

Also, the whole attempt to make The Daily Show seem like a sexist sort of place just to fit the flawed assumptions was pretty fucked up. No one on The Daily Show is ugly or anything, but if you look at all their correspondents, male and female, no one was obviously chosen because they're a ~hottie~. I doubt they'd start now. Also, I've never particularly cared that there aren't more female correspondents because I don't think it's all that important; they have some so it's not completely imbalanced, and as long as the correspondents are funny I don't care what gender they are. I agree it probably has more to do with there being fewer female comedians. It's easy to think of women who would make great Daily Show correspondents, but did they audition? Probably not. So let's not act like it was some massive oversight or something, and let's not get mad when they do hire a woman, what the hell.

The whole thing seemed to say more about the article's author than anyone else.
posted by Nattie at 4:44 AM on July 7, 2010 [34 favorites]


Translation: "Why should I be accountable for my jaded reporting? They didn't defend themselves so I'm off the hook!"

Wow, there's a pretty uncharitable translation. It sure looks like relevant information to me that 1) Jezebel did indeed try to get someone from The Daily Show to answer questions before publishing the piece and 2) The Daily Show refused to do. Where were any of the 32 women then?

Oh, and that dull Slate piece has once again confirmed the value of not clicking any link pitched as "Slate jumps in." At least the Salon response managed to actually mention the "well-documented issues" of female scarcity in TV comedy, rather than just junk the whole idea as "petty jealousy, cleverly marketed as feminism."

Jesus, Slate.

fourcheesemac: This Jezebel needs to get laid.

And thanks, fourcheesemac. Way to elevate.
posted by mediareport at 4:46 AM on July 7, 2010 [7 favorites]


The whole kerfluffle essentially comes down to people tearing down Olivia Munn for being pretty and actually daring to acknowledge it.

And making jokes about it. I really don't get that, but it's not the first time I've seen this kind of thing. She's not Phyllis Schlafly or something, so I don't see why she deserves the vitriol. It's pretty sad. Not to mention incredibly insulting to Munn, in the implication behind why she was hired.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 4:51 AM on July 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


The Jezebel link isn't working for me - anyone else having trouble with it?
posted by Salvor Hardin at 4:52 AM on July 7, 2010


Or pretty much everything Nattie just said. The only thing I'd add: if Stewart and Colbert were to make out, would Colbert remove his glasses dramatically first?
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 4:56 AM on July 7, 2010 [8 favorites]


And thanks, fourcheesemac. Way to elevate.

Yes, because speculating on whether it would be better to make out with Stewart, Colbert, or both was clearly more elevated.
posted by Justinian at 4:59 AM on July 7, 2010 [3 favorites]


Salvor: The Jezebel link isn't working for me - anyone else having trouble with it?

The patriarchy has probably sent its crack team of scantily-clad playmate assassins to take down the site. Think charlies angels but with even more pillow fights.
posted by Danaid at 5:01 AM on July 7, 2010


How feminist blogs like Jezebel gin up page views by exploiting women's worst tendencies.

By Emily Gould


That would be former Gawker blogger Emily Gould; also, previously. Really, a lot of this seems like Clique War.
posted by Halloween Jack at 5:03 AM on July 7, 2010 [7 favorites]


I have no opinion at all on Olivia Munn, and don't think the issue is really about her (except on Jezebel). I have spent some small amount of time around the amateur standup and improv crowd and have seen astonishing amounts of sexism and racism, which remain if one watches most professional standup. It is no wonder that few women and people of color have an interest in "paying their dues" when all those around them are getting ahead by telling jokes out of '50s tv and minstrel shows (which are always told "ironically" because they of course are not racist or sexist, they're just ironic, okay).

And I do think it's weird to say that, because 60% of The Daily Show audience is male then obviously that sufficient to drive everything on the show. Presumably 40% of the audience is female (with some small portion of the audience being intersex of genderqueer), and maybe 40% is enough that it seems open to discussion how rarely a woman appears on the screen.

Also, Sarah Haskins would be amazing on The Daily Show.
posted by hydropsyche at 5:04 AM on July 7, 2010 [4 favorites]


Yes, because speculating on whether it would be better to make out with Stewart, Colbert, or both was clearly more elevated.

*laughs*

I'm not defending that as High Debate or anything, but at least it didn't trot out one of the hoariest cliches about feminism then wave it away with a "but seriously." I mean, come on, fourcheesemac knew exactly what he was doing and it sucked.
posted by mediareport at 5:08 AM on July 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


More importantly, is anyone else smiling at the thought of Nick Denton screaming his little head off in the Gawker President's office about those "Http/1.1 Service Unavailable" messages everyone's getting right now?

I am, anyway.
posted by mediareport at 5:10 AM on July 7, 2010 [3 favorites]


I thought the rule was, "if you're hotter than Stewart, you get your own show."
posted by ryanrs at 5:21 AM on July 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


So they really are going with the Olivia Munn thing? I saw her once and hoped that would be it. I admit, my main experience with her was G4's coverage of Sasuke. But she strikes me as your best friend's dorky little sister who's grown up, and is now kinda-sorta hot physically, but she's still that goofy kid in the water wings to you.

Can she be funny? My impression of her (again, kid sister) is that her style is to sort of get in the way and mess up things and "gee, aren't I cute" and abba-dee-abba-dee-abba-dee that's all, folks! Hopefully, TDS helps her develop some incisive wit. Though, to be honest, I mostly can't stand the correspondents. Jones and Bee especially are grating and one-note. Olivia, don't learn from Sam Bee. Don't pay attention to her. Don't even be in the same room from her. You might catch whatever she has.
posted by Eideteker at 5:21 AM on July 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Emily Gould's half-right, I think.

The Jezebel/Nick Denton/blogosphere-in-general trick is: take a legitimate and important macro-level issue (the sexism of the comedy world, or even bigger, the sexism of the world) and then illustrate it, badly, through a case study that really doesn't illustrate the point in question.

Commenters will then fall into two main groups: those who feel very strongly about combating sexism, and those who feel strongly about defending the Daily Show, and they will argue interminably at cross-purposes and give you lots of page views.
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 5:31 AM on July 7, 2010 [9 favorites]


I thought she did fine in her Daily Show bit about the Russian spies. It wasn't the best they've done but it was far from the worst. Once in a while they hit it out of the park and the correspondent bits are uproarious from start to finish. Somewhat more often they're painful to watch. Her first go was somewhere in the middle but, I think, a little closer to the funny end of the spectrum. Which is great for a first segment given how labored and unfunny they can occasionally get.
posted by Justinian at 5:33 AM on July 7, 2010 [5 favorites]


Olivia Munn was not chosen because of how funny she is. She was chosen because she is very pretty and funny. There are many women far funnier than Olivia Munn but none of them are as good looking. John Stewart also got his job significantly because of his looks. People in television get where they are because of a complex constellation of attributes and circumstances some of which we've decided are merit and others we've decided aren't but a lot of the separation is arbitrary.
posted by I Foody at 5:38 AM on July 7, 2010 [5 favorites]


I was always completely put off by the willful stupidity that the correspondents on the Daily Show seem to be requested/required to exhibit. I was happy that Hulu allowed me to fast forward through those parts. I hope Olivia Munn is not required to do that.
posted by that girl at 5:38 AM on July 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


I've never been a fan of Jezebel. For better writing on women's issues (a term I hate, as all issues short of maybe testicular cancer are women's issues), and for writing by women, there are any number of better and more interesting blogs, with better writing and more interesting topics. Pandagon, TAPPED, Feministe, Feministing, Shakesville, etc. I'm sure you can name a few as well. I rarely care about what dresses celebrities are wearing to one tedious event or another. And from the start, when Jezebel wasn't boring me, I unfortunately felt that the one word that best described it was "catty". (I know, I know)

That said, I've no doubt that Jezebel has some talented people working for it. I tend to avoid it unless my girlfriend or someone else forwards me a link. But the signal-to-dreck ratio is far too skewed for it to be worth my time normally.

I've no doubt that TDS can be a tough place to work for women. Late night daily television is a tough place for anyone, and by the nature of the terribly sexist society we live in, anything that is tough is going to be tougher for women. That's not an excuse, that's simply the world we live in, and we need to start from there to fix it. Do I think that TDS is harder or worse than other environments? I do not know, but the Jezebel article doesn't do anything to convince me.

On the subject of Olivia Munn, I'm not really familiar with her previous work, but after seeing her first segment, I googled her to find that she was the girl on a show on G4 (or whatever they call themselves these days), and extrapolated that she was probably the eye candy. That's not a commentary on her work necessarily, but you know how these shows are. She could producing Pulitzer level journalism, and she'd still be the eye candy on this show. My first thoughts when I saw her segment was that she was funny. If I recall, her first segment was more about her Vietnamese heritage (or Asian heritage at least), but her gender had a lampshade hung on it.

Do I think that there needs to be more female TDS correspondents? Absolutely, I'd love for there to be a better balance in terms of race as well (though they've been doing better with that recently). The problem is that the show can only support so many people, and other than maybe Jason Jones (who I generally find a bit tedious after a while), I'm not sure who they could/would drop. I love Sam Bee, and would love to see more of her work, and to see her guest host a few times. I believe that she is seen less often these days because she seems to be eternally pregnant (also lampshaded on the show).
posted by X-Himy at 5:42 AM on July 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


You have a great posting style for radio :)

I Foody: "Olivia Munn was not chosen because of how funny she is. She was chosen because she is very pretty and funny. There are many women far funnier than Olivia Munn but none of them are as good looking. John Stewart also got his job significantly because of his looks. People in television get where they are because of a complex constellation of attributes and circumstances some of which we've decided are merit and others we've decided aren't but a lot of the separation is arbitrary."
posted by MrLint at 5:43 AM on July 7, 2010


Oh, to finish my point about Olivia Munn, I personally found her funny. Were there perhaps less pretty people that were funnier? Possibly, but this is television, and all the on-air people are lookers. From her couple segments, I have no reason to think that her looks were the primary reason that she was hired (plenty of pretty people out there). This just feels like more cattiness from Jezebel.
posted by X-Himy at 5:44 AM on July 7, 2010


The problem isn't Olivia Munn, per se. I'm sure Olivia Munn is hardworking and funny and charming and and and and. Look at the on-air female talent on TDS over the years. Plot it all out. Why, in the sort of silly rebuttal, is Kristen Schaal listen as a correspondent when she hasn't had an on-air bit in over a year, for example?

Why is this seen as a valid justification? "We don't need women on-screen! We have plenty of women behind the scenes!"

And dismissing the criticism of former employees as "bitter rantings" is either supremely short-sighted or... I don't know, a misguided attempt at irony?
posted by muddgirl at 5:48 AM on July 7, 2010 [9 favorites]


One other point (since I can't seem to keep my mouth shut). Jezebel mentions Kristen Schaal, who I absolutely adore in everything I've seen her in. They also say that she is a regular contributor (maybe not regular enough for my taste), and not a correspondent. I'm fine with that, as I think that her schtick (and possibly her voice), don't make for a correspondent. I've no complaints with her looks, and I think she is funny as heck, but it is not the funny that I think would gel well with the a segment piece. Much like John Hodgman or Lewis Black.
posted by X-Himy at 5:48 AM on July 7, 2010


Personally, I find Kristen Schaal hotter. In a weird way. Maybe it's just me.

" PPS. Thanks to the male writers who penned this for us." The fact that they collectively thought that was funny, made it closer to the truth than I wish it was.

Oh lighten up Francis, FFS. Have you ever seen the show?
posted by fungible at 5:51 AM on July 7, 2010


It sure looks like relevant information to me that 1) Jezebel did indeed try to get someone from The Daily Show to answer questions before publishing the piece and 2) The Daily Show refused to do. Where were any of the 32 women then?

You don't think Jezebel already knew the story they wanted to write, and were just asking for a response to make it more legit?
posted by smackfu at 5:54 AM on July 7, 2010


Taft: "This, like many stunts Jezebel pulls, seems to be a big angst-fest that doesn't exist beyond the borders of the internet. It doesn't really warrant a post in my book..."

MetaFilter is about the Internet. Maybe it doesn't deserve a bit on the local news, but ragging on shittily researched drama-bait is like MetaFilter's third most valuable contribution.
posted by Plutor at 5:58 AM on July 7, 2010


Probably the most beautiful, and most implicitly incisive, part of TDS' response is the lack of linking/mentioning Jezebel.
posted by NolanRyanHatesMatches at 6:02 AM on July 7, 2010 [5 favorites]


And thanks, fourcheesemac. Way to elevate.


OFFS. Satire. Heard of it? Reminds me of an old joke about feminists and light bulbs, but I'll skip it.

PS -- punchline is "That's not funny."
posted by fourcheesemac at 6:02 AM on July 7, 2010


Never found KS funny. I know, heresy, cause she's a nerdy girl and she's not traditionally attractive and and and...

Quirky doesn't do it for me. You have to be funny as well. There might be overlap, but they're not the same thing.
posted by Eideteker at 6:02 AM on July 7, 2010


Eideteker, I gotta disagree. Her timing on things like Flight of the Conchords is superb. And in her segments on TDS, she has some of the most amazing reactions. Like she was an honest to god actor or something.
posted by X-Himy at 6:06 AM on July 7, 2010


Men and women, generally speaking, find men funny.

Women, generally speaking, find women funny.

The same thing happens in sports. Men and women enjoy men's sports. Women enjoy women's sports. Men have fairly narrowly defined roles for what they want to see women do. Being funny and playing sports are not among those roles.

Male sporting events beat or destroy female sporting events in television ratings across the board. Similarly, male comedic performers beat female comedic performers in television ratings across the board. Since the Daily Show doesn't want to see its ratings go down, they have to make sure that the gender makeup of their show doesn't cause them to lose male viewers.
posted by flarbuse at 6:14 AM on July 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


Since the Daily Show doesn't want to see its ratings go down, they have to make sure that the gender makeup of their show doesn't cause them to lose male viewers.

So, it's not like the people at the Daily Show are sexist just because they elect to have mostly men on the show, it's that they are choosing to cater to a sexist crowd. There's a problem in Hollywood in general with people believing that anyone will see a movie about a white guy, but only [non-whites, non-males, no one at all] will see a movie about [non-whites, non-males, whatever], and the exceptions are either hand-waved away or Angelina Jolie.

I have no dog in this fight, really: I don't watch the Daily Show and I have no idea who Olivia Munn is. Part of the problem with this is not that any one given show is unbalanced, it's that overall, they're all unbalanced in the same way.
posted by jeather at 6:26 AM on July 7, 2010 [4 favorites]


I'm honestly really surprised so many people are taking the Daily Show's side on this. People have been saying this about the Daily Show for years, it's not like Jezebel pulled it out of their ass.
posted by empath at 6:27 AM on July 7, 2010 [11 favorites]


Way to elevate.

That suggests that you think that the Jezebel piece is a carefully thought out, tightly reasoned examination of sexism on a popular TV show. It isn't.
posted by ob at 6:28 AM on July 7, 2010


The excellent Tiger Beatdown nails exactly what's off about the Daily Show women's response.

Yes, women is what we are, and also we work at The Daily Show. We are all sorts of things: Production assistants! Administrative assistants! Writers’ assistants! So many of us women are assisting! Why, we even sometimes get our jokes on the air! But not our names, apparently, in many cases, or our faces, in all but three cases. Just because our names do not appear on the writers’ credits — just because we do not, as the saying goes, “get credit” for our work — this should not imply to you that our work is not valued! We are women! This is enough!
posted by rusty at 6:29 AM on July 7, 2010 [24 favorites]


OFFS. Satire. Heard of it? Reminds me of an old joke about feminists and light bulbs, but I'll skip it.

PS -- punchline is "That's not funny."


Ironic racism and sexism is always so awesome!
posted by kmz at 6:29 AM on July 7, 2010


Jezebel: Celebrity, Sex, Fashion for Women.

Reads like Catholic girls school alumni, and not in recovery mode.
posted by Brian B. at 6:31 AM on July 7, 2010


I'll NEVER criticize someone for putting on a French maid costume and jumping into chocolate.

John Goodman to the courtesy phone, paging John Goodman...
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:31 AM on July 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


They have been going to the John Oliver well a whole lot of late. I wonder if that presages some sort of Daily Show International spinoff?

Munn is fine. She needs to work on her timing a bit, but I assume she'll grow into it.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 6:32 AM on July 7, 2010


This whole thing just reinforces why I rarely visit Jezebel. The last time I did I was reading an article about how girls don't have self-respect today, and that the "beautiful" "party girls" were liked more than the "good girls." Yeah, unironically splitting people into good and bad girls at something that calls itself a feminist blog.

They seem to post articles that are all about making a strong point, regardless of what questionable arguments it takes. Anything goes. But the minute they're called out on it they just backpedal, like they're doing here. I read some of their comments in response to the Daily Show women's post, and a lot are like "well we did it out of love obviously" when the original article used a ton of pull-quotes from unnamed sources and people who haven't worked with the show in a decade. Bleh.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 6:40 AM on July 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


Since when is it news that only the hot people get to end up in front of a camera? If there is an issue here, it has nothing to do with Munn but rather with the balance of male and female writers and producers.

Mostly, I just think that Tiger Beatdown's mocking of the female staff members is in poor taste. A good job is a good job regardless of whether it's high profile, and if the staffers who wrote that letter love what they do (as it seems they do), then more power to them. How dare Sady Doyle patronizingly imply they're not ambitious enough.
posted by oinopaponton at 6:41 AM on July 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


If she convinces anyone that hot girls are real people, then great. I don't think a lot of people realize how much crap attractive women have to put up with: hate from other women;

Some of the hate arises out of the spiraling arms race: in an attempt to be the most beautiful and desirable woman in the room, women will go to absurd lengths that can exhaust money, time and even health. If you get a breast job, work out 2 hours a day at the gym and wear 4 inch heels, then I will get a breast job and cheek implants, work out 3 hours a day and wear 5 inch heels. You show cleavage to your sternum, I show cleavage to my navel. You spend 2 hours at the salon and get a mani/pedi and legs waxed and a facial, I spend 4 hours at the salon and get all that plus a spray tan, anal bleaching, and a Brazilian. It's an arms race that no one can win.

TDS aside, there just aren't as many performing female comedians as male. It seems like a bigger issue about comedy than just The Daily Show.


And it's not just an American phenomena either; I watch lots of British comedy panel game shows (QI, Mock the Week, The Now Show, Never Mind the Buzzcocks) and most of the time all the panelists are men. On the few occasions when female comedians are on the panel, they make fewer jokes, sometimes they barely open their mouths. There are only about 2 or 3 women who can hold their own-- Sandy Toksvig is my favorite. She, like Ellen Degeneres is a lesbian. Do you think that has something to do with it? I know that sounds absurd, but I wonder how much of being funny relies on making a fool of yourself-- something few sexy women want to do.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 6:41 AM on July 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


All this reminds me of high school.
posted by MarshallPoe at 6:43 AM on July 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


PS -- punchline is "That's not funny."

Degenerating into attacks on feminists isn't going to elevate this either. And it wasn't satire -- it was a sexist joke that you're trying to excuse by calling it satire. Please back away from that sort of stuff, no matter how hilarious you find it.

Here's the issue, as I see it: It really is a problem that the Daily Show hasn't had a lot of female correspondents or writers in its history. It's not especially the Daily Show's fault, but probably part of a larger social trend that discourages women from having positions like this, especially in comedy. If you have any contact with the comedy scene, you'll discover that a lot of men have an unchecked sense that women aren't funny, or aren't as funny as men. When these issues are brought up -- and other issues related to making comedy a less alienating place for women -- the men will often go on the attack, rather than address the subject, and we're dealing with men who, from the bottom up, often see themselves as no-nonsense truth-tellers, when, in fact, there is a large swath of them who are aggressive assholes raging against whoever seems easiest to bully. It's not a progressive atmosphere, and women have to either fight every step of the way or have to just suck it up, because some of the fights are just losing propositions.

I am not sure how this specifically plays into the Daily Show, but I suspect its self-identity of being a cutthroat environment where only the strong survive and the best jokes make it might contribute. Because there are a lot of unspoken assumptions about what is allowable and what is funny coming from a women, and there's a strong double standard -- men can get away with comedy that women are criticized for. This means that women in the industry, and, it sounds like, at the Daily Show, have to figure out not just how to be funny, but how they will be allowed to be funny as women and keep their jobs, and they have to do it on the spot, with no support from their superiors. They can't simply ape what the men are doing, because some of that comedy is off-limits to women, and the style of comedy they have done in the past may not translate to the format required by the Daily Show.

In a lot of these cases, where men dominate the top positions at businesses, the reason is because of unspoken, unchallenged, and unaddressed assumptions about what women should do. I don't think the Daily Show should get a pass because they're funny, or because they are in the entertainment industry and there is something special about that industry because of some magic that makes funny possible that apparently women don't possess. The best thing the Daily Show could have done is take this challenge seriously, because it stems from an undeniable fact -- that women have had a hard road getting on the air, and staying there, and getting into the writers room, and staying there. Obviously something at the show work, as the women who do the various production responsibilities have attested. Now they need to figure out how to make that work across the board.
posted by Astro Zombie at 6:43 AM on July 7, 2010 [29 favorites]


That would be former Gawker blogger Emily Gould.

Oh my. I had forgotten about that. I didn't realize she had respawned over there ("Emily" and "Gould" being such common names).
posted by yeti at 6:44 AM on July 7, 2010


Yes, women is what we are, and also we work at The Daily Show. We are all sorts of things: Production assistants! Administrative assistants! Writers’ assistants! So many of us women are assisting! Why, we even sometimes get our jokes on the air!

Way to lack critical reading skills. Here are the non-assistant jobs;

"department supervisor, coordinating field produce, co-executive producer, line producer, avid editor, production controller, supervising producer, writer, senior producer, department coordinator, producer in charge of production, supervising producer, telepromp operator, writer, hair & make-up artist, correspondent, utility, electrics graphics, segment producer, facility manager, researcher, wardrobe stylist"

here are the assistant/associate one:

"writer's assistant, production assistant, executive assistant, production assistant, production assistant, associate segment producer"

Hmm. And you'll notice some of those women are assisting other women. (The people in charge of production are women.)
posted by Solon and Thanks at 6:45 AM on July 7, 2010 [10 favorites]


Production jobs are the pink ghetto of the entertainment world.
posted by Astro Zombie at 6:50 AM on July 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


So...? If that had been the original point it would be an interesting rebuttal. Instead the point was "look at all these women, they're all just ASSISTANTS!"
posted by Solon and Thanks at 6:53 AM on July 7, 2010


I think comedy is tougher for women in general because we have been trained to react in such different ways. If a man slips on a banana, generally, everyone will laugh. If a woman slips on a banana, generally, everyone will go, "oh!" and be concerned and want to help. That --to me-- is the root of the problem women face in on-screen comedy roles. Since all humor aside from wordplay, for the most part, involves seeing something painful/negative/unpleasant/embarrassing happen to someone, and our cultural tendency is to laugh at men and sympathize with women in that situation, there is a built-in hurdle to overcome for women. Pretty women able to somehow circumvent this tendency are even rarer. Lest a bunch of claws come out over this statement, combining any TWO thing is rarer than just one. So, naturally pretty + funny is going to be rarer than funny. I think that's why Lucy became such an overnight comedy phenomenon once she got the sexy siren stuff out of her system. And the tiresome argument that looks are meaningless and less value should be placed on them in our society is a nice thought, but just ain't going to happen. It's freaking nature. No matter how unfair it seems, there is always going to be a value-added element of attractiveness. Something that I, sadly, cannot take much advantage of.

The Daily Show is fine, Olivia will be fine, I'm sure, and Jezebel seems to be hunting for page hits with the ever-so-dependable sexist pigs/bimbos don't count as women so why do you hire them/Rosie the Riveter turned comedienne shtick. Very junior high and cat-fighty seeming, to be perfectly honest. Kills me when people attempt to fight cliches by turning into different ones.
posted by umberto at 6:54 AM on July 7, 2010


And the tiresome argument that looks are meaningless and less value should be placed on them in our society is a nice thought, but just ain't going to happen.

It does in comedy. A lot of successful male comedians are, to put it mildly, not traditionally attractive.
posted by Astro Zombie at 6:56 AM on July 7, 2010 [3 favorites]


It is no wonder that few women and people of color have an interest in "paying their dues" when all those around them are getting ahead by telling jokes out of '50s tv and minstrel shows (which are always told "ironically" because they of course are not racist or sexist, they're just ironic, okay).

I'll grant you that many male comedians over use sexism, but racism? From my vantage point, the majority of minstrel jokes and racism comes from people of color. It is rare that a comedian of color doesn't rely somehow on race to get a laugh. When Redd Foxx and Richard Pryor did it, it was groundbreaking. The rest are just recycling the old "white people are like X, black people be all YYY" crap. That's why I respected the Bernie Mac show- race was almost never involved, and never for a cheap joke. Unlike the Cosby show where white people were a foil, the Bernie Mac show was just real. Everyone was everyone.

And Jezebel is being silly. Of all the valid targets of criticism, The Daily Show isn't one of them.
posted by gjc at 6:57 AM on July 7, 2010


In a lot of these cases, where men dominate the top positions at businesses, the reason is because of unspoken, unchallenged, and unaddressed assumptions about what women should do. I don't think the Daily Show should get a pass because they're funny, or because they are in the entertainment industry and there is something special about that industry because of some magic that makes funny possible that apparently women don't possess. The best thing the Daily Show could have done is take this challenge seriously, because it stems from an undeniable fact -- that women have had a hard road getting on the air, and staying there, and getting into the writers room, and staying there. Obviously something at the show work, as the women who do the various production responsibilities have attested. Now they need to figure out how to make that work across the board.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:43 AM on July 7


THIS SO EFFING HARD!

Way to lack critical reading skills. Here are the non-assistant jobs;
co-executive producer, writer, senior producer, writer, correspondent, segment producer
posted by Solon and Thanks at 9:45 AM on July 7


FTFY
posted by liza at 6:57 AM on July 7, 2010


> Why, in the sort of silly rebuttal, is Kristen Schaal listen as a correspondent when she hasn't had an on-air bit in over a year, for example?

She's been busy. (Toy Story 3, Shrek Forever After and 7 other film credits in 2010).

Samantha Bee alluded to this in a recent Q&A [sorry, can't see to find that link now].
posted by foggy out there now at 6:57 AM on July 7, 2010


So...? If that had been the original point it would be an interesting rebuttal. Instead the point was "look at all these women, they're all just ASSISTANTS!"

In the entertainment pecking order, they are assistants. A much higher premium is paid to writers and performers.
posted by Astro Zombie at 6:58 AM on July 7, 2010


From the Jezebel article: And the environment on The Daily Show was arguably worse in the Craig Kilborn era: Back in 1997, the then-host was suspended after telling Esquire,"To be honest, [co-creator] Lizz [Winstead] does find me very attractive. If I wanted her to blow me, she would." (Winstead quit not long afterward.) Nowadays there may be less overt frat-boy humor, but that doesn't mean the institutionalized sexism is gone.

Uhhh, who cares? It was a completely different show then?

Gods, everyone in that article just whines.
posted by desuetude at 7:04 AM on July 7, 2010


Holy shit Tiger Beatdown, way to somehow manage to use seventeen exclamation points in five paragraphs.
posted by NolanRyanHatesMatches at 7:07 AM on July 7, 2010


I interviewed to work at the Daily Show. Everyone who interviewed me was a woman.

They didn't hire me. Fucking bitches!!!

(That last sentence is what we call a joke. Please do not castrate me. Kthxbye)

On preview: A much higher premium is paid to writers and performers.

Excuse me. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Oh please. When everyone wants your job, they can pay you doody for it.
posted by fungible at 7:08 AM on July 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


So that's who the new TDS correspondent is...Olivia Munn! I've only seen her on the show once and she was horrible. Not funny at all.
posted by rocket88 at 7:09 AM on July 7, 2010


And the tiresome argument that looks are meaningless and less value should be placed on them in our society is a nice thought, but just ain't going to happen.

It does in comedy. A lot of successful male comedians are, to put it mildly, not traditionally attractive.



I thought we were talking about how men and women in comedy don't exactly have the same experience. Since we are a tribal lot, and funny-looking people are the outsiders, it would make sense to me that seeing bad/negative/embarrassing things happen to a funny looking man would be even more humorous.

Again, I think we have a built-in 'flinch factor' at some of those same things happening to a woman, regardless of her looks. Although there is a slight mitigating factor with looks, even with women, I'll agree.

a) It's very funny to see Steve Buscemi pushed into a wood chipper.
b) It's barely funny at all to see Lauren Thompson of the Golf Channel pushed into a wood chipper.
3)It's sort of funny to see Tori Spelling pushed into a wood chipper


Waiting for the inevitable, "OMG! It's not at all funny to have ANYONE pushed into a woodchipper!: ...sigh...
posted by umberto at 7:14 AM on July 7, 2010


Uhhh, who cares? It was a completely different show then?

Yes it was. The show was created by two women, Lizz Winstead and Madeleine Smithberg, and three of the correspondents were women, which is about half of the original correspondents (there was still a preponderance of men in other roles in front of the camera). Jezebel got it wrong -- according to Winstead, the issue then wasn't institutionalized sexism, but the host himself, Kilbourne, who had been forced on the show by the network.
posted by Astro Zombie at 7:15 AM on July 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


At first this topic got me thinking. The Daily Show somehow got filed in my brain as something Important. But then I realized I haven't watched a single episode in about two years.

Maybe it's just me, but I'm starting to think that the Daily Show's past (as in beginning of John Stewart as host through the Bush years) is more relevant than its future or present.
posted by mullacc at 7:15 AM on July 7, 2010


I thought we were talking about how men and women in comedy don't exactly have the same experience.

Yes, we were. We were talking about a double standard. When men can work at a job and be ugly, but women have to be attractive to do the same job, that's sexism.
posted by Astro Zombie at 7:16 AM on July 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


Excuse me. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Oh please. When everyone wants your job, they can pay you doody for it.

When a Daily Show hairstylist gets the sort of paycheck Steve Carrell current makes, I'll take this discussion more seriously. SNL writers also don't get paid very much, but their opportunities for advancement are much greater than the production assistants who tape mustaches to actors' faces between scenes.
posted by Astro Zombie at 7:19 AM on July 7, 2010 [3 favorites]


"If Olivia Munn...survives her tryout, she'll be the first new female correspondent on the show in seven years."

How many correspondents have they added total in the last seven years? How many correspondents are there?

One woman was on the show in 2001-2002, one from 1999-2003, one "worked briefly as a correspondent in 2002." Jon Stewart once threw a newspaper at Madeleine Smithberg, who quit in 2003. How are complaints from seven years ago reflective of the show now?
posted by kirkaracha at 7:21 AM on July 7, 2010


I can't believe anyone is still dragging out the "women just aren't as funny!" argument anymore. There have been more than enough awesome and funny women comedians to disprove that.

Sorry fellas, as much as you want to believe that comedy is some magical land where sexism doesn't apply, it isn't. Showbiz in general is chock-full of it. Given that who you know/who is willing to give you a break is everything, if the people with that power are almost all old white dudes with sexist attitudes, what are the odds that very many women are going to get through? Even when you get younger white dudes with less sexist attitudes, ala Stewart, old ways of thinking persist.

It's a problem. It's still a problem even if women are doing 40% of the behind the scenes work, precisely because it's behind the scenes, as Tiger Beatdown pointed out. Maybe they're pulling a nice paycheck and are respected in their industry, but why aren't there any more of them in front of the camera? Because no one's making a real effort to put them there. Not because there aren't capable women who could do it.

That letter made me sad, because it missed the point, even if Jezebel was clumsy in making it.
posted by emjaybee at 7:23 AM on July 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


As another example, most production managers who work on my plays get paid a lot more than I do as the playwright. But I'm the one who gets invited to theater conferences, it's my name that goes on the marquee, I'm the one interviewed by newspapers, and the production contributes significantly to my career in a way that it doesn't for the stage manager.

And if there were only male playwrights and women were constantly siphoned into working as stage managers, as important as that job is, I would think there was a problem.
posted by Astro Zombie at 7:23 AM on July 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


This is reporting at its worst. When you venture into independent reporting and not just media commentary, you can't half ass it and e-mail a bunch of rejected Daily Show correspondents and gossip on office rivalry between Stewart and a producer.

It is a worthy topic, one that is certainly very difficult to get, but putting out gossip only undermines your credibility.

(I don't even really find the Daily Show funny anymore, though I think the Olivia Munn might turn out to be the Frank Grimes moment ... ah, but I say that every time there's a new correspondent. But seriously, Munn doesn't have the ability to pull off the fake gravitas, she's winking at the camera way too much. You can be pretty and pull off gravitas, just look at Lisa Ling, etc.)
posted by geoff. at 7:24 AM on July 7, 2010


Also because it seems relevant, Mad Men School of Seduction.
posted by geoff. at 7:30 AM on July 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Personally, I find Kristen Schaal hotter. In a weird way. Maybe it's just me.

GOOD TO KNOW I'LL PUT IT ON THE RANKINGS BOARD THANKS
posted by shakespeherian at 7:31 AM on July 7, 2010 [20 favorites]


I only heard of Olivia Munn last week, but from my cursory research, she is not funny. But then, I didn't find Rob Riggle funny either. Samantha Bee and John Oliver are funny and crazy sexy, though, so I guess it evens out.

Sort of wish I could read the Jezebel piece, but I have a thing about biting baited hooks. I guess TDS and Slate bits give enough of a jist anyhow.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 7:33 AM on July 7, 2010


I saw Moe Tkacik do a reading at Happy Ending here in New York back in 2008. And she sucked so hard and so profoundly, revealed herself to be such a toxic creature during the reading and the followup Q&A that I've found it really hard to take Jezebel seriously ever since. I know she left Jezebel for elsewhere. But still, the association remains.
posted by chinese_fashion at 7:34 AM on July 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


I used to see G4 out of the corner of my eye when my partner had it on all the time. When she first showed up, I thought Munn might be in bimbo territory, but over time I saw that she fully understood that perception and freely tweaked her audience and costars with it. Her show was kind of cheesy, as were the jokes, but she ran with it and managed to make herself watchable--not just physically--which is difficult for anyone to accomplish.

I think what Jezebel doesn't get about her is not just that she has a sense of humor, which they are not capable of identifying anyway, but that she seems to have moved beyond their dour schtick and is likely a bellwether for younger women doing the same.
posted by fallacy of the beard at 7:41 AM on July 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think that's why Lucy became such an overnight comedy phenomenon once she got the sexy siren stuff out of her system.

Stand-up female comedians are far, far rarer than female comic actresses. Off the top of my head I can only think of a handful of highly successful stand-up comics: Phylis Diller, Joan Rivers, Paula Poundstone, Rosanne Barr, Rita Rudner, Ellen Degeneres, Sarah Silverman. (You can probably think of a few more.) On the other hand, gifted successful comic actresses have always been plentiful both on the large screen and the small. Carole Lombard, Goldie Hawn, Judy Holiday, Tina Fey-- there has always been a place for the ditzy blonde, the lovable goof, the accident-prone sweetheart.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 7:42 AM on July 7, 2010


I think I'm saying a large part of the 'double standard' of women doing comedy has more to do with cultural reaction to people performing comedy, rather than blatant sexism. Or rather, that culture and nature are sexist, perhaps. If your business is to collect laughs and it's easier to get people to laugh at men being stupid or things happening to them, then you're going to end up with more men in the comedic roles. How many commercials feature a sorta funny-looking dad being the butt of the joke and the pretty mom getting one over on him? And rarely the other way around. The looks thing I find more incidental than actual gender.

And emjaybe, I'm not saying women aren't funny. Not at all. I'm saying they have an actual difficulty to overcome that men don't. A man can be lazy and just fall over something and get a cheap laugh. In fact, in live comedy I've seen men accidentally fall and hurt themselves and have it get a huge laugh cause the audience thought it was a bit. I've also seen women do planned falls that took the audience right out of the show since they grew concerned. Women have to do way more comedic falls to make sure the audience knows it's ok to laugh. These are facts that can make you unhappy, but they are facts, nonetheless, and have to be planned for and considered. AZ, as a playwright, you must have had some experience with this. If not, well, I'll just be quiet and understand we have had very different theatrical comedic experiences. :)
posted by umberto at 7:45 AM on July 7, 2010


I think I'm saying a large part of the 'double standard' of women doing comedy has more to do with cultural reaction to people performing comedy, rather than blatant sexism.

I would argue that you may be mistaking your own responses to a theoretical style of comedy -- women getting hit with rakes, or whatever you think people won't like when it happens to women -- for a universal response to a much broader selection of actual comedy.

Let's move it out of the abstract and into the specific, if you don't mind: There is nothing done on the Daily Show that women can't do and get laughs for doing. If you can think of anything specific from this show, please point it out to me, and make your case.
posted by Astro Zombie at 7:51 AM on July 7, 2010


People are suspicious of Olivia Munn on on the Daily Show for many reasons, but one of them is that she's terrible on the Daily Show.
posted by mobunited at 7:53 AM on July 7, 2010 [3 favorites]


man can be lazy and just fall over something and get a cheap laugh.

I'll address this, though: Many of the great female comedians based their comedy on clumsiness, and did so quite successfully. To the point that when producers now want to make an unfunny actress seem funny, they'll have her fall over.
posted by Astro Zombie at 7:53 AM on July 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


When a Daily Show hairstylist gets the sort of paycheck Steve Carrell current makes, I'll take this discussion more seriously.

Steve Carrell no longer works for the Daily Show. However, I assume you're talking about the "opportunities for advancement" part.

In that case, there are many former TDS correspondents probably digging through dumpsters for their next meal. They wish they could earn what a TDS hairstylist makes. Earning a living as a writer/actor is mostly living in poverty.

Or, for instance, there are many high-end fashion hairstylists who probably make way more than any current TDS correspondent. There's probably even a couple who rival Carrell's current salary. It's all how you look at it, what you decide to do with your life, and your struggle to make the best of it.
posted by fungible at 7:55 AM on July 7, 2010


A man can be lazy and just fall over something and get a cheap laugh. In fact, in live comedy I've seen men accidentally fall and hurt themselves and have it get a huge laugh cause the audience thought it was a bit. I've also seen women do planned falls that took the audience right out of the show since they grew concerned. Women have to do way more comedic falls to make sure the audience knows it's ok to laugh. These are facts that can make you unhappy, but they are facts, nonetheless, and have to be planned for and considered.

This is not at all congruent with my experience or my perception. Have you checked to see if you live in a Frank Capra film?
posted by shakespeherian at 8:00 AM on July 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


I've never really seen a female comedian I thought was funny, or could muster more than a chuckle out of me. Perhaps I just don't like female sense of humor. I'm pretty hard on comedians as it is, but the only ones who can really crack me up are always male. Perhaps there are fewer females working in comedy because fewer females are, I dunno, funny? Just a guess.

/A Female
posted by Malice at 8:01 AM on July 7, 2010


Lucille Ball?
posted by shakespeherian at 8:08 AM on July 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


In that case, there are many former TDS correspondents probably digging through dumpsters for their next meal.

The list of former and current TDS correspondents:

Stephen Colbert
Steve Carell
Rob Corddry
Samantha Bee
John Oliver
Ed Helms
Mo Rocca
Jason Jones
Beth Littleford
A. Whitney Brown
Vance DeGeneres
Brian Unger
Aasif Mandvi
Nancy Carell
Rob Riggle
Wyatt Cenac
Stacey Grenrock-Woods
Larry Wilmore
Matt Walsh
Dan Bakkedahl
Lauren Weedman
Paul Mecurio
Rachael Harris
Miriam Tolan
Jeffrey Ross

There may be a few I missed. If you can find the one who is Dumpster diving, I would appreciate it.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:10 AM on July 7, 2010 [3 favorites]


Let's move it out of the abstract and into the specific, if you don't mind: There is nothing done on the Daily Show that women can't do and get laughs for doing.

I'm reminded of how tremendous Rebecca Front was on The Day Today.

I've never really seen a female comedian I thought was funny, or could muster more than a chuckle out of me. Perhaps I just don't like female sense of humor. I'm pretty hard on comedians as it is, but the only ones who can really crack me up are always male. Perhaps there are fewer females working in comedy because fewer females are, I dunno, funny? Just a guess.

I know so, so, so many women who have said basically the same thing.

...

Two underrated comic actresses: Charisma Carpenter (from Buffy and Angel) and Frances Conroy (from Six Feet Under and, er, Catwoman). Both absolutely hilarious.
posted by Sticherbeast at 8:14 AM on July 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Women are underrepresented top to bottom in comedy. Even when there are absolutely no structural barriers to entry they are underrepresented in comedy. If you are interested in being a funny woman and making a living at it your gender will be an asset more often than it will be a liability. It will be both of course because you will the odd... one out.

I think women are just less interested than men in being professionally funny. I think it is because women are rewarded less than men for being funny in life in general. Outside the business. Being funny is an important way for men to demonstrate value to women and is less important for women to demonstrate value to men. I have no reason to believe women are somehow cognitively less capable of being funny than men are but incentives matter.
posted by I Foody at 8:15 AM on July 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


Even though most of Jezebel's supporting evidence seems to be debunked crap, I have to admit I did cringe when TDS brought in Munn. I hadn't heard of her before, and her first bit was not great. It seemed to focus on "HEY LOOK NEW WOMAN", and with all the other correspondents popping in it relegated her to a supporting role in her own segment. By the end of that bit I was shaking my head and thinking "oh fuck, please tell me TDS did not just hire her for a pretty face..." So I can understand the knee jerk reaction - when you don't see the funny, you look for other motives.

But time will tell. Her last segment was better, though still not great. It probably takes awhile to get into the "correspondent" mentality. And to be honest, I hate most of the new correspondents when they start.
posted by chundo at 8:24 AM on July 7, 2010


click bait and epiphenomena in the age of attention -- coupon after these messages
posted by lslelel at 8:30 AM on July 7, 2010


no one was obviously chosen because they're a ~hottie~
I am relieved that I am not going to see John Oliver in a Wonder Woman costume.
posted by arcticseal at 8:31 AM on July 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Kristen Schaal Hopes Her Toy Story Fans Don't Buy Her New Sex Book
posted by homunculus at 8:43 AM on July 7, 2010


I've never really seen a female comedian I thought was funny

Try Maria Bamford, maybe?

Also, I think Felicia Day would be fantastic on the Daily Show.
posted by HumanComplex at 8:45 AM on July 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


I've never really seen a female comedian I thought was funny

Maria Bamford is the funniest person alive.

/A male
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 8:45 AM on July 7, 2010 [4 favorites]


One part of the Slate article really bugged me. Talking about the Jezebel article:

It's a prime example of the feminist blogosphere's tendency to tap into the market force of what I've come to think of as "outrage world"—the regularly occurring firestorms stirred up on mainstream, for-profit, woman-targeted blogs like Jezebel and also, to a lesser degree...

Come now. This is hardly something that only "feminist" blogs engage in. Almost every liberal, conservative, religious, atheist, etc blog is going to find something and blow it out of proportion just so that they can flip out in a predictable way. Referring to it as a tendency of feminist blogs is, dare I say it, sexist.
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 8:55 AM on July 7, 2010 [8 favorites]


Its Never Lurgi, that's totally true. I think people have more of a problem with it when supposed feminist blogs do it because by engaging in that sort of thing they are allegedly damaging the feminist brand while also preventing people from getting outraged about real things.

I'm not sure how I feel about that, but I'm pretty sure that's where the outrage against outrage is coming from.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 8:59 AM on July 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Wow, reading all the links, and then Astro Zombie's list of correspondents, and then seeing the picture TDS posted in their response, all I can think of is that this entire controversy seems to get in the way of the real issue that the show doesn't seem to hire any black people. TDS has had more female correspondents than the entirely of non-white races combined, including the black actor they hired to pretend to be a writer on the show to be Stephen Colbert's fake black friend.

I guess the only reason I'm saying that is because if some weblog made a comment about it like Jezebel's, there wouldn't be a response with a witty essay over a picture of the Daily Show's black staff. Because it would be Larry Wilmore.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 9:09 AM on July 7, 2010 [6 favorites]


they are allegedly damaging the feminist brand while also preventing people from getting outraged about real things.

A large part of this tempest-in-teapot is about clickbait, but yeah, the ownership of the feminist brand/position seems to be a lot of what this is about. As the lolcats say: "feminism: ur doing it rong". That sort of thing is what turns me off a lot of feminist blogs.

I have no dog in the TDS hunt, and have recently dropped both Jezebel and Double X from my RSS feeds. Also, I'm not at all familiar with Olivia Munn, although scrambling around through my feeds I do find that she's the woman whose story of a bad experience as a Playboy cover girl has been making the rounds. I'm wondering now how that plays into the whole thing.
posted by immlass at 9:12 AM on July 7, 2010


I have a girlcrush on Olivia Munn. She is funny and smart and, incidentally, is also cute. I guess being cute trumps all your other good traits and renders them meaningless?
posted by DrGirlfriend at 9:17 AM on July 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Tina Fey is not funny. But neither is Steve Carell.

Julia-Louis Dreyfus is funny and she's worth half a billion dollars.
posted by L'OM at 9:18 AM on July 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oh, as far as the Olivia Munn thing goes, I think trying to say she wasn't hired for her looks is, well, silly. Of course she was, even if it's not directly TDS making that choice. Munn is working for TDS because she is famous, and through her work on G4 established the fame and contacts that would allow someone like her who, contrary to the other female correspondents on the show, has virtually no background in writing or performing comedy. Her popularity on G4, funny as she might be, was also maintained by the fact that she was attractive and posed for men's magazines. Now she's on the Daily Show, which is known for having people who are incredibly funny, and if she's not incredibly funny, it raises the question why she got there instead of an actual comedian.

Munn got her opportunity because of previous opportunities, many of which were directly related to being an attractive woman. In other words, her appearance was a major factor to her personal success. This also applies to, well, every living human being on the face of the planet, and I guess I just find it weird that when it's said about a person whose attractiveness factored into their success is so blatant, they get defensive about it. It reminds me of that Onion article from their first book about the founding of Playboy and the headline was "New men's magazine promises introspective analysis into popular culture trends and current events, and also pictures of tits."
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 9:23 AM on July 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


Because it would be Larry Wilmore.

Wyatt Cenac would be the one taking the photo?
posted by robocop is bleeding at 9:26 AM on July 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


Metafilter: many posts on these sites this site aren't consciously written with the twisted mess of intentions I just described.
posted by gurple at 9:27 AM on July 7, 2010


XQUZYPHYR: "there wouldn't be a response with a witty essay over a picture of the Daily Show's black staff. Because it would be Larry Wilmore."

That criticism is perhaps more justly leveled at Saturday Night Live, which has a larger ensemble cast and really has only one black member.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 9:29 AM on July 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Wyatt Cenac would be the one taking the photo?

....yes I will say that.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 9:29 AM on July 7, 2010


That criticism is perhaps more justly leveled at Saturday Night Live, which has a larger ensemble cast and really has only one black member.

This is pretty much applicable everywhere, sadly, from sketch comedy to cable news.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 9:31 AM on July 7, 2010


People are suspicious of Olivia Munn on on the Daily Show for many reasons, but one of them is that she's terrible on the Daily Show.

Has she done a bunch of stuff I missed? I watch the show pretty regularly, and I can only think of two or three pieces they've put her in so far. Now, admittedly, those bits weren't the strongest parts of the show, but for someone so new it didn't seem glaringly bad or anything.

I figure she's just finding her feet working with new people. Nearly all the other correspondents had similar warm-up periods where they figured out their voice on the show.

Tina Fey is not funny

What?
posted by quin at 9:33 AM on July 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


Try Maria Bamford, maybe?

People were talking about her on another Metafilter thread, and linking to her clips on youtube, and she does this bit, where she absolutley skewers the "neurotic, female comic persona" for lack of a better description. I was not a fan of her other bits, but I loved that. I'd try to find it, but youtube is blocked at the job.

there wouldn't be a response with a witty essay over a picture of the Daily Show's black staff. Because it would be Larry Wilmore.

And Wyatt Cenac. See they totally doubled the percentage of black males people on the show, so they are totally not racist. /snark
posted by nooneyouknow at 9:35 AM on July 7, 2010


all I can think of is that this entire controversy seems to get in the way of the real issue that the show doesn't seem to hire any black people.

I thought there had been an FPP and discussion about race and TDS, but alls I could find was this fairly meh bit about the Colbert Report.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:35 AM on July 7, 2010


Not to be all "Olivia Munn Defender" or anything, but it strikes me that so many comments here say, "I do't know who she is, but in the little bit of time I spent idly Googling her name, I have concluded she is not funny."

I mean, come on. If you don't know who a person is, then perhaps don't offer an opinion?
posted by DrGirlfriend at 9:35 AM on July 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


That criticism is perhaps more justly leveled at Saturday Night Live, which has a larger ensemble cast and really has only one black member.

And they pretty much always have one black cast member (to the point that when Tim Meadows and Tracy Morgan were both on the show, Morgan was never in sketches and once appeared on Weekend Update describing himself as 'the other black guy.' And the one black cast member on SNL has only been a woman three times in history (Yvonne Hudson, Danitra Vance, Ellen Cleghorne).
posted by shakespeherian at 9:37 AM on July 7, 2010


I know enough, tyvm; if I spend a half-hour on YouTube and don't smile once, I'm pretty sure I can invest my time on something else without feeling I've shortchanged myself.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:38 AM on July 7, 2010


Observation 2: There are about 30 women in that picture, and with the exception of one, they're all white. Of course it's kind of low res so it's hard to tell. But I saw one black girl and one girl that could have been Mexican or might have just been really tan.

Olivia Munn is Asian, there are a couple with Hispanic last names, but you can't always really tell people's backgrounds just by looking at them.

And are you really using "Mexican" as a catch-all for all Latinos?
posted by cmgonzalez at 9:38 AM on July 7, 2010 [4 favorites]


On Olivia Munn, I've never really liked her on G4. They always use her as eye candy and she was often talking about things in a dumbed down way. That and the suggestive skits came off a bit desperate. Not that this is all her fault, mind you, since it's the producers and owners of G4 who wanted to turn it into Spike Network #2 and move away from the Tech TV/video game roots. I didn't see her Daily Show bit yet, so can't comment on that.
posted by cmgonzalez at 9:41 AM on July 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


all I can think of is that this entire controversy seems to get in the way of the real issue that the show doesn't seem to hire any black people. TDS has had more female correspondents than the entirely of non-white races combined, including the black actor they hired to pretend to be a writer on the show to be Stephen Colbert's fake black friend.

Can we not do the Oppression Olympics?

Lack of people of color is a problem--and almost any feminist you talk to will agree. But wtf is up with dismissing women's oppression as not the "real" problem next to racism? You do know they interact, right, especially as many of the women being left out are not white? Why are you assuming that the push for more women must be done to the exclusion of people of color? Because no one has said that.

Re why women don't go into comedy in the same numbers, I think Pandagon has a good take:

3) Recruiting. This is a tough one to wrap your heads around, because it seems like it should be enough to create equal-seeming opportunities by simply stopping the unintentionally discriminatory practices. You may feel recruiting is a different version of the sexist argument that women don’t do X because they’re not ambitious enough or don’t care or whatever. But in reality, recruiting can be super-effective, because it’s acknowledging that every step you took to get here mattered, and that women didn’t have that pathway available most of the time, so they need a different path.

A lot of women look at group X---atheist/skeptical leaders, comedy writers, major liberal bloggers---and think, “Man, I could totally do that job.” And they could! But they don’t apply, because there’s no application process. The men who do this usually stepped on the path years ago, and for various complex reasons, that path had a No Girls Allowed sign hanging over it back then. And every step the dudes took down that path, women had to go on another, often taking them further and further away from the men’s path. So by the time the sign is taken off the door, women don’t even know where to find the door. So you’re going to have to go find them and give them a ride.

This sucks, because who doesn’t hate giving rides? But the benefits are way worth it, because not only is male dominance bad for women, it’s really not so great for men, and not just because of the previous bullet point. Bringing women in doubles your talent pool, brings a new kind of energy and diversity, expands your reach. When women see other women doing these things, they start to think it’s possible for themselves---it only took a handful of women joining the ranks of the top bloggers, and the floodgates opened, for instance.

posted by emjaybee at 9:42 AM on July 7, 2010 [5 favorites]


Come now. This is hardly something that only "feminist" blogs engage in. Almost every liberal, conservative, religious, atheist, etc blog is going to find something and blow it out of proportion just so that they can flip out in a predictable way. Referring to it as a tendency of feminist blogs is, dare I say it, sexist.

This. Lady blogs should show a touch more decorum and good posture, right?
posted by rusty at 9:44 AM on July 7, 2010


On Olivia Munn, I've never really liked her on G4. They always use her as eye candy and she was often talking about things in a dumbed down way. That and the suggestive skits came off a bit desperate.

i think that oversimplifies what she did. her status as 'eye candy' was always part of the joke, and her willingness to be goofy made her one of the guys. she didn't build an audience by just standing there and being hot; she built it by spending hundreds of hours in front of the camera making her audience feel that she was one of them. it's not an easy thing to do, and it's likely a huge reason TDS hired her.
posted by fallacy of the beard at 9:56 AM on July 7, 2010


Observation 2: There are about 30 women in that picture, and with the exception of one, they're all white. Of course it's kind of low res so it's hard to tell. But I saw one black girl and one girl that could have been Mexican or might have just been really tan.

1) Not all Latinos are Mexican.

2) Not all Latinos are tan-colored.

Signed,

The Pale Puerto Rican
posted by DrGirlfriend at 9:57 AM on July 7, 2010 [6 favorites]


Little known fact: The humor-generating organ is located in the center of the right testicle. It is not present in the ovaries. This explains EVERYTHING.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 9:59 AM on July 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


I have a girlcrush on Olivia Munn...
posted by DrGirlfriend at 12:17 PM on July 7


You don't find her voice unbearably high-pitched?
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:00 AM on July 7, 2010


You don't find her voice unbearably high-pitched?

No? I never noticed that.

But speaking of unbearable voices on G4, Morgan Webb's sends me into near anger seizures. I think with her it's more her speaking style than the pitch of her voice, though.
posted by DrGirlfriend at 10:02 AM on July 7, 2010


Around 2 minutes in you can see one of Munn's pieces that talks about The Kerfuffle including a lot of "OMG Jon Stewart doesn't care about blacks/ women/ asians" etc.
posted by boo_radley at 10:24 AM on July 7, 2010


oh, and it ends with cussing, so it's got that going for it, too.
posted by boo_radley at 10:24 AM on July 7, 2010


And Wyatt Cenac. See they totally doubled the percentage of black males people on the show, so they are totally not racist. /snark
posted by nooneyouknow


Umm, if we really want to play the "count the non-white people game" the current correspondent cast is 50% non-white, and if extended to contributors is 36% non-white. 2008 U.S. population numbers put white people at roughly 68% of the population, so the Daily Show is (on-air) more diverse than the nation at large. Does this really mean anything? No. Except that you shouldn't be counting the numbers so much as counting the funny (and Wilmore, Mandvi, and Cenac certainly bring that constantly, Munn remains to be seen).
posted by haveanicesummer at 10:25 AM on July 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


I don't think anyone from G4 is funny...the entire channel is a dumpster fire.
posted by GavinR at 10:27 AM on July 7, 2010 [3 favorites]


Can we not do the Oppression Olympics? Lack of people of color is a problem--and almost any feminist you talk to will agree. But wtf is up with dismissing women's oppression as not the "real" problem next to racism?

I didn't "dismiss" anything. I said the "real" controversy was raised in Jezebel's argument exactly as I pointed it out: in the context of addressing a claim that TDS doesn't represent women by pointing out how many women work on and for the show, it also revealed that it's a thing it cannot do for minorities. TDS has had fewer non-white on-air talents than can be counted on one hand in a fourteen year history of a show that for the last ten has been considered one of the echelons of political progressivism. Unless it has changed in the two or three years since it was last discussed here, the show has no, and never has had, black writers.

I found the lack of race diversity a serious issue, perhaps more important than gender diversity, because only one of those can be proven, the evidence of which was the point of this FPP. Yet at no point did I call that "racism" so where you get off saying I find that more important than "woman's oppression-" another term only you yourself said- I don't know. You may choose to understand the context of what I said, by pointing out that TDS defended itself against against accusations of lack of diversity using a method that also proves another lack of diversity... or you can attack a straw man with a cutesy term that I'm allegedly "dismissing" the overall treatment of women in entertainment media - something I already addressed re: The Daily Show in a second comment, and that I find racism "more important" than sexism, because raaargh! I'll leave that to you.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 10:31 AM on July 7, 2010


Lauren Weedman, one of the former correspondents interviewed in the Jezebel article wrote an article about working for TDS that was discussed previously on Metafilter.
posted by theclaw at 10:37 AM on July 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Around 2 minutes in you can see one of Munn's pieces that talks about The Kerfuffle including a lot of "OMG Jon Stewart doesn't care about blacks/ women/ asians" etc.

How does her report talk about the Kerfuffle? It was filmed before Jezebel's article was published.

Umm, if we really want to play the "count the non-white people game"

I don't, it was just a one off snarky comment, but don't let that stop you from playing.
posted by nooneyouknow at 10:46 AM on July 7, 2010


nooneyouknow: "How does her report talk about the Kerfuffle? It was filmed before Jezebel's article was published."

The Kerfuffle being not the Jezebel article, but the large issue of racism and sexism at TDS.
posted by boo_radley at 10:51 AM on July 7, 2010


The Kerfuffle being not the Jezebel article, but the large issue of racism and sexism at TDS.

Once again, I am too literal for my own good.
posted by nooneyouknow at 10:53 AM on July 7, 2010


Maria Bamford is pretty funny, thanks HumanComplex.

I saw Olivia Munn on TDS the other day. The correspondant piece she was in was excruciating, but so many of them are. I pretty much blame Jon Stewart for that, though. He's a shitty straight man, delivering the lines with bad timing, letting the other person's jokes die and sort of laughing at how they died... You can see it in his interviews too, that he seems to set things up to be at the edge of funny, letting them fall off the edge into not-funny, then dragging them back to the edge again. The overall effect isn't always funny, but it is always painful, and that's a big part of why I almost never watch the show.

Being a more passive goofy character that the straight man tries to explore and bring out doesn't work on TDS because Jon Stewart sucks at that. The people who do the correspondant thing best on TDS are the ones who can grab the ball of funny and not let it go, and kick Jon in the knees when he tries to get it back.
posted by fleacircus at 10:56 AM on July 7, 2010


I'd really like to read (not really) and respond to (not really) all the comments in this thread, but I don't need to, because we've been there a thousand times before.

1. Dump on mefinerds' favorite thing.
2. Angry mefinerds are angry towards feminists.
3. Repeat.

I think the Tiger Beatdown is the only useful thing to come out of this. TDS is fucked when it comes to race and gender, they know that, it's still a good show. Jezebel is fucked on a lot of things, but with all 20,000 contributors it's to be expected.

As a woman in comedy I can say it's disheartening that once again it's "angry feminists" versus "boring hot chick", this particular boring hot chick just happens to read nerd jokes while being a boring hot chick.
posted by SassHat at 11:09 AM on July 7, 2010 [5 favorites]


I thought she was pretty funny in her segment about the Russian spies, better than average for one of those Jon-talks-to-the-correspondent segments. I was impressed at how well she did the tonal-shift thing where she went from more-ridiculous-than-Jon to reacting to one of Jon's silly questions as if she were a normal reporter person.
posted by straight at 11:13 AM on July 7, 2010


I would like to take this opportunity to say that, while I don't find Maria Bamford to be very funny per se, she's definitely charismatic and I'd like to see her cast in a dark, bizarre project, a la Rodney Dangerfield in Natural Born Killers. She's like Grace Zabriskie crossed with a whippet.
posted by Sticherbeast at 11:16 AM on July 7, 2010


I'd imagine TDS simply decided she has comic talents that work well on the show, even if they don't often indulge her taste for more sexually themed jokes. In particular, TDS correspondents must communicate fairly subtle comedic points very quickly using body language and voice cues. For example, Olivia Munn carries herself very much like a TDS reporter during the first 45 seconds of her bond girl sketch.
posted by jeffburdges at 11:24 AM on July 7, 2010


1. Dump on mefinerds' favorite thing.
2. Angry mefinerds are angry towards feminists.
3. Repeat.


Please don't do that. Lots of us are feminists who disagree with the premise and/or way of presenting the argument and/or a million other things that are being discussed here. This isn't a "you're with [Jezebel] or you're against [feminists]" situation.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 11:28 AM on July 7, 2010


You don't find her voice unbearably high-pitched?

No? I never noticed that.

posted by DrGirlfriend at 11:02 AM on July 7


I'm gasping for air here.
posted by ODiV at 11:38 AM on July 7, 2010 [5 favorites]


Please don't do that.

Please don't selectively quote portions of someone's comment and then assert that they're saying something that they didn't really say.
posted by mullacc at 11:44 AM on July 7, 2010


SassHat, you're anything but boring!
posted by Eideteker at 11:49 AM on July 7, 2010


Please don't selectively quote portions of someone's comment and then assert that they're saying something that they didn't really say.

I'm not trying to misrepresent SassHat's comment, but I didn't see anything that contradicted my interpretation. I triple-checked. She mentions that Jezebel is often wrong, but she still frames the thread (or at least most thread that go like this, because she didn't read this one) as "nerds" getting angry at "feminists".

How do you think I'm misrepresenting her?
posted by Solon and Thanks at 11:53 AM on July 7, 2010


There is only one rule in comedy:

Is it funny? Everything else is commentary.

--Rabbi Hillel.
posted by storybored at 12:17 PM on July 7, 2010


How do you think I'm misrepresenting her?

She doesn't say you're with Jezebel or your against feminism, for one.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:25 PM on July 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I think I should have gone with

"Don't you find it unbearable that her voice is even higher-pitched than your husband's?"
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 12:32 PM on July 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Thanks, Jezebel, for spilling your Crazy Soup all over the internet and leaving the mess for everyone else to clean up.

Thanks for asserting that Olivia Munn, because she is pretty, is the wrong kind of woman.

(Would you have written this article if Olivia Munn was ugly or fat? I suspect you would not have. In fact, I suspect the hook for your article in that case would have been "Yay! Daily Show finally breaks seven years of sexist hiring practices by hiring a female correspondent! Things are looking up!")

Thanks for using claims too vague to be refuted, thereby making your case look weak.

Thanks for making it essentially impossible for anyone to ever claim that The Daily Show is a sexist workplace. Your article is so bad that it automatically discredits those hypothetical future claims, as well.

You're doing a heckuva job, Jezebel.
posted by ErikaB at 12:52 PM on July 7, 2010 [4 favorites]


She doesn't say you're with Jezebel or your against feminism, for one.

I thought it was sort of implied by this:

"1. Dump on mefinerds' favorite thing.
2. Angry mefinerds are angry towards feminists."

I don't know how else to read that, to me it's saying that Jezebel = the people who are doing the dumping on the favorite thing = feminists.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 12:54 PM on July 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


- and that there is a clear line, you're either an "angry mefinerd" or a "feminist". which is the sentiment that really bothers me. Though I agree that both the Daily Show has issues and Jezebel is hardly perfect itself.

I'm not trying to be uncharitable. If you have a different way of reading her 1-2-3 list, or if SassHat is still around and would like to clarify what was meant, I'd really like to find a way to read it that doesn't say what I think it says.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 12:57 PM on July 7, 2010


Her equation wasn't "Jezebel or antifeminist," it was "dump on something nerds like, nerds get angry at feminists." There is no presumption that the one doing the dumping on is Jezebel; it just happens to be in this case.

That's a very different equation than the one your insisting is there.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:06 PM on July 7, 2010


Jezebel rebuttal.
posted by palomar at 1:23 PM on July 7, 2010


I don't really have an opinion on Olivia Munn's work -- I don't have cable so I've never seen her on G4, and I rarely catch TDS anymore so I haven't seen her segments there. Really, my only exposure to her has been the Jezebel articles and the ensuing shitstorm on the internet. And while I feel uneasy about the tone of the Jezebel posts, I found it really really telling that Ms. Munn's initial response was to get on Twitter and tell all the ladies "hating" on her to "put down the fucking sandwich and just walk it off, bitch, walk it off."
posted by palomar at 1:30 PM on July 7, 2010


ROU...sorry, sorry, nooooowwwwwwwwww I get it. Didn't catch the reference at first ;)
posted by DrGirlfriend at 1:35 PM on July 7, 2010


Since when is it news that only the hot people get to end up in front of a camera?

So, John Oliver, John Hodgeman, Lewis Black, and Rob Corddry fit the category of hot people?

I mean, I find the ones that make me laugh attractive, but none of those guys are TV hot.
posted by Squeak Attack at 1:47 PM on July 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


palomar: "I found it really really telling that Ms. Munn's (...)"

As opposed to characterizations of her as a boring hot chick? There's a lot of knapsacks suddenly visible all over this discussion.
posted by boo_radley at 1:50 PM on July 7, 2010


And while I feel uneasy about the tone of the Jezebel posts, I found it really really telling that Ms. Munn's initial response was to get on Twitter and tell all the ladies "hating" on her to "put down the fucking sandwich and just walk it off, bitch, walk it off."

Enh, I guess, but Jezebel opened that door by trying to call Munn out for capitalizing on her hawt-ness. It's all just sort of silly.
posted by Sticherbeast at 1:51 PM on July 7, 2010


basically, I'm saying if internet people called me a boring hot chick, I'd be all "fuck your couch, internet, sayin' that to me. You ain't even know me".
posted by boo_radley at 1:52 PM on July 7, 2010 [4 favorites]


I don't know, I thought there was at least a dash of truth to the Jezebel posts (albeit in a mishmash of "oh noes, hot girl is hot"). Immediately going straight for the "bitches need to put down the sandwich" thing is... you know, I can't think of the word I want to use and I have a meeting to go to, so why don't you guys go ahead and vilify me and my invisible knapsack of having a different opinion than you.
posted by palomar at 1:54 PM on July 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Point being it's no better or worse than being called "hot and boring" to say "put down the sandwich and walk away". I guess it seems like being offended at the sandwich remark is being offended that she bothered to defend herself in a crabby, personal way against crabby, personal remarks against her.

damn you, nick denton, damn you
posted by boo_radley at 2:01 PM on July 7, 2010 [3 favorites]


I'm sure Olivia Munn will be at least as funny as RDS lifer Lewis Black.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 2:15 PM on July 7, 2010


er, TDS
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 2:15 PM on July 7, 2010


Wow, Lauren Weedman comes across as completely insane and utterly inappropriate on every level, and that's coming through her own account of her experience on TDS.

Thanks for linking that, theclaw.
posted by misha at 2:18 PM on July 7, 2010


Point being it's no better or worse than being called "hot and boring" to say "put down the sandwich and walk away".

"Hot and boring" is a criticism of somebody's media presence, and is completely justified in the context of the piece that was being written (one may disagree with the assessment); "put down the sammich fatty and take a walk," or whatever the response meant, was personal, vitriolic, unrelated to the issue being discussed, and is, in fact, worse.
posted by Astro Zombie at 2:22 PM on July 7, 2010 [3 favorites]


Lauren Weedman comes across as completely insane and utterly inappropriate on every level

If that kept people from getting work in comedy, or even on TDS, I suspect we wouldn't have either.
posted by Astro Zombie at 2:23 PM on July 7, 2010


I found it really really telling that Ms. Munn's initial response was to get on Twitter and tell all the ladies "hating" on her to "put down the fucking sandwich and just walk it off, bitch, walk it off."

if you've never seen her before and have no concept of her ironic/geeky humor, or an understanding that her twitter followers are likely primarily fans of her show, her twitter comment actually told you nothing, not even close to one really.
posted by fallacy of the beard at 2:28 PM on July 7, 2010


Astro Zombie: ""put down the sammich fatty and take a walk," or whatever the response meant, was personal, vitriolic, unrelated to the issue being discussed, and is, in fact, worse."

That's an interesting point; I wonder who she was replying to when she tweeted that.
posted by boo_radley at 2:37 PM on July 7, 2010


Oh, look, it was misremembered and somebody else's tweet that Munn retweeted. Whoops! No sandwiches at all!
posted by boo_radley at 2:40 PM on July 7, 2010


I have no interest in any of this, what am I doing
posted by boo_radley at 2:40 PM on July 7, 2010


Wow, boo_radley. I guess you showed me. Mea maxima culpa.
posted by palomar at 2:41 PM on July 7, 2010


Here's the quote. I don't see how it could be considered personal.
posted by ODiV at 2:43 PM on July 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


In case it wasn't clear, palomar -- I don't have a problem with you. Sorry I made you feel persecuted.
posted by boo_radley at 2:45 PM on July 7, 2010


If you want to skip to it, it's around the 1:50 mark.
posted by ODiV at 2:45 PM on July 7, 2010


actually, i like the entire quote:
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 fucking turn her fucking computer off, take the sandwich out of her mouth and go for a goddamn walk fucking walk. You know what? Just walk it off, bitch. Just walk it off, bitch.
posted by fallacy of the beard at 2:45 PM on July 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


“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.”

In context, it sounds a lot less like a personal attack, but also a lot more like it's time she got herself a press agent.
posted by Astro Zombie at 2:47 PM on July 7, 2010


And I wasn't there, but listening to the quote, it sounds to me like the trope of tacking something "outrageous" on to the end of your interview answer to remind everyone that they're listening to a comedian. At least it seems common enough to be a trope to me. Thoughts?
posted by ODiV at 2:49 PM on July 7, 2010


And I wasn't there, but listening to the quote, it sounds to me like the trope of tacking something "outrageous" on to the end of your interview answer to remind everyone that they're listening to a comedian. At least it seems common enough to be a trope to me. Thoughts?

the primary mistake is that people are attempting to characterize her with the same grim, humorless voice of her critics, which doesn't make a lot of sense considering the past few years she's been immersed in hyperbolic geekery.
posted by fallacy of the beard at 2:53 PM on July 7, 2010


If there were so many people out there discussing the ways in which they thought that I was unqualified for my job and how I was only hired because I work for bigots, I'd probably get a lot more personal than that.
posted by oinopaponton at 2:56 PM on July 7, 2010 [4 favorites]


(nix that first "that." Maybe I am unqualified.)
posted by oinopaponton at 2:57 PM on July 7, 2010


I hope that if I were faced with the same criticism that Ms. Munn has faced, I'd be a hell of a lot more eloquent than "just walk it off, bitch".
posted by palomar at 3:05 PM on July 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's not Munn's job or responsibility to humor bullshit personal criticisms. She's not some kind of symbol, she's a person.
posted by Justinian at 3:10 PM on July 7, 2010 [5 favorites]


Astro Zombie: "Her equation wasn't "Jezebel or antifeminist," it was "dump on something nerds like, nerds get angry at feminists." There is no presumption that the one doing the dumping on is Jezebel; it just happens to be in this case.

That's a very different equation than the one your insisting is there."


What has this whole thread been about? Why is it then an unreasonable assumption for Solon to make?
posted by schyler523 at 3:23 PM on July 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


I hope that if I were faced with the same criticism that Ms. Munn has faced, I'd be a hell of a lot more eloquent than "just walk it off, bitch".

really? more along the lines of...

...why don't you guys go ahead and vilify me and my invisible knapsack of having a different opinion than you.

so she should immediately adopt the feminist pose of anticipated persecution, and do it all ladylike and shit? personally, that's what i think the jezebel thing comes down to--vilification of strong young women who successfully go after what they want without the obligatory display of gender victimhood and umbrage.
posted by fallacy of the beard at 3:25 PM on July 7, 2010


It is almost as if some people here aren't allowing for the fact that everyone in entertainment has had to work very hard to get there. It might not seem like it, but they have. It is a competitative industry. But it is also wide open: people like to be entertained and like to make money putting on shows. Don't feel like your particular group is represented enough? Go be entertaining, work hard and people with money will probably beat down your door. "The Entertainment Cabal" is much more interested in making money than they are in keeping [whomever] down.
posted by gjc at 3:31 PM on July 7, 2010


you know what, i'm out. be well, everyone.
posted by palomar at 3:35 PM on July 7, 2010


so she should immediately adopt the feminist pose of anticipated persecution, and do it all ladylike and shit? personally, that's what i think the jezebel thing comes down to--vilification of strong young women who successfully go after what they want without the obligatory display of gender victimhood and umbrage.

I'm not big on the Jezebel piece or Olivia Munn, but I think it's more to do with the fact that the first female TDS correspondent in seven years got her start not from grinding the comedy circuits, but from being a model who later co-hosted a show on a video game network, despite not really being a gamer herself. That and TDS is, like most of the comedy universe, a boyzone.

TDS is also a good target for outrage fodder, since it's so often hailed as the comic mouthpiece of America's reality-based community, but the fact that there is a heavy gender disparity in its writing and correspondent staff is hard to deny.

That said, the Jezebel article was not well put together. The portrait painted of TDS was not exactly one of notable misogyny. The fact that Jon Stewart is not only not an endless fountain of cheer, but that he once threw a newspaper at someone is not exactly the most thrilling tale I've ever heard. A better article would have focussed more on the boyzone of professional comedy in general. Many of the problems the people interviewed cite are problems of comedy in general. Those problems certainly have a base in an industry and a business culture which has evolved from the work of highly neurotic men.

Allison Smithberg puts it wisely in the Jezebel article:

"I don't think that there is a double standard at the Daily Show. I do think that by the time it gets to the Daily Show it's already been through the horrible sexist double standard of the universe. You're not hiring someone right out of school. By the time they get to the candidates of the Daily Show, the herd has been thinned by the larger societal forces."

It doesn't mean that there aren't genuine problems here, but referring to this as TDS's "woman problem" does a rich issue a big disservice.

By the way, I just saw Munn's Kremlin sketch. She was acceptable, not terrible, not great. I wish she was more like a newscaster, a la Beth Littleford. I miss Beth Littleford.
posted by Sticherbeast at 3:41 PM on July 7, 2010 [3 favorites]


Allison Smithberg

Whoops. Madeleine Smithberg, rather.
posted by Sticherbeast at 3:43 PM on July 7, 2010


Wow, this quote in Jezebel's latest post, from a Vanity Fair interview with Munn about pressure to show off her tits at her book cover photo shoot, is an eye-opener:

I was at the photo shoot for the cover, and I've never done this before, but I just shut it down. I was crying. I knew what the publishers wanted. I'm not stupid. But I wanted to compromise. I told them I'd bring the Wonder Woman outfit to the shoot, but I do not want to be on the cover dressed like Wonder Woman. So I'm at a studio in LA, and the photographer keeps calling the publishers in New York, and she's telling me what they want. "O.K., less tie. Open the shirt a little more. They want more cleavage." Finally I was like "No!" I know they've done book stuff for a long time, and they know what they're doing. But I was like, "What do you guys think is going to happen? Are you literally going to gang-bang me, throw me down, dress me in the Wonder Woman outfit and be like, ‘Now smile, Olivia. Smile!'" It was just too much. I wish I had pushed harder against it.

I think Jezebel's right in noting that "Munn seems unresolved, to put it mildly, about the same issues we've been raising."
posted by mediareport at 3:47 PM on July 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


you know what, i'm out. be well, everyone.

Well that sucks. I thought you meant the thread and was going to memail you, thanking you for the link and your thoughts, but you're gone.

I hope I wasn't a contributing factor. I don't think "Walk it off, bitch" was a nice thing to say. I hope you didn't see my comments as an excuse or anything. I was just trying to think out loud and give Munn the benefit of the doubt.
posted by ODiV at 3:49 PM on July 7, 2010


I think it's more to do with the fact that the first female TDS correspondent in seven years got her start not from grinding the comedy circuits, but from being a model who later co-hosted a show on a video game network, despite not really being a gamer herself.

i've seen this argument a few times, and i guess i don't get why the 'comedy circuit' should be the only acceptable path into this position. since she's been on G4, munn has likely scored more on-camera time than any comedian in consideration--and for any year since she's been on, likely more than stewart himself--on a daily show that seemed rather loosely scripted. you can say it's all boyzone, but she did her job, which is being watchable and connecting with the audience, and she did it successfully. she probably has higher name recognition than the network she works for. why wouldn't TDS want to take her on?
posted by fallacy of the beard at 4:00 PM on July 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


why wouldn't TDS want to take her on?

I don't disagree with you at all. Munn has quite a bit of experience in doing work that is perfectly analogous to being on TDS.

However, I do see the point of those who see Munn's hiring as the filling of a comedian/actor's position with that of a former model. Where are the Rebecca Fronts of America?
posted by Sticherbeast at 4:07 PM on July 7, 2010


...maybe it's because the current team, as they have it, is working just fine?

Seriously -- if you were running a business, and that business was wildly successful and had a well-working team, you wouldn't just decide to up and fire some of those team members because "oh, we need more women in here", would you?
Except there had been quite a bit of changeover over those seven years. Steve Carell and Colbert weren't fired. Mo Rocca and Rob Corddry left. And there isn't a set number of correspondants either. It's not like the suprime court where new people are only added when old ones leave. And belive it or not people do get fired from that show. Check wikipedia's helpful list of former cast members

Seriously, who said anything about firing anyone?

---

The Olivia Munn hate seems I've seen mostly comes from people who actually watched her on G4 and feel like she didn't know much about video games, and basically only got the job because she was hot, and I hear a lot of people say that Morgain Webb actually knew her stuff, etc. Of course, not knowing much about games isn't really relevant as far as being a Daily Show correspondant. She doesn't seem that funny overall, though.
I was always completely put off by the willful stupidity that the correspondents on the Daily Show seem to be requested/required to exhibit.
It's a parody of real news reporting, in that most news reporters are stupid, or seem stupid because they are trying to be "Objective" when one side is actually incorrect.
Jezebel mentions Kristen Schaal, who I absolutely adore in everything I've seen her in. They also say that she is a regular contributor (maybe not regular enough for my taste), and not a correspondent.
She was on some standup show on Commedy Central once and her routine was helarious. Really funny stuff.
Probably the most beautiful, and most implicitly incisive, part of TDS' response is the lack of linking/mentioning Jezebel.
Stewart Mentioned them on the show.
Because there are a lot of unspoken assumptions about what is allowable and what is funny coming from a women, and there's a strong double standard -- men can get away with comedy that women are criticized for.
Examples? I'm curious what you're talking about. It doesn't really seem like too much is actually off limits in terms of the jokes you can make, if anything women get more leeway to be raunchy, like Sarah Silverman, for example.

Anyway, interesting thread.
posted by delmoi at 5:13 PM on July 7, 2010


I think self-deprecating humor is often more successful for men in our current culture.
posted by BrotherCaine at 5:22 PM on July 7, 2010


However, I do see the point of those who see Munn's hiring as the filling of a comedian/actor's position with that of a former model.

I dunno. Isn't that like criticizing Harrison Ford getting hired on Star Wars as filling an actor's position with a former carpenter, or Jon Stewart's hiring to replace Craig Kilborn as the filling of a comedian/actor's position with that of a former bartneder and stockboy? Virtually everyone has done other jobs before they make it as a comedian and actor.

If Munn had been a waitress would you feel the same?
posted by Justinian at 5:35 PM on July 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


However, I do see the point of those who see Munn's hiring as the filling of a comedian/actor's position with that of a former model.

If Munn had been a waitress would you feel the same?


Yeah, this is such a bizarre yet pervasive attitude. It's like, once someone has been officially proclaimed Legitimately Physically Attractive™, anything else they ever do for the rest of their life is somehow tainted by that attractiveness and somehow made less valid because of it.


ATTENTION UNIVERSE: this is pretty stupid behavior.
posted by elizardbits at 6:00 PM on July 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


A female former TDS writer (from '05 to '08) left a comment on Jezebel.
posted by lullaby at 6:37 PM on July 7, 2010 [3 favorites]


(Would you have written this article if Olivia Munn was ugly or fat? I suspect you would not have. In fact, I suspect the hook for your article in that case would have been "Yay! Daily Show finally breaks seven years of sexist hiring practices by hiring a female correspondent! Things are looking up!")

I had this same thought last night after I posted. When I read the Munn thing at Jezebel, one of their other big stories was about how some plus size model lost a little weight, but it "wasn't a betrayal" so it's cool, guys! I was like, christ, so it's cool to be hot as long as you weigh more than most models? If she'd lost more weight, it would be a betrayal? That's really the terms they want to couch that in, that she would be to blame or something, someone people should be mad at? Their first thought wasn't that maybe it might a more sympathetic situation where media pressure got to be too much? And why the fuck is any woman held responsible for her weight by the rest of women? If she lost weight for some reason -- for her own health, because she felt like it, because it was incidental to some lifestyle changes, because she was sick -- Jezebel would be oh-so-disappointed in her?

It's like they want every single woman to hold the banner for all of women. That's bullshit. No one can handle that pressure and it's not fair. I find it offensive to think that what other women do should reflect on me in any way, or that what I should do should reflect on them in any way. The fact that it can in reality is a problem with perception, not individual actions, and muddying things up by saying "just act how we want anyway, it's easier" doesn't address the real problem and blames people who shouldn't be blamed. Getting piled on by a bunch of angry women who disapprove of your behavior is not stress anyone deserves. We think it's incredibly racist when someone implies that a minority should watch their actions lest it reflect poorly on their race, because it's bigots that are the problem; why is this sexist shit still acceptable? It makes me sick.

The more I read from Jezebel the more distasteful I find it. It comes across as a twist on the usual women's magazine bullshit with more outrage, except when they try to drag a woman down they call it "feminism." Honestly I'm not sure it deserves more than a "walk it off, bitch;" it's absurd and irrational and harmful. And I agree with the statement upthread that Munn is a person, not a symbol, so the idea that she should respond in some different way, that she should take up the reins of feminism and really get into it on a classy ideological level with a bunch of people who think she's boring and not funny -- like it would do any good -- irks the hell out of me. She got dragged into it because she was a woman. It doesn't matter if it's other women doing the dragging. She didn't ask anyone to resent her for being hot and daring to get a coveted job. She has no obligation engage anyone, much less in the manner they'd prefer. The presumption on the part of a LOT of people seems to be that she should act exactly how they want her to act, and look exactly how they'd want her to look, and be funny in exactly the way they want her to be funny. Good god.
posted by Nattie at 6:51 PM on July 7, 2010 [15 favorites]


However, I do see the point of those who see Munn's hiring as the filling of a comedian/actor's position with that of a former model.

If Munn had been a waitress would you feel the same?


I would still basically feel the same, because she would have been an unfunny model or an unfunny waitress. I'm not particularly offended that Munn has the TDS spot, but when you take away her good looks, IMHO there's not a whole lot left. What's galling to some people is that her career has mostly taken off from her being hot, personable, and good on camera, but without any real knack for comedy.

On the other hand, women like Charisma Carpenter, Sarah Silverman, Christina Applegate, Emma Caulfield, and Kristen Bell are all hilarious and utterly gorgeous. (Kristen Schaal is also pretty cute.) They would not be appropriate or interested in a TDS spot, but I mention them just to say that I don't have anything against the idea of comedic actresses being hot.

I'm not bothered by Munn's TDS spot. She's a very successful TV presenter with a big fan base, and she's probably good to work with. I always find her humor to be a bit try-too-hard, but whatever - I don't find every other TDS correspondent to be a comedy genius, either.
posted by Sticherbeast at 8:04 PM on July 7, 2010


So what's the issue? You admit the names you come up with wouldn't be interested in a TDS spot. You say you're not bothered by her TDS spot. You acknowledge she's a very successful and experienced TV presented with a dedicated fanbase who is probably good to work with.

All of those things add up to a very good choice to hire for the gig she was hired for.

The funniest person in the world isn't an option if they're not interested in the spot. Or are terrible to work with. Or nobody likes. I guess I'm just a little confused. She's a successful TV personality with a big fan base, easy to work it, and very experienced at pretty much exactly the thing she was hired to do. But... but...

But what?
posted by Justinian at 8:29 PM on July 7, 2010


Olivia Munn explains Olivia Munn: The "Daily Show" star has become a favorite target for feminists. She gives her take on the controversy to Salon
posted by homunculus at 8:32 PM on July 7, 2010 [6 favorites]


But what?

But what nothing. I just feel that I see the two major sides to this issue, and I don't think either side is incomprehensible.
posted by Sticherbeast at 8:34 PM on July 7, 2010


The interview homunculus links to is very good, by the way.
posted by Sticherbeast at 8:41 PM on July 7, 2010


After seeing Jon Stewart invite Olivia Munn to be a regular correspondent on The Daily Show, I envision Bob and David kicking themselves over never getting up the nerve to invite Jenny McCarthy to be a regular on Mr. Show, Drew Carey beating himself up for never raising his voice and finally getting the clever quips of Carmen Electra on Whose Line is it Anyway, and Dick Cavett looking back with remorse on not being able to go all the way to ask Suzanne Sommers to share interviewing duties.

But Ira Glass, you still have time to get Kim Kardashian on This American Life to fill the gaping hole left by the departure of Sarah Vowell.

(Quite seriously, in a smarter and funnier world, Sarah Haskins would have this gig.)
posted by eschatfische at 8:54 PM on July 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


Are you tired of talking about the Jezebel story?

No. But I would really like to make a point that no one knew what the fuck Jezebel was before that story came out.


neat interview. and tina fey thinks she's funny. and jon stewart. but nobody thinks jezebel is funny.
posted by fallacy of the beard at 9:23 PM on July 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


It's like they want every single woman to hold the banner for all of women. That's bullshit.

Yes! This is why I particularly don't like when people talk about "group X is under represented in show Y." Represented? Who ever said anything about a TV show existing to represent the demographics of the entire population? Not every TV show needs to be about the penis to vagina ratio, or whether or not the staff is no more than the allotted 68% white. It's a TV show, not the public service. There are any number of reasons why the Daily Show's staff is the way it is that aren't about boy parts and girl parts.

Also, assistant here. Stop knocking assistant roles. We work hard (when we're not goofing off on Metafilter). We get compensated for our work. And when there's an opening, maybe we get a shot at being something else. Maybe some of us are actually happy as assistants and enjoy our work. It's kind of douchey to assume everyone involved in a TV show really wanted to be on camera and failed.

Quite seriously, in a smarter and funnier world, Sarah Haskins would have this gig.

Nothing personal here, eschatfische, yours is just the most recent example in this thread, but yes it's a shame your favorite comedian didn't get the job the "hottie" you don't think is funny did. Do they even want the job? Did they even express interest in the job? Were they passed over in favor of someone else hotter, and there's no more spots for women now because TDS has filled it's quota?

How about everybody goes after shows that are actually, blatantly sexist or racist instead of ones that kinda maybe sorta are if you look at it this way.
posted by Kirk Grim at 9:27 PM on July 7, 2010 [4 favorites]


Yeah I'd just like to mention that I'd love to be an assistant anything on The Daily Show.
posted by haveanicesummer at 9:50 PM on July 7, 2010


I like The Daily Show as both a show that makes me chuckle and as something that often does Serious Business while peeking out from behind the curtain hoping that people notice, but just that it's not too obvious.

But, let's be honest, The Daily Show doesn't seem to ask all that much from its correspondents (its writers are another matter, and I realize double-duty is being done.) "Ask stupid questions to people who don't realize they're being asked stupid questions with a straight face." Or to absurdly bump the joke, so Stewart can set it, and then they spike it. But, again, this is mostly the writer's doing.

Not that any of these things are easy. Comedy is hard. Good timing is hard. Good delivery is hard. But it's like most skills: it's something almost anyone can learn to an acceptable degree of competence if they apply themselves.

Does anyone really think Jon Stewart couldn't have his pick of eye candy on his show if he wanted it? Do you really think that's why he hired Olivia Munn instead of thinking something along the lines of, "She's the kind of funny we can work with"?
posted by Cyrano at 10:00 PM on July 7, 2010


I would really like to make a point that no one knew what the fuck Jezebel was before that story came out.

Now that's a little full of yourself, isn't it?

Site Information for jezebel.com
Get Details

* Alexa Traffic Rank: 3,631
* United States Flag Traffic Rank in US: 1,018

* Sites Linking In: 5,091
posted by cmgonzalez at 10:09 PM on July 7, 2010


For somebody supposedly tapped into online culture, saying "no one knew what the fuck Jezebel was" is either showing incredible ignorance or being purposefully baiting.
posted by kmz at 10:37 PM on July 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


kmz, I think what she means is that when Jon Stewart quipped, "Jezebel thinks I'm a sexist," a million people said, "Who the hell is Jezebel?"
posted by straight at 11:01 PM on July 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


I seriously doubt that TDS could afford any of those comedians you name, Sticherbeast.

You're asking that people like Silverman who'd get their own shows doing their own material to take a junior position doing little 1 min deadpan spots about whatever CNN's covering? Seriously?

Face it, Jezebel jumped the shark. Yes, junior TDS positions are coveted, but not by the people you're listing. Munn was very likely among the funniest applicants.
posted by jeffburdges at 3:27 AM on July 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


And here I was thinking that Jezebel was just a catty gossip mag.
posted by moonbiter at 3:49 AM on July 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Also, I'd just like to point out that if someone doesn't personally find Olivia Munn funny, it doesn't automatically mean she was hired because she's hot. It could -- gasp -- be that other people do find her funny, and her humor just doesn't appeal to you. I thought her first two bits on TDS were about as funny as the other correspondent bits, which is to say nothing amazing but funny; most of the correspondent bits aren't home runs, though some are. It was the same kind of humor the show typically uses, too. I liked the clips of her earlier stuff that I saw. I like her (so far).

It takes a embarrassing lack of humility to say "I don't find her funny" and assume anything based on that. If you look at this thread, you have people that love another correspondent, Samantha Bee, but then you have people that can't stand her. I only like her. Some people in this thread don't even like TDS, or don't like Jon Stewart, or whatever. Whenever there's a thread about Stephen Colbert plenty of people don't like him, or talk about how they like Jon Stewart better, or they don't like Stewart and ONLY like Colbert, or whatever. I can't imagine anyone disliking either of them. I personally cringe when people trot out Sarah Silverman as an example of someone that's funny, but I accept that other people really do think she is.

The point is that in that one paragraph, no matter who is reading it, I probably named someone that you cannot believe people think is funny, and someone you cannot believe people think isn't funny. But all of those people have a ton of fans and tons of detractors. Humor is polarizing and subjective. The big obvious answer here is that if you don't think she's funny, all it means is you don't think she's funny. If she wasn't hot you would just say you don't think she's funny and leave it at that. But since she's hot, it's suddenly the reason she was hired? A comedy show wanted eye candy when nearly half its audience is female? Come on.

And have you even seen her segments on TDS so far? It's not like they tart her up. She doesn't even look any more attractive than the other correspondents, at least to me. The other correspondents are all plenty attractive. And before we get into a stupid argument about that, that's just as subjective as humor.

Also, if anything I think TDS has been trying to hire correspondents of different races. If they wanted an Asian correspondent in particular, they're going to have a much smaller pool of people to choose from; finding a female Asian comic isn't that easy to begin with, plus they just get whoever auditions. I think that may account for the lack of women in the other positions. For example, when they got Mandvi they might have been looking for someone who can cover Indian and Middle Eastern types of things, but I can't even think of a single Indian or Middle Eastern female comic. I'm sure they exist, but they would have had to auditioned too, and been funnier than Mandvi.

I going to smash my head through a window the next time someone says TDS should have hired some other woman in particular. TDS is a very particular kind of humor. A person who wants to be a correspondent at TDS would have to want to do very short segments, do a lot of political humor, do a lot of things that require them to play dumb or pretend to have offensive viewpoints, do things on somewhat short notice, be willing to make fun of people to their face and goad them into saying things they know they don't want to (even when those people aren't really the bad guy), and not do segments terribly often. And they'd have to want to live in New York. Then, even if they want all those things, they'd have to audition. Then they'd have to actually be talented, AND they'd have to be the most talented out of everyone who auditioned. But they can't be so talented and experienced that they're not already doing better than TDS.

Yeah yeah yeah, there are a ton of funny female comics out there, but is it really that surprising no one's dream choice was hired? TDS correspondents are great and I'm sure it's a great place to work and the exposure is great, but their job still sounds hellish to me. It's definitely not for most people.
posted by Nattie at 4:12 AM on July 8, 2010 [9 favorites]


Yes, it bears repeating, that interview link homunuclus links to just above is really worth a read. Pierces a veil, that it does.

Fuckin' PC police waving their PC dicks around trying to vye for who is the most righteous. Or is that wronged?
posted by cavalier at 4:14 AM on July 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


Crap. sorry homunculus.
posted by cavalier at 4:14 AM on July 8, 2010


I going to smash my head through a window the next time someone says TDS should have hired some other woman in particular. TDS is a very particular kind of humor. A person who wants to be a correspondent at TDS would have to want to do very short segments, do a lot of political humor, do a lot of things that require them to play dumb or pretend to have offensive viewpoints, do things on somewhat short notice, be willing to make fun of people to their face and goad them into saying things they know they don't want to (even when those people aren't really the bad guy), and not do segments terribly often. And they'd have to want to live in New York. Then, even if they want all those things, they'd have to audition. Then they'd have to actually be talented, AND they'd have to be the most talented out of everyone who auditioned. But they can't be so talented and experienced that they're not already doing better than TDS.

Well said. I'm sure there are *funnier* people out there, but funny isn't the talent you need to do that job. The talent is to be able to deliver funny lines completely deadpan and set Stewart up for quips. And to be able to deliver lines someone else wrote, and fit into the process and the show. And yes, pure acting talents- how to react, where to put your hands, how to not step on other people's lines and so on and so on.

Your point above is also worth repeating. Not everyone is as religious about their group memberships and identities as others. It is really kind of sickening that she has to get criticized for taking a cool job because she doesn't fit the mold some self-proclaimed arbiter of fairness has imagined. What Jezebel has done is exactly the same bullshit feminism was formed out of: women being judged for (or prevented from) making choices that didn't mesh with other people's expectations.

From the Salon article: "Looking back, it was ridiculous of me to even prepare!" one "Daily Show" hopeful complained to Jezebel. "Should I have gone to the gym more? Done Playboy? It's such a joke."

Wow, someone who lost an audition isn't happy about it and wants to blame someone or something else. Suppose we imagine that TDS did hire based solely on hotness. Is that somewhere this person wants to work? It kinda seems like the answer for this person would be yes. They suck for choosing hotness over talent, and yes, I'm disappointed I didn't make the cut.
posted by gjc at 6:43 AM on July 8, 2010


For somebody supposedly tapped into online culture, saying "no one knew what the fuck Jezebel was" is either showing incredible ignorance or being purposefully baiting.

If you read the interview, Munn brings up a good point in questioning just how important your favorite blog/magazine/commenter is to what they're actually talking about. Here's the full exchange:
Salon: Are you tired of talking about the Jezebel story?

Munn: No. But I would really like to make a point that no one knew what the fuck Jezebel was before that story came out.

Salon: Well, I knew what Jezebel was.

Munn: You do, it's in your world. But people in Hollywood didn't know what Jezebel was. "The Daily Show" didn't know what Jezebel was. But this article was picked up and pushed out and these women sit behind this very thin veil that I can see right through, this idea that "we stand up for women." If you stand up for women, then don't bash me.

This woman at Slate wrote a very interesting article that all my friends at G4 have been e-mailing me [Emily Gould's piece, "How feminist blogs gin up page views"]. I kept seeing this over and over -- they're attaching my name to things to get more hits. But what's more frustrating is that they've been given some kind of power as the voice of women, and they are not. If they were, then they would have done a better of job of interviewing people actually currently working on the show.

The interviews were with people who worked there seven years ago. There were people who weren't even regulars. And at the end of the day, the reason why you don't know who any of those people are is because "The Daily Show" didn't find them funny.

That story hurt a lot of people's feelings. I'm not talking about Jon Stewart. I'm talking about the women who work there and the women who came before me. "Oh, I'm the pretty girl who came in?" That means that Nancy Carell isn't gorgeous? Like all these other women who have been there aren't beautiful women? Jon Stewart hires people that he thinks are funny. That's it. That's the only requirement.
posted by new brand day at 6:56 AM on July 8, 2010


The Olivia Munn detail was a miscalculation on the part of Jezebel. It has completely distracted the discussion from "Why are their not more women writing and reporting on TDL" to "Is Olivia Minn funny?

It wouldn't even be an issue if she were one of a large group of women on the show. Because there are so few, her hiring, and whether she was the one who really deserved it, becomes prominent. But it's not the story.
posted by Astro Zombie at 7:01 AM on July 8, 2010


It takes a embarrassing lack of humility to say "I don't find her funny" and assume anything based on that.

That's my cross to bear, I guess. My incredibly well-built, flame maple with in-laid agarwood and axinite highlights, luxuriously lacquered cross to bear.

It also has a drink holder.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 7:24 AM on July 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


The Olivia Munn detail was a miscalculation on the part of Jezebel. It has completely distracted the discussion from "Why are their not more women writing and reporting on TDL" to "Is Olivia Minn funny?

It wouldn't even be an issue if she were one of a large group of women on the show. Because there are so few, her hiring, and whether she was the one who really deserved it, becomes prominent. But it's not the story.


First, this isn't the first time Jezebel has given Munn their scorn and ridicule. Second, I'd say it's very much the story if you contend that a television shows engages in sexist hiring practices, and proceed to tear down one of the women they hired, contending she got the job based on her looks, as a case in point. It's a bit more than a "miscalculation"; it shows a contempt for another woman, while trying to call someone sexist. It's hypocritical.

While I'd agree it doesn't detract from asking questions about why TDS looks the way it does - whether there's a conscious or unconscious sexism there, whether TDS is receiving auditions from people who've already passed through the filter of our sexist society - to do what Jezebel did was entirely out of line.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 7:30 AM on July 8, 2010


The end of that Salon interview was really quite shocking. What a way to start my day.
posted by shii at 9:04 AM on July 8, 2010


You're asking that people like Silverman who'd get their own shows doing their own material to take a junior position doing little 1 min deadpan spots about whatever CNN's covering? Seriously?

No, I did not ask that ever. I mentioned those women because they are overtly "hot" women who are also funny, as opposed to Munn.

While I don't find Munn particularly funny, and while I understand why people would bristle at her being hired, it does makes perfect sense why she was hired, and not for "oh it's just because she's a model" reasons.
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:19 AM on July 8, 2010


Olivia Munn is, to the best of my knowledge, the only TDS correspondent hired who already has substantial popular name recognition in the US. That was not asked or expected of Hodgeman, Bee, Oliver etc. all of whom did sketch or stand-up, you know, comedy, before TDS break which also involved writing said comedy.

On a very tangential note, I'd be curious to know if TDS considered Jane Lynch before she broke. I remember her saying on a Fresh Air interview that she got the 40 yo Virgin gig because the very funny Nancy Walls suggested to her husband Steve Carell that they put a woman in the role.

If you want to see women comics, go out and see live comedy. There are plenty of incredibly funny women performing in all the major US cities.
posted by subvert at 12:55 PM on July 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Olivia Munn is, to the best of my knowledge, the only TDS correspondent hired who already has substantial popular name recognition in the US.

Really? I'm Canadian, but pretty much savvy on US pop culture, and I've never heard of her. What's her claim to fame?
posted by rocket88 at 1:06 PM on July 8, 2010


She's been on a cable tech show called Attack of the Show, recently did a book that's about to come out and has posed for mens magazines like Maxim.
posted by subvert at 1:16 PM on July 8, 2010


that interview link homunuclus links to

Now, now. No need to go nucular.
posted by straight at 1:23 PM on July 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


...and that there is a clear line, you're either an "angry mefinerd" or a "feminist".

Hell yeah. I'm an angry mefinerd and a feminist. Bitches need to shut up and get equality.
posted by rusty at 1:27 PM on July 8, 2010


The thing that gets me about the criticisms is that they seem absurd to me. Munn absolutely has whatever that quality is which lets her connect with the audience. I have no idea if she's the funniest person ever. I do know that in the relatively modest number of times I watched G4's Attack of the Show she came across as self-aware, nice, funny, charming, and (yes) attractive. And I say this as someone who is usually creeped out by the faux-connection that hosts in her positions usually try to project. I usually wince and am embarrassed for the hosts. You can tell they're only doing what they're doing because they need the paycheck. Obviously the G4 hosts wouldn't be doing their jobs for free, but Munn projects the illusion that she's just one of the guys hanging out and chilling.

I don't know what it is, but whatever it is she's got it.
posted by Justinian at 1:30 PM on July 8, 2010


This is basically all of it, guys (via Tiger Beatdown, aka the best).

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.
posted by SassHat at 1:32 PM on July 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'm a feminist and I'm not at all threatened or offended by Olivia Munn. And this:

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.

doesn't even make any sense. I used to really like Sady Doyle, but I'm done with her. My feminist role models? They don't make it their business to blame inequality-- sorry, oppression-- on other women.
posted by oinopaponton at 1:44 PM on July 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


As for the letter's substance, I'm relieved to hear that the show's current female staffers feel highly valued and don't find Jon Stewart to be a sexist ass.

I am not relieved to hear that all of the female staff on the Daily Show all happened to sign a letter saying that the place is really truly amazingly awesome full of totally egalitarian people and principles.

Quick: you work somewhere that has been semi-visibly accused of sexism. You are asked to sign your name to a letter saying there is no sexism. You think there is sexism. You also have no particular protection -- lots of people want your job. What are you going to say, no? Imagine that you'd like to keep your job, and that you don't want to alienate the rest of the employees.

Maybe the environment is a reasonably egalitarian workplace that just tends to put white guys in the visible roles. But that letter is very far from proof of anything more than that people will do things in order to keep their jobs.
posted by jeather at 1:44 PM on July 8, 2010 [4 favorites]


Oinopaponton, that was a weirdly out of context quote from the post. It follows:
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.
I don't agree with everything Sady said in that post, but it was more reasonable than that single quote was.
posted by jeather at 1:46 PM on July 8, 2010


Oops, got rage blinded after reading the quote SassHat posted. Still done with Sady.
posted by oinopaponton at 1:49 PM on July 8, 2010


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!

One of us! One of us! We accept her! We accept her!
posted by Justinian at 1:53 PM on July 8, 2010


I am not relieved to hear that all of the female staff on the Daily Show all happened to sign a letter saying that the place is really truly amazingly awesome full of totally egalitarian people and principles.

That's right, they can't be trusted because they've worked there for years.

So then who do we believe?!
posted by new brand day at 1:58 PM on July 8, 2010


As a general rule, I am sure all the employees there can be trusted. However, I do not think that letter proves anything, because the amount of direct and/or indirect pressure to (a) respond to this whole uproar and (b) sign that letter, once written makes the letter suspect. I have no idea if the workplace is sexist or not, but if a female employee thought it was, now would not be the time to say that and plan on keeping her job. (I would say this about any workplace, not just the Daily Show.)

Frankly, the letter also reads like a low-information puff piece.
posted by jeather at 2:07 PM on July 8, 2010


One of the links upthread actually has a comment from a female former Daily Show worker also saying it's not a sexist workplace. I think it was actually a comment made directly on Jezebel's site. Plus, the whole "burden of proof is on the accuser" thing. I don't think you're required to have a full-fledged inquiry and get confidential statements from all female staff everytime someone on the internet makes weak allegations of sexism. Disgruntled ex-employees who will say something bad about their former employers are a dime a dozen and their claims should be scrutinized at least as thoroughly as how you're scrutinizing the letter from the female TDS staffers.

signed, one of 'the dudes'
posted by Kirk Grim at 3:55 PM on July 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


I have no idea if the workplace is sexist or not, but if a female employee thought it was, now would not be the time to say that and plan on keeping her job.

To me, that would seem a perfect time. Of course, I'm a grown up and can articulate my feelings to my employer without getting my ass fired. I presume these employees are as well. It seems awfully judgey to presume these women wouldn't have the fortitude to not sign something they didn't believe in.
posted by gjc at 4:03 PM on July 8, 2010


In a competitive industry where complaints about sexism get you not-hired because there are other women around who won't complain? I figure that anyone with misgivings did the calculus and decided that signing on to a fluffy promo piece was worth the risk of losing their job. People do all sorts of things they don't want to do (go to office parties, give for occasions, buy orange from a coworker's kid) to keep their jobs. Some industries, and some workplaces, are more accommodating of articulating their feelings. From articles like "X complained about sexism/racism/whatever and then was fired" I'm guessing that the entertainment industry isn't so easy to get along in, but even if that's true, it says nothing specific about the Daily Show. That said, just because Jon Stewart is a funny guy and people want to work on his show, it also doesn't mean he's a nice guy or a good boss.

I have no idea whether the workplace is sexist or not. I suspect that it's probably casually sexist, like the society it is part of, but I could be wrong in either direction. I didn't notice the comments from ex-employees, alleging either sexism or lack of same, but I certainly agree that comments from ex-employees are also not likely to be perfectly objective.

I am using the numbers I have seen about how many of the on-air people are not white guys. Employees signing on to a letter saying "no, really, we are happy" does not prove anything, either way.
posted by jeather at 4:25 PM on July 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


You are asked to sign your name to a letter saying there is no sexism. You think there is sexism.

Or ... maybe you signed the letter because you agree with the contents? There's an awful lot of positing what other people--specifically other women--think going around here. Maybe somebody did disagree with the letter and signed it anyway. Reasonable people can disagree on workplace sexism issues. What I get out of the letter is that there's not an egregious problem and that the current Daily Show staff is behind Stewart, not that there never has been or never will be sexist behavior or sexist decisionmaking.

The letter proves nothing, sure, but neither does Jezebel sniping at Olivia Munn or the Daily Show. As someone who's not a fan of any of the parties, and has no dog in the hunt, I find the letter somewhat more credible than the way Jezebel approached the problem, to the extent that it's the Daily Show's problem specifically and not a problem through the industry and society and life.
posted by immlass at 4:55 PM on July 8, 2010


I got out of the Chicago comedy scene because the casual sexism, misogyny, and homophobia made it hard to work with (and befriend) a lot of the male comics (although it doesn't seem to permeate the improv world as much as it does the standup and sketch comedy world).

Going to a comedy open mic is painful enough without being bombarded with a lot of hate.

It doesn't reflect what I see on TV (Comedy Central roasts, stadup specials, the Seth Farlane school of animation), but there's not a lot of racism in the comedy here, even though the scene is very, very white. I'm not surprised at all that two of our most recent success stories are with hilarious, ummmm, people of color (Kumail Nanjiani, who seems to be making a splash even though his first TV series Michael & Michael Have Issues has already been cancelled, and Hannibal Buress, who just completed his first year as a writer for SNL.

[Begin COMPLETELY off-topic rant about race, sexual preference, and comedy]

I don't think I still agree with my actions at the time, but I once got into a shouting match with someone in my sketch group where I declared, "If you use the word 'faggot', I'm going to find a place to use the word 'nigger'. My idea was that if we used one hateful word, then we should use them all, to prove that we were fearless and willing to slay any and every sacred cow in the service of the funny, but I always felt uncomfortable saying it, in front of strangers, in front of friends, in front of my cousin and his black fiance, I feel like it's a hateful word that brings up hard emotions in a lot of people and my bit wasn't funny enough to warrant it. I should have just rallied harder against duder taking out the gay jokes.

[end off-topic rant, resume on-topic rant]

So yes, the talent pool is so, so, sooooooooo white, but the pool of funny people that aren't famous but would like to be is sooooooooooo big, that I'm surprised I haven't seen more women emerge from it. That said, is Maria Bamford really the next great female comic? I like that her stuff is different but I don't find her funny at all.
posted by elr at 7:45 PM on July 8, 2010


Jezebel isn't a feminist blog and it never was. It's Nick Denton's / Gawker Media's female-centric blog - which means that a lot of posters and the commentariat use the f-word because the target audience of educated office drones use and understand that frame of analysis quite naturally. To misquote Colbert, reality has a well-known feminist bias. So, Jezebel is about feminism, but it's every bit as much about pictures of baby animals and Russell Brand.... it's designed to be a distraction for young, educated women. The Gawker-Empire has provided a catapult to many talented writers (and I would include Emily Gould among them) but feminism has shit to do with linkbaiting or endless commenter-rechecking and it's shitty and dishonest of Gould to try and stand apart (on slate's answer to jezebel, no less!) and mock her own protegees for pulling far less smutty stunts (questioning the lack of women in late night comedy v. posing in a swimsuit) than she did.
posted by moxiedoll at 7:55 PM on July 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Much more on topic than my previous post:

When I first saw Olivia Munn on TDS, my thoughts were
1) that bit was a little shaky, but new correspondents usually are
2) Wow, that new Daily Show correspondent is a total babe. I think I have a new nerdcrush

Then I googled her and immediately thought:
Ohhhh, she's one of the G4 talk show's requisite total babe co-hosts. Her job is to give people like me a nerdcrush and I fell for it immediately. How predictable am I?

As a somewhat intelligent dude who cares a lot about comedy and a lot about gender politics, I find it embarrassing how often I sexualize successful women comics, but I sexualize everyone, and funny women especially turn my crank so I guess it's inevitable, and I just gotta say fuck it and enjoy it when someone like Aisha Tyler/Rashida Jones/Sarah Silverman/Tina Fey/Judy Greer/Aubrey Plaza gets a little more screentime because they're a sex symbol to dorks like me.
posted by elr at 8:02 PM on July 8, 2010


I know what you mean elr, but I think Olivia Munn will test the limits of your nerdcrush's ability to enjoy extra screentime given to the truly talentless.
posted by fleacircus at 3:51 AM on July 9, 2010


Employees signing on to a letter saying "no, really, we are happy" does not prove anything, either way.

That seems kinda cheap. I get what you're saying, sure, but to completely ignore what the women who actually work there are saying seems disparaging, IMO.
posted by new brand day at 6:29 AM on July 9, 2010


DC City Paper on the subject:


I’m sure that the women employees of The Daily Show aren’t lying when they describe Stewart as “the word that means the opposite of sexist.” But it’s not enough for him to be Jon Stewart, Really Swell Guy anymore—he’s the head of a comedy institution, one with the power to either contribute to or counteract the overwhelming sexism of the field. In order to challenge structural inequalities and actually recruit the best people for the job, the men who run comedy—men like Stewart—will have to do more than just not be overtly discriminatory.
posted by Astro Zombie at 7:39 AM on July 9, 2010


moxiedoll: it's shitty and dishonest of Gould to try and stand apart (on slate's answer to jezebel, no less!) and mock her own protegees for pulling far less smutty stunts (questioning the lack of women in late night comedy v. posing in a swimsuit) than she did.

What is "smutty" about either of those things? Sure, Jezebel didn't "question the lack of women in late night comedy in a really positive way, and the only reference to Gould and swimsuits I could find is this ... but neither of these things seem especially "smutty".
posted by Orb at 8:02 AM on July 9, 2010


I should also add that it didn't help TDS's case to have Sam refer to Munn as a "sexy news bunny" in her first segment.
posted by chundo at 11:09 AM on July 9, 2010


Glad I finally saw her on the show - she was great!
posted by agregoli at 11:14 AM on July 9, 2010


I should also add that it didn't help TDS's case to have Sam refer to Munn as a "sexy news bunny" in her first segment.

there's not a case, actually. and it's called humor.
posted by fallacy of the beard at 11:36 AM on July 9, 2010


Arizona's Photo Radar: Olivia Munn explores the debate between Arizona's highway safety and the invasion of privacy.
posted by homunculus at 11:40 AM on July 9, 2010


i think it's kinda neat that jezebel's claims of sexism are the result of a complex pattern of TDS hiring a grand total of one formal model to appear in brief skits on their show.
posted by fallacy of the beard at 11:42 AM on July 9, 2010


Having seen her segment about Arizona Photo Radar, it occurs to me that TDS producers might in fact have decided to specifically hire an exceptionally attractive woman as a correspondent on the theory that a lot of their interview targets are more likely to say something hilariously stupid on camera when a beautiful woman is asking the questions.

Or that an attractive woman might get away with more insane or outrageous questions without the target giving up and ending the interview.
posted by straight at 2:09 PM on July 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Olivia Munn: "I'm easy to hate. I get it"
It's kind of amazing. Not just the feminists but also a lot of vocal video game nerds who watch G4 seem to hate her as well. And for largely the same reason: Shes's a woman and she's seen as trading on her hotness, as opposed to actually caring about video games. They all hold up Morgan Webb as someone who actually knows her games.

Ironically, a lot of these guys probably think modern feminism is pretty lame and overly PC.

But anyway, it's kind of suprising how much hatred someone can engender for something pretty innocuous. Munn isn't really funny the way some of the great female comics are, but her job as a daily show correspondant isn't quite the same as the job of a standup commedian. You have to have charisma and stage presence, which she definetly does.

I thought her Arazona bit wasn't that funny, but that's mostly the fault of the producers/writers.
Or ... maybe you signed the letter because you agree with the contents?
Right, but the point is there's no way to know. The signatures on the letter have no information value.
posted by delmoi at 6:13 PM on July 9, 2010


Right, but the point is there's no way to know. The signatures on the letter have no information value.

The idea that the rational way to read that letter is "no informational value" is bizarre and patronizing to the signatories. It's imposing an outside paradigm on what they said, and accusing them collectively of being somewhere between unreliable witnesses to their own workplace (either collaborators or terrorized wretches) and liars on Stewart's and the Daily Show's behalf. Even with the well-taken caveat from upthread that Jezebel itself isn't a feminist web site, that's a pretty anti-woman, or at least anti-those-women, way of reading the situation.

Sure, the Daily Show can do better. But if you're a feminist, male or female, and really believe the show has a work environment where you can glean nothing from that letter, and that 40% of the staff might have been coerced into signing the letter when what's in it is untrue, why in the name of $DEITY would you want more women to work there? If I seriously believed that, and watched the show regularly, I'd quit and encourage others to do so, in the hopes that the show would go off the air and the men in charge--men who more or less coerced women into lying about sexism/workplace harassment/etc. to keep their jobs--were removed from positions of power over women employees.
posted by immlass at 6:50 PM on July 9, 2010


either collaborators or terrorized wretches

I don't think anyone is seriously suggesting anything like that.

But it's not hard to imagine that one or more of the women on that list read the letter and thought to herself, "Well....there was that one time when...but, no, now's not the time to make a big deal about that...It's mostly true. Jon really is a pretty good guy. I'll just sign it."
posted by straight at 9:20 PM on July 9, 2010


a lot of vocal video game nerds who watch G4 seem to hate her as well

I don't hate her at all, but watching some of those G4 clips, I really hate the way they treated her and am sad that she put up with it, and am glad that she's moved on to something better.
posted by straight at 9:23 PM on July 9, 2010


But it's not hard to imagine that one or more of the women on that list read the letter and thought to herself,

That's not at all the same thing as saying there's no information whatsoever to be drawn from the letter. What I said I got out of it was that there's no egregious problem; that doesn't mean there's absolutely no workplace sexism. I've worked in places where it's been great except for one or two things. That didn't mean I blamed the boss, especially if the one thing wasn't the boss' fault or something he or she couldn't control (like an obnoxious client). Also, reasonable people, including reasonable women, can disagree on whether a specific action/event was sexist.

There's room for suggesting women who signed the letter may not think their workplace is perfect without impugning them to the point of giving the letter zero credibility at all.
posted by immlass at 9:43 PM on July 9, 2010


The idea that the rational way to read that letter is "no informational value" is bizarre and patronizing to the signatories.

So do you always believe every business P.R. release? That's what that letter was-- it was a Public Relations stunt in reaction to unflattering media coverage. Sure, I would believe a Daily Show female staff member if she personally wrote me a letter, but I don't believe anything a company sends out without actual facts. We can argue the facts, number of female staff vs. actual positions, for example, but the signatures are meaningless-- they are employees. If WalMart sends you out a letter telling you how great it is to work at WalMart signed, a greeter, a stocker, and clerk, are you going to believe them?
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 5:47 AM on July 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


If WalMart sends you out a letter telling you how great it is to work at WalMart signed, a greeter, a stocker, and clerk, are you going to believe them?

If you're saying Wal-Mart's documented record of locking people in stores, forcing people to work unpaid overtime, etc. is the same as J Random Nick Denton website ginning up page views by posting something outrageous and accusatory about a pop culture institution, we have a severe disagreement about the credibility of the accusation. I've said what I think, which people keep ignoring because it's more convenient to argue with a straw woman than to argue with what I've actually said. You can glean some information from a press release without assuming it's 100% factual if you read for more than face value.

(And this is the third time I've essentially repeated myself on this topic, so I'm out of the discussion.)
posted by immlass at 7:14 AM on July 10, 2010


But it's not hard to imagine that one or more of the women on that list read the letter and thought to herself,

That's not at all the same thing as saying there's no information whatsoever to be drawn from the letter.
Yeah, it kind of is. It's certainly what I meant. If you were a woman who worked at the daily show, and you thought it was somewhat of a sexist work environment, but not so terrible and better then most places to work in other respects. If you were presented with the letter, what would you do? Would you seriously refuse to sign it? I don't think most people would.

I mean, havn't you had those cards go around the office wishing someone a happy birthday, or condolences or whatever, and you don't know them or really care but you don't want to be that asshole who doesn't put anything down?

That's what I mean when I say no informational value. The fact that people signed the letter does not mean they actually belive what was written. Now, if it had been, say, 10 women who felt really strongly and wanted to sign on that would be one thing. But the fact that everyone signed it makes it less meaningful. (now, I'm sure that some of the women felt strongly about it and agreed. But every single one? It's hard to know.)
posted by delmoi at 12:07 AM on July 11, 2010


"Are you in fact spineless chattel of the patriarchy?"

"Uh... NO, WE ARE NOT."

"That's just what the spineless chattel of the patriarchy would say."
posted by fleacircus at 2:51 PM on July 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


New York Times has a feature in their business media section with a flattering photo of Coen!
posted by bukvich at 6:47 AM on July 12, 2010


Isn't it a tad strange to suggest that, since many people signed a letter, that their signatures have less value? It's not like a birthday card at all - which, I mean, that is kind of a cynical view too - they are signatories on a statement which is meant to imply their support of the statement.

To contend that they were just corralled into signing a statement they had no part in.... Well, geez.
posted by cavalier at 2:16 PM on July 12, 2010


Wow really sorry I missed this thread. A lot of otherwise reasonable people seem to lose their shit when confronted with the fact that entertainment is not fair. Some folks are funnier than others, or just better at a certain job, and when you make something you want it to be great, not just passable. It's not Jon Stewart's job to change the world, just to create a funny and relevant program. If you don't like it, make your own TV show.

Also Olivia Munn is both funny and brave. I salute her and recommend that she stop reading the internet entirely.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 12:29 PM on July 14, 2010


Olivia Munn Battles the Green Robots
posted by homunculus at 11:33 AM on July 20, 2010


« Older The Lucretian swerve: The biological basis of huma...  |  Important Update!... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments