I love comedy. I love feminism. I love it when the two come together. (And hate it when, more often than not, they don’t.) I also love The Daily Show. Until recently, this was not related to the first two things I love.
I also love Jezebel. It’s like what lady magazines like Cosmo or Elle should be — more concerned with issues that matter in the world of politics or questions women actually have (“Why did no one ever teach me how to use eyeshadow/flirt/change a tire? How do I do that?” as opposed to “What’s the hot new nail color?”). And then a bit ago Jezebel published a piece about how The Daily Show is sexist. (And another. And another. And then other blogs had to pipe in too.) And then the women who work on The Daily Show fired back. Except that the feminist blogosphere is still pissed. Blargh, our rights!
Oh no, my loyalties should be totally torn, right?! I mean, clearly, my loyalties should lie with the sacred comedic sisterhood, and yet I should feel a pang for my beloved show. But ladies, am I right? Feminism!
Look, I’m not going lie and say that late night comedy — nay, all comedy, doesn’t have a serious problem with sexism. That would be ridiculous. And I’m not going to say that I wouldn’t like to see another female correspondent on the show, so long as she’s funny. (Though I don’t find Olivia Munn as bad as everyone else seems to. I don’t think she’s particularly gifted, but she’s got good comedic timing.) But this entire thing is ridiculous and could have been avoided easily by an ounce of common sense. Did no one think to IMDb The Daily Show? Because a lot of the producers? Are women. Women editors? Check. Women writers? Two of ‘em. Women crew? Out the hoo-hah. So there goes that argument. And then the whole “toxic work atmosphere” they painted with the joyless, angry Jon Stewart running a boys’ club of grunting, ass-picking misogynists was made by using quotes from employees who hadn’t worked there since 2003 and stopped because they were fired. Which is good, because I think they sound super reliable. There’s no way they have sour grapes. In fact, this whole thing reeks of feminist integrity. A lady-parts Pulitzer for all!
Look, I want to be with the feminists. I do. Feminism is awesome. But I refuse to mindlessly back a club that is so stupid that they’ll rabidly go after anything just for the sake of causing a sensation. Let’s be honest — I don’t care about the author’s excuse that The Daily Show refused comment. Whoop dee friggin’ doo. If I wanted to write an article about how Obama is a secret Vulcan plant who belongs to a cult hell-bent on destroying us all, I’m sure I could get people to agree with me and quote them in my article, and I’m also sure that the President and his press department have way more important things to deal with than me, and would therefore refuse comment.
I get the rage about women lacking a voice in comedy. I get the urge to write a big, expository piece blowing a media darling out of the water. It’s okay to forget common sense because you’re blinded by your ego every so often, which is why editors were created, to act as a buffers. But for the love of Gloria Steinem, if you’ve reached a dead end, you’ve reached a dead end. You can’t create a controversy when there is no controversy. And then to cling to the controversy after you have been disproved by the very people you were writing about who don’t want your concern, thank you very much, is a level of ridiculous. No, the male staff of The Daily Show did not threaten or harass or force the women to write or sign the letter. No, you cannot say that like it’s the gospel truth. Because no, it doesn’t make sense that if the women really didn’t want to sign the letter that they’d agree to be corralled to all take a picture. You have no point. Just stop.
Because let’s be honest, it’s hard to be a girl. It’s hard to be a girl and be a feminist (regardless of if you label yourself as one or not). It’s hard to be a girl who wants to get into comedy. Or entertainment. It’s hard to be any combination of these traits. And when stuff like this happens, as good-intentioned as it may be, it makes it harder. It makes it harder to consider yourself a feminist when the members of your club are giving being part of the club such a bad rap. It’s harder to put in effort to break into comedy because it convinces girls that to do so they’ll have to be super-hot or sell their virtue or put up with harassment. And when girls don’t get into comedy, it makes it harder to make it an equal-opportunity industry, because you can’t hire women that are too intimidated to even try out.
So seriously, feminist blogosphere, I love you, but stop. Stop what you are doing. Stop trying to help. You are not helping. You are not helping one teeny, tiny bit.