Pretty Funny

The above is a picture of Phyllis Diller, she was quite the dish. Down-right hot, so hot in fact, she was denied a Playboy spread. See, Playboy did a Mama Cass spread and thought it would be funny to then do an unattractive skinny girl spread. They chose Diller because she made her career on being funny but ugly—except it was a lie. Phyllis Diller was a good looking woman with a curvy body and large breasts. The Playboy spread wasn’t a joke—it looked like a legit spread, therefore it was not funny and scraped.

Phyllis Diller made her mark by being funny but ugly but she wasn’t ugly. Tina Fey makes her mark by talking about how she has no life and eats cheese in pajamas, Whitney Cummings modeled through college but goes on stage in a baggy shirt, no makeup, and a ponytail. Do you want to know why? It’s because women are not allowed to be pretty and funny.

I recently watched a documentary called, “Why We Laugh: Funny Women” and it spent a lot of time discussing this “women aren’t funny” rumor that men have started. I really loved some of the comebacks. Basically, they were saying “women aren’t funny the same way men aren’t good in bed—you would say that if that’s all you’ve had”. The truth is—it’s not that women aren’t funny it’s that men don’t want them to be funny. Women have taken a role in everything and we had to fight for that role—it’s the same in comedy.

This documentary also talked about how the majority of women on the road do not have families. No husband, no babies, no pets. It’s too hard to be gone 39 weeks a year and maintain a family—but men have all those things because they have women at home. Men also get to sleep with their audience. This part really stuck with me. The women in the documentary spoke about how they don’t know one woman that took someone home at the end of the night but every male comic has. When a women is witty or funny she’s not sexy—when a man is he’s attractive.

I experienced this on my first date with my boyfriend. I was “quippy” it’s how I operate. I make snide (what I find funny) remarks. For instance—my boyfriend is 5’7 and he was talking about how he played football and my response was “what were you, the kicker?” My friend kicked me under the table and his friend said, “Wow you’re a bitch”. Now, if my boyfriend would’ve said that to me it would’ve been called “flirting” there’s even a term for this called “negging” and it’s taught by “pickup artists” and Russell Brand. Make a girl feel bad about herself and she’ll have to qualify herself to date you. But turn that table and you are a bitch. Luckily, my boyfriend got that joke and that’s why we’re together.

To be a comedian you have to de-sex yourself. You have to make people relax and they can’t relax if you’re sexy, apparently. The women in this documentary said that women in the audience get mad if you’re sexy and men stop listening because they’re focused on wanting to have sex. It’s a good way to win an audience. I find that so interesting. Why can’t a woman be pretty and funny? Sexy and funny? Or even better: sexy, funny, smart, and successful?  A man can be all these things and more. You can say a man is sexy, funny, smart, successful, a pit of a prick but still a good guy. But you can never say a woman is “a bitch but still a great woman”. She’s always just one thing. A bitch. Sexy. Pretty. Funny. Smart.

I find this interesting since women are expected to be all things: mother, daughter, friend, comforter, gatherer, lover, lady, and sister—but in certain settings we are stripped of these things and made to be one thing: Just A Girl.

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Review and Interview: Subjectified

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‘Subjectified’ is a documentary by Melissa Tapper Goldman. According to the statement on their website, this documentary was born out of Goldman’s frustration. Personally, I can agree that most art comes out of a similar place.

Goldman said, “I thought I understood the motivations and pressures regarding young women’s sexuality within the community where I grew up, but I had no clue what sexuality meant for other women around the country. I thought I understood what might make a teenage mother decide to raise a baby, or for a religious person to practice abstinence, but the models in my mind for why girls have sex just didn’t add up to a believable picture. Why do girls have sex? Or why don’t they have sex? Pressure? Libido? Emotional dependence? I realized that I drew many assumptions from examples in media rather than from real life, since few of us ever hear such intimate details from anyone but our closest friends. And even my own experiences come filtered through expectations shaped by stories drawn from external sources including television, movies and magazines.”

To explore this topic, Goldman interviewed nine women from different cultures, upbringings, all ranging from age 19-28. All of these women were asked why they have sex today, what their first experience with sexuality was like, their current sexuality, about sex education in school and what they learned, and finally, about fertility and contraception. A few of the women gave examples of their favorite sexual experience and how they felt and about times where they felt pressured or forced. All of the stories were very similar. All of the women, except the two virgins interviewed, had a time where they had to “talk themselves into” having sex, or felt pressured to have sex. The pressure had varying reasons like “He’ll get it somewhere else”, “He wanted it”, “I did it to shut him up”, etc.

I decided to review this documentary based on a preview I saw. I thought, ‘This documentary would get to the bottom of why women feel this way, why we feel obligated to have sex, why we find our worth in it’. And really, while it scratched the surface of these questions, I didn’t feel that I got any new information from it. I’m a woman, I’ve felt these things—sure, it was comforting to know that everyone has felt this way, too, but we still don’t understand it. I wasn’t given any information about how to combat it, or even about its origins. I guess I felt a little…confused, to be honest.

The documentary is, however, quite interesting. It’s thought-provoking, but still I feel it’s slightly anorexic or worse, maybe even a little watered down. The film, at one hour and forty-nine minutes, I think could benefit from one or two less interviews and maybe a half an hour of background.

In the film, Goldman sits, asking the questions behind the camera, and we never see her or hear her own responses. I would’ve been very interest in her response to this interview. While I enjoyed watching ‘Subjectified’ and felt a little disillusioned with women and their views on sex, I just wanted more. Out of nine women, the nineteen-year-old was the only one I felt had a positive outlook on herself and sex. That’s another angle I would’ve liked Goldman to explore—how this nineteen-year-old is able to say she will not be forced or treated poorly while having sex, but a 28 year old has issues with it….

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Pink Ribbons Inc.: A Documentary Review on Where Cancer Research Money Ends Up

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Lea Pool is a Montreal filmmaker who was tapped to do a documentary about how money is raised for breast cancer research. Pool wasn’t sure there was  story there until she jumped into the backstory on breast cancer awareness. Pink Ribbons, Inc.: Breast Cancer and the Politics of Philanthropy, is a revealing book written in 2006 by Samantha King, a professor of kinesiology and health studies at Queen’s University. The next stop on the road to information was the autobiographical piece, Welcome to Cancerland, a scathing 2001 feature article in Harper’s magazine by feminist writer Barbara Ehrenreich. After reading that, it became the impetus for Pool to make Pink Ribbons, Inc., which is a 97 minute documentary that Pool explains: “I needed to find a way to make (the fundraising issue) more attractive to a large audience,” so she worked some filmmaking magic tricks, she interviews people against a digitally animated background and has them speak directly to the camera. “It’s not a new idea, but it works well – it engages the viewer,” said Pool.

Instead of normal narration facts are typed on the screen for the view to read, and she uses pink–a lot of pink. But it’s not all nice colors and scary facts – there’s also controversy and hypocrisy. Pool brings these facts …

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Media Takes on The Media: New Film Debuting at Sundance “Miss Representation”

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A new film featured at the Sundance Film Festival, Miss Representation, seems right up my alley. It’s a deep look at media looking at the media, specifically, how women are portrayed. Director Jennifer Siebel Newsom is an actress herself, and has made this a …

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