Leslie Knope VS Liz Lemon

First of all, let me say that this is my fiftieth post on Zelda Lily since I first began in late July of this year. I am so happy that I get to write for this marvelous blog. I hope that you have all enjoyed reading my posts as much as I have enjoyed writing them. I love you guys.

Leslie Knope VS Liz Lemon: this is a contest between awesome, hilarious ladies whom I absolutely adore. I do not even mean the actresses who portray them—whom I love so much and probably equally. I mean the characters—the protagonists of the NBC comedies Parks and Recreation and 30 Rock, respectively.

Both shows are wonderful and hilarious, and provide an endless supply of hilarious quotes. But while both have wonderfully comical views of the world, are portrayed by marvelous ladies, and have a fondness for an overabundance of unhealthy food, I have to say that Leslie Knope has the edge—and here is why.

Leslie Knope’s life is much more together than Liz Lemon’s. Leslie Knope has a rising political career, which has its hilarious ups and downs. Liz Lemon’s life as a writer for The Girly Show is in constant crisis.

Leslie Knope embraces her sexuality. While I am not a Reagan fan, I am such a fan of Margaret Thatcher, and she and her dreamy boyfriend Ben Wyatt roleplay (as we have heard in accidental voicemails on the show) as various political figures while in bed. She also really enjoys making out with Ben, where Liz Lemon seems fearful of sex, sexuality, and willfully ignorant of sex itself. That is just not something that I can understand. And while Liz Lemon has many admirable qualities, that alone makes me wonder if anyone should aspire to be her.

Leslie Knope is a much better mentor, and not just because Liz Lemon is surrounded by pathologically insane people while Leslie is mostly just surrounded by goofy people.

Leslie Knope’s office is filled with portraits of marvelous, strong female politicians. Liz Lemon’s office is filled with cluttered sadness.

Both have their home lives as a wreck. Leslie Knope’s home is a suffocating hoarder nightmare. Liz Lemon’s home, while much more physically orderly, is in chaos because Liz is often unsure of what she wants. Despite the fact that every relationship that she has ever had has failed (which is, you know, normal), she is still pursuing love at every opportunity. And while any sane person would date James Marsden when given the opportunity, she sort of reminds me of a much more intelligent, older Taylor Swift in terms of her hopeless pursuit of romance.

Basically, Leslie Knope knows what she wants. Liz Lemon is always looking to others for life advice. I kind of just wish that Liz Lemon would meet Leslie Knope and get advice from her.

Or, if not, settle down and just allow herself to be happy. She already knows that food is the key to that. So she should go for it.

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Mean Girls: And None For Gretchen Weiners

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There is a lot of talk these days about bullying. And that’s good. Bullies in the real-world aren’t typically the inexplicably large, awkward trolls that they were in 1990s television and film.

I was relatively lucky: after middle school (where everyone is the worst that they will ever be), I never had to deal with any bullies at school*. Part of that was because I went to a really good high school where the students were generally too diverse, too numerous, and too chronically exhausted to devote the kind of time and energy required to bully each other. We had a lot of homework. Part of it was because I was slowly becoming aware that I am kind of a giant, even though I spent years oblivious to the fact that I towered above most of my classmates. I went through my high school life thinking that my generation was one with few bullies, and in which homophobia was almost completely absent. Unfortunately, that is not true, and my high school experience took place in a magical alternate universe.

But, as we all know, bullying is a real thing. It is prevalent. It happens in homes, on playgrounds, in malls, at schools, at work, and over the internet. People whom you would never imagine being bullied, like one of your favorite authors, can be the targets of serious and potentially dangerous bullying. It happens with males typically in the form of ridicule and open mocking, exclusion, and physical violence towards the victim and his (or her) property. This is most often male-on-male bullying. We also talk about female bullying, the “mean girls” who are often more subtle but also more cruel and long-term in their social wars with each other and with their victims. There is a lot of talk about this, in fact. People say that the ways that girls conduct themselves socially is worse than how boys do it.

You guys, words are never worse than violence. Ever. They might be crueler and perhaps less instinctual, but words are always preferable to violence. Let’s stop kidding ourselves.

Also, let’s stop vilifying scheming girls, especially scheming high school girls. It is wrong to be cruel (cruelty is just the flip-side of mercy, and both are deviations from justice, so I dislike them both), and it is wrong to harass people and victimize them. But it is NOT wrong to scheme. And, depending upon what you are doing, it is not wrong to manipulate.

Knowing how to make friends, keep friends, and influence people is a vital life skill. And so is lying, actually. You shouldn’t lie compulsively or sloppily, you shouldn’t manipulate people compulsively or sloppily, and you shouldn’t use those skills—or any skills—to hurt innocent people. But reading people, predicting their behavior, and subtly influencing their behavior? That’s good. And it can be a tool for good. It can help you to succeed in the business world, or it can help you have more fun.

Mean Girls is one of my favorite movies. You shouldn’t be like Regina George because she is vicious and she is willing to tear down everything in order to get even with people. But you can still be a powerful, self-assured girl (or boy) who knows how to get ahead in life. I would love to see these powerful female characters portrayed in positive lights, in contrast to their vicious bully counterparts, in books, television, and films. And I would like to see it more often.

So we can vilify the actual bullies of the world without criticizing people who use their social powers for good. Otherwise, we’re the bullies.

*My horrible father was a bully, but that’s a very different situation. And not at school or among my peers, which is what I’m talking about.

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On the Topic of Funny Women

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If you aren’t watching Louis CK’s FX show, Louie, then you are seriously missing out. The show brilliantly mixes Seinfeld-style stand-up bits with more serious, frank and often depressing scenes of the comedian struggling to adjust with his life as a newly-divorced father of two young girls. CK’s musings on middle-aged sex, dating, parenting, friends and family occasionally verge on the surreal, but always seem to come from a very genuine place of feeling lost halfway through life.

This very long intro is meant to explain part of the reason why CK is, hands down, my favorite comedian. His comedy specials are brilliant, but you’ve never seen anything like Louie before. And when you consider that CK has tried his hand at traditional sitcoms — and failed — you appreciate the show’s unconventional style all the more. But more than anything, it’s because Louis’s comedy always feels real — even when it’s exaggerated, even when it’s shocking, even when it’s gross.

And it’s in watching both Louis and Louie that I realized at least part of the issue I have with this big “fight” over whether women are funny or not. First of all — of course women are funny. But …

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Tina Fey Defends Olivia Munn

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In a recent interview with GQ, TV funnywoman Tina Fey discussed an episode from 30 Rock this past season which had been directly aimed at  Jezebel and their coverage of Olivia Munn’s work on The Daily Show. On the show, a fake website called “Joan of Snark” went after a “hot” female comedian who was a clear stand-in for Munn.

Says Tina:

I was actually really pleased that Jezebel got that it was about the whole Olivia thing, because the treatment of Olivia was weird on that site. She just kept getting reamed! And it was this weird mix. They would go after her, and then the next thing would be like, “Defending the Rights of Sex Workers.” And I was just like, “Well, why can’t we just say Olivia’s a sex worker? Leave her alone!”

Obviously I’m not a fan of Munn’s. I’ve said so a number of times. And what bothers me about Fey’s comments is that it feeds into this weird notion that feminists or feminist sites ought to support women just because they’re women. It also comes from the  belief that somehow hot women don’t get the same treatment because of jealousy on the part of the writers or viewers. For instance: I do think that a lot of the content I’ve seen, both on Jezebel and on our own site, of Megan Fox has been unncessarily nasty. If Megan Fox weren’t on the cover of every men’s magazine and every men’s blog between 2007-2010, I think that her frank and honest interviews would have been applauded, rather than sneered at.

But, at the risk of beating a very dead horse here, I really don’t think that’s the case with Munn. Most of Fox’s controversial comments were about the fact that she knew she wasn’t much more than a HPOA in a bad summer movie and she was labelled as ungrateful. Please — she was half-naked most of the time in not one but two  movies about shape-shifting robot cars. Citizen Kane it was not, and should she really be lambasted for pointing that out?

Munn, on the other hand, insists on arguing that she isn’t just a HPOA while posing for any and every men’s magazine and appearing on The Daily Show in tiny skirts and crop tops to deliver unfunny skits with her fully-dressed co-stars, male and female. It doesn’t seem unreasonable to raise an eyebrow at that.

Tina Fey, I love you, but I think you missed the point here.

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