Friday, January 13, 2012

Well, I Never!

I don't understand anymore what people mean when they use the term "offensive."  I've never understood how a word could be considered "bad" or how the nude form could be an ugly thing.  Underneath these surface reactions to make-believe problems I see ideas.  People don't like specific language or certain portrayals of human sexuality.  Language challenges the way we think and people seem to just be completely uncomfortable with sex.

"Your genitals offend me."
But, watching all these sitcoms lately, am I wrong?  Are people really just offended by the superficiality of curse words and penises?  Or are people simply comfortable with the ideas being portrayed on certain shows?  A new trend I'm noticing is that the independent liberated woman is a complete trainwreck at best and a stupid drunk whore at her almost best.

I'm not the only one who's noticed this current spree of vag-hate.  It's a cultural trend that some people (and I mean self-important assholes) have dubbed "retro-sexism," as though bigotry was some sort of a fad from the '80s that's currently going through a revival.  A few feminists have been making a rather big deal about the show Work It, which portrays men who dress as women in order to get jobs at an upscale office.  Sure, this is all quite sexist in and of itself, what with men, essentially, in blackface(or would that be in vaginapenis?).  But the racial undertones are far stronger, as they are with most sitcoms.  For instance, that a black man can only be allowed to be with a black woman is a common theme on a lot of cookie-cutter television and Work It is no exception.

A crime against nature, apparently.
A show portraying men portraying women isn't really as nefarious as what is being presented on other programs.  It's kind of an old shtick that people can't seem to understand was never even funny in the first place(I'm talking to you, Ancient Greeks).  In any case, you can't really portray a person as negatively as they can themselves.  Unfortunately, there are plenty of women willing to degrade themselves just to keep their failing careers afloat.  And I don't mean by showing bush.  I mean by unabashedly selling out their gender.

The three worst culprits of this current cultural motif are Chelsea, Whitney and 2 Broke Girls.  Now, in order to express a truly informed opinion, I thought it would be a good idea for me sit down and seriously watch these shows.  Analyze them.  Really figure them out.


I absolutely refuse to watch past the first episode of any of these godawful shows.  Fuck you, I won't do it.  They're so entirely unfunny that they will just make you angry by how funny they desperately try to be.  What?  Not scared?  Oh, you will be.  You will be....

I know.  I'm sorry.
I'll start with the least culpable perpetrator: 2 Broke Girls.  When I first watched this show it seemed like a slightly-honest slightly-exaggerated representation of a young 20-year-old girl trying to make it on her own.  Kat Dennings' character seemed familiar to me.  She reminded me of many women that I personally know.  As the episode progressed something started to seem a little off.

The protagonist isn't just strong and independent, she's kind of a bitch.  Granted, Hollywood does tend to assume that those two things are one thing, but it goes deeper than that.  She isn't just cold, she's an idiot.  If your significant other cheats on you that hard then you more than likely know.  And that's not just me going "oh, come on, how could you not know?"  That's a statistical fact.

Not only is she a cold-hearted, iron-willed, mean-spirited oblivious asshole, but she just let's people walk all over her, turning into a little girl whenever there is a real problem with real consequences that she has to deal with.  The real lesson behind this show?  All strong women are just putting on a front to protect themselves from a hard uncaring world.  What a load of crap.

"I'm just a scawed widdle giwl.  Won't some big stwong man help me?  Pwetty pweeeeaaaase?" -Virginia Woolf, circa nineteen-hundred-and-fucking-never.
In Whitney it seems that the only reason the main character is so liberated is because she is just completely out of touch with society.  She claims that "all we seem to do is go to weddings," yet doesn't understand that she shouldn't wear a white dress to a wedding.  Then she eats all the cupcakes!  Yeah, that does sound pretty retarded, but apparently people do that instead of wedding cake sometimes.  Or whatever.  She's not strong.  She's just a prick.

Whitney also seems to be very uncomfortable with sex.  She doesn't like talking about it, she reprimands her friend for showing cleavage in a photograph and she can't be intimate with her long-term boyfriend.  When she does finally try to "spice things up" she just gets a bunch of costumes for roleplay and demonstrates how incredibly sexually awkward she is by boring the hell out of and then hospitalizing the guy.

I've never actually watched Whitney Cummings' standup, so I can't compare her to the show, nor can I have any say on her as a comedian.  I understand that a television show has a lot of little fingers in the pot.  Just because a show is modeled around a celebrity that doesn't mean that the quality of the show has anything to do with them.  This show is just terrible.  However, pedophilia jokes are always funny.  So, good job on that one, writers.

What is she, like, a ventriloquist or something?
During the third act, there is actually a very human and poignant couple of scenes at the hospital.  The show makes some solid points about relationships and people and Whitney Cummings finally plays her character as a real person.  There's this excellent bit about the strength of a relationship when you strip away the ridiculous social connotations we conform our views to and thus warp our expectations of each other.  Then Whitney strips down to a slutty nurse outfit and mounts her boyfriend in the incredibly-busy shared hospital room.  Now that is one classy lady.

But the absolutely most insulting bit of tripe garbage?  Are you there, Chelsea.  I think during the entire episode I laughed once.  That was because the cat's name was Assface and, come on, that's just comedy gold right there.  Not only is Laura Prepon's character a total mess with no direction in life whatsoever, she's an utter alcoholic.  The opening scene of the first episode has her literally drinking the worm and getting thrown in jail for a DUI where she makes out with a butch lesbian played by, who the fuck else, Dot-Marie Jones.

The worst part of it is that Chelsea Handler is writing and acting for it.  While she may not be an out and outspoken feminist, many women do look up to her.  I'm not a believer that celebrities ought to be role models(quite the opposite, really), but it is still a shame to see someone many women find inspirational throwing her hat into this particular ring.  At least she has good taste in vodka.

Mm-mm, good.

These shows are all really terrible.  Outside of their obvious bigotry that extends beyond sexism, they're just not funny.  That's really the most important bit.  You can be as much of a dick as you want, but you better make me laugh.  However, there are some really good shows out there that do the same thing these other one-season-max sitcoms are doing.

I'm really sorry to say this, but 30 Rock is one of them.  Not to the severe degree that these other contrived crap-on-a-stick shows are, but it's there.  It's something that's developed more and more as the show's progressed.  Liz Lemon went from being this awkward nerdy workaholic who was just able enough to keep her life together to a baby-crazy hate-filled narcissist who kept hopping the border between hating men and being completely incompetent with them.  Granted, the new midseason premiere addressed this issue very well and kind of completely fixed all that, but let's just pretend right now is last week.

It's a great show.  I love 30 Rock and I love Tina Fey.  Tina Fey herself is an actual inspiration to women and 30 Rock is an actually funny show.  I can't count the number of times I've heard a woman say, "I want to be Tiny Fey."  The point is that it's just a really ugly trend that's been popping up, it seems, everywhere lately.

I'm sorry, Tina!  I never meant to hurt you!
That's why I don't understand the rationale behind what's "offensive."  On the Hulu page for Where Are You, Chelsea someone wrote, "Don't you just hate it when they substitute dirty jokes for humor."  And another person, in a post titled Oh! Great! Sluts R Us!, remarked, "Like we need just one more low brow show! What IQ demographic is geared to? Non-existent."  Yes.  What a well articulated point.  And may I add, 'quite.'

Really, though?  That's what offends you?  Not the blatant bigotry, the two-dimensional characters jurry-rigged together from unfounded stereotypes, the complete lack of regard for ethicism.  But naughty words?  Seriously?  I think it bodes poorly for our society when morality itself is morally corrupt.  Fuck.  Shit.  Ass.  Piss.  These words shouldn't offend you.  A vagina shouldn't offend you.  Bigotry should.  And so should unfunny, derivative laughtrack sitcoms that act as vehicles for it.