This Washington Post article by Hank Stuever, ”Bunnies, babies and broads,” about the modern female role in television in the Washington Post is currently making the rounds of the internet. And for good reason: it calls out, in some very well-spoken terms the ridiculous ways in which women (and actually, also men) are portrayed on television. People are mostly circulating the quote about how ridiculously airheaded and stereotypically adorkable Zooey Deschanel’s new character is, but I like this quote even better:
Whether fictional or quasi-real, TV’s women occupy a world of placation and sublimation through cupcakes and extreme couponing and physically impossible jujitsu. It’s Bravo’s “Housewives” threatening to ruin one another, egged on by fans. It’s a false sense of outspoken independence, shackled by beauty myths and the pretend liberation of promiscuity.
It says so much about the false nature of the message of some of these shows, which is that the gender roles they portray are progressive. Indeed, women’s TV roles now aren’t the same as the ones in pop culture fifty years ago, but just because they have sex and careers doesn’t mean they aren’t also falling into depressingly caricatured stereotypes of the ultra-gendered cupcake-eating bargain-hunter whose desperation for heteronormative male attention is the drive behind the entire plot of their lives. It also says something about the nature of the “chick flick” genre of modern pop culture, where it’s assumed that the standard to which women aspire and relate as a demographic is a straight, privileged white woman seeking love in the big city. It sterilizes and mocks the actuality of the so-called “female experience” and also the male experience, which is also portrayed in a privileged caricature that rigidly defines manliness. Hank Stuever also points out that: “the laugh-getter this season is for a character to inform a man that he’s being so unmanly that he has acquired female genitalia.”
And do not even let me begin to talk about the miserable idea that is NBC’s new show The Playboy Club.
Stephen A. Mitchell
Edmond Jabès, excerpted from conversations with Jason Weiss in September 1982, from Writing at Risk: Interviews in Paris with Uncommon Writers
This quote reminds me of Walter De Maria’s Lightning Field installation:
The piece doesn’t provoke introspection but rather external reflection. With the brutally affecting conditions of altitude, temperature, and sun combined with the sleeplessness of excitement and an intention to stay awake for sunrise, sunset, and as many hours of the night as possible