Searching for funny women is not akin to the search for the yeti

30 May

In yesterday’s NYTimes I read (for what must be the umpteenth time in only a few short weeks) another essay regaling the pleasures of “Bridesmaids.”

Though A.O. Scott hints in the opening paragraphs that the film has defied expectations, he admits that the film is also “being congratulated for settling an argument that nobody was really having.” Which is what exactly? Well, according to pieces like this one, there is a pervasive cultural opinion that women are not–and indeed maybe cannot–be funny. Though Scott suggests that perhaps no one really is in possession of such opinions, the presence of this article and all the others insisting that women really are funny!! implies that somebody’s thinking these things.

But who? Most of the articles refer backwards to Christopher Hitchens’ poison-penned opinion piece in Vanity Fair:

But, other than this one single lone infamous op-ed, there’s never really many other citations. What there is, however, is an overflowing of proof to the contrary. See! women really are funny! Look at Tina Fey and Amy Poehler and Kristin Wiig and Rosanne Barr and Ellen Degeneres and Kathy Griffin and on and on.

But I don’t need to look at the examples, I knew that women were funny already. A mainstream gross-out comedy about chicks getting married is not the evidence I need. Indeed, all this exposition of evidence just makes me feel like women are on trial or something.

I’m reminded of a women’s studies class I took 15 years ago: women writers of Canadian literature. The class was comprised primarily of females, but there were a few males. One male in particular, seemed to take enormous offense at the subject matter of the class, and its apparent negligence of the opposite sex. Never mind the class’ title and therefore obvious subject contents, this male took it upon himself to insert the presence and/or absence of the male character and subjectivity into every class discussion. This behavior was tedious, to say the least, but I watched with some dismay as the professor (a favorite of mine) would work strenuously to justify the class’ position and syllabus, often nodding at the opponent. In so doing, she validated a completely invalidate opinion.

This is not uncommon behavior. A look at recent hoopla concerning President Obama’s birth certificate demonstrates just how dangerous unjustifiable provocation can be.

My question is this: Because some asshole with access to press asserts his or her random opinion, does that make it relevant, rational, justifiable, accurate, important?

Of course not, but in referencing it, reacting to it, arguing against it, strenuously attempting to prove the opposite (i.e. the facts) aren’t we validating its existence? Establishing it as something to be reckoned with? Memorializing it?

I don’t care what Christopher Hitchens says, and I don’t need the proof of Tina Fey’s existence or “Bridesmaids” success. Just because he’s myopic doesn’t mean I can’t see.


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