Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Do you ever watch Talk shows and yell at the vapid people on morning TV and say, "No!You are missing the point!" I do it constantly, yet I still watch, like the proverbial train wreck, I am there daily, witnessing the obliteration of subject matter that I hold dear; topics that could benefit from the mass outreach of the mainstream media. If only those entrusted to impart "the facts" were able to do so in an intelligent and informed way.

It seems that the minute a celebrity guest dares to go a little deeper into a topic, the Today Show hosts will quickly change the subject. Such as what happened the other day when Lucy Lawless guested and the subject of her stint as Xena, Warrior Princess came upLawless spoke thoughtfully about how the show was not misogynist in it's portrayal of the female characters. Immediately, the hosts turned on a dime and Tamron brought up the pressing subject of hair styles. Crisis averted.

The same thing happens whenever racial injustice comes up in the conversation; such as when Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is in the news once a year on his birthday. No real, in depth discussions about racism happen in these venues and just as it is with misogyny/sexism, we never get to the heart of the matter. Instead, the audience is left with feelings of hopelessness mixed with the obligatory calls for racial healing which is often code for changing the subject.

I have witnessed many of these transgressions throughout the years, in various forms of pop cultural infotainment, so I cannot put all the blame on the AM set. Still, they do have quite a forum in which to either educate or perpetrate misinformation. I believe that our intrepid hosts are instructed, by those in authority, that their job is not to educate but to entertain. Anything more than that is seen as too boring for the public or too dangerous and controversial for the network.

Most importantly, these talk show hosts are considered journalists. Some of them, award winning journalists which gives them a certain amount of gravitas in the eyes of many of their viewers. It means that what they say matters and has meaning and truth attached.

If only there were such a thing as mere entertainment but we don't live in that kind of a world. Humans, whether we like to admit it or not, absorb information, true or false, on a regular basis and at an extremely high rate. We are no longer able to simply turn off our TV's and close our lap tops when we are inundated with ads and posts vying for our attention. They catch up with us on our phones, our tablets; they are in our faces on the subway, on the radio, at the mall.

Let us, please, face facts and admit that we cannot possibly choose or control every thought that comes into our heads. We are creatures of habit and human psychology is something with which ad agencies are well acquainted. Billions of dollars are spent yearly producing seemingly innocuous commercials that on the surface seem annoying at worst; silly, yet entertaining at best. Who would expend company dollars and time on creations that can be blocked out by the sheer will power of prospective customers?
Admitting we have a problem is the first step to recovery.

Sisterhood, She Wrote

"Often when we see derogatory images of women, we disassociate ourselves from them—we’re not like that. We’re the bright exceptions that prove the rules, right? We’ve grown familiar with that refrain, but it’s simply untrue. We have to learn to realign ourselves with ourselves—with women in general.”
Regina Barreca, They Used to Call Me Snow White...But I drifted; Women's Strategic Use of Humor

I have never voted for a republican and I am in no danger of doing so in 2016.
Nor do I relish giving any right wing politician credit for saying something uncharacteristically intelligent, but republican presidential candidate Carli Fiorina got one thing right with her comeback to Donald Trump’s opinion of her appearance, “…women all over this country heard very clearly what Mr. Trump said.” Instead of taking the slight personally, she chose to align herself with women as a group. Even if her reasons for the retort were purely political, it was one of the most astute, and dare I say, feminist sentences I have heard any political candidate on the right or the left utter in a long time. If only her other actions and policies reflected such an insightful connecting of the dots.

Ever since my mother's death in 2013, I have taken to watching what used to be one of her favorite shows "Murder She Wrote". The very first episode of MSW our intrepid mystery writer/crime solver Jessica Fletcher,  actually has women friends. This quickly changes throughout the rest of the series as we see Jessica surrounded by male regulars.
One of the few episodes, other than a women's prison, that features a crowd of women around Jess, was set in a beauty salon. Not only did the salon look like it was dipped in Pepto Bismol but so did the stylists. There was also the obligatory audio of several women rapidly talking over each other while a man, in this case Tom Bosley as  sheriff Tupper, rolls his eyes.
At another point during the episode the sheriff lets out a frustrated harrumph, "Women!" which elicits a disapproving glare from Jessica. The chief corrects himself slightly and says, "present company excepted" to which our less than feminist star nods approvingly. I was thinking how great it would have been if Jessica kept that disapproving look even while the sheriff clumsily tried to take some of it back. She could have said, "sheriff, when you insult all women you insult me too!" It makes me sad that even an actor of Angela Lansbury's stature would not, or could not, insist that female stereotypes and misogynist epithets had no place on her show.