Friday, June 12, 2009

Sexism, Feminism, and Is Palin Failin'?

So, this week Letterman made a few jokes at Sarah Palin family's expense. Dave detailed the dustup on a subsequent show in a "mockpology"::


My gut reaction is that the complaints are much ado about nothing, as those in the public eye {like it or not} are often the targets for vicious satire, parody, and offensive jokes. After all, Rush Limbaugh called Chelsea Clinton the "White House Dog," so it's all fair game, right? I also seem to recall some off-color jokes about the Bush daughters. Obama got in hot water for using "lipstick on a pig," which oddly sounds like a nefarious offering on a county fair midway.

Amy Siskind {The New Agenda} on The Huffington Post makes a case that sexism against a conservatives is still unacceptable. So, in a rare planetary alignment, we have feminists and journalists, oh, I mean commentators {read:: Greta, Bill, & Sean}, on the same side. Or do we?

Siskind was lambasting the liberal-leaning Letterman and Olberman {for his anti-Prejean rant} in her article, but conservatives are practically equating Letterman with Gary Glitter. The jokes in question by Letterman are {See Bill's commentary}::
"One awkward moment go during the game maybe heard about it maybe so no one of the highlight reels one awkward moment for Sarah Palin of the Yankee game. During the seventh inning her daughter was knocked up by Alex Rodriguez."
and as part of the nightly "Top Ten Highlights of Sarah Palin's Trip to NYC" list:
"#2. Bought makeup at Bloomingdale’s to update her slutty flight attendant look."
The next day, Sarah Palin's got some licks in regarding the joke::
"Laughter incited by sexually perverted comments made by a 62-year-old male celebrity aimed at a 14-year-old girl is ... disgusting."
Todd Palin {Sarah's husband} also commented by adding::
"any 'jokes' about raping my 14-year-old are despicable."
First off, I'm probably the wrong person to comment on the appropriateness of jokes. I will say that a woman's sexuality and/or appearance is tied to some pretty heavy cultural logics...and comedy writers know it. The slut card. The irony card. The schadenfreude card. All played together by the Letterman team. Was the A-Rod joke over-the-top? In my book, it wasn't. I'm not a usual Late Show viewer, but I actually saw the jokes on the show and in context {on that Winnipeg feed?}. It was poking fun at the A-Rod lifestyle of sex, drugs, and Madge and what I thought was another Bristol Palin joke, making light of her Juno-esque circumstance of being prone to out-of-wedlock conception.

Was this really about Letterman's perversion and a making light of rape? Insensitive, yes, but what's new? I'm not seeing it, but in terms of PR, I think this was botched by Palin. Her socially conservative base is already on her side on this one. This does little to appeal to moderates, as it's shrill, defensive, and lacking of discipline. Pit bull or yapping chihuahua? The rape card. The degenerate card. The anti-celebrity card. It reminds me of how she was quick to shoot from the hip and started "going rogue" in the 2008 campaign. But, I wonder where the line is? Going after Letterman with a late night TV audience share versus ignoring the continual MTV flogging by Eminem using an adult film star to portray her::

BTW: This was the #1 MTV.COM TOP 20 VIDEO STREAM, 5.24.2009-5.30.2009, despite Bill O'Reilly protests. After all is said and done, I know that Palin can have a sense of humour about things and even appear on a bit for The Colbert Report::

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