Monday, September 15, 2008

Tina Fey=sexist? Come ON!

Tina Fey may make a difference in this election, and the McCain campaign has helped to make that happen.

I don't know if you saw Fey portraying Sarah Palin on the most recent Saturday Night Live, but she hit it out of the park. It was a fantastic send-up...

which McCain aide Carly Fiorina has denounced as sexist today.

Fiorina explained what makes Fey's impression sexist:

"The portrait was very dismissive of the substance of Sarah Palin, and so in that sense, they were defining Hillary Clinton as very substantive, and Sarah Palin as totally superficial," Fiorina told MSNBC earlier Monday. "I think that continues the line of argument that is disrespectful in the extreme, and yes, I would say, sexist in the sense that just because Sarah Palin has different views than Hillary Clinton does not mean that she lacks substance."


Fey's impression of Palin is sexist in the same way that Chevy Chase's Gerald Ford was sexist. Or Dana Carvey's George H.W. Bush. Or Darrell Hammond's Bill Clinton. Or Frank Caliendo's George W. Bush. Hell, it's sexist in the same way Caliendo's spot-on John Madden is.

These impressions...and ALL others, I believe...make the targets "look like they lack substance." That's what caricatures do. It's the nature of all satire. Show the foibles of the world--including the most powerful people in it--by exaggerating them. Fey does this perfectly.

What's especially bizarre about Fiorina's definition of "sexism" is that she does not believe that either Amy Poehler's impression or the SNL staff's writing of Hillary Clinton was sexist. Poehler and the writers give it to Clinton every bit as bad as they gave it to Palin.

But Fiorina tells us that saying Palin lacks substance is a sexist attack.

I cannot think of a definition of sexism that includes this. As I see it, the sexism test is this question: "Would the attacker say/do this if the target was the other gender?"

The answer: absolutely. Remember Dan Quayle? Ross Perot? They were made to look ridiculous. That's what we do to our leaders and potential leaders.

It is, however, GREAT news that Fiorina attacked the Fey portrayal as sexist. This means that a good chunk of people (and count me among them) will be checking in this week to see what Fey does next. As a result, more people--including many undecided voters--will get to see this portrayal of Palin as vapid and vacant. Whether or not it's accurate, it's damn funny, and it will stick.

Some think Chevy Chase's impression of Gerald Ford helped swing the 1976 election to Carter. I'm not certain that there will be the same impact this year, since I believe people vote for the top of the ticket. But Fiorina may have driven viewers to SNL, and Fey is absolutely up to the challenge.

Thanks, Carly Fiorina. Your choice to pursue this ridiculous argument really, really helped your opponent.


Alison said...

I hope SNL gives Fey the chance to do more Palin, and that she can make time in her schedule to do it. Since she's not part of the regular cast anymore, they may not be able to go to that well as often as they'd like. On the other hand, with the way SNL tends to run jokes into the ground, a little enforced restraint might be a good thing too.

Greg said...

TRP, you are dead on (as usual). You and Fey both nailed it. :-)

Even A - who has hated SNL since the Will Farrell/Chris Farley days and has an aversion to YouTube - forwarded me a link to the video segment this morning.