2012 Election Sexism Watch #8: Bachmann Enters Stage to “Lyin’ Ass Bitch”

Earlier this week, Michele Bachmann entered the set of Late Night With Jimmy Fallon accompanied by the musical musings of The Roots covering the Fishbone song, “Lyin’ Ass Bitch.” 

Glenn Beck responded by calling Fallon a “despicable human being.” The Women’s Media Center noted that this gender slur was both “sexist and unfunny.” Fallon has since apologized.

“Hot Chicks of Occupy Wall Street”: Really?

Demand #8 from the Occupy Wall Street list of demands is a call for a “gender equal rights amendment,” a good sign that OWS is thinking about inequality in all its various forms.  This sentiment seems to be lost on (supposedly) liberal filmmaker, Steven Greenstreet, whose past work includes documentaries about the Mormon influence in passing Proposition 8 and the conservative backlash against Michael Moore.  Greenstreet is also the proud creator of the website, Hot Chicks of Occupy Wall Street.  He was watching news coverage of the Occupy movement that inspired him to tell a friend,

 Wow, seeing all those super smart hot chicks at the protest makes me want to be there…Hmmm… Yeah, let’s go with that.

We instantly went to Tumblr and made [Hot Chicks of Occupy Wall Street]. Our original ideas were admittedly sophomoric: Pics of hot chicks being all protesty, videos of hot chicks beating drums in slow-mo, etc. But when we arrived at Zuccotti Park in New York City, it evolved into something more.

There was a vibrant energy in the air, a warmth of community and family, and the voices we heard were so hopeful and passionate. Pretty faces were making signs, giving speeches, organizing crowds, handing out food, singing, dancing, debating, hugging and marching.

The evolution from “sophomoric” to “something more,” inspired by “community and family,” is not evident on the website.  Aside from the obvious reduction of activist women to sexual objects, this site is shockingly offensive in its inclusion of young women/girls, one with the caption “She is identified as being 18 years old.” [Hint: If you have to identify “her” as being of age, that’s a sign you probably shouldn’t be posting the photo.]

And these photos:

Greenstreet does not provide information about whether he gained permission from the girls/women featured, but since no names are provided, we can assume he did not systematically seek permission.

It is also unlikely that Greenstreet informed his subjects of his intention to post their photos on the Hot Chicks website.  With his accomplice, Brandon Bloch, Greenstreet shot a video with interviews of women in which it is clear they thought their words, not their bodies, would be the focus:

And in case the message that women are primarily sexual objects wasn’t clear, Greenstreet even includes photos of professional women in his voyeur collection:

Greenstreet has posted criticism on the Hot Chicks website like a badge of honor:

@JaeChick: Nothing like degrading women to get attention. You are a small, sorry excuse for a man.

@MeFunk: Whatsay you take down your sexist video, issue a formal apology to female protesters, and then I pour hot coffee on you?

He responded to critiques of sexism with the following statement:

Apparently a lot of controversy has erupted online from people passionately opining (among many things) that this is sexist, offensive, and dangerously objectifies women. It was not my intent to do that and I think the spirit of the video, and the voices within, are honorable and inspiring.

However, if you disagree with me, I encourage you to use that as an excuse to create constructive discussions about the issues you have. Because, to be honest, any excuse is a good excuse to bring up the topic of women’s rights.

Wow, what a humanitarian.  It appears that this fumbling display of overt sexism was really just a ploy to get us talking about women’s rights.  Thanks, Steven.

“Tower Heist” Reveals Nostalgia for Racist Stereotypes in Hollywood

Tower Heist (2011), the new movie starring Ben Stiller and Eddie Murphy, is the latest installment in blatantly racist movie-making. Stiller plays a high-end condo manager in Manhattan who bails out a local criminal (Murphy) to steal a stash of cash that one of the wealthy condo residents swindled from the condo staff. It’s been nearly thirty years since Murphy played nearly the same character in his breakout role in 48 hours, and the fact that he is still cast as a jive-talking criminal speaks to how little has changed when it comes to portrayals of black Americans in popular culture.

Hyperbolic racial stereotypes are still sooooo amusing to some people.  As LA Times film critic Betsy Sharkey writes, “Murphy and Stiller are a good pair, with Murphy once again mainlining his ghetto-comedy crazy and Stiller suited up for another straight-man gig. These are the kinds of roles they both do best… ” (Now reverse the names in this quote to see how racialized and racially offensive it is.)

Perhaps more disturbing is the way in which film critics are talking about this movie as a comback for Eddie Murphy  (“Eddie Murphy’s Road to Reddemption,” “Tower Heist: Murphy is Back on Top,” “‘Tower’ Heist Features Eddie Murphy Back in ‘Classic ’80s Form“). What does it mean when playing a stereotypical black criminal is deemed “redemption” for a black actor whose movies have grossed nearly $7 billion worldwide? And where, exactly, did Eddie Murphy go? The Shrek series grossed nearly $3 billion worldwide, while his Nutty Professor and Doctor Dolittle franshises grossed $428 million and $470 million, respectively. Murphy has appeared in a steady stream of successful movies in the past decade, including Dreamgirls for which he was nominated for an Academy Award.

Closer examination of media critics’ analysis reveals a nostalgia for Eddie Murphy’s role as a felon in 48 hours. Jon Niccum writes, in Tower Heist, “Murphy shows flashes of the aggressive, non-family-friendly persona that made him a superstar following ’48 Hours.’” Aggressive?  Non-family friendly?

eddie-murphy-comeback-stern

To summarize, Eddie Murphy making oodles of money as a successful director, producer, writer, and actor in films featuring him as a doctor, a veterinarian, a dedicated father, and the voice of a beloved donkey in the second highest-grossing animated film of all time is considered some sort of failure, but playing a jive-talking thief is redemptive. Huh?

There are many ways to interpret this — that Hollywood and movie critics (and many in society) are more comfortable with black actors playing damaging, stereotypical roles involving criminality, violence, and deviance (remember back in 2002 when Denzel Washington finally won the Oscar for playing a crooked cop?); that male actors are failures if they appear in family-friendly movies, regardless of how economically successful these movies may be; that to be considered successful, male actors have to appear in movies geared towards male audiences.

Whatever the reason(s), it is embarassing for Hollywood and its “critics” to continue to be so ignorant. Eddie Murphy called out the movie industry’s racism at the 1988 Academy Awards during his presentation of the Best Picture award: “I’m going to give this award, but black people will not ride the caboose of society and we will not bring up the rear anymore. I want you to recognize that.” Two decades later, Murphy finds himself riding the caboose, furnished by the creators of Tower Heist.

Election 2012 Sexism Watch #7: Manicure Alert

Michele Bachmann’s French manicure has created quite the chatter amongst bloggers and “news” organizations (see here , here, here, here, here, and here) who are debating whether the polish style is classy, tacky, or even worth discussing.  Hint: It’s not worth discussing any more than it’s worth discussing the accumulation of dirt under Bachman’s male competitors’ nails.

Bachmann's Manicure

The ever-important manicure topic previously drew attention during the 2004 presidential race when a Fox News reporter used homophobic slurs in an attempt to diminish John Kerry’s candidacy.

But maybe I’m overlooking the electoral influence of manicures.  Blogger Darren Garnick writes that “Perhaps one of the most overlooked moments of the 2008 presidential race was the endorsement of Barack Obama by Empress Stephanie, one of the nation’s most influential nail polish bloggers.”

Biden Manicure