Founded in 1974, the Women’s Center was established to:
Dismantle, from a feminist perspective, all forms of oppression, including but not limited to those based on ability, age, class, ethnicity, gender, race, and sexual orientation.
Advocate for an equitable environment free from violence and harassment based on gender, race, and sexual orientation.
Create an anti-racist, non-sexist, queer-affirmative space where all people can feel valued and safe.
Facilitate and strengthen connections among people across lines of difference through programming and educational campaigns.
Integrate an appreciation of Women's Gender and Multicultural Studies across the disciplines.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

What is funny?

Look at your favorite comedies on TV. Who are the characters that receive the most attention in pop culture?

30 Rock: Alec Baldwin
Parks and Recreation: Nick Offerman
How I Met Your Mother:  Neil Patrick Harris
The Big Bang Theory: Jim Parsons
New Girl: Max Greenfield

See any connection?

 Most of the characters that turn into beloved pop culture references are men even though the creators and stars of some of these shows are actually women*. Is it because the networks have more faith in the male stars so they then create ads and merchandise to promote their catch-phrases, or could it be that our culture is still afraid of successful women?

I spent a lot of my work shift trying to think of a really popular show where the female star receives the most attention in pop culture. It is obvious that Tina Fey has received A LOT of attention for 30 Rock, but when asking people their favorite character, most people said that Alec Baldwin carries the show. Why is this?

This is a question that is often discussed. In 2007, Christopher Hitchens wrote the article  "Why Women Aren't Funny." In it, he uses a study done by the Standford University School of Medicine which showed men and women black and white cartoon and asked them to rate them on how funny they are. It showed that the women in the study were more likely to have trouble finding the humor in the cartoons. His rationale is that because women are worse at receiving humor, how can they generate it?

My position is not that I don’t think women are funny. I think they are hilarious and just as effective as their male counterparts. If anything, I give them more credit for putting up with this kind of open sexism. However, despite being successful, why does their gender stop them from receiving the same kind of pop-culture recognition?

The movie Bridesmaids was hailed as a great “Female Comedy,” but what does that even mean? The Hangover wasn't called a great “Male Comedy.” It was just a funny movie.  It’s almost like there are different judging systems in today’s pop culture: things that make a movie a good comedy, and in a separate category, what makes a movie a good “Female Comedy.”  Because of this, despite the awesome work that they’re doing, women can’t be held as equally funny.

We need to have a different approach to what becomes pop culture and is considered to be good comedy. Until then, this divide between men and women in the same profession will never be fixed no matter what great material is out there to prove otherwise.

*If you can think of an example that disproves my theory, please let me know. I am actually genuinely interested in finding one myself.

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