20 August 2005

She's An Easy Derider

      Now and then, my sometime colleagues in the academy ask my why I have come to chagrin it as I do.   I usually say that it is not the academy that I chagrin, but what it tends to do these days, which more often than not is to perpetuate some of the most bone-headed claptrap imaginable.   Case in point, this article, a review of The West Wing: The American Presidency as Television Drama.   Quickly into reading it, I knew exactly where the reviewer was going well before she got there, which was more than enough to drop my head in dismay.   Here's the polemical money-shot, as perverse and unflattering as it is inevitable:

The show does not try quite hard enough in its treatment of women, though. Christina Lane asserts in "The White House Culture of Gender and Race in WW," that WW presents a positive image of women and makes efforts to revise traditional power relations and reorient its male characters toward a valuation of female resilience and community (p. 38). In reality, WW completely subverts this. Its not that there arent intelligent and authoritative women in Sorkins WW. There are many: Abigail Bartlet M.D., Press Secretary CJ, Deputy Chief of Staff's assistant Donna, political assistant Amy, legal counsel Ainsley Hayes, among others. But these women are repeatedly humiliated in WW episodes, an appalling misogyny that is supposed to pass for humor. Sorkin relishes dumb blondes and the vengeful degrading of militant feminists. He forces upon WW women indignities men never suffer.
"Appalling misogyny."   Where one even begins to correct this wilful stupidity, one hesitates to guess.   Instead, I'll simply say that this sort of intellectual huffing and snorting that deserves all the scorn it elicits-- and frankly should elicit.   I feel dumber for having read this unmitigated crap, and it makes me wonder how much dumber I've become over the years for having had to read so much material like it.  

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