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Thursday, Sep 18, 2014

The Right Stuff

A politics blog by Tom Jackson

Tom Jackson's baseball card - if he had one - would report he throws left, writes right. In his columns and blog, "The Right Stuff," southpaw Jackson provides insight into the evolving human condition from a distinctly conservative point of view.

VMAs vs. Emmys: Sexism’s slippery definition

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Having eschewed real-time social media throughout The Emmys Monday night, The Right Stuff was unaware the left had taken to its collective fainting couch late in the event, its vapors triggered by Sofia Vergara, the preternaturally self-aware Colombian bombshell (do Hollywood publicists still use that word?) who understands as well as anyone since Lucille Ball — perhaps including Lucille Ball — why outlandishness is good for a laugh.

In her willingness to spoof the spotlight’s unspoken hunger for the compelling image, Vergara, the breakout star of five-time (as of Monday) best-comedy Emmy champ “Modern Family,” rocketed what otherwise is a prime opportunity to visit the loo — the traditional, obligatory, bloodless address by the chairman of the organizing committee — into the show’s top-three most remarked-upon moments.

As Art Rosenblum, chairman of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, delivered a speech punchy with innocent double entendres, Vergara spun ever-so-enticingly atop a rotating pedestal.

She was, it goes without saying — but sometimes, as Orwell noted, the first duty of intelligent men is restatement of the obvious — spectacular, but in a cheeky, flirtacious fashion that told the audience she was not merely in on the gag, she was its master.

Long before Rosenblum stuck his landing — “What truly matters is that we never forget that our success is based on always giving the viewer something compelling to watch” — the Internet was aflame with scandalized posts by the humor-impaired. Time called it sexist. Salon and the Huffington Post settled on objectifying. Vox went with the generalized “terrible.”

Never mind that mere hours before, red carpet critics, playing their snarky hits-and-misses game, swooned thusly over Vergara:

We can not get enough of Sofia in this glamourous white gown! She wore a strapless floor length Roberto Cavalli ensemble that featured a structured, fitted top that showed off plenty of cleavage. The silver lining was strategically placed and only added to the silhouette of the gown, making her curves look even hotter!

This mermaid fit looks great on Sofia and she couldn’t have looked more glamorous for the event — the star has never met a mermaid gown she hasn’t liked.

So, what’s absolutely fabulous on the promenade into the auditorium is offensive and damaging to All Women when it’s played for giggles as part of the show? Good to know. Hypocritical, but good to know.

Over at The Federalist, Mollie Hemingway detected educational irony in how Vergara’s elegant, glamorous, Busby Berkeleyesque spin was greeted with pearls-clutching horror by keepers of the women’s liberation flame vs. their unqualified rapture barely 24 hours earlier after Beyoncé took her gender slumming at the MTV Video Music Awards.

Hemingway’s dissection is exquisite and complete. A couple of highlights to help you on your way:

Guys, guys. Seriously. You won’t believe this. So on Sunday night, Beyoncé had a 15-minute medley performance at the MTV Video Music Awards. It was what you’d expect from Queen Bey these days — a stage full of back-up dancers in “naked stripper” costumes gyrating on strip poles, one of the most amazing collections of derrières I have ever seen, songs about performing oral sex in the back of a limo, a song about having a guy “tear that cherry out” (complete with the word “cherry” in big letters as the backdrop), a song that tells women who don’t respect Beyoncé sufficiently to “Bow Down Bitches,” S&M themes, intimate acquaintance with much of Bey’s crotch — you know, the usual. ...

But in the midst of this performance, there was a little sermonette about “Feminism,” illustrated with the helpful prop of “FEMINIST” in big letters at the back of the stage. And the media completely ate it up. Many thought it inspiring and praised it to high heaven. I wrote that it was utterly hilarious that a cry for feminism took place between the strip club vignette and the “Bow Down” song and said that feminism right now is an incoherent mess of double standards. Little did I know how right I was. ...

Confirmation thundered in on the hooves of condemnation for Vergara’s spot.

Sofia Vergara’s crime — “Crime?” you ask. Yes, I’m getting to that — was that her bit didn’t include the word “feminist” in large font at the back of the stage. Many in the media, sometimes the very same people who loved Beyoncé performance (!), were upset at Vergara’s bit. ...

That’s right. When there was nothing but headless bodies featuring butts-butts-butts and a spread-eagle Beyoncé singing a song some have criticized for its lyrics joking about Ike Turner’s domestic violence, Jarrett Wieselman of BuzzFeed could not deal with the perfection. But when a fully clothed Vergara did a little comedy bit about her rockin’ bod, sound the alarm, we got a problem. ...

Perhaps feminists would do better to apply some principled consistency to their arguments. Putting curvalicious booties on display for checking out may be a good thing or a bad thing. It’s not magically made OK when one woman co-opts the meaningless term “feminist” and slaps it next to it. And justifying your enjoyment of said booty-objectification by that measure mere hours before condemning jokes about such objectification is not helping the feminist cause.

Also, lord help the guy who writes some crack about feminist consistency being harder to find than videos on MTV. Because that would just be wrong.

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