Sunday, September 14, 2008

Tina Fey, Gov. Sarah Palin -- bubblehead & Sen Hillary Clinton -- ballbreaker

In the video clip above, Tina Fey offers up a satiric portrayal of Governor Sarah Palin, John McCain's choice to fill the VP slot and Amy Poehler does her best Hillary Clinton. Fey's performance is HILARIOUS! She nails Palin's accent and successfully pokes fun at her conservative politics. In this Saturday Night Live skit, Palin's carriage and politics is contrasted to that of Hillary Clinton.

Fey's skit appears to stand as a critique of sexist bashing of women in politics, in general, and the failure of Republicans to identify and challenge sexist assaults on Hillary Clinton, in particular, during the primaries -- a silence which is especially notable and significant because so many Republicans are decrying media/public critiques of Palin as sexist. Yet, Fey's portrayal of Sarah Palin as a flaky, air-head politician bimbo who is contrasted by Phoeler's portrayal of Hillary Clinton as a bitter, less feminine or even masculine "ball-breaker" is exactly the kind of sexist representation of women this skit professes to critique.

I am no fan of Gov. Palin, her lies about Obama, her far-right conservative social and domestic politics.

Nor am I appreciative or approving of Sen. Hillary Clinton's neo-imperialist foreign policy goals and routine exploitation of white racism (which still hurts me.) in an effort to win the Democratic nomination for president, which made it easy for me to support Obama (whose foreign policy aims may be just as problematic -- we'll see).

I am sometimes bored but mostly continuously bothered, however, by the media & public's virtual inability to A) consider & critique the Palin's, Clinton's and other women politicians' politics and B) consider the ways in which gender, sexism, & various other social identities and forms of oppression shape their candidacies, political postures, and public image *without* using sexism (& heterosexism etc.,) to do it.

Bored. Bothered. But not surprised.


Anonymous said...

In your opinion, what do you think such an open and honest critique would look like? Or rather, who would be in the best position to make such an attempt? Despite it being a comedic outlet SNL was able to do a much better job than most of the traditional news outlets. Do you think a man in the mainstream media capable of doing so and taking a strong stance without being derided? Is a man capable at all?

butchrebel said...

Thanks for your comment "0100000..."

To answer the first part of your question, here is what I think an honest critique might look like:

In response to

"As liberals and leftists, and I hope, social justice minded people -- it is important to acknowledge that Fey's caricature of Palin is arguably sexist.

Like Linken's says, Fey's skit mocks Palin's unsubstantial, conservative politics (no problem there:).
Fey's skit also appears to critique sexist bashing of women in politics and Republicans' failure to identify/challenge sexism against Clinton -- a silence that's especially significant because so many Repubs presently decry media/public critiques of Palin as sexist (a hypocritical act born of self-serving calculation, rather than a commitment to anti-sexist goals/resistance that liberals/Obama & Clinton supporters are right to criticize. However, it isn't useful to do so by denying the sexism forwarded by liberals and leftists. Let us not conduct ourselves the way hypocritical right-wingers do by downplaying or flat out disavowing/denying what is real -- i.e., sexism/racism/heterosexism/ableism etc., in order to get "our guy" elected).

Fey's portrayal of Palin as an air-head bimbo is contrasted by the (heterosexist) portrayal of Clinton as a bitter, less feminine/masculine "ball-breaker" -- which is exactly the kind of sexist representation of women this skit criticizes.

I'm no fan of Palin. Nor am I appreciative/approving of Sen. Clinton's neo-imperialist foreign policy goals and routine exploitation of white racism during the primaries.

I do, however, think that it's vital to resist participation in sexism/any form of oppression, especially when it's *not* in our best interests to do so."



butchrebel said...

"0100000...": Who would be in the best position to make such an attempt?:

I believe that those in the *best* position to challenge and destroy systematic institutionalized oppression are the people with the most privilege and power in our society (and our world) -- those who extract the most privilege and power in our society -- would be extremely effective at combatting oppression. Why? Because when those who benefit from oppression decide that oppression is not good for anyone (but especially the most world's most marginalized and formally disempowered people -- such as poor people (especially in low-income countries), women (across race lines), people of color, people with disabilities, transgender and intersexed people, etc., ) then that oppression will stop. In other words, the oppression will stop when those doing the oppressing (both consciously and unconsciously *want* it to stop).

Re: your statement about the effectiveness of Fey's critique -- I tried to very explicitly recognized Fey's possible/probable intention of using the skit/SNL's access to a massive audience to critique sexism -- which is very good thing. (I say "probable/possible" because I have no way of knowing that unless she herself says that she meant to challenge sexism -- many people challenge oppression in ways they don't recognize. If Fey has made such a declaration I would love to have a link to the statement posted in the comments section for this blog entry.)

butchrebel said...

Re: "Do you think a man in the mainstream media capable of doing so and taking a strong stance without being derided? Is a man capable at all?"

Absolutely, positively and I wish more men (of all races, but especially white men) would critique the Republican's party tacit complicity in sexism by conduct sexist campaigns against Hillary Clinton (& other women politicians) and McCain's decision to select Palin as his running mate -- a woman who deliberately represents herself (& his held up as) the idyllic model of not just womanhood or motherhood but "white mommyhood" (a term), the Republican's sexist policies (like those that strike down affirmative action codes & programs, which benefits mostly white women) -- I wish (white) men would do that while also critiquing sexist discourse on Palin.

I am asking (hoping) that people, in general, will critique Palin, critique/recognize the way in which gender & sexism (& racism, heterosexism, abelism, classism, etc) drive the 2008 presidential campaign, and also operate in context of 2008 electoral politics.

My question for you "0100000..." : Do you think it's more harmful, equally harmful, or not especially harmful/significant when men in general (but especially white men**) use sexism to critique Palin? Or do you think it's more harmful/significant etc when women in general (but especially white women) to critique women?

In other words is "women hating women who love Palin" more or less destructive (or not destructive at all) than "men who hate people (but especially "men who hate women") who love Palin?"

Note: **I refer specifically to white men's sexism when discussing the issue men's gender oppression of women in general because I believe that not all men have the *same* power to oppress women. More specifically, unlike white men -- men of color (as a group) do not have the institutional power to oppress white women (as a group) -- but many men of color do *personally* oppress and exercise *personal* oppressive power in their relationships with women of color (a group whom white men extract benefits/advantages from the racist-sexist-classist etc oppression of this group).

Another example: poor white men do not benefit from the institutional oppression of all women in the same way that middle and upper-class men do.