I love pop culture. I love Amy Poehler. And because of Amy and the few, very hilarious episodes of 30 Rock I’ve seen, I consequently love Tina Fey as well. They are wonderful, empowering women of comedy.
Their opening monologue at last night’s Golden Globes hosts was witty, sharp, and keenly funny, a winning combination of obvious pop culture and social awareness. They had me straight chuckling, even laughing obnoxiously out loud (see: George Clooney’s lifetime award, current state of black justice, Steve Carrel’s homage to Jim Halpert as he gazed into the camera, and prep time for “Human Woman”). I was thoroughly enjoying it and was profoundly more impressed by this banter than last year’s.
Until the segue from Into The Woods to Bill Cosby, about 9 minutes in.
I understand the importance of bringing such topics up. Bill Cosby doesn’t deserve to be respected or his despicable acts avoided in conversation. I’ve read responses stating that Tina and Amy supposedly only poked fun at Cosby, so it was okay. Shock value is necessary, I get that.
The line that started the sinking feeling:
“…and Sleeping Beauty just thought she was getting coffee with Bill Cosby.”
A weird mix of laughter and groans swept over the room. The crowd shot still makes me cringe.
Princesses are often damsels in distress. Traditional stories depict desperate girls waiting for men to rescue them. Modern Disney tackles that stereotype head on, with the sister-centered storyline of Frozen and even the most dependent of all princesses, Rapunzel, is transformed into a spunky, creative, frying pan-wielding adventurer in Tangled.
But despite these steps, fairytale princesses to me, remain largely lovelorn and needy. This personality is often associated with a lack of practicality or intelligence. And so when I heard those unnamed women associated with that stereotype, I was offended.
They don’t have their stories told fairly. Not all their names are known. No one even knows how many of them exist. I often only see “twenty-something.” (The official record states 24). Unfortunately, their accounts are shrouded in doubt and uncertainty.
Cases such as the investigation of the brutal UVA rape testimony reported by Rolling Stone allow rape culture to flourish. False testimonies are far more rare than so many very real stories, but because of these publicized lies, victims are accused of lying, and are blamed and laughed at.
If Bill Cosby was going to be spotlighted, I wanted something more biting than voice impressions. Poor impressions of his gruff, slow voice repeating phrases like “putting pills in the people” barely bruised his legacy. How about a jab at his morally sound status as Heathcliff Huxtable? He built himself on family values and that’s what he’s remembered for.
How about bringing up his nights of stand-up shows on his tour that were cancelled late last year? That’s the material I expect. Crack into his foundation with snide comments and acerbic jokes. There was so much to work with and I have trouble believing that voice impressions was really the best way to tackle the issue. It seemed tired and stale.
The one benefit of the spiel was that they completely crushed Cosby’s recent public response, delegitimizing any sort of justification or excuse from accused assaulters. But the idea of taking multiple women and quickly sketching them as a clueless princesses who were drugged because of their naivete is not okay and frankly, not funny.
I appreciated these leading ladies’ bravery. I don’t know exactly how we manage to fit rape jokes into an awards show monologue. Humor rapidly evolves and shifts with the topics of today, and maybe this little stumble is necessary to open up conversations. I feel uncomfortable with the idea of rape jokes at all, if I’m going to be completely forthcoming.
But I guess that’s why I haven’t hosted the Golden Globe for three consecutive years.