Monday, July 10, 2006

View Blinders

So the whole debacle surrounding Star Jones's departure from The View has been interesting to me for several reasons, but mostly because the conflict and the way it has been reported/represented illustrates the way in which "the catfight" phenom is totally dependent on the surrounding context -- that is, a climate in which women's bodies (Star), sexuality (Rosie), and power (Walters) are constantly subjected to scrutiny. I'm not saying that in an alternate universe these women would be best friends, and I'm not saying that I'd ever want to be stuck in an elevator with one of them or seated next to one of them on a long plane ride, and I'm not saying that they haven't behaved in a way that is unsavory. But I do think that the contours of the the conflict and the way it is being talked about have a lot in common with the way "mean girls" and " the hidden culture of aggression in girls" were being discussed in the media several years ago. It seems people are all to eager to believe that women/girls are inherently "mean" and "bitchy" and that this behaviour has nothing to do with big picture gender-dynamics. Nevermind that all the late night talk shows are hosted by men, that (until very recently) all the evening news anchors were men, and that women are typically expected to be thin and pretty and agreeable and straight if they're going to make it on the big or little screen.

I've been trying to think of comparable conflicts between male media folks/co-hosts. With men, conflicts are often depicted as a "letterman vs. CBS" capitalist/ceo fight or an uber-masculine "Jay-Z vs. _____" heroic-boast Beowulf throw-back fight. Obviously, aggression between men is much more acceptable, especially when it's validated by a quest for the almighty dollar.

Anyway, I've never been a fan of the view. There are times when I've felt it had its merits, though I can't remember what I ever thought those merits might have been. I have this feeling that they've all "sold out;" the show reeks of bush-era complacency/lethargy, and that's disappointing. They're in an industry that they cannot challenge without imperiling their own success. This is true for most people in showbiz, but seems especially true for women. I am curious to see how Rosie will be integrated into the show. The fact that she's out and writes this crazy pseudo-poetry blog make her seem mildly interesting. But I'm not holding my breath.

*btw, if you do an image search for "the view" on google, you mostly get pics of star jones.

1 comment:

Luke said...

absolutely. the entire way that people and the press have largely been talking about the view thing has been more telling than the star jones firing itself.

and i haven't been a big fan of the show myself either. I think Barb is probably the only redeeming voice on the show. I remember Survivor Filarski saying that she agreed with Ann Coulter, Viera saying how she kinda likes Howard Stern for being a "rebel." Rosie, i was kinda wavering about. On one hand, seems like she does good stuff for kids, GLBT rights and families...but at the same time, like in her gay families cruise, she won't talk about race when a lot of those families have kids that are transracially adopted. but then again, what else can you expect from someone who worshipped Captain colorblind Tom Cruise.