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Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Tina Fey

As I expected when I decided to critique a perennial darling, I'm getting a tiny bit of a drubbing in the blogosphere for a brief I wrote in Bitch about Tina Fey. The piece explains why, in my mind, the once-awesome Fey has sold herself down the river with her stupidly adored new show, 30 Rock.

Admittedly, because of the limited space of the item, I didn't get to fully explain my manifold reasons for the Fey-hating-upon. But I did have enough space to make my main point, which is that Fey uses her smarts and funnies to make her audience feel more, not less, comfortable with broad and conventional categorizations based on race/gender/etc etc. It's the difference between truly subversive comedy and disappointingly mainstream comedy.

It helps my case that Fey-fans' main argument (like some avowed feminists said with "Knocked Up") is that the show is funny! And therefore I should just lighten up! God, why are teh bra-burners so damn grumpy? Plus, my detractors explain, Fey is being ironic about stereotypes and I, a humorless anger-monger, just don't get it, okay? (Anyone who read my blog would know that I'm contentious, but not humorless... I hope!).

But alas and alack, I do get Fey's attempts at irony. The problem is that I think they fall short, way short, of true irony. And I too used to worship Fey, back on her co-newsing with Jimmy Fallon days. But ever since she got all pro-Lohan and wrote Mean Girls, a pseudo-empowering but really mediocre movie (here comes the hating again) that glow faded.

Like many comedians, Tina Fey has an obvious streak of self-loathing--she often targets her own alleged nerdiness and unnattractiveness and fetishizes ditzy, oversexed blondes as her opposite. Fine, a lot of comedians mock themselves. But speaking as a member of the same oppressed group in which Fey is included (which is to say, women), her unmuted self-loathing makes me uncomfortable--particularly when I picture men watching the show. It's the same paradox that sent Dave Chappelle (whose jokes sometimes undermined racial stereotypes but often reinforced them) off the deep end for a while.

30-rock hovers well on the bad side of the line between brilliant satire and sexist/racist/lowest-common denominator humor. And that, in my opinion, is because Tina Fey is both a lazy writer and desperate for approval. She makes jokes about the difference between blondes and brunettes and features an alkie misogynist catholic as her (anti?)hero. She's the Valedictorian who wants to be the popular girl. She ditched the student senate to chase after being a prom queen. And I have a right to be sad and a little miffed about that, because that leaves us witty nerdy chicks with one less icon we can truly call our own.


  1. Anonymous9:03 PM

    Just wanted to let the author know that the story is completely ridiculous. Get a life...

  2. Anonymous10:11 PM


  3. Anonymous11:39 PM

    first of all women should stop bitching, and i am saying this as a women myself. You should not rag on Ms. Fey, she is brilliant and classier then you could ever be. Go do something important with your life and stop trying to make yourself feel better by ragging on tina, you are acting like a steryotypical women.