Happy Birthday, Amy Poehler!

You make me proud to be a woman.

A [short] open letter can be found on the tumblr.

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36 thoughts on “Happy Birthday, Amy Poehler!

  1. vicuña says:

    great speech, and while I never found her particularly amusing (or influential), this kind of recognition doesn’t happen nearly enough

    also, in what sense does she make you proud to be a woman? this comment seems out of place if not downright incorrect (knowing you, you could not be otherwise; that would be like me saying I’m proud to have blue eyes)–but it does sound good, so i’ll grant you that (time to run for political office! I hear the Republicans need a good-sounding nominee. and substance is optional!)

    • LadyG says:

      I think her influence is growing steadily. Tina Fey has been garnering all the headlines for years, but they’re BFFs and both happy to share the spotlight with one another.

      Amy is probably most influential among women my age who want to break into the entertainment industry, particularly comedy. Anecdotally speaking, there are 100s of these young women on tumblr alone. While at least 90% of them won’t make it, she is an excellent role model for all of them.

      Her grace, her kindness, her honesty, and her lack of self-deprecation (which drives me crazy wrt Tina) make her an excellent role model for any ladies, gentlemen, or other classy individuals wishing to embark on a public career.

      This is only the start of my published love for Amy. I don’t expect to meet her, but I’d be over the moon if I did.

      • LadyG says:

        And I don’t think the Republicans would want me as their nominee. This blog ain’t made for the Tea Party.

        #nomorepolitics

        • vicuña says:

          yes, there are few women in comedy, and I’ve been more of a Fey fan than Poehler to the extent that I watch either. Though I have no problem with self-deprecating humor and I don’t particularly see the issue.
          also:
          #personalispolitical (your view–ergo, more politics) 🙂
          #whyarewestillusinghashtags?

  2. chortlevork says:

    I don’t want to jump in the Amy Pohler Assessment except to say that she’s ridiculously classy and awesome.

    However, if anyone is keeping a tally, I do not believe gender or sex is like eye color.

  3. Emmy says:

    But guys, there are lots of female comedians! Off the top of my head: Margaret Cho, Ellen DeGeneres, Wanda Sykes, Paula Poundstone, Rosie O’Donnell, Lily Tomlin (sense a trend here? gay girls are just funny!), Sarah Silverman, Kathy Griffin, Whoopi Goldberg, not to mention the old school greats like Carol Burnett, Gilda Radner…

    What gives Poehler and Fey the cache? It feels weird that they get much more attention than equally or more funny comedians who are less straight, white, and “feminine” than them. I think this is kind of why I found MadTV somewhat funnier than SNL growing up… SNL basically runs an entirely white, entirely straight female cast (not at ALL representative of the talent available, if you notice), while MadTV had a way more diverse team in terms of females.

    …This is not going to be a watertight comparison, since Poehler and Fey do have talent, BUT, this situation is kind of like having the captain of the cheer squad get voted “class clown” year after year in the high school yearbook.

    • LadyG says:

      Who was arguing that there AREN’T lots of female comedians?

      I prefer Amy to many others, but I fully support the careers of Margaret Cho, Ellen Degeneres, Whoopi Goldberg, Lily Tomlin, Carol Burnett, and Gilda Radner. I do not like Sarah Silverman and I haven’t decided how I feel about Kathy Griffin.

      Poehler and Fey get the cache BECAUSE they are straight, white, feminine, female, and gorgeous. Both of them are very honest about their success.

      I care much more about Amy Poehler’s career than the success of SNL, which I rarely find culturally relevant.

      • Emmy says:

        1. vicuña: “yes, there are few women in comedy”
        2. You don’t find the “BECAUSE” problematic at all? How is Amy Poehler’s career not related to the success of SNL?

        • LadyG says:

          1. I missed that comment.

          2. I find it very problematic. I also support Amy. Most of the MadTV sketches I have seen I didn’t find particularly funny (this is also true of SNL), but you are right that they do a better job of diversity.

        • Emmy says:

          “I find it very problematic. I also support Bernie Madoff.”

    • LadyG says:

      “BUT, this situation is kind of like having the captain of the cheer squad get voted “class clown” year after year in the high school yearbook.”

      No, it’s like having the prettiest girl-with-talent win on open mic night. Don’t minimize how hard either of them have worked or how much talent they do have. Pretty girls deserve to have funny careers too.

      • Emmy says:

        I cannot see how you do not see this as problematic. The success of people you term “pretty girls” is problematic when it renders other talent invisible. It would in fact, NOT be okay for the “pretty” girl with talent to win Open Mic if there was someone who was a better performer.

        Like what the hell is the difference between you saying that and
        “No, it’s like having the white girl-with-talent win on open mic night for being white.”
        “No, it’s like having the skinny girl-with-talent win on open mic night for being skinny.”
        “No, it’s like having the wealthy girl-with-talent win on open mic night for being wealthy.”
        “No, it’s like having the straight girl-with-talent win on open mic night for being straight.”

        Also, what the hell do you mean when you categorize the two as pretty (implying that the other comedians fall into the category of non-“pretty” when you use the word “too”)? The other people are pretty too, maybe just not in the Hollywood white hetero sense!

        Your comment is super offensive, I literally can’t believe I’m having to defend this.

        • LadyG says:

          I am sorry that you found my comment offensive.

          I meant “pretty” in the Hollywood-normative sense, here, not in the prescriptive sense. I would hope you know me well enough in real life and philosophically to realize that I am not advocating that every female comedienne OR comedian model themselves on her decisions, her roles, or her looks (which most cannot control). No human being is flawless — Amy, Wanda, Rosie, Sarah, or me.

          “The success of people you term “pretty girls” is problematic when it renders other talent invisible.”

          Of course it is. I hope you are happy that Melissa McCarthy just won an Emmy for her role in Mike&Molly, even though people who pay attention to award-show trends can guess it was actually given as a recognition of her work in Bridesmaids, another problematic film.

          I stand by my appreciation of Amy, even if that makes me offensive to you.

        • Emmy says:

          Umm, NO, it’s not that _I_ found the comment offensive and that it’s _my_ problem for being offended; _your_ comment was just plain, no-bones-about-it offensive, and it requires a correction/retraction, not a “clarification”/excuse.

          Furthermore, “standing by something regardless” when presented with a contrary perspective by someone who cares enough to engage this is just a way of closing conversations and is a failure to engage, and is a flippant and disrespectful tone and approach to take to the feelings and convictions of friends and readers.

          #delegitimization

  4. Emmy says:

    http://www.queerty.com/even-amy-poehler-doesnt-know-why-snl-lacks-gays-20090407/
    http://flowtv.org/2009/03/who’s-going-to-play-michelle-obama-saturday-night-live-and-its-lack-of-women-of-colorphillip-lamarr-cunningham-bowling-green-state-university/

    ““That’s a really good question, but I don’t know. Someone should pick that up as a thesis at Hampshire College.” —Amy Poehler, on why there haven’t been more openly gay cast members on Saturday Night Live. (There has only been one: Terry Sweeney. He lasted just one season, 1985-86.)
    As for Amy’s husband and Queerty crush Will Arnett: “He was really a man among a lot of boys. He’s also so in love with his gay fan base. Will would love nothing more than to wake up in the morning, step outside, and wave at his gay fan base — and since we live in New York’s West Village, we can both do that.””

    This statement by her just makes me want to barf.

  5. Emmy says:

    The criticism I’ve raised is also relevant to the use of the attribute “classy” here.

  6. LadyG says:

    This was simply meant to be a post celebrating Amy’s birthday, but those who want to catch on the issues at hand can read the following, in addition to the links Emmy posted above:

    http://tigerbeatdown.com/2010/03/24/13-ways-of-looking-at-liz-lemon/

    http://www.drshebloggo.com/2011/05/liz-lemon-and-leslie-knope-post.html

    http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2011/03/14/110314fa_fact_fey

    The New Yorker article was written by Tina and is expanded upon in her memoir, Bossypants, a book I planned to avoid, was given as a gift, and discovered that I actually loved. Even though I can only relate to a fraction of what she is talking about.

  7. vicuña says:

    looks like I have a few things to respond to.
    firstly with regards to gender and eye color, my question regards LadyG specifically, and is, under what conditions would you not be a woman? It seems to me that if you are a woman and identify as such and would anyway, the notion of pride in something that isn’t a matter of choice seems akin to being proud of one’s eye color. If, however, you wake up in the morning and decide to be or not be a woman on some basis, then I could see the pride making sense, so I am curious as to which is the case.

    next, while there are female comedians, in terms of sheer numbers it’s rather paltry (scan wikipedia’s list of comedians and you’ll see it’s dominated by guys). also look at tv: stewart, colbert, fallon, leno, letterman, ferguson, louis ck, chapelle (don’t know if he still has his show), cook, larry david, carrell. some non-tv guys: eddie murphy, richard pryor, carlin, hedberg, belushi (i know, deceased–and I’m only counting the funny belushi), russell peters, steve martin, jim carrey, marx brothers. I don’t like all of these guys, but most have bigger careers than the women on your list.
    i’ve seen articles in a couple of places on men being funnier than women (i can’t find the original piece that I looked at on the subject, but I know Hitchens wrote a piece in Vanity Fair on it–the article has it’s own problems and is certainly not the last word, but shows that the idea has some common acceptance and scientific support). not entirely sure why this is, but it seems that there is some basis for the claim

    i would also like to point out that SNL has gone downhill recently, and short of their Palin/general political stuff I was unimpressed and stopped watching (compare to the belushi/radner/murphy days). i miss celebirty jeopardy 😦

    • Emmy says:

      “NOT SO FAAAST, TREBEK!”

      And yes, they are much more successful than their women counterparts, with the exception of people like Ellen DeGeneres, Rosie O’Donnell, Roseanne, Whoppi Goldberg. Therefore, the issue is not that they are less in number, but less in opportunities given to them – just as with the case of “pretty” people like Fey and Poehler, men in general, too, benefit from an inherently unjust selection of comedy acts.

      Men also might be funnier because to be funny requires a certain degree of confidence, which is traditionally not a character trait in which women (except the “pretty” ones) are socialized too heavily. This is why I find the others on the list somewhat funnier – like Woody Allen before he was Woody Allen they have this weird sense of humor and sensibility that I like, which probably comes from _not_ getting voted class clown year after year.

      • chortlevork says:

        To change the subject a little bit: men are socialized for confidence, yes, but it is very often the FAILURE of this socialization to produce the necessary confidence, NOT its success, that makes men do the things that make women feel annoyed or harassed. Just something to keep in mind.

  8. chortlevork says:

    I’ve decided to weigh in more substantively now that i have a little skin in the game (re:”classy”). Emmy, at first your analogy from pretty girls on the one hand to white girls, straight girls, and skinny girls was convincing. On further exploration, I think the analogy confuses categories a bit. The other qualities–race, gender identity, body type–are relatively culturally fluid in their MEANING. Looks, on the other hand, are culturally fluid BY DEFINITION. So by and large, while popular attitudes toward fat vs skinny or black vs white may change, such that they could THEORETICALLY be viewed as equal, good looking people cannot be viewed as equal to bad looking people IN THAT RESPECT, so long as society distinguishes between good looks and bad looks. Thus, I suspect that people who aren’t conventionally good looking will never be as successful as people who are good looking in professions that require audiences to look at your face. I should qualify that by saying that, as in anything, entertainment is susceptible to the kinds of micropolitics whereby someone who is both talented and not normatively good looking becomes successful. I don’t know how they do it and I imagine it to be much harder. But for the reason above, while I do believe a political program should transform society not to devalue a person based on their gender, race, or body type, I don’t believe that it is possible to ask society to stop valuing good looks.

    • Emmy says:

      For for the last, I don’t know, two hundred fifty years +, the category”pretty” has anything BUT fluid in definition. The definitive “pretty” woman has remained EXTREMELY stagnant, and has, at least in the United States and Europe, referred to white (non-Jewish), skinny, feminine-presenting women since before comedians were even on the air.

      This stagnancy and complete LACK of fluidity in the definition is what makes me suspicious of it – to the point where I must differentiate between the category of “pretty” and a category of bona fide aesthetic judgment, in which “pretty” is a politically effective structure of meaning that serves to reinforce and encourage the same damn racist, patriarchal basic social hierarchy that we’ve had since the days of slavery. Language can sometimes have a way of reinforcing the interests of groups in power, especially through words and their definitions. For example, the Ancient Greek word for “good,” καλός, had connotations extremely aligned with that of the aristocracy, and in opposition to the lower class (who were associated with the word for “bad,” or κακός).

      There are GORGEOUS female comedians who are not “pretty,” including many on the list I put up (holla back Margaret Cho!). However, although both women are beautiful, Margaret Cho is not “pretty” because she is not Amy Poehler “pretty”. As someone who believes strongly in beauty and developed aesthetic judgment, I am not asking society to stop valuing good looks. I am asking them to stop valuing “good” looks, and to become conscious of the fucking racist and patriarchal as shit value structures that create inequality in career success, and to stop eating out of the media networks’ palms.

      • chortlevork says:

        I hope you aren’t imagining that whatever you mean by ‘developed aesthetic judgment’ is one arrived at by an autonomous individual without input from social surroundings. Not only is it erroneous but it would lead to a situation in the entertainment market based on the ideal of consumer choice. That is, you have the right to decide for yourself what is aesthetically appealing, and so producers have an incentive to put forth a more diverse range of attractive people. I hope you realize this is already happening.

      • chortlevork says:

        I hope you aren’t imagining that whatever you mean by ‘developed aesthetic judgment’ is one arrived at by an autonomous individual without input from social surroundings. Not only is it erroneous but it would lead to a situation in the entertainment market based on the ideal of consumer choice. That is, you have the right to decide for yourself what is aesthetically appealing, and so producers have an incentive to put forth a more diverse range of attractive people. I hope you realize this is already happening, and its not resulting in anything I would view as progress.

        • Emmy says:

          No, it’s definitely not by an autonomous individual – I don’t believe in Robinson Crusoe. What I mean is the pursuit of good input from good social surroundings from an informed perspective.

          It’s NOT happening in the specific field from which Poehler and Fey arose – SNL is a step to a HUGE career in acting and there are yet no gays and no women of color.

  9. Emmy says:

    lol and in the last part of that thank you speech Poehler does some pretty basic “LETS ALL GIVE A ROUND OF APPLAUSE FOR THE MINORITIES WHO WORK FOR ME AND HELP MAKE MY GROUNDBREAKING CAREER AS A FEMALE ACTRESS HAPPEN, RA RA RA SISTERHOOD IS GLOBAL” bullshit.

    Did no one else notice this? How the fuck is this classy except in the most horrible way?

    The more and more I hear her talk in public, and mindlessly condescend to her children’s Tibetan nannies and gay people, the more I can’t fucking stand this woman.

    “LOL IDK WHY THERE ARENT ANY GAYS ON SNL THEY SHOULD GO WRITE A GAY OL’ THESIS ON IT GAY OL’ HAMPSHIRE COLLEGE… IMA KEEP ACTIN’ LOL”

    • chortlevork says:

      Better to acknowledge the brown servants in a way that makes the acknowledger look like a fool in your eyes than to keep them invisible.

      • chortlevork says:

        No seriously how is this condescending, unless you already hate her? People who have awesome high paying jobs like to be recognized, and people who have crappy minimum wage jobs like to be recognized too.

        • Emmy says:

          It’s condescending in the sense that it’s a classic “thanks to all the little people” stump awards ceremony speech. My guess is that these women did not take the nanny gig because they wanted to contribute so greatly to the success of another “sister in arms” – they probably just wanted to be able to feed their families, and assimilating them into this grand accomplishment like that ignores the sensitive nature of the relationship between the worker and the employer and the difference in motives.She does not really bring them any real change in their situation (it’s not like glowing praise from Poehler at some awards ceremony will change the fact that they’re changing someone else’s kids’ diapers for a living) but is rather using them as supporting characters in her story.

          Furthermore, it’s made worse by the country name-dropping. There was no need to mention their country of origin as if they were the first two installments of a collection of international workers, especially when it has nothing to do with the main gist of her speech. Had she mainly been talking about immigration reform, racism, it would have been a little more appropriate if she had been using the countries as an example of how dependent Americans are on international labor, but this raised so many red flags for me, especially since I grew up in a part of the country with a lot of international workers, whose employers often called them “my Guatemalan housekeeper” or “My Mexican gardener” as if that had anything to do with the occupation at hand.

          This whole thing brings to mind the same sympacondescending attitude foundin movies like “The Help” – women of color as the noble, devoted assistants of the white girl who lives her realized dreams (see http://www.abwh.org/images/pdf/TheHelp-Statement.pdf, last paragraph in particular).”

          As someone who grew up in a household that at various times has employed house workers, but also as someone who has worked providing childcare and manual labor to at times very wealthy people, my conviction is that the respectful way to recognize and praise a worker is in person through verbal and monetary signs of appreciation, maintaining a dignified work environment, providing opportunities for career development when possible, as well as through political solidarity – not as show and tell to all of your rich friends.

      • Emmy says:

        How are they, in actual terms, any less invisible after this speech?

        • chortlevork says:

          The objection that by mentioning them at an award ceremony she’s not making any difference in their lives is tired and old. Mentioning the hard work of the people whose manual labor she personally depends on is the only form of political solidarity I can imagine in this situation. Again I repeat that if she offended you its your problem because the point, ironically, wasn’t self-congratulation. All of your criticisms impute motives to her speech that we are not capable of empirically identifying.

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