March
4th 2009
How does this stuff get past an editor?

Posted under: class, Gender, Intersectionality, wankers

Check out this extremely misogynistic, unfunny glimpse into the crumpled wad of Kleenex that is the soul of Lee Siegel.  Supposedly a parody of the next Sex and the City movie, it’s an ugly collection of fantasies of sexual and economic humiliation involving the main characters in SATC.  (Ha-ha?)  Here are just a few super-hilarious excerpts.  Do you notice any recurring themes, especially the one involving the one main character who happily remains unmarried and unpartnered with a man?

Samantha, who now works for a federally funded agency that offers oral sex to unemployed bankers. . . .

Tragedy hits Small (the girls’ new nickname for Big, who hasn’t had an erection since September 2008) when Bronx Community College cuts off his financial aid and puts an end to his dream of becoming a refrigerator repairman. . . . Samantha thinks she might be able to get Small an administrative position at her new job, a federally funded agency that offers oral sex to unemployed auto-industry executives. . . .

Miranda catches herself before wondering aloud whether Small’s daily dose of 1000 milligrams of Viagra will affect his concentration when he takes the dishwasher-maintenance exams next month. . . .

leesiegelSamantha, now administering oral sex to unemployed newspaper editors under an emergency provision in the stimulus package, . . . .

I had heard this guy was a piece of work, with the rather sad (or should I say limp?) legacy of career ending sock-puppetry, but this “parody” is just so super classy.  (Yeah, this is the same guy who published a book about the dangerous lack of civility on the web last year!)  What an ugly brew of aggression, fear, and loathing–I guess he thought he’d throw in the misogyny for free!

21 Comments »

21 Responses to “How does this stuff get past an editor?”

  1. The_Myth on 04 Mar 2009 at 11:57 pm #

    Your headline asks, “How did this stuff get past an editor?”

    The fact that it does, on a regular basis, and in many venues, is why journalism is no longer an honorable profession.

    Really…think about…aren’t the vast majority of news outlets in this country just total jokes? It’s very rare to find reliable, actually balanced, trying-to-be-objective coverage [and commentary!] about anything.

    Of course, the website is called “The Daily Beast,” so how sensitive and culturally responsible can we really expect the prose to be?

    It’s fun to write naughty words on the Internet. Especially if you’re getting paid to do it.

  2. Satsuma on 05 Mar 2009 at 12:48 am #

    It seems as if sexist, pornographic– just stick to two things here, is what men do on the Internet. Just watched “Thelma and Louise” this evening… love the scene where Thelma blows the rapist away in the parking lot. Ah the good old days!! 1991 :-) Then they blow up the sexist truck driver’s truck, and then in another scene they push the crying slobbering (previously swaggering) police officer into the trunk of the car.

    Let’s make some movies where women rule the world, blow away their enemies, and make the city streets safe for women at night!!

  3. Satsuma on 05 Mar 2009 at 12:49 am #

    P.S. We wouldn’t show scenes of women raping men or torturing them, however. That kind of garbage is what men do to women! We have our standards here.

  4. crankypostdoc on 05 Mar 2009 at 7:42 am #

    Maybe somebody here can explain how exactly “Sex and the City” advances the cause of feminism. I would have thought that a show portraying the average career woman as obsessed with men and casual sexual encounters is more misogynist than anything else.

  5. Dr. Crazy on 05 Mar 2009 at 8:20 am #

    To respond to crankypostdoc, I’m no huge fan of SATC as a model for feminism – in fact, I thought that the movie was horrifyingly bad and worse than the show in terms of how it limited the female characters to a very narrow range of choices, particularly in regard to relationships – but whatever one thinks about SATC as a feminist text independently, this “parody” takes it way beyond.

    I’d also quarrel with the supposition that a depiction of women who engage in casual sexual encounters and who are focused on their relationships with men is, by definition, misogynistic. Ultimately, doesn’t such a supposition preserve a sexual double-standard, and indicate that “good” feminists (not unlike the angel in the house in the 19th century) a) shouldn’t be promiscuous, and b) should be interested in loftier things that are nevertheless do not oppose the edict that good women must be chaste (in the truest sense of the word, i.e., not virginal or celibate but rather that they practice sexuality according to strict codes instituted by patriarchy)? I don’t think that SATC is an unproblematically feminist text, but I don’t think that it is disqualified from being considered feminist for the reasons that you indicate.

  6. Dr. Crazy on 05 Mar 2009 at 8:22 am #

    Oh, and I’ll add: not only is the parody misogynistic, but also its unproblematic linking of male sexuality with a man’s status as “worker” is deeply troubling.

  7. Historiann on 05 Mar 2009 at 8:25 am #

    Crankypostdoc–what Dr. Crazy said, but my point is not that SATC is my model of feminism or is somehow immune to criticism or mockery. My point is that Lee Siegel’s ill-begotten parody is creepy and disturbing with its implication that poverty and sex work is hillarious.

    And, by the way: starting a comment with “Maybe somebody here can explain how exactly…” is not really a way to advance a serious conversation.

  8. crankypostdoc on 05 Mar 2009 at 8:38 am #

    Oh, my. So I’m being accused of a non-serious state of mind. To put things un-tentatively, I didn’t find the parody misogynistic. A show about stupid shallow people with stupid shallow lives, whether they are men or women, is fair game for parody.

  9. Historiann on 05 Mar 2009 at 8:41 am #

    Crankypostdoc: what part of “my point is not that SATC is my model of feminism or is somehow immune to criticism or mockery” did you not understand?

    If you’re a big Lee Siegel fan, then fine–enjoy!

  10. crankypostdoc on 05 Mar 2009 at 8:54 am #

    Historiann,

    You can’t have it both ways, i.e. nixing SATC as a model while at the same time insisting that anyone who bashes it is a misogynist. Why is Siegel sexist just because he makes fun of a show that happens to have women as protagonists? And I agree that sex work is not hilarious. (That’s one “l”.) I’ll be sure to keep this discussion in mind the next time I hear somebody insist that it is a career choice just as valid as any other.

  11. Historiann on 05 Mar 2009 at 9:09 am #

    Egad. For the last time: This is not a post about Sex and the City–it’s a post about something ugly that Lee Siegel wrote. Siegel is not sexist “just because he makes fun of a show that happens to have women as protagonists.” He appears to me to be a sexist because he did so with spectaculary ugly language and images. And if you don’t see the difference between someone writing “SATC is stupid and the women are shallow because all they do is gossip, screw, and shop,” and “here’s a fantasy in which I make all of the SATC characters give blowjobs to every man in the world,” then I can’t help you.

    You are free to disagree with me and the other commenters, but you are not free to mischaracterize my argument.

  12. crankypostdoc on 05 Mar 2009 at 9:33 am #

    You chose this particular parody as an example of how awful and sexist Lee Siegel supposedly is, so clearly, in your mind and in the minds of other commenters, the show itself has some value.
    Seriously, make up your mind. These are fictional characters. They are defined by certain attributes mentioned above. Either SATC is an empowering portrayal of women, in which case what Siegel wrote might rightly be regarded as offensive, or it is a demeaning one, in which case he is just following the logic of the people who wrote and produced the show. The comments I am seeing here come down more on the “demeaning” side. There’s nothing wrong with writing ugly things about ugly characters, particularly when they are symbols of the spectacularly ugly culture that inspired the show in the first place.

  13. John S. on 05 Mar 2009 at 11:00 am #

    I do not think one has to be a fan of the show to find this parody offensive, nor do I think disliking the show means one would find it funny. (I don’t particularly like the show myself, but I have seen more of SATC than I would like to admit; that is the price of living with someone who *loves* the show, I suppose.) Here’s the question I have for crankypostdoc, however: why is Siegal’s rant supposed to be funny?

    I don’t mean that in a confrontational way, but I think answering that question gets to the heart of whether or not this is misogynistic. In order to find Siegal’s piece funny you have to go along with certain propositions:

    1) The idea of financiers losing their sexual potency when they lose their money is funny.

    2) The idea that when public relations specialists (yes, I know what job Samantha did on the show!) lose their jobs they have to perform oral sex for money.

    3) The notion that health care providers cover Viagra (something most do already) is equally funny as a woman getting a tax deduction for her mouth (presumably because her body parts are pieces of business equipment?).

    4) The idea that the government would bail out auto-makers by paying women to give them oral sex is funny.

    5) The idea that the government stimulus package (get it–stimulus!) would help newspaper editors by paying women to give them oral sex is funny. (This one strikes a little too close to home, maybe, coming from someone like Siegal who was fired from his “old media” periodical job for his unethical interactions with “new media” bloggers.)

    6) That a woman selling her body (not herself or her services, crucially, but her entire body) to pay for a prosthetic penis for her friend’s partner is amusing.

    7) That the problem with US imperial ventures overseas is that “we” are not sending enough of “our” women over there to give horny potential terrorists sex. (Instead of Israel trading land for peace, maybe the US should be trading women’s sexual favors for peace?)

    8) And that all are saved when the Asian spouse comes in and showers everyone with money (making them all dependents!)

    Maybe explaining the joke kills it, but to me, pretty much every premise in the “parody” is offensive and misogynistic. (The last two, maybe a little more racist. Two great tastes that go great together, maybe.) And no, if you read closely, they don’t rely our dislike of the SATC characters. After all, two of “jokes” are about how the federal government wants to help business by making sure men get serviced. I presume that according to Siegal’s logic more women than just sex-crazed Samantha would are employed?

    I could go on–notice how the ways in which the women get their comeuppance differ from the ways in which men do–but I hope you get my point. It doesn’t really matter if SATC is an empowering portrayal of women or not. Siegal’s rant only works if you accept certain notions that are offensive, no matter who the characters are. Finding the SATC character Samantha shallow doesn’t mean that it’s hilarious to imagine her getting her comeuppance by turning her into a piece of meat–a collection of body parts, really–used solely to service men sexually.

    So, crankypostdoc, I think you’ve really posed a false dichotomy here.

  14. John S. on 05 Mar 2009 at 11:02 am #

    (I really apologize for the overly long post above–I got really angry after reading the Daily Beast essay.)

  15. Historiann on 05 Mar 2009 at 11:26 am #

    No problem, John–I think you pretty much laid it all out. I don’t get at all the notion that we have to love SATC 100% and approve of its portrayal of women in every way in order to find Siegel offensive. If that’s the litmus test for feminists (and somehow only for feminists! funny that), then there are very few books, plays, movies, or other cultural artifacts in this or any other culture worldwide that feminists would be permitted to enjoy.

  16. The_Myth on 05 Mar 2009 at 2:53 pm #

    John S forgot one important premise:

    The character of Samantha has long been established as enjoying oral sex, particularly performing fellatio. [She also likes some herself; does that appear in Siegel's script?]

    The misogyny factors in by removing her pleasure-in-power-in-giving-pleasure and making a mockery of it as being her new career.

    Because, well, it’s all she’s good at in Siegel’s revision, so she’ll be forced on her sexually empowered knees to do it for profit in the sequel.

    The dirty whore.

    /sarcasm off

  17. Historiann on 05 Mar 2009 at 3:09 pm #

    Yes, The_Myth: good point. Thanks for your earlier comment–I think that there still is a lot of good journalism, but how a guy like Lee Siegel keeps getting paid is beyond me. Also–I should confess that I like the Daily Beast! It has a lot of junk but it also has a lot of interesting things. It’s got that inimitable Tina Brown sensibility–I thought that the New Yorker was much more interesting, daring, and readable when she edited it in the 90s than ever before or since. I know many will disagree with me…but Brown writes and publishes spanky stuff that gets people reading!

  18. Satsuma on 05 Mar 2009 at 5:34 pm #

    And then there is this huge elephant in the room– the assumption that all the women are straight, when a certain contingent of the sisterhood thinks it would be great to have shows where men were castrated for raping children, buying sex, or even possessing pornography. Now that’s a T.V. show I would find hysterically funny…
    see how the guys like it if women controlled all the TV shows!

  19. JJO on 05 Mar 2009 at 8:22 pm #

    Anyone taking odds that crankypostdoc is Lee Seigel?

    Well, probably not, but given the history it was something that immediately jumped to mind.

  20. JJO on 05 Mar 2009 at 8:31 pm #

    And just so that I’m not simply being snarky, I actually agree that SATC is demeaning and horrifying (although not really due to the sex). I really came to detest that show (and for reasons similar to John S’s, I watched far more of it than I ever wanted to). But Seigel’s piece is incredibly offensive, in part because it isn’t effectively a parody of what was most offensive about the show (shallowness, materialism, stereotypes) but rather a weird fantasy about the sexual humiliation of the characters.

  21. Historiann on 05 Mar 2009 at 9:23 pm #

    JJO–once again, you said it, not me! The thought of sock puppetry once again crossed my mind…(I hope you like the puppet photo! No one has commented on what a stunning likeness it bears to its model!)

    Crankypostdoc has commented here before occasionally. Maybe ze just was having a bad day or something.

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