Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Why I hate television

I don't, in fact, hate television.  How can I hate the medium that brought us Bea Arthur, Joss Whedon, Mighty Mouse, Jason Bateman, Neil Patrick Harris, the (original) Muppets and Tony Soprano?  I cannot.  BUT.

This thing on NBC News at 11 last week reminded me about the asinine evil that is so much of TV production.  A feature on a wonderful photographer who appreciates and captures the individual beauty in women became, in the hands of hack producers, a condescending, vapid, and ultimately sort of semi-deliberately humiliating puff piece on "look how even fat girls can be made (sort of) hot!"  Which is NOT what Isis is about, and NOT how I particularly wanted to be depicted in every taxi in NYC.  But I should have known.  It is, after all, TV.  How many TV interviewers have asked me how much weight I gained during the J&J Project?  How many of them have I sat opposite from and seen clearly that they'd never even cracked the book open?

But it's not just vapidity and laziness.  It's a sort of built-in bent toward condescension and humiliation of women.  And the worst thing is, I think some women in the media are more guilty of this than anyone else.  Because of the risk of being run out of town on a rail, I'll not name a certain cabal of powerful, well-spoken women in print journalism who write so stylishly that their gleeful brand of neo-misogyny - or maybe it's just smugness - seems to float over people's heads.  But I get angry in the same way, reading them.  

I am so looking forward to the release of the J&J movie, and of "Cleaving" a few months after that.  It's very exciting.  What I'm not looking forward to is the next round of questions about my weight and what my VERY favorite recipe in MtAoFC is.

Also?  I'm aware that these are pretty nifty problems to have.

End of line.


Blogger EveryoneThinksThey'reGoodDrivers said...

Hey that's why I hate television too! Only I actually really do hate television. My television is 20" and I don't have any sort of cable.

And I don't care.

Yes the success and intelligence of a woman is greatly measured by her weight.

The media does a good job of keeping that train going.

2:09 PM  
Blogger jake said...

So glad to hear from you again Julie! It's true y'know, you keep saying you'll be back, and then you disappear! Poo! I agree, some journalists and interviewers can be very anal and I wish they'd shut up. Sometimes I watch TMZ just to laugh at what idiots these people are. How obsessed can you possibly get with everything that has fame and fortune?! Anywho, I am also extremely looking forward to J & J: the MOVIE!!! Your book is my absolute favorite (ever!) and the movie is starring my two favorite actresses in the title roles (go figure!) Amy Adams and Meryl Streep. You must be just reeling with excitement over the sooner-than-never theatrical release in August! I remember when...oh, when was it that the delay in release was publicized? Ah, I forget. But I was sincerely upset when it was pushed from April to August! Just think, if they hadn't pushed it back to put it in "Oscar season" we'd be SO CLOSE to the premiere and the glamour of the red carpet (lol, are you going to get into that? deck it out on the carpet with the fabulous Meryl and Amy? Ha! I can hardly imagine you on a red carpet...) Although, I do have to say that I'll be even happier if Amy and Meryl get nods from the Academy!

2:36 PM  
Blogger Erin said...

Even the perfect job still has those moments when it's a JOB :-( But you're right - these are flippin' sweet problems to have. On pins and needles for the flick and Cleaving!

3:11 PM  
Blogger Roving Lemon said...

The Daily Show did a great feature a couple of weeks ago about some of the issues Michelle Obama was considering focusing on as First Lady (you know, hunger, homelessness, trivial things like that), and then cut to a montage of (almost entirely) female presenters raving about her toned arms. Way to objectify ourselves, peeps.

6:54 PM  
Blogger Kerry said...

You had me at "Jason Bateman."

10:40 PM  
Blogger Ron said...

have I told you lately how much I love your comments and writing????


6:22 AM  
Blogger justbreathe said...

We love your book because you keep hope alive for all of the smart women who work in demeaning jobs. You manage to encourage us to keep learning, to enjoy friends and gimlets, to be self-reflective, while making us laugh out loud. These are good things. You are a wise and talented writer. Do women a favor, take the word fat out of your vocabulary. (Healthy and Wise at any size.)Forget talking about the Wii regime as it just keeps the conversation going. When the conversation turns to your weight, forget being polite, put the person on the spot, turn the tables, with something like "I'd like to think that attitudes toward women have evolved to the point where my size/appearance is none of your concern." We need to stick together on this one.

1:31 PM  
Blogger Jamie said...

I identify with your writing so much it makes me feel like I'm getting a chance to see myself from the outside. And I'm more interesting and beautiful than I thought. Thanks.

9:25 PM  
Blogger Aviva O'Byrne said...

I finally got around to your book in my reading pile and I have to truly thank you for inspiring me. We have a lot in common, right down to being a government contractor! While I have no desire to deal with kidneys or marrow, I have started blogging about family traditions and recipes and stories that I don't want to get lost in time. Thank you for giving me the kick in the ass I needed.

I have to share with you my story of the blackout in NYC a few years ago. It might make you want to kill me, but here goes: The day before the blackout I flew to JFK from Jerusalem and from JFK I needed to get to LaGuardia to get my flight home to Chicago. Only, the flight to Chicago was cancelled. I asked them to see if there was another one and there was only it was leaving in 20 minutes and it was arriving in O'Hare instead of Midway where I was scheduled to go. Perfect! My dad works right by O'Hare. So I rushed through and got to the boarding line but realized my dad thinks he is driving for hours in rush hour traffic to get to the other airport. I noticed the guy in line ahead of me had a phone and I offered to give him money to let me call my dad, but he said, "I don't care. It's a company phone." So I got a hold of my dad and in three hours I was home. The day after this utterly perfect traveling experience which rarely happens to people, was total chaos in NY. I am so sorry that you had to deal with that crappy day! Believe me, I realize how lucky I was!

2:11 PM  
Blogger Jonice said...

I don't know why I hate television, but just because I hate television I prefered to spend this early afternoon hours of a holiday in the company of the book I borrowed yesterday from a dear friend of mine and this is how I started reading your year of cooking dangerously, dear Julie. Lucky me :) I'm just delighted by the flow of your nice funny writing! Then here I came to look facts up about a lovely book I'd never heard of before yesterday and I loved to come across your blog.

11:30 AM  
Blogger Keiler said...

This is about justbreathe's comment, but you can read this if you like Julie, since it is your blog.

I know the strategy of ending a conversation is very effective, but the topic of weight & women is so complicated, and to ignore it is another way to ignore women and dismiss their problems as crazy, imaginary, or trivial. I think one of the reasons people are so anti-fat is because it isn't perceived as cool. We'll dismiss a lot of really serious problems - drug & alcohol addiction, irresponsible sexual behavior, etc. because we've associated them with artistic brilliance and some sense of bravery. They're acceptable forms of warding off isolation.

6:10 PM  
Blogger leeceeka said...

My sister mailed me your book last week. I just finished it and loved it. I do think the title should have read ... 365 days, 524 recipes, 1 tiny apartment kitchen and a full time fucking job. I am glad you were able to lose that. Looking forward to Cleaving.

5:33 AM  
Blogger Wanderlusting said...

Nifty I suppose, but seriously I would hate weight questions no matter what level of fame I was at. Ugh. Somethigs just aren't classy - but I'm sure you'll handle it all with clas :)

9:40 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

you are so right julie.
TV is love/hate.

We have the hate side that
only seems to focus
and thrive on negativity,
and the negativity of
others, of course.

Everything is open to interpretation
and scrutiny and we still want
to know why we gained weight,
why we speak in such a foul
language when spoken to
(Of course quoting what
happened to Susan Boyle).

Just vampires of the media.
The downside bleeders
of public and private

I just have to say,
I saw the trailer for
J/J last night and WOW,
I fell in love :]

Tomorrow I'm going to
buy your book, to be
upto date with everything
I can't wait to see the movie!

Hi! I'm your most recent fan.

2:17 PM  
Blogger joy said...

Amen sister!

11:19 AM  
Blogger Jen W. said...

I can't hate TV because I work at a television studio, but I do recognize the dark side of the medium. I did, however, receive the EPK for "J/J" and the trailer sent me after your book. As much as I enjoyed it, my real affinity came in finding a kindred spirit in the "Buffyverse." I LOVE BtVS and was fortunate enough to work on the syndication launch during my time at Fox. Buffy rocks - glad I'm not the only one to recognize the genius of Joss Whedon. I've already practically worn out my "Dr. Horrible" DVD, too. Thanks for your wonderful, funny inspiring story - I've been so depressed about my 30-"something" birthday a few days ago, and your book really helped cheer me up and give me hope that perhaps I'm not done yet.

12:17 PM  
Blogger Hilary Battes said...

Steer clear of "More to Love" a new reality Bachelor show with plus sized women. As if giving plus sized women their own show will make everything good in the world. Sounds like "separate but equal" to me.

On a much better note: 20 more pages of your book to go! I loved reading about your cooking marathon. Your husband sounds wonderful. My Erik- with a K- husband and I are a semi-bizzaro version of you two. He's the chef and Im the prep cook, dishwasher, and diner.

3:07 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

I went out of my way to Google your name for some pics. Listen up, you are VERY BEAUTIFUL. And: You aren't FAT.

How old are you? In ten years you will wish you had appreciated your body and youth and ENJOYED these moments you are about to experience without self-consciousness or hints of self-loathing.

Love yourself! You have done amazing things, you are beautiful and accomplished. I speak from experience here: Love yourself!

11:28 AM  
Blogger MiddletownPodCast said...

Um... you said the "F" word. Not very ladylike.

2:21 PM  
Blogger Kathryn Magendie said...

I'm writing this on a blog post from months ago, just because I'm grinnin' to myself how there are less than 20 comments here and when I was at your recent posts- 400+ *laughing!* ain't it grand! :)

Congrats - I hope life is good -- publishing a book brings out all manner of ....things (I know, I just published mine this spring), and I can't imagine what it's like with a movie out along with it -pushing the "OUT THERE" factor to highest of heights ...erk.

Of course I'm writing this comment where no one will see to read it, but there you go! I'm amusing myself.

best wishes . . .

5:47 PM  
Blogger tea and cake said...

Not about television, sorry, and I haven't read your book.
But, I just saw your movie last night and well - it is Brilliant! Well done!
If Meryl doesn't get all the awards, then I don't know what.
My daughter and I loved the movie - did I say that already?!

8:47 AM  
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