And other unverified tales: Should Greta Gerwig have received an Oscar nomination for Best Director?
We have no real idea. Like most people you'll see answering this question with total certainty, we have no real idea how to judge performances by directors.
Meanwhile, only five such nominations are given. Is it possible that Gerwig's direction of Little Women was the year's sixth best?
As modern conventional pseudo-liberals, let's not bother ourselves with any such question as that. As liberals, we're currently sounding off about the way the director was wronged—about the way she was snubbed because she's a woman who directed a female-oriented film.
At present, every modern conventional pseudo-liberal knows that we must say such things. In this morning's Washington Post, Stephen King even joins the crowd, as he tries to get himself off the hook for a recent remark which has apparently been criticized on Twitter.
Seeking to prove his tribal good faith, King says that Gerwig's Little Women isn't just good, it's "astoundingly good." On balance, we thought the chronologically jumbled film was deeply confusing and, in that sense, a bit of a mess. But these are always subjective judgments, until tribal script comes along.
Why did King proceed today to the claim that the film is astoundingly good? As we've often noted, in various contexts:
When everyone has agreed that they will all Say The Same Thing, the only way to distinguish oneself is by embellishing the preapproved script. In this way, Candidate Gore was eventually said (by Arianna) to be wearing suit jackets with four buttons, not just the constantly ridiculed three.
King now says that the new Little Women is astoundingly good. As he does, he also says that his first published novel, Carrie, was a paean to female empowerment, apparently assuming that gullible readers will be willing to buy even that.
Alas! Major anthropologists insist that members of our failing species were wired to behave in such ways.
We're not sure if these future experts are right, but the sheer stupidity surrounding the Gerwig question has been hard to miss. Once again, consider:
Gerwig has now directed two films—Lady Bird (2017) and Little Women (2019). Out in Tinseltown, each film was nominated for a Best Picture Oscar. Gerwig received a Best Screenplay nomination for each film.
Also, Gerwig received a Best Director nomination for Lady Bird. But when the same directors' branch of the Academy didn't nominate her this year, we're told that she has experienced a snub, a snub caused by their sexism.
They nominated her for Best Director for her first female-oriented film. But when they failed to nominate her for her second female-oriented film, this proved that they're sexist!
You can't get a whole lot dumber than that. Experts point to scripts of this type as proof of our failing species' hard-wired sub-rational essence.
Tomorrow, we'll return to the scripted claims being made about Little Women. Today, let's consider the way our tribe's latest toy is being employed in a much wider arena.
At present, our liberal tribe owns only one toy. It's the only toy we have. For that reason, we take it out, and play with the toy, in every possible circumstance.
The toy to which we refer is our newly-discovered opposition to racism and sexism, with misogyny thrown in as well. At present, this is our failing tribe's only known toy. We rarely leave home without it.
We rarely leave home without it! Presumably, this explains the transparently silly piece which dominated the front page of the Washington Post's Style section last Tuesday morning.
The heartfelt piece was straight outta script. In print editions, it appeared beneath these headlines:
DISMISSED WIT PREJUDICEThe humorous headline said "wit," not "with!" Things spiraled downward from there.
Why female candidates' attempts at humor are judged differently
We'll start with the obvious question. Is it true? Are attempts at humor by female candidates judged differently than similar attempts by men?
We have no idea—but then, we have an excuse. You see, we read the Post's lengthy piece, in which Ellen McCarthy essentially offered zero evidence in support of this pleasing claim.
Frankly, it gets even worse. Late in the piece, McCarthy noted that "two of the women still in the 2020 presidential race"—Candidates Klobuchar and Warren—"have routinely deployed humor throughout their campaigns."
She then quotes former candidate Hillary Clinton saying she wishes she had employed more humor during his 2016 run.
McCarthy also notes that Gretchen Whitmire, the current governor of Michigan, chose to employ a type of humor at one point during her successful 2018 campaign. Earlier, she quotes a political consultant recalling the way the late Ann Richards was famous for her wit:
MCCARTHY (1/21/20): It is possible for women to pull this off, he says. Neffinger points to former Texas governor Ann Richards—who once quipped that George H.W. Bush was born with a silver foot in his mouth—as an example of a woman who wielded humor to great effect. The fact that she was older and white-haired may have made her barbs more palatable, he speculates, and she did it with “the big ol’ Texas grin to take the edge off it.”Luckily, Richards' white hair and big ol' grin allow us to dismiss her success with humor. Still and all, a question arises:
Given the premise of this essay, how dumb must Klobuchar, Warren and Clinton be? The first two are still trying to use humor out on the trail in the face of societal prejudice. The third is so dumb that she's willing to say she should have used humor more!
According to major experts, so it goes when we humans take out our favorite toys and tell the stories we like. Our longing for a simpler world leads us to offer the types of claims which are pleasing within the tribe, but may seem, to everyone else, like artifacts of a "very stable dumbness."
Are these credentialed experts right? We can't tell you that. Nor can we tell you whether female candidates really do pay a price, on average, as opposed to men, when they use humor on the trail. We can't tell you if the price is large, if there's a price at all.
It's certainly possible that women pay a price for using humor—but it's also possible that they don't! Having said that, let's turn to the ugly episode which triggered the piece which dominated the front page of Style.
Elizabeth Warren was cast as the victim in McCarthy's tale. She'd offered a wondrously humorous set of remarks—and she'd been punished for it!
McCarthy started her piece by recalling Warren's remarks. Her full account went like this:
MCCARTHY: It played like a well-rehearsed stand-up routine.Despite the societal prejudice, laughter and whooping filled the room as Warren advanced the kinds of assumptions Others will inevitably see as elite condescension.
“Let’s say you’re on the campaign trail . . .,” the audience member begins.
“I have been, yeah, uh-huh,” Elizabeth Warren nods, affecting exhaustion. The crowd at the televised CNN town hall titters with laughter.
The man asking the question continues: “A supporter approaches you and says, ‘Senator, I am old-fashioned, and my faith teaches me that marriage is between one man and one woman.’ What is your response?”
“Well, I’m going to assume it’s a guy who said that,” parries Warren, the senator from Massachusetts and presidential candidate. (More chuckles.) “And I’m going to say: ‘Then just marry one woman! I’m cool with that!’ ”
Laughter and whooping fills the room. Warren leaves space for the laugh, coolly shrugging and cocking her head and resting for a few beats before twisting the knife:
“Assuming you can find one.”
Warren assumed that only men would hold the old-fashioned view of marriage she was mocking. This of course is false.
She then proceeded to suggest that the kind of man who held that view could never get a woman to marry him. In fact, many such men are married to women who hold the exact same view.
Indeed, President Obama still held that view as of 2012. The aforementioned Hillary Clinton didn't support marriage equality until her 2016 campaign. Our own tribe has come to accept marriage equality roughly in the last ten minutes, but people like Warren are out on the trail mocking the millions of laggards.
People like Warren produce "laughter and whooping" when they mock people who hold the views our own stars held until quite recently. With that in mind, if Warren's jibes produced all that laughter and whooping, what makes McCarthy say that female candidates are punished for using humor?
What made McCarthy express that view? Prepare to encounter a very stable dumbness:
MCCARTHY (continuing directly): Forget that the joke had been teed up—the person asking the question, Morgan Cox, was chair of the board of directors at the Human Rights Campaign and a donor to Warren’s 2018 Senate campaign—it was a well-performed series of zingers, and many of the people who watched the exchange on YouTube after it happened in October seemed to agree.Yes, she actually did it!
Scroll down far enough, though, and you see a different kind of response.
“What a (preplanned) snarky, mean-spirited response she made,” wrote one commenter.
“Scorn,” wrote another, “mockery, contempt, self-congratulation . . . but hey, worked for Hillary, amIright?”
The list of double standards women face on their path to public office is plenty long...
McCarthy skipped past some actual news—this whole exchange in this CNN town hall had been planned, pre-packaged! She then scrolled through some comments on YouTube—and after scrolling "far enough," she found two (2) comments critical of Warren.
McCarthy looked through comments on line; she found two which were critical! On this basis, she assembled her lengthy piece, and the Post was willing to print it.
The evening after this essay appeared, representatives of Future Anthropologists Huddled in Caves despairingly held their heads in the hands as they appeared before us. (They communicate with us through puzzling nocturnal submissions which the haters deride as mere dreams.)
"Our species was wired for this type of dumbness," the glum future experts explained. On this occasion, we could think of no way to tell them they were wrong.
Tomorrow: The vast stable dumbness, it burns!