There are times when it is very easy to understand why most of the world hates Americans and why some even want to kill us. This is one of those times.
In a world where the “poorest,” American is more rich than 95% of all people on Earth, where Christians outside of America are being slaughtered, where millions of refugees are fleeing their homelands to find safe harbors and where the idea of Caitlyn Jenner having a TV show is akin to most of the world as the idealistic future of Star Trek is to America, we bitch about the dumbest stuff. I mean, seriously.
It’s one thing to have “first world problems,” which are a simple matter of perspective. In our world, not having Wi-Fi on a flight is annoying. Our cable going out sucks. The deli being sold out of Beachwood smoked ham when you’re craving it is an inconvenience that can “ruin,” your day. On and on the list goes and the reasons we bitch is because, hopefully, we recognize, that we can. We don’t live in a country on the verge of being further rubbled into the 14th century by our own government gassing us. We don’t live in an America where we’re going to have our children stolen by a madman who removes their private parts and turns them into expendable teen warriors causing genocide. Hell, we don’t even live in a nation that has to worry about passenger jets literally disappearing never to be seen or heard from again. We live in the most modern, advanced nation on earth and are thus, spoiled. And some of it, we’ve earned. But as we limp towards decay and inevitably no longer being the greatest nation on Earth, do we have to be so embarrassing about it?
Enter the faux outrage of the week, as provided us by Vanity Fair and their insensitive gall of highlighting the reality of American late night TV, which seems to be going through a resurgence if not a renaissance.
Jon Stewart and David Letterman are gone. Jimmy Fallon is killing it to levels only Johnny Carson (Google it) ever did, and literally a dozen others are finding their way or will be soon. And oh, the humanity, as it turns out, all of those are men. Eeeeek. Gasp. Horror. This is as bad a dead three year old washing ashore our beaches.
The highest paid person on all of TV this year will be a woman (Sofia Vergara). While she is a dreadfully bad candidate, the current odds on favorite to be elected President of the United States is allegedly a woman (Hillary Clinton). According to a new report this week, the highest paid fighter in all of UFC is a woman (Rhonda Rousey). The last three Secretaries of State have been women (Condoleezza Rice, Hillary Clinton and John Kerry). Can we all get a god dammed grip for a moment?
When Letterman retired, there was a brief moment where people clamored, not for the best replacement but for a woman…and the crickets chirped. The usual suspects were mentioned, including of course, Ellen and Tina Fey and guess what? When CBS did market research, as all major broadcasting corporations do before making a multi-million dollar decision such as this, no one was interested. Only two names were mentioned over and over again by all age groups and all demographics in all audiences; Steve Harvey and Stephen Colbert. Colbert, who is 9 years younger than Harvey got the nod in the hopes that he’d solidify CBS’ late show role for 20+ years, something that wouldn’t be reasonable to expect of Steve Harvey.
When Jon Stewart retired, the world was shocked when barely known Trevor Noah was given the chair. A foreigner from South Africa, Noah’s choice seemed to indicate that Comedy Central had made the politically correct choice by placing yet another person of color in their late night lineup to join Larry Wilmore. Alas, even such choices did not insulate Comedy Central from criticism this week since no matter what you do to appease the politically correct, it will never be enough. Even if Comedy Central had hired an asexual transgender little person paraplegic from Madagascar, someone would have found something wrong with it.
Cue the outrage over the cover of Vanity Fair highlighting everyone from Bill Maher to Jon Oliver to Conan (who, apparently still has a late night talk show, which was news to me).
The Vanity Fair image brought to mind the magazine’s 2007 piece titled “Why Women Aren’t Funny” by Christopher Hitchens. “For some reason,” he wrote, “women do not find their own physical decay and absurdity to be so riotously amusing, which is why we admire Lucille Ball and Helen Fielding, who do see the funny side of it.”
It didn’t die there. In 2012, Adam Carolla told the New York Post, “The reason why you know more funny dudes than funny chicks is that dudes are funnier than chicks.”
And just this summer, Michael Eisner dusted off the sentiment at the Aspen Ideas Festival, telling a crowd that beautiful women aren’t funny. “From my position, the hardest artist to find is a beautiful, funny woman,” he said. “By far. They usually — boy am I going to get in trouble, I know this goes online — but usually, unbelievably beautiful women, you (Goldie Hawn, his panel-mate) being an exception, are not funny.”
The truth hurts, and it isn’t allowed unless it’s directed at men; preferably white, Christian, middle aged men, but men in general will do in a pinch. After all, would there be outrage over someone pointing out that women are more nurturing and maternal by nature then men are? Of course not, because it’s both true and complimentary to women. Is it frowned upon when it is repeated over and over again that girls mature faster than boys and are more equipped to deal with life earlier? Of course not, because it’s both true and complimentary to women. Does anyone scream about negative stereotypes when it’s pointed out that women are more likely to clean better than men or be more likely to successfully multi-task? Of course not, because it’s both true and complimentary to women.
As we continue to be more and more sensitive and over-reactionary, we also fail to acknowledge the world as we know it. Does pointing out that more men are more often funny than women mean that no women are funny? Of course not, but God forbid we acknowledge that certain genders are better at certain things. Or, if you prefer, God forbid that we point out that the overwhelming majority of us would like to see certain genders do certain things more. Months ago a survey was released that almost 90% of us (men and women) feel more comfortable with a male pilot on our airplanes. Does that mean women can’t fly? Of course not, it means that both men and women would choose a male pilot if given the option; it’s not as though people are deserting planes with female pilots; although few people are clamoring to see female comedians or watch their shows, with rare exception. So why not embrace the exceptions like Tina Fey, Amy Schumer, and the like and celebrate the fact that they are to comedy what a caring, compassionate, maternal father is; rare but still special. Why must we get all angry and demean and threaten and such because we happen to point out the truth that everyone isn’t qualified to do everything at equal levels all of the time?