Thursday, May 21, 2009

Michelle Obama is not "a big dude," Jay Mohr

Monica Roberts at TransGriot posted the following video on her blog. Comedian Jay Mohr called into The Jim Rome Show, whose annual Smack-Off competition gave him a platform to attack Michelle Obama for her looks, including the shape of her eyebrows and the fact that she is tall. He even called her "a big dude" (starts around 1:50 in the video, which is really quiet - you'll need to turn up the volume if you want to watch it):

Some quotes from when Mohr discusses Michelle (with some help from the post at TransGriot):

"...I'd like to talk about Kevin Garnett. This guy's the Michelle Obama of the Celtics. He doesn't really do anything, but damn he looks good, doesn't he Jim?

Michelle Obama - that is a big dude. When Barack plays pick up games at the White House, you know he picks Michelle as at least his forward, maybe his [center] depending on who’s in Congress that day.

That has to be like being married to Elton Brand. She is a big dude. I like when she put her arm around the Queen of England and she put her in a headlock and told her, "I’ve been waiting 200 years to put my arms around you lady."

I like how she shaved off all her eyebrows, and then drew them back way too high and into an arch, and then way back down, so she always looks super surprised. Michelle Obama kind of looks like the Count on Sesame Street. That's great. One - ah ah ah - One Black President - ah ah ah."

So after reading and watching this video at TransGriot, I tried to do a little background research about what this Smack-Off is, and what I found wasn't surprising.

I am not a fan of insult-based "comedy," especially because it tends to fall back on sexist/racist/and other -ist stereotypes in a way that makes them easily accessible to a larger audience. Making stereotypes for easy consumption, I feel, only helps to perpetuate the problems caused by such generalizations.

And what exactly does Michelle Obama have to do with basketball? Nothing, except that she is tall, and apparently being tall is for men. And men play basketball. How dare her not fit into the little box that the Patriarchy expects all women to fit into.

Good job, Jim Rome, for allowing this kind of decidedly un-funny garbage to air on your show.


Anonymous said...

How dare her not fit into the little box that the Patriarchy expects all women to fit into.*eye roll*

Genetically, men are typically taller than women.

Will you blame genetics on "patriarchy", as well?

After that, I suppose we can blame childbirth on patriarchy. I mean, obviously, time traveling men from the future, went back in time to early Earth, and altered the DNA of women to make them carry babies, have estrogen, menstruate, it's all a big conspiracy theory from PATRIARCHY!!!!111shift+one

Amelia said...

I am so glad that you seem to have so much time to read this blog, Anonymous. :)

And no. I was commenting on the fact that it seems so easy for people (especially men like Jay Mohr) living in this patriarchal society to cut down women for every little thing, especially when it comes to their appearance. If they're not too tall (aka "a big dude") they've got weird eyebrows. If they don't have weird eyebrows they're too fat. There are so many reasons that women, especially those in any sort of position of power/influence like Michelle, get insulted based on their looks. It's disgusting. No woman ever seems to be good enough unless she is shamelessly airbrushed, etc. because the Patriarchy has a very narrow idea of what is acceptable when it comes to the looks of women.

And genetics? What? Let's keep this on topic.

Anonymous said...

I am so glad that you seem to have so much time to read this blog, Anonymous. :)It takes 5 minutes in the morning whilst having a smoke and my coffee, and 5 minutes before bed, and 5 minutes during lunch.

You get 15 minutes out of my 24 hours. I wouldn't think that'd be considered a lot of time.

Michelle isn't in a position of power. Her husband won an election. She just happened to be married to him.

She's a public figure, not a person in a position of power.

Public figures are open season. This is a staple of the US, and our freedom of speech. Lampooning, for whatever reason, of public figures, especially ones in government, is something as old as our government.

If you don't like that, go somewhere where that's illegal. Though, I don't see you complaining about the people who make fun of male figures in government, especially ones you don't like.

Did you write a bunch of blog posts saying it was wrong that people referred to Bush as a chimpanzee? Nah, you didn't like him, AND he's male, so it's all good, right?

No woman ever seems to be good enough unless she is shamelessly airbrushed, etc. because the Patriarchy has a very narrow idea of what is acceptable when it comes to the looks of women.And the matriarchy is totally accepting of all types of men, right? Ohh, no, they aren't. We have blog posts on Feministing, wherein a fat woman says she finds the idea of dating fat men repulsive, and rather than anyone call her out... everyone just tells her that there's nothing wrong with that.

Until your movement is slightly less hypocritical, you really have no room to talk. See, if you want to claim moral high ground on something, you actually have to be able to hold that high ground.

And genetics? What? Let's keep this on topic.Well, you were QQ'ing about her "not fitting into 'patriarchy's' box", as if being tall is a subversive act of feminist defiance, when it's just a general oops of genetics, as men are generally taller than women.

wondering said...

It's a race thing too - basketball is considered a black person's game.

Amelia said...

Wondering: Yes, it is a race thing. Good point.

Anonymous: Perhaps it was with you that I had the discussion on another post about Michelle Obama having influence in politics. Many first ladies have been able to convince their husbands to pursue policy in their chosen fields. It happens. Denying that she has any influence at all is just wrong.

As for public figures being open season: I disagree that this means that we can say whatever we want about them. They are open to criticism when it comes to their work, but not when it comes to things like their appearance, which have little bearing on how they do their job.

Also, this is a feminist blog. I will not waste my time talking about how you believe men have it so bad because it's just not true. If you feel the need to see such topics covered on a blog, write your own.

Note: Good job trying to silence me by telling me I "have no room to talk." Too bad it failed.

Anonymous said...

It's a race thing too - basketball is considered a black person's game.I think that's really reaching.

It's not that it's a "black person's game". It's that they're generally better at it than white people. Can't really make that a "race" issue, per se.

It's not as though basketball is this "black thing" where white people shove blacks to keep them away from other things.

Sports teams want the most qualified players. In basketball, the majority of them happen to be black. I'm sure in no small part owed to the fact that (whoops, genetics again), you tend to find much taller black males than you do white.

I wouldn't say that means it's considered a "black person's game".

Amelia said...

First of all, being tall doesn't automatically make you a good basketball player. Second of all, I can't say for sure, but I have a feeling that just thinking about this in terms of "black people are better at it and that's that" is too simple. I would bet that there are various historical cultural/social reasons that certain people may be better at the game. And that could very well relate to their race.

Dianne said...

I used to sort of like Jay Mohr, but this does make him seem a little desperate.

Having said that, I'm not surprised that there would be a backlash to the whole "let's all fawn over Michelle Obama" party. I didn't expect it to come so soon. But when you pose for SO many magazine covers, especially when much of it is about something as superficial as fashion, I don't think it's reasonable to expect to receive only praise and no criticism. We (taxpayers) pay for her to have a staff to explain this to her. It's called being overexposed in the celebrity/media world. She is a celeb, and has participated in that.

I personally believe that the fashion imperative is part of an overall status obsession that contributed greatly to the economic mess the country is in, because of excessive consumption. When the First Lady chooses to be a symbol for that same industry, I find it offensive. Mind you, I felt the same way about Nancy Reagan, and about the mythology of "Jackie O"

Monica Roberts said...

Many of us in the Black community see this Jay Mohr routine through a different prism.

It's unfunny and plays into the centuries old racist Black women are either 'unfeminine' or 'less attractive' memes.

We have also seen way too many attacks on Black women lately, and especially the FLOTUS with much of the feminist blogoshere deafeningly silent about it.

Compare and contrast that with any perceived slight against Hillary Clinton or even Sarah Palin becoming a feminist call to action.