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Funny vs. Feminine

by 2 May 02, 2013

Ok luvvies, this might get awkward.

We look at female celebrities all the time. Most are championed primarily for their beauty and physique, and secondarily for their actual talent, right? I mean, consider the typical example of red carpet tv programming. Viewers assess, at Seacrest’s encouragement, each woman’s appearance first – namely, her dress and her hair and her jewelry and her makeup – and then her reason for attendance.

I’m not hating on the superficiality of mass culture specifically, but rather the awkward thing that happens when a widely-acknowledged “beautiful” woman makes the attempt at being clever. Or even the inverse: when a comedienne goes glam. I’ll admit it can feel a bit bizarre. But I’m wondering if that’s not just a “chicken-and-egg” phenomenon, meaning, has there always been this line drawn between the “pretty” actresses and the “funny” actresses, or has our recent HD, image-obsessed society created it? Why in the big leagues of the television and movie business are women forced to choose between being funny and being feminine? Are there two doors in every audition room, and after you do your bit they point you through one or the other, to be forever typecast?

[caption id="attachment_1671" align="aligncenter" width="363"]"choose your career path, please." "choose your career path, please."[/caption]

With the recently cultish popularity of HBO’s Girls, (read all about it here on helloluvvy!), I began considering very seriously the funny vs. feminine dichotomy. The more I thought about my favorite female comedians, the more I realized that almost all of them had sacrificed their beauty/femininity in order to be seen not as a “funny woman,” but just as “funny.” In the cases of actresses/comedians like Roseanne Barr, Sarah Silverman, and Lena Dunham, they’ve gone so far to de-feminize themselves, (so to as not confuse/ distract the male audience?), they have taken on an air of masculinity which seems to manifest in their appearances, behaviors, and – most notably – their material.

sarah silverman

It’s a real catch-22: to retain one’s femininity as a comedian means making the typical female-directed jokes about weight-gain, eating chocolate, and how evil men are; however, to entertain both sexes means to abandon the uniquely-feminine focus of one’s material, and instead approach the depravity and transcendence of observational comedy, therefore surrendering whatever qualities might be considered “lady-like.”

[caption id="attachment_1668" align="aligncenter" width="284"]here dunham showcases the irony of being a "funny girl" here dunham showcases the irony of being a "funny girl"[/caption]

To appeal to both men and women as a comedian demands that the performer introduce subjects that make viewers uncomfortable: sex, bodily functions, self-deprecation etc. Now while the average American viewer will appreciate the candor and vulgarity of this unconventional woman, he or she will not be drawn to them in a social or romantic way. The blur of gender characteristics is too confusing: But women aren’t supposed to talk that way!

tina fey

I guess the remaining question is: So what? What can or should be done to open the eyes and minds of the typical American viewer? Part of me feels that we, as a nation devoted to our celebrities, are moving in the right direction thanks to the hard work of comediennes like Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, and Cecily Strong: these women are capable of being hilarious without getting nasty, and also manage to preserve the integrity of their femininity.

amy poehler

As I’ve said in regards to other topics, it would be soooo easy to blame the men on this one. However, I do think that the younger generations of American men are becoming more appreciative of a funny woman, and perhaps more willing to recognize the humor behind the struggles of being female.

So my luvvies, what do you think? Hit us up on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram with your ideas about funny females: does a girl have to choose between being humorous and hot? Between clever and cute? Give us your feedback!

Katie-Signature





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