May 16, 2009

Connecting Carrie Prejean, Elizabeth Edwards, and Wanda Sykes — 3 women of the moment.

It's the essayist's challenge. Can Robin Givhan meet it? The common theme she detects is: appearance and expression inconsistent with our stereotype.
Prejean took a conservative stance. And in the cultural field guide, she is not what a conservative woman who puts her Christianity out there for public consumption is supposed to look like.

She was not buttoned up. She did not look like an escapee from "Jesus Camp." Prejean looked like someone who enjoys a good cosmo.

Prejean's words landed like a sucker punch on many who thought they knew what the opponents of same-sex marriage look like.
She was gorgeous and conservative. What a shock!
[Elizabeth Edwards] has been subject to an inordinate amount of tsk-tsking for failing to articulate the perfunctory speech about the baby's innocence and how everyone needs to do what's in the child's best interest...

[T]his woman with the soft Southern accent and the maternal air has essentially said that the baby is not her concern. That is not the expected response from a woman whose figure is devoid of sharp lines and who always seems to be dressed for a parent-teacher conference.
Ha ha. EE is fat. Make no mistake: Givhan called her fat. "Figure devoid of sharp lines" — tee hee — use that on your female enemies. Anyway... so... get it? Pudgy, unglammed women who dare not to be squishy inside — shocking!

But how was Wanda Sykes out of character? Here's where the essayist's challenge kicks into advanced mode:
Sykes, a petite black woman with a sassy mouth, had gotten pointed, political and a tad bit angry. It was as if everyone expected her to leave her opinions with the Secret Service and just dish out jovial, but mush-mouthed, commentary about being beleaguered and put-upon.

Sykes is known for her sharp tongue. She's more Bill Maher than Bill Cosby. But there's an assumption that white male comics will speak their mind and risk being offensive to get the laugh. (When Stephen Colbert performed two years ago, the press knew he'd offend some in the audience, they just didn't realize it would be them.) If Maher had made the same comments, the audience probably would have been thankful that he didn't say anything really appalling. With Sykes, it was more like: Shame on her.
Eh. I'm not seeing how Sykes deviated from what we'd expect from her. Givhan merely observes that she didn't modify herself for the White House Correspondents' Association dinner.

The essayist's task is not achieved. The parallelism is missing. The Sykes story is not about appearance and unexpected expression. Sykes was exactly Sykes, and she didn't rein it in.

32 comments:

Mr. Forward said...

Shorter Robin Givhan's

Prejean mean.

Edwards not lean.

Likes Syke's spleen.

rhhardin said...

Two of all three did not appear topless so far.

Dad Bones said...

"Sharp lines" could have tied the whole thing together. From Carrie in a swimsuit to Wanda's tongue.

Ron said...

Maybe we've found the key for Republican resurgence: more hot chicks! It seems to befuddle the left...

Pogo said...

"Everyone knows that appearances can be deceiving, but sometimes they can leave you speechless."
So exactly what 'archetype' was Wanda Sykes playing?
Court jester.
And she kept to script, avoiding any humor directed at the king.
Agreed, no deceit in her appearance, except she lacked a green-and-yellow pointy hat with bells on it mebbe.


"Because a woman who looks like that is presumed to be self-involved until proven otherwise."
Fat.
Did I mention Edwards is fat?
Fat fat fat.
As in "she let herself go" fat.
As in "so fat she must really be an Earth Mother" fat, but she isn't, she's just fat.
So fat that when she sits around the house, she sits aroooooound the house.
You know, just fat, not jolly or loving or fun, just chubby.
Huuuuuuuge.

"As when the boy in the baggy pants and bandana turns out to be smartest guy in the class."
Boy who hasn't had that happen?
Well, besides not me?

"When the fashion victim announces she has a doctorate in physics."
Isn't that precisely the expectation?

Pogo said...
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Pogo said...

"devoid of sharp lines and who always seems to be dressed for a parent-teacher conference"

But props for that, one of the best insults I have read in a long time.

Definitely goes in my bag o' snaps.

martha said...

I don't care that by being fat and unfashionable Elizabeth Edwards appeared to some to also be "motherly". Referring to her husband's love child as "IT" and repeatedly saying whether or not her husband was "IT"s father was of absolutely no importance to her or her life in her 28,000 square foot mansion with John's other children---that revealed how much Elizabeth Edwards is in denial. That was the shocker--she was thought to be the reality check in the campaign bringing her no nonsense common sense and gravitas to the campaign of her narcissistic Breck girl of a husband. EE turns out to be as self-involved and out of touch as John.

traditionalguy said...

Martha...Good observation on Mrs Edwards. Like many steel magnolias raised inside a southern value system, she sees herself as in a protected social position where no person can penetrate whom she has not approved of. If she sticks to her guns, eventually everything and everyone always lines up with her version of the facts, or just goes away. That includes her man/Boy Johnnie Edwards. I really do understand why John Edwards needed to find some love and life outside of Saint Elizabeth's Queendom. These two could be cast in a Tennesee Williams play and just be themselves.

knox said...

"devoid of sharp lines and who always seems to be dressed for a parent-teacher conference"

But props for that, one of the best insults I have read in a long time.

Indeed. You don't get much nastier than that. Robin Givhan is a Mean Girl. Who knew?

And apparently, we are expected to look skinny and fabulous for parent-teacher conferences. Thanks, Robin!

traditionalguy said...

Do the Carrie from California and the Sarah from Alaska have anything in common? Yes, they are both acknowledged spokes-women for the remaining White Anglo Saxon Protestant culture that was common culture of America until recently. Will a WASP spokes-man also be allowed into the news media limelight? Stay tuned.

elHombre said...

"Two of all three did not appear topless so far."

For which we can be grateful. But I suspect that is not your point. What is your point?

William said...

Philip Roth said that beautiful women were invisible. He meant that when you meet a beautiful woman you don't notice whether she is vain or modest, a wastrel or a cheapskate, fatuous or clever. She is beautiful and the bright arc light of that quality overawes all other qualities. Prejean took one step outside of the arc light and paradoxically became more visible....Elizabeth Edwards was another kind of invisible. I had been aware that she was living through a nightmare: death of a child, her own imminent early death, marriage to John Edwards. A trifecta of misery. Her dowdiness became a kind of invisibility cloak. You didn't have to turn your eyes away from her suffering; she blended into the background. Her respectable appearance and opinions were camouflage. Her tongue, however, was not devoid of sharp lines. She is a martyr, but the cross she bears is razor sharp. Those who attempt to lift her onto that cross will find themselves lacerated....Wanda Sykes is another kind of invisible. A short, overweight black woman absorbs rather than hogs the spotlight. She is part of the chorus. Like the black robes of the chorus, her weight and color are designed to hide her individuality. She didn't say anything really surprising. What was surprising was the malignity with which she expressed it. She attained for the moment the power of a poisonous toadstool. She wasn't the accessory to a steak; she was the big item on the menu.....

Darcy said...

Great comment, knox.

ricpic said...

A beautiful woman can only stay invisible (in the Philip Roth sense of that term) for so long. At some point it kicks in that she's a relatively decent human being...or not. Witness the number of men who throw in the towel within the first one or two years of marriage to astounding beauties.

Bruce Hayden said...

I do think that that is a stereotype of conservative women. Somehow they are supposed to be dowdy like Elizabeth Edwards. And programmed. And yet, time and time again, we see just the opposite. Indeed, I would suspect that those participating in beauty pageants are more likely to be conservative than their peers, in comparison to their general peer group (I am pointing out the demographic that seems most interested in these pageants).

What is interesting to me is that Carrie is seen by many on the left as a hypocrite because she isn't swaddled in a burkha, but on the right, seen as speaking truth to power.

Bruce Hayden said...

I have only known well one woman whom most men would have considered beautiful. And the amazing thing is that now, as she is in her 50s, and facing major physical disabilities, most men (35 and up) and women (35-60) still don't see below the surface.

I think that the reason that we are still mostly together is that I rarely ever seriously look at her. I know that sounds silly, but it started the first night we met. We danced, then spent a half an hour together waiting for her friend to finish up with the guy she was with, before they could go. And we sat companionably, side by side, watching the crowd. It took me a year or so to realize that most guys got just plain weird around her.

What they didn't see was someone who was put in special ed at one point because she wouldn't talk in class, period, and as a result of that trauma, managed to graduate with a 4.0 from high school at 16. She had her life planned out by the time she was 5, and was on track, until she lost her husband twenty years later, leaving her with two babies. She modeled through college, and as a result of the money from that, went into that marriage at 21 with a house, a Mercedes, and a college degree.

She is probably the strongest woman I have ever met, and with her brains and photographic memory, could have done anything, but chose to raise kids.

One upsides to her beauty is that she can get almost any guy to do exactly what she wants. You would think that it would end when their testosterone ended, but it doesn't. And the downside is that she has almost no women friends anywhere near her age.

And, yes, she is very conservative. More so than I. Conservative, despite having modeled for years, including having made lingerie ads.

former law student said...

I pointed out that people were crucifying Edwards for straying off the reservation one time, while not giving him props for sticking with his now matronly ex-beauty queen wife, and standing by her through her illness.

Is having one affair more morally wrong than visiting your wife -- who's hooked up to the chemo drip -- to tell her you're dumping her for a hot young babe, like Gingrich did?

dick said...

fls,

And with regard to this posting that has meaning for what part of it. Yes Newt was a POS for what he did. That is agreed on by almost everybody but how does that fit this posting at all? I did not realize that Robin Givens said anything about how the otehr team does it as well so that gives our team a pass.

EDH said...
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EDH said...

Here's how Wanda Sykes broke with the the stereotype.

The sassy talking black housekeeper is supposed to make jokes at the expense of the rich and powerful black man, not so much the doughy white neighbor.

knox said...

Thanks, Darcy!

Fen said...

Is having one affair more morally wrong than visiting your wife -- who's hooked up to the chemo drip -- to tell her you're dumping her for a hot young babe, like Gingrich did?

There you go again with that myth crap. That was a mere formality, divorce procedings started before long before she went into the hospital.

But thanks for another example of the Left drawing equivalence to what they "believe" the other side does.

Zeb Quinn said...

Anyone else buying into the story that John only cheated "once"?

Maguro said...

I pointed out that people were crucifying Edwards for straying off the reservation one time, while not giving him props for sticking with his now matronly ex-beauty queen wife, and standing by her through her illness.

No, Johnny boy gets zero "props" for staying with St. Elizabeth. Not only would she take him to the cleaners in divorce court, her public forgiveness is the key to his upcoming political rehabilitation. Dumping her would be financial and political suicide.

But if it makes you feel better to think of John Edwards as a man of principle, go for it, I guess.

former law student said...

her public forgiveness is the key to his upcoming political rehabilitation.

Check the timeline. Elizabeth was dumpy in 2004, when Edwards was Kerry's running mate. He could have dumped her after the election, and got someone younger and hotter. The next year, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Edwards could have pulled a Gingrich and dumped her then.

But it is true that only St. Ronald has been able to overcome the stigma of divorce to become President. So maybe he stuck with her primarily for his political career.

Anyone else buying into the story that John only cheated "once"?

Edwards was still boffing Elizabeth when she was 50, because that's when she got pregnant with their youngest. When that stopped, he became receptive shall we say.

Even tomcat Clinton fooled around with only one woman at a time. I suspect like Clinton with Thong-girl, Edwards couldn't resist a woman who showed she was interested in him.

Heck, look at that old crock McCain with that lobbyist.

Laura(southernxyl) said...

"Edwards was still boffing Elizabeth when she was 50, because that's when she got pregnant with their youngest."

Pregnant at 50 most likely means IVF with donor egg.

Fen said...

FLS: Check the timeline. Elizabeth was dumpy in 2004, when Edwards was Kerry's running mate. He could have dumped her after the election, and got someone younger and hotter.

You need to get some higher standards. Its not permissable to leave you wife just because she gets "dumpy"

Edwards could have pulled a Gingrich and dumped her then. But it is true that only St. Ronald has been able to overcome the stigma of divorce to become President.How lame that you have to draw equivalence to defend Edwards. And still lying about Newt.

Edwards was still boffing Elizabeth when she was 50, because that's when she got pregnant with their youngest. When that stopped, he became receptive shall we say. Even tomcat Clinton fooled around with only one woman at a time. I suspect like Clinton with Thong-girl

Nope. Clinton was fooling around with Ms Mondale and Lewinsky at the same time, sometimes on the same day. And its telling that you refer to a sexual predator as a "tomcat".

And only a fool would think this was the first time for Edwards. He got caught because he got careless from getting away with it so much.

Heck, look at that old crock McCain with that lobbyist

Another lefty lie. Geez FLS, you're full of it today. Several others have warned that you're wandering into loony territory. Today is the day I no longer assume you argue in good faith. You are no better than hd or Jeremy, and deserve to be treated as such. Enjoy.

Omnibus Driver said...

And Elizabeth Edwards is also just what she always was -- an unrepentant fame whore. Did we really need to hear the delusions she's spouting?

Cancer or no, I never could stand the woman.

former law student said...

And still lying about Newt.All the chronologies I have read agree: The former Jackie Bentley receives her cancer diagnosis, then Newt Gingrich divorces her. Have you received a separate revelation?

I have heard a rumor that Gingrich had been cheating on Jackie for years before her diagnosis, with an employee paid at government expense. Is that what you mean?

Heck, look at that old crock McCain with that lobbyist

Another lefty lie.

Hey, I read it in the New York Times. I didn't realize that the National Enquirer, which revealed Edwards' affair, maintains higher journalistic standards.

former law student said...

Pregnant at 50 most likely means IVF with donor egg.

Women go through menopause over a range of ages. My grandmother, born before WW I, had a baby in the ordinary way at age 44. The idea that a woman born two generations later would have a kid at age 50 doesn't bother me.

Fen said...

Hey, I read it in the New York Times. I didn't realize that the National Enquirer, which revealed Edwards' affair, maintains higher journalistic standards.



The irony is that yes, the National Enquirer DOES have higher journalistic standards than the NYTs.

There were rubes in the USSR who swallowed up Pravda's BS and ignored Ivestia. I always wondered how otherwise intelligent people could be so easily manipulated.

Another irony is that lefty Americans like yourself are less sophisticated about their information brokers.