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Let's Play a New Game Called "Is That Sexist?"

By Emily Chambers | Celebrities Are Better than You | August 26, 2014 | Comments ()


sofia vergara.jpg

New game, guys. Today we’ll be playing “Is That Sexist? Sofia Vergara Edition.” At last night’s Emmy ceremony while Academy of Television Arts & Sciences president Bruce Rosenblum talked about stuff and about how the Emmys are great, Sofia Vergara provided the eye candy by standing on a rotating pedestal. Here’s the video in question:

The internet pretty quickly jumped on the “That’s sexist” side of the debate.

From Jezebel:

Instead of the usual boring spiel the President gives every year, they decided to throw Sofia Vergara on a spinning platform while giving the same boring spiel. She was treated like a literal object. And we’re not the only ones that noticed.

And Vulture:

Low: Sofia Vergara spinning on a pedestal. Come to Hollywood, where you, too, can be objectified, no matter how many Emmys your show is nominated for — you’re just here to be a body. Ugh, this shit has got to stop.

And a random Twitter sampling:


Vergara responded that “hell no, it’s not sexist”:

“I think its absolutely the opposite,” Vergara shot back at critics of the stunt, while speaking with the press backstage. “It means that somebody can be hot and also be funny and make fun of herself. I think it’s ridiculous that somebody started this — I know who she was — who has no sense of humor [and should] lighten up a little bit.”

There’s a lot to consider. On the one hand, Vergara willingly played up the objectification so it could be seen as a post feminist reclamation of objectification. Woman can now decide if they want to be treated like objects so they should be allowed to do so if they so choose. On the other hand, sexism is such an entrenched part of our society that it’s often overlooked or even seen as normal. It’s vital that we continue to examine our own practices and customs, including arts and entertainment, to ensure that unchecked sexism isn’t masquerading as humor or sexual empowerment.

What do I think? Oh, I don’t care because this sketch was boring as shit. I mean, is it sexist? Probably. But mostly it’s a completely tired, unfunny bit that should cost at least one writer his job.

What the hell was going on last night, Emmy writers? Were you also thrown off because the show was on a Monday? Did you forget about it until the last minute and then had to put a bunch of nonsense together? Because you had a lot of really funny people involved in that show, and most of it wasn’t funny. Do you remember the Messing Parsons joke? That might have been the best thing you wrote all night. I want you to sit by yourself and think about that for a while.

Verdict: Sarah Silverman hosts next year.

Source: The Wrap







Are you following Pajiba on Facebook or Twitter? Every time you do, Bill Murray crashes a wedding.


Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not


  • Emm82

    Personally, I think it is sexist. however I am a feminist & will fight for womans right to do what she likes with her own body, even if I don't agree with it.

  • James

    Every single time this site does one of their many juvenile lame who's the hottest list with men and women in underwear I'll remember this. And please spare me the " but we are equal opportunity offenders because we objectify both sexes " BULLSHIT! Pajiba objectifies men and women every god dam week and you are hypocrites for complaining about this? PERIOD.

  • Dominic

    Hey ( tosses the flag ) No Fair Emily ! RedEye , Greg Gutfeld's show on FOX , has been doing an "Is That Sexist " segment for a few months now .. give 'em credit ....
    Obv Vergara could care less ; doesn't she actually show more skin on her show ? she WAS in a floor-length gown , just that it was cut to accentuate her hips ...maybe the outrage would be justified if she was wearing a bikini ? I doubt even she would agree to that tho ...

  • Rico

    Sarah Silverman was gorgeous last night and definitely high. I fell in love.

  • muscleman

    They should have put McConaughey up there.

  • John W

    As soon as I realized what they were doing I thought "uh oh".

    I wonder if Julianna Margulies wants to take back her "this is a good year for women in television" quote.

  • Dominic

    lol
    Tho as I pointed out in another thread all of MY fave shows on TV now have female leads ; Orphan Black , Continuuum , Bitten , True Blood - sorry to see AnnaP go - Homeland , Outlander , etc. Other shows are female-dominated ; Defiance , Dominion Agents of Shield , for ex ...
    The Good Wife is both ; as Julianna ( who Dominates the Small Screen ) leads her show , but Christine and Archie ( Diane , Kalinda ) get almost as many scenes
    you could trace this back for Hollywood as starting with Sigourney , in the Alien movies , and Jessica Alba as Angel , for TV ...

  • pissants_doppelganger

    What's wrong with being sexy?

  • Mrs. Julien

    Maybe you just don't talk for a while.

    Not sexy, sexIST.

  • pissants_doppelganger

    For the Spinal Tap quote?

  • Jo 'Mama' Besser

    I'm confused and afraid.

  • Mrs. Julien

    I got it, I misquoted my response which should have been:

    You don't talk so much - just smile and look smart.

  • pissants_doppelganger

    Well well well, the joke is on you because I wouldn't have gotten your quote.

  • Mrs. Julien

    Shall I fix it? I'll go fix it.

  • kirbyjay

    Would everyone be in an uproar if some woman exec had Joe Mangiello spinning on a pedestal? I think not. Men like to look at beautiful women, women like to look at hot men. It's life. The point of this exercise was that the exec's speech was boring and looking at SV was not. I don't get the undies in a bunch about an actress choosing to be a sexual object, she's built her career on that. What does bunch my undies are Muslims covering up women because they are not expected to control themselves, societies that treat women as breeders, countries that allow sexual mutilation, men who blame rape victims, men who treat women like they're stupid, men who beat women. etc....ETC....ETCETERA!!!
    Jeeeeze...lighten up.

  • fuzzwuzz

    Please source your Dawkins quotes.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    You know what would've been funny? If the male exec had said, hey, I'm not much to look at, but Joe Managaniello is, so look at him while I talk. That would've been a proxy, and funny. Or putting both Vergara and Manganiello up on pedestals could've been funny. This was same old, same old, and lazy to boot.

    I'm not in an uproar about it. But that doesn't mean it can't be called out. Everyday sexism matters too.

  • Art3mis

    Maybe you're only capable of being concerned about a finite number of instances of sexism, but some of us are able to simultaneously worry about female genital mutilation and the objectification of women on television.

  • kirbyjay

    So sexual attraction is now taboo? I'll alert the media.
    I'm quite capable of being concerned about sexism in many capacities, thank you very much, but I don't happen to think that it was sexist, just silly.
    You seem to think I can only be concerned about a "finite" number of sexist instances, but if you read my post you'll see that I emphasized "etcetera", which pretty much negates the "finite".
    Yes, that is sarcasm. I get downright snippy at "some of you" that can't see the humor in something but just look for something to be offended by.

  • vivkane

    Is no one else DYING to know who Vergara thinks "started this"?? Who"has no sense of humor [and should] lighten up a little bit”? Is it Julie Bowen? I hope she thinks it's Julie Bowen.

  • chrisahl

    "unfunny bit that should cost at least one writer her job"

    Still feel that way? You might, but I'd like confirmation.

  • Art3mis

    As Emily already said, that wouldn't make it any better. But there's also very little chance a woman wrote that bit, since according to Seth Meyers the writers for the Emmys were: himself, some of his Late Night writers (9/10 men), and some SNL writers (22/29 men, including all 3 head writers).

    Which is, of course, part of the problem with making a joke where the Academy president (wonder how many times that role has been held by a woman) reads a speech while a woman rotates on a pedestal to provide eye candy.

  • Emily Chambers

    Yes.

  • chrisahl

    Deplorable. But at least you are consistent.

    Ignoring the fact that I'm not sure what "job" should be terminated (writing for the award show?), the notion that someone should lose their livelihood because of the bit is disturbing.

  • mzbitca

    She's saying that a comedy writer (someone who is supposed to write funny things for a living) did not write a funny thing and that's why they should lose their job. You know, for not meeting their job descriptions...

  • chrisahl

    Firstly, I don't believe you are accurate as to what she is saying.

    Moreover, you posit that her statement is that a comedy writer should lose their job for a writing a single unfunny bit? Making no statement as to the specifics of this bit, that sentiment is ludicrous.

  • pissants_doppelganger

    It may be ludicrous if taken literally. Not that I could speak for Emily Chambers, but I don't feel as though she literally means someone should lose their job.

  • SamuraiShampoo

    That's just petty.

  • Bad skit, but Sofia has built her career on her physical attributes and sense of humor. Before Modern Family, she did all sorts of shows on Univision (Spanish-language TV) where she played up her sexuality with her personality. (If I'm honest, Spanish-language TV is far more comfortably sexist than anything network TV delivers).

    So is it sexist? In the abstract, yes. In terms of whether or not it degraded her, I'm not so sure. She was comfortable with it. And, at times, I think that's the harder part to reconcile: how someone can comfortably allow herself and others to objectify her and not feel like she's an object.

  • laylaness

    I was gonna say, isn't this kind of her thing?

  • JustOP

    Is it sexist? Most likely. Is it something to get worked up about? ? No, it's a harmless joke that the woman was completely in on.

  • Enrique del Castillo

    Sexist or not, it was a dumb joke and that's one of the reasons it should be criticized

  • JoannaRobinson

    Earlier on the red carpet Vergara said she didn't bring ALLEGED boyfriend Joe Manganello because he was too pretty and would upstage her. But let me tell you what, if it have been Manganello AND Vergara on spinning platforms. Ken AND Barbie? Problem solved. At Pajiba we've always enjoyed equal opportunity objectification.

  • Mrs. Julien

    Is the thinking that she is a metaphorical beard for the literally bearded Mangojello?

  • Genevieve Burgess

    I agree with this statement. If they'd had her on one side, and an equally drool-worthy dude on the other, it'd be more "Look at the pretty people while we read this boring copy!" Rather than the standard "Pretty lady = eye candy" trope.

  • Halbs

    I kept waiting for the Will Ferrell Christmas skit callback where she'd projectile vomit for like 30 seconds.

  • AverageGIJoe

    I don't find this a tenth as offensive and degrading as I felt that Nicki Minaj EVERYONE LOOK AT MY ASS segment/garbage was, but to each his own.

  • Benny Gesserit

    They should have sped the pedestal up while he was trying to get through the spiel to see if she could stay on until he finished. Let her change into runners so she's have a chance, rubber mats galore and if she stays, the academy donates $20 to a children's charity for everyone in the audience. If she falls first, everyone in the audience donates $20.

  • wonkeythemonkey

    I like the way you think.
    Can we get a bucket of ice water involved somewhere in there?

  • Benny Gesserit

    I dunno - maybe it's tipping towards academy drone for every time he deviates from the script - the script written specifically with tongue twisters. So not only does he have to do it quick, he's gotta be accurate.

    "Stand like a rugby player, Sofia, you got this. He's goin' down."

  • mairimba

    Oh, Sofia. Don't you know you have to have the word 'FEMINIST' glowing in the background so everyone is ok with whatever you planned on doing on stage?

  • JoannaRobinson

    Your Beyonce shade continues to baffle me.

  • AverageGIJoe

    Please explain how the connection baffles you. Anyone who thinks Beyonce's gig is solely aimed at women needs to have their head checked.

  • Mrs. Julien

    Why do you assume that people are incapable of a thorough and cogent evaluation of their popular culture? Isn't that the point of Pajiba? Why do you assume that we don't understand that more than one thing can be going on? That we are naive? Beyonce may be cynically using feminism to appeal to a segment of her real and potential market, but since self-identifying as a feminist is greeted with derision in many circles that seems unlikely. Even if she is using it cynically, I don't care. The word feminist, like the word liberal before it, has been successfully manipulated and demonized by a vocal segment of the population and if she reclaims it and reminds people of its actual meaning (while doing whatever she wants with what is, after all, her body), then I say more power to her.

  • JustOP

    I think the acts of many so called 'feminists' have helped manipulate and demonize the meaning to many people.

  • AverageGIJoe

    I'm merely saying that if Miley, Beyonce, Nicki Minaj, *whoever*, is scantily clad and being, let's just say "provactive", it's hailed as this empowering embracing-their-sexuality phenomena. So why is what Vergara did any different? Because it was a joke?

    That's an honest question. If it had been a serious, dead-pan moment and not played for laughs, would it be deemed a landmark moment like Beyonce's Sunday night?

  • Art3mis

    Because when Beyoncé does it, she's the one talking. The show is about her. She may look good doing it, or wear revealing clothing, but she's sending a clear message that she's in control, that she's saying what she wants to say, and most of what she does say is about women and about taking charge.

    What Vergara did was silently stand on a revolving podium explicitly to be objectified while a man who is in charge of the whole shebang gave a speech. There's a pretty clear difference between that and Beyoncé.

  • Why can't Beyonce' target both male and women audiences as a self-professed feminist? For both, she is taking claim to her own body to entertain as she deems fit. Yes, she is playing on the male heterosexual gaze and how they are drawn in by the sexualization and objectification of a woman's body. But that certainly isn't her end all goal if plastering 'Feminist' on the stage.

  • Mrs. Julien

    Are you agreeing with me? Because I agree with you.

  • Yes, I should have really replied to AverageGIJoe. Disqus confuses me with thread chains at times.

  • Mrs. Julien

    It can be hard to keep track with all of the patronizing going on.

  • JenVegas

    I'm never entirely sure what's more sexist, a woman using her own body as part of a joke and clearly being OK with it (regardless of how unfunny we all thought it was.) Or, the world telling that woman that what she decided to do with her own body was sexist.

  • Ali2044

    The majority of women once thought it was perfectly acceptable that they were unable to vote or own property too. That didn't mean it was non-sexist.

  • Genevieve Burgess

    I think that one can critique activities women take part in as to whether or not they are sexist activities. No one's saying Ms.Vergara couldn't do this, obviously she could and she did, but just because a woman took part in this willingly doesn't make it immune to criticism. Women can be enforcers of sexism just as men can, and they can be active participants in things which are sexist in nature.

    In a vaccum, what happened was simply unfunny. A joke which fell flat. In a world where women had equal representation at all levels of the entertainment industry and were primarily judged by the caliber of their work rather than their appearance, we'd all roll our eyes and move on. That's not the world we live in, and so making a "joke" about how a woman is only useful as eye candy while we listen to a boring speech reinforces a status quo that says a woman's worth in entertainment is entirely determined by her appearance. Ms.Vergara's willing participation doesn't change that larger dynamic.

  • Thank you so much for this. Perfectly stated.

  • denesteak

    so much yes to this.

  • lemurlove

    "Women can be enforcers of sexism just as men can, and they can be active participants in things which are sexist in nature." Exactly. That's what the struggle is about--changing THIS, not changing men's minds.

  • Fall07

    If they wanted to make fun of objectification, they could have put him on the pedestal and had her read the boring speech. Still not funny... but at least it would have been slightly interesting.

  • foolsage

    Now, if they'd dressed some shlubby guy in a skimpy and objectifying outfit, and made him pose while she (fully and conservatively dressed) read the list... ok, that could work, because it'd be a reversal of expectations. Or as others have suggested, they could put an equally attractive man up there with her; that wouldn't be funny, but at least it'd be equally objectifying.

  • Mrs. Julien

    Sofia Vergara has built her career on being in on the joke. It was funny enough, but that doesn't make it any less sexist, just participatory. Her character on Modern Family is the same to me from a cultural perspective.

  • Kim Voeks

    Doesn't matter that she co-signed on it. Doesn't matter that it was funny. (If it was.) It displayed her like a piece of meat for male approval. She can be wrong. It can be funny and it can still be sexist.

  • logan

    Hey what about the Lesbians?

  • Genevieve Burgess

    I think it would have worked better as a 'bit' if they'd had the Academy President come out and joke about how no one ever listened when he did his spiel, so they were trying something new. Sofia comes out, and reads his speech off cards he hands to her, while posing and winking at the camera. Putting her on a LITERAL pedestal and spinning her around like a shiny new car just felt cheap, and not as clever or funny as they wanted it to be. Hell, my way still wouldn't necessarily be funnier, but it would at least be a little better optics-wise.

  • logan

    That was actually my interpretation of the bit. That what he was saying was so boring that to get through it we give your the Lovely Lady to look at.

    But yeah it was sexist but in the best way possible as the Lovely Lady was very willing and she was not dressed sexily.

    To be fair they could of put Mc Conaughey as well and no could complain cuz he would've liked it.

  • Genevieve Burgess

    Well, yeah, that's the joke but the idea that women can be used as pretty props isn't exactly groundbreaking material, you know? Still a little too close to an accepted truth regarding women's worth AND that straight men are the default audience for anything. Using a man doesn't create the same problem because men's worth has never been tied entirely to their appearance, even in entertainment, and it would even be slightly subversive to say that a general audience would be as interested in an attractive man as they would be in an attractive woman.

  • logan

    Oh yeah I knew when they did it that people would complain about it.

    It is sexist. It is objectification. I mean a pedestal? Didn't they have a gold cage available?

    They should of, as others have said, put a man and a woman up there if they had to do it.
    Honestly it was just another Emmys bit that was not that funny to me.

    Actually I thought the whole show was below average at best.

  • MarTeaNi

    Is "reclamation of objectification" a thing you can even do? Objectification is a reduction of a person by the outside world, how can you reclaim being robbed of agency? You can be complicit in objectification, or make fun of it, or you can argue that a thing isn't objectification, but I don't think you can "reclaim" being objectified.

    Or you can be bored to the point of tears because whatever it was, it was dumb.

  • Exactly. That's the thing about sexism: like racism, it's about institutional power and privilege. You can reclaim sexuality, but reclaiming objectification is a far hazier battleground.

  • BrokenWindows

    Reclaiming objectification implies that at some point the objectified group approved of or participated in the objectification willingly.

    Not sure that's true.

  • lemurlove

    A Mar TeaNi and Zeke--I think you two have it right--this is why I read Pajiba!

    "Woman can now decide if they want to be treated like
    objects so they should be allowed to do so if they so choose"--and their communal responsibility to others? What about that? Do they think that there is no such thing?

  • colpetty

    "and their communal responsibility to others?"

    Surely that's a call she gets to make?

  • lemurlove

    She made it. If you're saying that a sense of communal responsibility (and appropriate action) can't be forced on someone, yes, you're right. No beheading for her! But one would hope that enough of the right messages get through to people so that they consider how their actions impact others.

    You'll say, define "right messages". I say, "mine!" [not being serious here, obviously]

  • colpetty

    Actually I won't because I agree with you. One does hope. Thing is that the moment you think progress is being made, your eyes open to the vast population who just don't get how this can be sexist (a case of culture, tradition of rigidly defined gender roles). Case in point, back in my country, the latest flashpoint is a girl, after being subject to horrendous verbal harassment, literally lashed out and handed her abuser a sound thrashing. The result, she has been arrested, people are commenting that she has shamed herself and her family (for essentially standing up for herself, albeit in a violent manner) and the national news papers have noted that she should undergo a psyche evaluation. It would make the blood boil but this is par for the course. https://www.youtube.com/watch?...

  • colpetty

    oh and watch with the sound on low

  • Altius

    I see where people are calling it sexist, but I thought it was amusing. Vergara's obviously making a joke of it, so that probably helped.

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