Olivia Munn vs. the Internet

Sorry, Olivia, you don't compare to Diana ... well, not yet, anyway.

Self-proclaimed geek Olivia Munn is well on her way to being a correspondant for The Daily Show; she's had a couple appearances and her first full field report. She's half-Asian, she's a woman, her prior gig involved hosting a show about video-games and attending cons in costume, and she's a comedian -- that's a lot of barriers to cross!

But the feminists of the internet, oh, the feminists are angry. They are angry because they hate The Daily Show. They are angry because they hate attractive women (and of course, they hate these women because feminists are always unattractive and jealous). They want to take The Daily Show, and boobs, and the enjoyment of those things away from heterosexual men -- forever! And if you don't stop them, it'll happen! Any day now!! ... Okay, not really.

The feminists are actually angry because they love The Daily Show. Feminists are angry because they wanted Olivia Munn to be a feminist. And the geeky feminists want her to be a geek -- way more of a geek than she actually is (although she does likes gadgets, at least). They wanted her to be a lady crusader. Instead, Olivia Munn has ... not actually turrned out to be Wonder Woman. And thus, she is a huge disappointment.

At the end of the day, I'm probably on Jezebel's side in the argument -- sure, their piece is poorly researched and dangerously speculative, but they have a point, and the point is this: The Daily Show hasn't hired a female correspondant in seven years, and why on earth not? Their reasons for not doing so are kind of stupid, too:

"[Samantha Bee] said that they've been trying for another woman, but the women who tend to try for the job are too young, and they want someone who looks like they are an older, experienced reporter."

(I can't find that quote from Sam Bee anywhere more reputable, unfortunately, but let's just pretend it's accurate for the sake of argument.)

According to this study, male news anchors benefit by looking older and more experienced, whereas female anchors benefit by appearing youthful. The contrast between an older male and a younger female tests well with audiences. That's kind of creepy and paternalistic, by the way, and it's definitely a pattern that I've noticed -- but, anyway.

The Daily Show should hire for humor rather than hotness; they are a comedy show first and foremost. But if the entire point of the show is to parody real news networks -- and, uh, I'm pretty sure that's the show's central conceit -- shouldn't they endeavor to find young, attractive female correspondants to contrast their older male ones? Perhaps a young ingenue to sit next to Jon and coo and smile, just like a real male news achor would have? Because news shows ... are sexist. Or at least their old-dude-plus-young-lady formula is. It's a joke waiting to happen, and The Daily Show could stand to make it.

I laughed at Olivia Munn's recent segment -- and I was prepared to hate her, after watching a plethora of female bloggers tearing her apart for her frequently inappropriate comments and overall rudeness. But Olivia Munn makes me laugh. It would be great if she were breaking a ton of boundaries with Sady Doyle-esque feminist humor. But by lambasting The Daily Show for not hiring a woman who's "good enough", we might be discouraging them from ever trying to hire women in the future. Apparently, not hiring women pisses off feminists, but hiring women causes us to put those women under extreme scrutiny for not being feminist enough. What a mess.

Above all, I'm glad that Olivia has left her prior job at Attack of the Show. She has made a career out of being a sexy female geek and a self-hating one-of-the-guys type of woman. See: Sady Doyle's eloquent summary of Olivia's geek girl shtick at Tiger Beatdown.

I know what it's like to be that type of woman: someone who doesn't actually believe that sexism exists anymore. It took me years of being The Only Girl In the Gaming Store, and years of immersion in a One Of The Guys persona, before I began to realize that some unfair shit was going on in the games, comics, films, and communities that I had previously loved and worshipped without question. It was a depressing awakening, it took a few years, and even now I miss being ignorant about the gaping problems in the geek community. But only sort of, because knowing about these problems, and yelling loudly on the internet about these problems, makes me feel just a little bit less powerless.

Olivia Munn might someday realize that both comedy and geekery are boys' clubs. She's had to work much harder and she has had to do way more humiliating bullshit to get where she is than her male counterparts have. She may someday wonder why, on Attack of the Show, her male co-workers were never dressed as sexy maids and forced to jump into huge cream pies, nor were they told to sexually eat hot dogs for the camera and live audience, nor will they ever have to experience what she went through at her Playboy shoot (not to mention all the crap she took afterward for doing a Playboy shoot). I'm pretty sure that Jon Stewart didn't have to do anything like that to get on The Daily Show and to become the show's lead anchor. I could be wrong, though.

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