One of my favourite comedy shows… in fact, one of the few truly unmissable shows currently on air… The Daily Show, came in for a bit of a kicking recently regarding its Feminist credentials, or lack thereof. I don’t want to get into that, because the many women who currently work on the show, both on and off camera, made a public statement asserting that they feel respected and valued, so that’s pretty much the end of it, really. Unless someone produces a photo of Jon Stewart holding a gun to their collective head, of course. It’s unfortunate that this controversy has blown up really, because it clouds a more important issue… i.e., the issue of just how unfunny and awkward their “new girl”, Olivia Munn, seems to be. I’d never actually heard of her before, so I just saw her as a cute chick doing a very, very poor Samantha Bee impersonation, which sucked all the humour out of her exchanges with Stewart, and caused me to mute the TV to avoid unnecessary buttock-clenching during her Arizona interviews. Apparently she already has a fair amount of broadcasting experience, so there is every possibility that she, and the TDS writers, will “find her voice”, and she’ll become a more confident and unique comedic talent… but there’s also every possibility that she’ll continue on as she is, smothering the life out of her skits, until they die a sad, slow, laugh-less death.
In an ever-so-slightly touchy interview with Salon, Munn remarks that “if you stand up for women, then don’t bash me”… which is an interesting angle to take. Does “Feminism” simply mean blindly cheering on any successful woman, regardless of how she succeeded, and who she left trampled and bloody in her wake? She won, therefore she’s unimpeachable? I’m not sure I can get with that. Still, I wasn’t present during the auditions, and I don’t have any idea what her competition was like. Munn says: “Jon Stewart hires people that he thinks are funny. That’s it. That’s the only requirement… It’s not about guys or girls. The best man or woman wins the role.” So, she was the funniest person they saw, full stop? Mmmkay. I think it’s pretty obvious that her looks and gender were a factor, as was, presumably, the following she’s attracted thus far… and I don’t have a problem with any of that. I agree with Munn that it’s ridiculous to bring up her past appearances in Playboy and Maxim, as a stick to beat her down with. Big S has done some smokin’ hot photoshoots for those mags too, but it hasn’t hindered her comic genius any. Sex appeal is just another arrow in her amply stocked quiver. That shouldn’t be sniffed at, nor should it be disingenuously denied. As a hetero male, and a wannabe Feminist, I love and admire smart, sexy, funny women… so really I have every reason to want to see Munn prove me (and the other doubters/haters) wrong. But how long will we have to wait?