The "joke"

>> Thursday, September 30, 2010

The "joke"

The joke is that the tables have turned on CNN. Using hot blondes to seduce interviewees to get screwed on television, you are faux seducing her in order to screw her on television.

-"Ben," explaining the premise of the "CNN Caper"
somehow intended to embarrass CNN journalist Abbie Boudreau

I don't get it.

By now you've probably heard about this whole business about James "I'm Not A Pimp But I Play One On Hidden Video" O'Keefe trying to "punk" (this keeps showing up in quotes) a CNN newscaster. If you're arriving late, what happened is a CNN reporter, Abbie Boudreau, was doing a report on young conservatives, and she wanted to talk to James O'Keefe, the guy who catapulted himself into fame by shooting the infamous ACORN video and then getting himself arrested trying to break into a congresswoman's office. O'Keefe evidently was going to pull a "prank" (these quotation marks are distressingly necessary) by meeting Ms. Boudreau on a houseboat decked out with a bunch of crap from an adult novelties store, where he was going to "pretend" to "seduce" her.

Do you get it? Explain it to me. Seriously.

I mean, I honestly don't get what the gag is. I get that some conservatives have decided to out-Michael-Moore Michael Moore in spite of the fact that Moore has gone from being a guy who used visual ironies to say some interesting and provocative things to being a guy who's really increasingly strident and irrelevant. (And I say this as a former fan who has a couple of Moore's books on his shelves at home, one who faithfully watched TV Nation back in the day and one who has seen most of Moore's movies.) I'm not sure why they want to do that, in other words, but I get that that's the deal. What I don't get is why they're so intent on being so strikingly unclever and unfunny in the way they're going about it, or why they're incapable of seeing that Moore's schtick, when it works, actually has a point in illustrating some sort of obvious dissonance between stated and actual realities.

If this latest effort had actually... I don't know if "succeeded" is the right word, but we'll go with it: if it had actually "succeeded," what would it have shown? That a CNN reporter can be embarrassed? That CNN reporters show up to do preliminary interviews and sometimes their subjects act like horny seventeen year-olds whose entire knowledge of women, romance and sexuality comes from reading "Penthouse Letters"? ("Dear Penthouse, I cannot believe it happened to me, but there I was on a houseboat with this hot TV babe and a condom jar....")

It's also difficult to get past the obvious infantile misogyny of the whole production; there's a line in This Is Spinal Tap that comes to mind, Marti DiBergi is asking the band about their bad press and quotes a review that describes the band as "wallowing in their own retarded sexuality." First James O'Keefe dresses as a "pimp" and has a female colleague dress as a "hooker," and their getups (which they apparently didn't actually wear for their actual interviews with ACORN reps, but that's not even the point I'm getting at), their getups are entirely derived from blaxploitation depictions of pimps and hookers, which they say is part of the joke but really looks sort of like PoMo minstrelsy when you step back from it. Then O'Keefe breaks into a congresswoman's office, which could just be a fifty-fifty chance their victim would have a uterus, so let it pass. But then there's this, where, basically, O'Keefe's thing is to sexually harass a female reporter; one wonders if this whole "seduction" setup, with it's dildos, condom jar, porn, fuzzy handcuffs, "posters and paintings of naked women," etc. would have been suggested were the target a dude.

It doesn't look like I'm the only person who noticed this; while fact-checking, I hit a HuffPo link to a blog post by Alex Leo: "James O'Keefe, the 'CNN Caper' & Men Who Hate Women". Leo writes:

...this plan is so obviously the work of people threatened by women with power, by women they can't control, by women with opposing views, by women who are not submissive to them. It is the perfect example of how people with impressive resumes are discounted because of their looks (if they also happen to have breasts). The document encourages people to "make sure to emphasize Abbie's name and overall status to help burden her career with this video, incident and her bad judgment in pursuing you so aggressively." They weren't only trying to embarrass her, they were trying to destroy her. Why? Because she's educated? Has a voice? Dares to ask questions?

Indeed. Or it may be simpler than that: perhaps the real issue is that James O'Keefe and some of his cohorts are generally incapable of seeing a woman in anything other than classic Madonna-whore terms.

Consider: in the "punk CNN" plan, there's no "joke" even to be filmed if the subject, Ms. Boudreau, reacts by telling O'Keefe to go fuck himself and walks right out the door, or if she resorts straightaway to the can of mace on her keychain. If O'Keefe reaches out to embrace Boudreau and she punches him in his junk and calls the police, who, precisely, has been "punked"? The only way the game works to compromise Boudreau at all is if she goes for the bait, i.e. she is so totally into O'Keefe, man, oh yeah, she totally wants it, uh-huh. If she responds in anything like a professional or self-protective manner, the whole gig's off, but if she's hot for it....

In short, the whole setup for the "joke," such as it is, presumes that Abbie Boudreau is no Madonna.

It is difficult for me to articulate just how offensive the preening little jackanape and his friends are when you look at it that way. He is a sexist little prick, conceited and stupid, who fancies himself an activist because he's learned to punch the record button on a digital camera in much the same way an orangutan who has been taught to ride the bicycle for the circus might fancy himself a human.

He can go straight to Hell.


Rachael Thursday, September 30, 2010 at 1:37:00 AM EDT  

Thank you for the awesome reminder of what a real feminist man sounds like. :)

neurondoc Thursday, September 30, 2010 at 9:45:00 AM EDT  

From my female perspective (such as it is), this whole plan sounds like a man thinking with his little head.

Steve Buchheit Thursday, September 30, 2010 at 10:36:00 AM EDT  

It sounds a lot to me like it's someone who had big success with a small idea and wasn't called out on the obvious jerkery of the whole things (such as they lied with their video because they didn't wear the costumes so prominently displayed in the edited version and also were kicked out of 10 or 12 ACORN offices before they found one willing to even meet them).

Also, for him to be a "hero" in a party of "law and order" when he is a convicted felon to me just exposes the obvious hypocrisy of the conservative movement.

And all of that, for me, is before we get to the "mental processes and world view not much beyond a 10-year-old-with-his-first-boner" problems. But then, I've said before, much of the conservative movement, especially the Social Conservative movement, is about rolling back the sexual revolution and advancement of women in our society (not far, but enough we can say there's been movement). Including the Right to Life idiocy.

And since you did the orangutang joke, now all I think of is this idiot dancing around like King Louie singing, "I wanna be like you-oo-oo."

Thanks, Eric. Bastard.

Random Michelle K Thursday, September 30, 2010 at 10:59:00 AM EDT  

Just to state something you missed here, good for Izzy Santa for stopping the "joke" before it happened.

It quite obviously cost her, as she's been removed from her duties at Veritas, so she should be commended for stopping the sexual assault (because that is precisely what that was going to be) of the CNN reporter before it happens.

One can also hope that the moderate Republicans would recognize where the extremists in their party are going, and support Santa and champion her as someone who will stand up to the whack-a-loons.

Eric Thursday, September 30, 2010 at 11:29:00 AM EDT  

Michelle, thanks for calling attention to that. Ms. Santa should indeed be commended for pulling the plug on the whole thing.

It seems pretty clear that Ms. Santa was horrified and disgusted by the whole thing: one absolutely hopes that she's more typical of young conservatives than asshats like O'Keefe who end up getting all the attention.

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