It’s nice to know what the guy who made our favorite Disney movies possible really thinks about female comedians.
Here’s the gist of the ridiculous story which has been making the media rounds over the weekend: former Disney CEO Michael Eisner told Goldie Hawn that the only reason she succeeded in Hollywood is because she managed to be both funny and beautiful — a combination of traits which, according to Eisner, is almost impossible to find.
“From my position, the hardest artist to find is a beautiful, funny woman,” Eisner said (as quoted by The Hollywood Reporter). “They usually — boy am I going to get in trouble, I know this goes online — but usually, unbelievably beautiful women, you being an exception, are not funny.”
Digging himself deeper into this shockingly (should we be shocked? Maybe not) sexist hole, Eisner added, “I know women who have been told they’re beautiful, they win Miss Arkansas, they don’t ever have to get attention other than with their looks. So they don’t tell a joke. In the history of the motion-picture business, the number of beautiful, really beautiful women — a Lucille Ball — that are funny, is impossible to find.”
Impossible? Sure, in a world where Lucille Ball holds some kind of epic level of beauty which, say, Meryl Streep or Julia Louis-Dreyfus don’t. But since most of us don’t live in that world, I call BS.
Just like humor is subjective, so is beauty — and while Hollywood’s beauty standards are ridiculous, Eisner’s seem even more so. Maybe he’s been so wrapped up with his Disney animations, he thinks real women look like cartoon characters.
Of course Eisner’s backwards opinion wouldn’t be so troubling, if he didn’t happen to be such an influential voice in the entertainment industry.
He ran Disney for more than 20 years, for crying out loud: from 1984 to 2005 Eisner called the shots, essentially planning out “The Disney Decade” franchise expansion. He had tremendous influence — and with that attitude, it’s not surprising that women in Hollywood are still facing absurd levels of sexism today.
But the truth is, of course, that Eisner is just plain wrong. You can’t spit without hitting a funny, beautiful woman these days. (In fact, perversely, it’s no longer enough for a woman to just be beautiful to succeed. Hollywood demands more, so much more, of its female stars. Having it all is a much-abhorred cliché for a reason.)
And lest we let ourselves buy into the “women aren’t funny” myth so often perpetuated throughout history: there’s never actually been a time where Eisner’s statements would have been true. Even Shakespeare allowed his female characters to be both funny and beautiful, even if, at the time, they were portrayed by men. And by all accounts, Marie Antoinette was a riot (no pun intended).
Yet Eisner still thought it was a good idea to publicly express a sentiment which has no place in 2015 — no, scratch that, has no place in a civilized, post-invention of fire society.
Unfortunately, Eisner’s comments — expressed with a wink and a nod towards this silly place called the Internet, where no backlash holds significance — are only the latest in a long line of exceedingly desperate, absurd statements from big-name Hollywood execs (both men and women) struggling to hold onto a balance of power slipping away from them.
A post-patriarchal society is, after all, a terrifying thing if you’re adverse to change. For people accustomed to a world in which one gender rules another, the idea of “equality” must be impossible to grasp. They assume, based on what they know, that the elevation of women must mean the suppression of men.
Eisner, evidently, still lives in a world in which men can be anything — funny or attractive or tall or thin or loud or bald or a combination of these — and in which women have to choose one adjective and stick to it (and where the standard of “beautiful” and “funny” can still be defined by people like him).
And I’m sure that’s a nice fantasy, for someone who has benefited greatly from this kind of suppression in the past.
It’s too bad for Eisner, then, that this world no longer exists. And we should stop humoring backwards-thinking people like him, right now.
Celebrating the (countless) funny and beautiful women in Hollywood
So enough of Eisner, his time has clearly come and gone. Time to focus on what really matters: the staggering amount of women living and working in Hollywood and proving him wrong, every single day.
There are too many to count, let alone name in this article. But let’s give it a whirl.
Just to start somewhere: Amy Poehler and Tina Fey, my own personal favorite Hollywood comediennes (it seems a travesty to mention one without the other). Their respective sitcoms, Parks and Recreation and 30 Rock, prove that not only can women be funny and beautiful (gasp!) they can also be rude, awkward, powerful, unyielding, distressed, broken, and in charge.
Then there’s Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Mindy Kaling, and Ellie Kemper, all headlining shows of their own, and kicking ass. All of the above adjectives apply.
There’s Anna Kendrick, who is surely on everyone‘s list (you know the one I’m talking about). Emma Stone, Elizabeth Banks, Aisha Tyler, Reese Witherspoon, Jennifer Lawrence. Too bad they’re so ugly, right Eisner? Cause they are hilarious.
There’s Meryl Streep, queen of the world. Melissa McCarthy, queen of our hearts. Ellen DeGeneres. Betty White. Gina Rodriguez. Sandra Bullock. Rebel Wilson. Kristen Wiig. Sofia Vergara. Jane Lynch.
I could keep going, so I’m gonna: Megan Mullally. Maya Rudolph. Laverne Cox. Catherine Tate. Sarah Michelle Gellar. Maggie Smith. Lena Dunham. Karen Gillan. Amy Schumer. Christina Applegate. Jenna Fischer. Aubrey Plaza. Jane Krakowski. America Ferrera. Whoopie Goldberg. Rashida Jones. Cobie Smulders. Kate McKinnon. Alyson Hannigan. Lisa Kudrow. Leslie Jones. Olivia Munn. Anna Faris. Portia De Rossi. Sarah Silverman. Margaret Cho. Jessica Williams. Jennifer Aniston. Wanda Sykes… and alright, add your own names to the list in the comments, because I’m pushing 50 at this point, and I’m not even trying.
Ugh. All these funny and beautiful women are reminding me how inadequate I am. Wait, is this how Michael Eisner feels?