PhDork pointed out this New York Times profile of Spike TV exec Sharon Levy to me yesterday morning. I confess, when I read it I rolled my eyes so hard and so repeatedly that I was worried they’d get permanently stuck to the underside of my skull. The reporter, Edward Wyatt, doesn’t just hit on a few gender stereotypes, he absolutely bangs out those suckers out of the park like Babe Ruth, one after the other. I’ve never seen anything quite like it, not even in the New York Times, whose trend pieces are increasingly–if subtly–sexist. Since Wyatt apparently feels he can’t write about TV for men without slagging on women, he goes out of his way to make sure that we know that even though Sharon Levy is technically a woman, she’s totally not, like, a chick or anything!
Let’s start with the lede:
Sharon Levy is the first to admit that she is not what anyone would call a girl’s girl — just ask her, for example, about her television viewing habits.
“Grey’s Anatomy?” she repeats, incredulously. “Kill me now.”
Fuckin’ A! Only chicks watch that crap! I mean, yeah, it’s won tons of Emmys and Golden Globes and has a trend-setting African-American female producer but ugh, it’s just so GIRLY–amirite??
But even though she’s totally down with the whole dude thing and so not a dumb chick, let’s not make it sound like she’s, y’know, butch. Because that would be uncool:
“She’s got as much testosterone as any guy I know,” said Doug Herzog, the president of MTV Networks Entertainment Group, a part of Viacom and the parent of Spike. “She was standing in the hallway recently, talking about ‘Wolverine’ and ‘Star Trek.’ She’s into video games and that geeky guy stuff. At the same time, she will turn around and tell you how awesome her new handbag is.”
So don’t be scared, guys, she’s still femme enough to be fuckable! She’s not one of those humorless bonerkillers who can’t take a sexist joke!
But just so you feminazis out there don’t get your panties in a knot, Ms. Levy herself wants you to know that despite having pioneered “The Man Show”, one of the most sophomoric and casually sexist shows on TV–it closed with shots of big-breasted women called “the Juggies” bouncing up and down on trampolines–she’s actually a true friend to womanity, and wants to make sure that women aren’t trashed or exploited on her watch:
“We have been trying to figure out how to do a show with women in it that is sexy and not misogynist,” Ms. Levy said. “We have to crack that code.”
Jesus Christ, it’s not nuclear fusion! You’re not landing on the moon! You’re not solving Fermat’s Last Theorem! There are a hell of a lot of women executives out there–like Shonda Rimes, who produces the show you so despise–who are striking a pretty good balance.
But apparently, trying to find the right balance is just…so…hard for Ms. Levy. And no wonder–look at the company she keeps. Hard to get inspired to produce smart television about women when you’re at Spike TV. Lie down with dogs, get up with fleas, etc. But “Monster Garage” star Jesse James empathizes with her struggle:
“She’s trying to survive in a man’s world, so she’s got it tough,” Mr. James said. “She’s like that cool chick in college that you drink with and go out and party with. She has her girly moments, but not too often.”
Not too often! Well, thank God for that! You wouldn’t want her acting feminine, after all. Because when that happens, ladies, you can kiss your credibility goodbye! (One can only hope that Jesse James’s wife, the rom/com star and former cheerleader Sandra Bullock has cast off those icky girly moments for the sake of their marriage!)
This whole article was so replete with bullshit stereotyping: MEN R CRUDE N DUMB! THEY LIKE GAMEZ AND BEWBZ! CHICKS R LAME! SHOWS WITH GIRLS SUCK! that it really gave me a headache. There were dozens of ways that Edward Wyatt could have written this article that didn’t insult either Ms. Levy, the work she does, the network she works with, or the audience for her shows. But that would have required real nuance on the part of the reporter, and maybe a little more self-awareness on the part of the subject.