Are Men or Women Funniest? Germaine Greer & Ghostbusters

Germaine Greer once said women weren’t as funny as men. Paul Feig who directed Ghostbusters seems to think it’s men who aren’t funny. Are either of them doing a disservice to the sexes? The BBC now has female comic quotas on its panel shows to prevent all-male line-ups. Victoria Wood and Caroline Aherne were both great wits and are sadly missed. Sarah Silverman‘s acerbic tongue certainly does not hold back because she is a member of the “gentler sex”! Come and debate men, women, film, comedy, sexism, stereotypes, misandry, misogyny and Germaine Greer for good measure at Norwich Millennium Library GAS group Tuesday 2 August, 6-7pm.

Germaine Greer on Comedy & Gender

Germaine Greer was in Norwich last week talking about the “disappearing woman”, she didn’t have in mind the lack of leading female comedians, although she did say in 2009 that women were not as funny as men.

“The phenomenon of men’s dominance of the comedy realm is so conspicuous that all kinds of cod explanations have been given for it. According to one cracker-barrel psychologist, the pleasure generated by a response to a gag is patterned on the male orgasm rather than the female. Another wiseacre has convinced himself that making people laugh is exerting some kind of power over them. In my version, the man who opts for the role of joker in the male group is not looking for power but for acceptance; the other roles in the group are not accessible to him, perhaps because he is weaker or poorer or less imposing than his peers. His audience has, as it were, the power of life and death over him; if he fails to get his laugh, he “dies”. Men’s dominance of standup has even been attributed to the phallic character of the microphone, absurdly enough.” – Germaine Greer, Guardian

Sexism in Stand-Up

“Ladies and gentlemen, it’s time for another act. Now, it is a girl, so be nice because she could be a bit … well, crap.”

“No, it’s not a comedy routine, but a true introduction I’ve been given on stage before my act. It’s an attitude female standups have come to expect from insecure, chauvinistic hacks with little talent. But from Germaine Greer?” – Tiffany Stevenson-Oake, Guardian

Ghostbusters and Funny Women

In the rebooted film Ghostbusters, director Paul Feig disagrees and loves funny women, despite the film being initially panned as the most hated film trailer on YouTube ever with 1 million dislikes from 38 million views.

“Hollywood, start hiring these funny women and giving them movies, please.” Feig discussed Hollywood’s women problem with MTV last week, saying the industry was “having a very hard time catching up with the modern world.” – Daily Telegraph

“Why Men Aren’t Funny” Paul Feig’s Guest Article for the Hollywood Reporter:

“In the original movie, the bad guys weren’t actually the ghosts — everybody loves Slimer and the Marshmallow Man. No, the bad guys were the clueless bureaucrats in the government, who set off a supernatural crisis through bumbling and red tape.
In this film, by contrast, the enemy is all men, while the government ends up playing dad. Every man in the movie is a combination of malevolent and moronic…It’s an overpriced self-esteem device for women betrayed by the lies of third-wave feminism. Despite pandering to the kind of woman who thinks misandry is a positive lifestyle choice, Ghostbusters is remarkably unkind to its female leads.”

Sexist Stereotypes?

“Compare the female Ghostbusters with my favorite female character of all time, Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Buffy’s feminine qualities are part of her strength. She saves the world using her female vulnerability, not in spite of it. In fact, her femininity is the only thing that makes her capable of heroic feats.
The petty, two-dimensional feminist posturing of Ghostbusters is demeaning to all four of its leads, particularly when you consider how complex and interesting the film could have been with someone like Joss Whedon at the helm.” – Breitbart

Women’s Representation on Comedy Shows

Since 2014 the BBC has stopped panel shows such as QI , Have I Got News For You, and Mock the Week from having all-male line-ups. “All the regular comedians on the most recent series of Mock the Week were men and only five of the 38 guest panellists were women.” – BBC. But comedian Jason Mansford says they should not have announced the quota-based change publicly.

“I think that’s a boys’ game that works for boys,” Caitlin Moran said. “It’s not like they built it to screw women over, it’s just that boys built it so they made it to work for boys. If I go on there as a token woman, it’s not going to work for me,” she added.

Just For Men – Marketing, Masculinity and Male Stereotypes

The Norfolk Gender & Sexuality (GAS) Discussion Group meets at the Norwich Forum Library, 6.30pm Nov 3, to debate Masculinity and Male Stereotypes as portrayed in Just for Men Product Marketing. (Facebook event)
 
For something so ‘tough’ masculinity seems so fragile. For many years, feminist critics have questioned and challenged the ways in which capitalism profits from unnecessary and oftentimes damaging gender stereotypes. Men and masculinities can be said to suffer greatly from the impact these stereotypes have.
 
In this group we will discuss the current state of masculinity, and examine the impact they may have on people’s lives. Topics of discussion could explore the impact that ‘toughness’ has on the mental health of men, how some masculinities become marginalised under the assumed (hetero)sexual virility of men, and the ways in which some boys are literally ‘dying to become men’.
 
Man Size Buttons Yorkie
Yorkie – Man Size Buttons

As a means of exploring these topics, we will look at advertising across the ages. We will look at how recent campaigns market to men and question the impact this may have on not only the lives of men, but everyone else too. We will ask: why is Coke Zero for men, but Diet Coke for women? Why are men being sold ‘man crisps’ (McCoys), ‘not for girls chocolate’ (Yorkie) and ‘smell like a man’ (Old Spice). We will ask, where does irony end and harm begin in some of these campaigns? Is it just to make money, or are men fundamentally different, requiring different products?

We will think about how all of these little everyday reminders in advertising build an overarching idea of gender, one that impacts everybody.
 
Those coming to the discussion might like to explore the following links:

Gendered Products

 
 

Articles

“Recent research shows that loyal customers often get upset when a brand associated with men expands to include products perceived as feminine. Senior Lecturer Jill J. Avery discusses the problem of ‘gender contamination.'”
 
“Marketing companies take on gender contamination, the idea that when women flock to a product, men flee.”
 
Men buy Mars, women prefer Galaxy via the Independent (2011)
“Gender targeting is advertising industry’s secret weapon. If you thought food choices had nothing to do with gender – think again.”
 
The Selling Of Masculinity via Dr NerdLove (2013)
“many men look to popular culture for sources of information what male behavior is supposed to be and how we’re supposed to display it. Unfortunately, mass media doesn’t send the greatest of messages about how to be a man. In fact, we are regularly bombarded with messages selling the idea that masculinity is violent, physically aggressive and sexually domineering and that anger and stoic toughness are the only appropriate emotions for men to display…”
 
[tw: suicide] “A report by the mental health charity CALM has found that men are struggling to cope with the pressures and expectations of their personal and professional lives…”