Women & Hollywood: Liz Lemoning of TV

By: Mar. 30, 2010

Talk TV World is excited to welcome Melissa Silverstein as a featured blogger.  Silverstein's blog Women & Hollywood has become a respected site for issues related to feminism and pop culture. 

In 2008, it was named by More Magazine as one of the "blog to watch," and in 2009, it was named "Best Hollywood blog" by totalfilm.com. Featured posts from Silverstein's blogs will appear here on TalkTVWorld.com. Visit WomenandHollywood.com for more from Silverstein.

It's that time of the year when spring is in the air and we all shed our dreaded winter coats and look into out closets and check out the spring/summer apparel with a fit of excitement and dread. (Will that one fit after this particularly cold winter?)

It's also the time when movie watchers like me start to get excited thinking about some things that are on their way to the theatres. Winter is particularly brutal for movies about women but the early spring thaw has brought us two good flicks The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and The Runaways.

One thing I am excited about is the new Tina Fey-Steve Carrell movie Date Night. I am hoping (and who knows if I am right cause I haven't seen it) that maybe, finally we could get a comedy that both men and women will like and can go to together that won't demean women.

I mean it's all about Tina Fey. She is our savior, right? She's on the cover of Vogue, Esquire and Entertainment Weekly. I can't think of another woman who has moved the dial in such a positive direction on TV since Roseanne and Candice Bergen. Roseanne was never able to take her brand of comedy and make it work in the movies, but Tina has. While I want to see more films with her in the lead, I'll take Date Night because I want to see more of her.

The reason why I so over the top about Tina is because she is everywoman. While Feministing wrote a great piece about how beautiful women on TV are made to look ugly like Betty, on Ugly Betty and Rachel on Glee, to me the fact that we have women on TV looking normal is a huge boost. One thing that all those "uglified" characters have in common in that they are all strong, bold and feminist women. I for one am thrilled that Tina looks like a normal woman on her show. I think that when she gets dressed up for award shows, that's when she looks uncomfortable. She works with her friend and 30 Rock costume designer Tom Broecker on her red carpet looks and understands that she is a role model for all of us who hate on stockings. He told Vogue: 

She has subtly changed what women look like on a weird level: the acceptance of the dark-haired girl, the acceptance of the sexy librarian, the girl with the glasses who's smart but can be pretty."

I find it very liberating that her character on 30 Rock looks normal. I love that she has barely no makeup on. It feels like she could go from her real life to her TV character without pausing too long. How many other TV characters can we say that about? Most everyone looks so made up and fake.

I love that fashion is a challenge for Fey and that she continues to struggle with her weight. She is also honest about the mixed messages women get about power and feminism in her Vogue interview.

"I spend most of my time in my daily life trying to be like a fashion noncombatant. My hands are up! I'm not even trying! That said, to talk about the impact of fashion is really interesting. I think so much of it is tied into feminism. I am a post-baby boomer who has been handed a sort of Spice Girls' version of feminism. We're supposed to be wearing half-shirts and jumping around. And, you know, maybe that's not panning out. But you can tell different generations of women by whether or not they wear that Hillary Clinton blue power suit or the reappropriated Playboy-symbol necklace worn ironically. I think women dress for other women to let them know what their deal is. Because if women were only dressing for men, there would be nothing but Victoria's Secret. There would be no Dior."

A couple of other things I learned.

1- Tina got some serious hate mail after portraying Sarah Palin.

2- She's an independent (that surprised me).

3- She uses double stick tape to tape down her boobs for awards shows.

4- Her costume for Date Night was a very uncomfortable blue dress with spanx built into it that made it harder for her to be funny cause you know how hard it is to be funny when you can't breathe.

Here's her description of the dress:

And underneath it I had on a custom-made corset on top of Spanx, which were holding a microphone pack. And I was often aware during filming that Steve Carell could move more easily than I could. And do comedy more easily than I could. And the dress was a real physical impediment. I couldn't go to the bathroom unassisted. You would think I was making The Marie Antoinette Story, the amount of binding. In my real life I can't bear anything that is inhibiting-I cannot stand to feel slowed down by clothes at all.

Everything about this woman makes me smile and thankful that she is on TV and in films. PS- 30 Rock got picked up for another season.

Miss Tina Regrets (Vogue)

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