Al Franken’s ‘Saturday Night Live’ era was full of jokes disparaging women

On the sixth floor of 30 Rock, women have long been portrayed as sexual conquests, victims or aggressors, live on Saturday nights. During the 1990s in particular, SNL excelled at celebrating male libido and a get-away-with-anything approach to sex, while reducing women to their sexual function. The show consistently cheered male sexuality and reinforced its boundlessness (consent be damned), while shaming women who reached for power or were unlucky enough to be publicly associated with sex.

The SNL writers’ room is famously collaborative, so it’s hard to know how many such bits Franken specifically wrote. But as a writer on 285 episodes from 1976 to 2008, he undoubtedly influenced the zeitgeist of the show during that era.

 .. Chris Rock savages Hill for rejecting Thomas’s advances. Thomas “could have picked a much better-looking woman to blow his career on,” Rock explains. “He never touched her, and he’s going to lose the Supreme Court and didn’t even get to sleep with her, and that’s the real tragedy.”
.. Again, the laughs: Thomas’s sexual inadequacy is what’s supposed to be funny. SNL imagines that sexual harassment is hilarious and that unattractive women deserve it.
.. One 1996 skit about O.J. Simpson prosecutor Marcia Clark portrays her as an erotomaniac or “fatal attraction type” — a derogation hurled at women during the 1990s, including at Anita Hill and Monica Lewinsky, to discredit them and weaponize their sexuality. Clark, played by Nancy Walls, is less interested in the case’s outcome than forcing fellow prosecutor Christopher Darden to sleep with her, or “take the black bronco down the 405,” as the show put it. “The only thing I’m guilty of is being extremely horny,” Walls says. “Please remove your pants.”

.. Ferrell said in an interview that he wouldn’t have played Reno the way he did if she were a “normal woman.” In other words, because Reno didn’t always fit neatly into the stereotypical roles SNL ascribed to women — sexually aggressive like Clark or sexually victimized like Hill — the country’s chief law enforcement officer became a fake woman, just Ferrell in drag.
.. What’s clear, in truth, is that American comedy culture has used sexual abuse as fodder for too long.
.. From Franken and Harvey Weinstein to Roger Ailes and Bill O’Reilly, women are reckoning with the painful reality that powerful men recently accused of sexual misconduct have long been the media and cultural gatekeepers in America.
They’ve been the arbiter and the lens, determining what is newsworthy, what is socially acceptable and, in Franken’s case, what is funny.
.. You can tell an awful lot about a society based on what it thinks is funny.

If Hollywood stars really want to fight harassment, here’s how they can start

Gadot, whose Wonder Woman is the lone real breakout superhero of the DC movie franchise, reportedly declared that she wouldn’t sign for future installments unless the movies were no longer financed by RatPac-Dune Entertainment. RatPac is co-founded by director and producer Brett Ratner, who has been accused of sexual harassment and sexual assault by a number of women.

.. Actors in Hollywood work on contract. Often, that makes them vulnerable: By preventing a woman from getting cast in new projects, super-producers such as Harvey Weinstein can start a slide that derails her entire career. But the reverse is also true.

.. So for those with power in Hollywood who want to make a difference, here are some places to get started:

1. Transparency around sexual harassment cases and settlements:

.. his behavior stayed a secret because of the non-disclosure agreements his lawyers wrote into those settlement contracts. If Weinstein hadn’t been able to do that, maybe his alleged victims wouldn’t have received financial compensation. But his misconduct also might have come to light much sooner.

.. what if actors asked that productions provide a full accounting of whether anyone in a supervisory position on a production has been charged with, sued for or paid a settlement involving sexual misconduct? That wouldn’t just protect people at the top of a production; it would let folks in every department on set know whom they’re working with.

..

2. A reverse “key man clause”: Roger Ailes, the former chief executive officer of Fox News, tried to entrench himself at the network with something called a key man clause in his stars’ contracts. That legal language meant that if Ailes left the company, other people who worked at Fox News would have an opportunity to renegotiate their contracts, and it was intended to create a disincentive for the network to force Ailes out.

.. But maybe stars could negotiate clauses that, rather than protecting them from being fired, allow them to walk off a production without penalty if one of their colleagues reports being harassed or assaulted, or if an independent outside monitoring group says that harassment is happening on set and victims are being blocked from making reports.

..

3. An end to arbitration and confidentiality clauses

.. Big stars such as Gadot could not only refuse to sign contracts that force them into arbitration and require them to keep silent about anything that happens to them on the job. They could also refuse to work on any project that requires any employee at any level to abide by such provisions. By doing so, they’d preserve their co-workers’ right to sue if they were harassed and make it harder for studios and directors to hush up misconduct.

.. If an actress can progressively raise her salary, that gives her more leverage in future situations, more financial independence from a director, producer or studio head who might try to sexually harass her, and more ability to sign with a new agent should hers misbehave.

 

Blast of besieged blowhards: I will sue!

The longtime judge surely knows that he has no case against The Post; that he’d have to prove the newspaper knowingly published falsehoods or proceeded with reckless disregard to the truth

.. When former Fox News chief Roger Ailes first came under fire in 2016 for sexual harassment, he attempted to deny the allegations against him. An internal review corroborated the stories of the women.

.. O’Reilly, we learned last week, once had a contract stipulating that he couldn’t be fired for sexual harassment unless it was proven in court.

.. On the other hand, he has used his own wealth to silence his accusers via non-disclosure agreements and that clever contractual stipulation.

.. “This is everybody’s No. 1 fear — facing a defamation suit.”

.. Moore & Co. know what they’re doing. They’re attempting to intimidate the reporters and the accusers who threaten to further diminish their reputations. If they further alienate their followers from the U.S. media in the process, well, that’s just the price of good crisis communications.

Donald Trump defends Roger Ailes, casts suspicion on his accusers

Donald Trump this weekend defended longtime friend Roger Ailes, the ousted chief executive of Fox News who is accused of sexually harassing at least two dozen women. Trump also questioned the motives of some of the women.

.. “I can tell you that some of the women that are complaining, I know how much he’s helped them, and even recently. And when they write books that are fairly recently released, and they say wonderful things about him. And now, all of a sudden, they’re saying these horrible things about him,” Trump said in an interview with NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Saturday evening. “It’s very sad because he’s a very good person. I’ve always found him to be just a very, very good person. And, by the way, a very, very talented person. Look what he’s done. So I feel very badly.”

.. Trump added that “a lot of people are thinking he’s going to run my campaign,” but he wouldn’t say whether those people were correct.