So Tracy Morgan, for some inexplicable reason, was a part of a half-time show for a Knicks-Heat game on TNT. And he, now somewhat infamously, blurted out, “Let me tell you something about Sarah Palin. Sarah Palin- she’s good masturbation material. With the glasses and…”
I saw this first on facebook, that always great purveyor of news. And, honestly, I was offended. I hate Sarah Palin’s politics and public persona as much as the next Massachusetts born-and-educated, gay-marriage-supporting, non-real American out there. But I am a pretty die-hard feminist who spent a good portion of the 2008 election (during which I supported neither of the two major female candidates because I don’t vote due to genital similarities) somewhat appalled at the blatant sexism displayed by the media. And reducing a serious political contender (even if she is a serious political contender with a reality TV show and views on political issues that makes me squeamish) to the same level as the Jenna Jamisons and Maxim Covergirls of this world seemed to reek of mysoginistic bullcrap.
Until I watched the video, and realized that Tracy Morgan was probably the one acting most reasonably here. TNT came out after the fact and apologized that Tracy “showed a lack of judgement on air with his comments.” Well sorry, TNT, but fuck that. Tracy took the already incredibly mysoginistic line of questioning spouted by YOUR anchors, “Tina Fey or Sarah Palin?” and took it to its logicial extreme.
Look at Tracy’s look of extreme discomfort and then repurpose this question for a more normal time. Those anchors were essentially asking if Tracy would rather, uh, let’s be generous and say “date” his hard-working, incredibly talented BOSS (a woman he has worked with for over 12 years) or a political pundit. Yes they’re both gorgeous women, and much has been made of this in more appropriate context. The anchors were the ones who first reduced two powerful, talented women to nothing more than sexual objects. Tracy was the one who showed them for the dipshits they were being in the name of (to quote Tracy Jordan) “BANTER!”
I’m not saying that Morgan neccesarily had satirical intentions. There’s every chance he was just looking to shock when he brought the joke to that extreme. Or there’s every chance that Tracy Morgan actually thinks that Sarah Palin is a useful self-pleasuring aid (he’s going to take her behind the gym and get her pregnant. BAM!). But that’s not my point. My point is that focusing this mini controversy on Tracy Morgan and not on the fact that treating Sarah Palin or Tina Fey or any woman in this blatantly derrogatory way is probably not the way towards a more “civil” society.
AUTHOR’S NOTE: If you think I’m being too sensitive, check out this piece on Sexism in the 2008 campaign and please keep in mind the fact that my candidate won and I’m still whining. Portraying Sarah Palin as a person unprepared to lead this country, or even pointing out moments when she has used her looks to secure political power, totally legitimate satirical points. Completely diminishing her because she happens to have two XX chromosomes? Kind of a bullshit way to score cheap political points.