The pie fight.
It went right by me.
I should say it was the pie fight fight that I missed.
I saw the ad. And I knew many of Kos' readers were mad at Kos because of his reaction to their reaction to the ad. But I didn't really connect the two things in my head. It was as if they were a matching shirt and tie I'd put in different drawers in my head. They're meant to be worn together, but I could put the tie with another shirt and it would go so well I wouldn't think about the first shirt, and I could wear the first shirt without any tie at all, go anywhere in it, and not feel the least bit underdressed.
People have a tendency to compartmentalize their thinking like this. It's called cognitive dissonance.
I could think about the pie fight ad---and, believe me, I have thought about it---and I could think about the anger and resentment Kos had brought upon himself because of the ad, but without really thinking about the ad, as if the cause of the debate was something else entirely, which, in a way, it was. Kos has a habit of showing a dismissive and even insulting attitude towards readers who criticize him or object to his arguments and many of his women readers feel he is especially so with women who disagree with him.
So, the other day, when Kathy Flake announced she was dropping Kos from her blog roll and putting yours truly on it---which seems to me a bit like when the Mets let Mike Hampton get away and replaced him with, well, nobody. Who pitched for the Mets that year when Al Leiter wasn't on the mound anyway?---and she introduced me to her readers as one of the good boy bloggers, I wrote this note in her comments section to thank her:
I'm a good boy??????
Sorry. Please forgive the rough language. But, gee whiz! All my life I've been Frasier Crane, never Sam Malone. BJ but never Hawkeye. Butch and not Sundance. Gilligan not the Skipper---you know about the Skipper and Mary Ann and Ginger, right?
You might recall that in my posts on the wonks versus the writers I said the wonks could be dumb. But I also said that I'm dumb too and I could prove it. Here's the proof.
Kathy's writing about delinking to Kos because what grew out of the pie fight ad, she includes in her post a link to a post on the controversy by Shakespeare's Sister, a post I had already read and was planning to link to myself in a post I'm still working on, and I go and make a Ginger and Mary Ann lesbian action joke without mentioning Kos or the pie fight ad!
(Note to porn connoiseurs: Some sticklers might object that I had made a threesome joke, not a lesbian joke, but real fans, and really lucky people with experience, know that it's not a true FFM threesome unless there is some lesbian action.
Trust me on this.
Mary Ann might have been hesitant to take it to the next level, but Ginger would have gotten her over her shyness in a hurry. Which by the way is one of the things that's wrong with the pie fight ad. Mary Ann is on top. I know she grew up on a farm and she's stronger and hardier than she looks, but Ginger has six inches on her, all kinds of reach, and lots, lots, more experience. Fans of the show can debate in the comments whether or not the M in the FFM would have been the Skipper or the Professor. I'm about to write some stuff that implies that I think the real answer is neither one, and I don't think it would be Gilligan or Mr Howell either.)
I think it's matter of taste whether or not you find the ad objectionable and demeaning and the choice of whether or not to run it is up to individual bloggers. I don't remember whose site I clicked through to get to the ad, but I saw it up on many different blogs, including those of some unquestionably feminist women. The ad is pornographic, but most TV ads are these days, and it's far from the most pornographic ad I've seen. Far from the most erotic too. The debate is still open on whether pornography in and of itself is demeaning to women (and men).
Some of it is. And some intelligent, liberated, and thoughtful women are turned on by some stuff that is.
Could some woman write me an email explaining the appeal of pony girls?
I've been meaning to start selling ads. If I'd gotten around to it when I should have, I'd have had to make the decision to run it or not, and I think I would have decided not to.
I have a lot of kids visiting this page. Really. I did a post on Lemony Snicket back in November that kids have been finding their way to through Google and quite a thread has developed in the comments section there. It's still growing. I'm pretty sure the kids don't visit any of my other posts. I wouldn't censor my writing if I thought they did, but I might have to do something to warn them away. But they would see the ad and they would click through and, although it's up to their parents to police what they're looking at online, I am a parent and I know how hard it is to do that. Sometimes it's like trying to play tennis against twelve opponents at once, all with serves as strong as Venus Williams'.
But as it happens I think the ad is objectionable and demeaning.
Not demeaning to women in general.
To Mary Ann and Ginger.
I'm not kidding.
I loved that show! When I was a kid I used to have dreams that I was marooned with the seven stranded castaways here on Gilligan's Isle. I can't explain it. I had a severe crush on Mary Ann, of course. But my affection for the show wasn't based on that. I think it was that I saw the whole gang as my friends.
I thought they would be good friends to have because they were such good friends to each other.
Ginger and Mary Ann were pals. They argued sometimes, and they could be rivals, although never sexual rivals. It's amazing how de-eroticized Gilligan's Island was. Here was a show that featured two beautiful and very well-built young actresses who appeared regularly in bikinis---their usual costumes weren't exactly modest either. Mary Ann liked to go about in a low collared shirt tied up under her breasts and a pair of tight short shorts, with high heels too! And Ginger had that slinky cocktail dress that didn't hide anything.---and Ginger was meant to be a Marilyn Monroe/Jayne Mansfield stand-in, with all the erotic backstory that pedigree implied, and yet week after week the episodes stayed as kid-friendly as a Scooby Doo cartoon.
Have you noticed that the movie versions of Scooby Doo have added sex to an essentially sexless conceit not by doing much with Daphne and Fred but by sexing up Velma? She's a bisexual sex goddess! Look at her fan club at the beginning of Monsters Unleashed.
Also I don't think Tina Louise has gotten enough credit for the intelligent acting job she did playing Ginger Grant. Without downplaying Ginger's sex appeal or shying away from showing that Ginger was experienced at using her body as both a weapon and a bribe, she still managed to take a part that was meant to be a stereotypical bimbo and give the character brains, heart, and an essential decency. Loni Anderson did something similar on WKRP but her character's brains and integrity were explicity written into the scripts.
At any rate, both Mary Ann and Ginger were nice girls. The ad makes them out to be sluts. I think I remember an episode where they had a pie fight, but the punchline was Gilligan getting the pie in the face. And they were in the habit of taking mud baths together. It was never shown if they did this nude or in their bathing suits. I always assumed they wore their bathing suits but then in college I met a couple of girls who used to like to go to a beach that had some clay pits they'd soak in, naked, for a while and then they'd go skinny dipping to rinse off.
The blonde says there was nothing in this. But, my runaway fantasies aside, I wondered, if there was nothing to it, why they used to sneak off to the beach without inviting any of the rest of their gang along.
So now I wonder about Ginger and Mary Ann's mud baths.
That ad doesn't wonder. It knows. And it tries to force me to know too. And it's not that I don't want to know. It's that I don't want to have anyone else, particularly not a pack of leering ad men, tell me what sorts of fantasies I should have about one of my favorite TV shows.
Ginger and Mary Ann are TV characters. Fairly cartoonish TV characters, at that. But they are nice characters and they are truly attractive characters who have personalities---that is, they have souls. Fictional characters have souls. The souls are borrowed from real life. By seeming, if only for the moment we are watching them or reading about them, to be real people, they share the humanity of real people and in reminding us of our fellow men and women they aquire their souls. The ad strips Mary Ann and Ginger of their souls. It makes them into objects. And so in that way it does in fact objectify women.
I don't think all pornography does this. But that ad does for me and I hate it.
I hate it on purely aesthetic grounds too.
First, I don't get the catfight. I know guys are supposed to dig the catfight. But I don't. I like the girl with girl. But I don't like the catfight. I think it's because in real life most catfights are not between women who look like Mary Ann and Ginger. They're between women who look like Gilligan and the Skipper and nothing comes out of them but bloodshed, heartache, and jail time.
Second, the actresses playing Mary Ann and Ginger are all wrong. It's not just that the ad's Mary Ann is taller and more generously endowed than the ad's Ginger. It's that they don't look at all like them. Dawn Wells and Tina Louise were very beautiful young women. The actresses in the ads aren't beautiful. They are fake beautiful. They look like what they probably are, lap dancers who make money on the side hooking and doing bit parts in stag films.
I like the strip. I like the lap dance. I like the showering together. I even like the smearing each other with whip cream, as long as it's done in fun and not in anger. But I like them when they are done by women who look like real women.
I think that's why I'm a Mary Ann guy and not a Ginger guy. Dawn Wells looked a lot more like a person you might actually meet on the street.
So, which are you? Are you a Mary Ann Guy or a Ginger guy? Women can be guys for this purpose too. It's not necessarily a question of erotic appeal. So gay guys can play right along too.
Take the quiz.