It’s shocking but true: despite all the advances in civilization, sexism still exists in 21st century America.Why do men put up with this persecution? “Charlie’s Angels” opened to a record $40 million last weekend, and it’s no surprise audience were anxious to see it. Sony did a bang-up job in marketing the film, including an action-packed trailer: One man gets thrown to the ground, two men get slugged and seven men get kicked in the face. Whoo-eee! Of course, it’s all in fun. But would the MPAA ratings board have approved the trailer for general audiences if it had shown seven women getting kicked in the face? And these Angelic aggressors are not alone: The trailer for Fox’s “Bedazzled” shows Brendan Fraser getting hit twice in the crotch. A steady stream of feature comedies — ranging from “Keeping the Faith” to “Me, Myself & Irene” to “The Replacements” — get yocks by showing males getting hit in the groin. On TV, a “funny” TiVo commercial features a bumbling cop who is kicked in the gonads by a criminal he’s pursuing. A new double standard has cropped up, and Reel Life must defend the oppressed minority of men. Sure, males have had the upper hand for millennia, but frankly, who cares what occurred between our great-grandparents? Like most other denizens of the 21st century, Reel Life is only concerned with here and now. Happily, showbiz has gotten past the point when inscrutable Orientals, psychotic transvestites or duplicitous Arabs are the stock villains in films. Now it seems that the last of the easy targets are Nazis and men. Are women really that angry? (And, if so, why can’t they be casually dismissive of the opposite sex, the way that men are?) Or, since Hollywood is basically run by men, is there that much self-loathing in this town? And males are not only subjected to violence in showbiz: They’re also having to defend themselves against sexual harassment. It’s demeaning, I tell ya. On a recent episode of ABC’s “The View,” co-host Joy Behar asked President Clinton accuser Paula Jones to describe the “distinguishing characteristics on the President’s private parts … We’ve got to know!” On the same episode, co-host Meredith Viera interviewed members of the Mets with such questions as “I’ve heard you’ve got a fine butt, is it true?” and “Let’s talk about bats. Who’s got the biggest wood on the team?” It opens up a whole new line of questioning for Bob Costas next time he interviews the women’s U.S. soccer team. People magazine continues to grade males as “The sexiest man alive.” (And, no, we’re not bitter at being ignored again this year — surprised, but not bitter.) Similarly, Fox Broadcasting recently aired “The Sexiest Bachelor in America Pageant.” When one contestant happily confided that he didn’t feel like a piece of meat, the female interviewer cackled, “Oh, really? Well, that’s for us to decide, mister!” And if it ain’t TV shows, it’s the commercials. Every day, mothers bond with their adorable little nippers in a litany of ads — for Lipton Sizzle & Stir, Pillsbury Chocolate Toaster Strudel, Ziploc Easy Zippers, deep-cleaning formula Tide, Little Debbie, etc. The man of the house is as absent as Godot. If a husband-father appears in commercials, he’s only there to burn the pancakes, confuse regular coffee with decaf or slap his forehead and laugh when the kiddies win the Milton-Bradley game. Women of action, like Sherry Lansing, Oprah Winfrey and Marcy Carsey, are always praised. But the media rarely says something positive about Michael Eisner, Kevin Costner, Ted Turner or Rupert Murdoch. Why? Because they’re men, that’s why. I have a dream. I dream that someday there will be cable channels like Lifetime: Programming for Men or Male Oxygen, while Off Broadway audiences will flock to “The Penis Prologues.” Someday, pageants will feature both men and women parading around in swimsuits and high heels, with equal dignity. Sportscasters will offer sexual innuendo to both sexes. Someday, men and women will get kicked in the face with equal frequency. But only Nazis will get hit in the crotch.
- Triptyk Studios, New York, New York
- Petrol Advertising, Burbank, California
- Bridgewater Associates, Westport, Connecticut
- Company Confidential, Aspen, Colorado
- Save the Children, Fairfield, Connecticut