Bennett’s Bossypants Review missed some barbs

Though the comparison of Tina Fey to Woody Allen is a good one, what Bennett’s missing in her snappy conclusion,

As such, it expertly does what it sets out to do, which is to entertain, to draw laughs, and to let its author seem authentic and vulnerable while reinforcing her public image as a mousy nerd who stumbled into fame and glamour. But the book is more brand extension than memoir: it is almost three hundred pages of Liz Lemon monologues. In a culture where powerful women are often perceived as calculating harpies or shrews, Fey presents herself as an outlier. Yet somehow the message for girls looking to follow in her footsteps seems to be: if you are disheveled and anxious enough to appear totally unthreatening to the men who run the show, perhaps you’ll be allowed to join them. Fey is certainly eager to please, but bossy she is not.

…is what I responded to so strongly – self-deprecation is not actually a lack of self-awareness, self-confidence, or ability. Maybe I’m just buying into the premise overmuch, or projecting as the publishers expected I would along with other twenty-something women who like being funny and think dude-bros suck.

Or maybe Bennett’s just trying to do for Tina Fey what the therapist who once tried to get me to go a whole hour without being sarcastic attempted to do for me… Be real with us! It’s ok to be angry, it’s ok to be afraid of failure, it’s ok if it was hard, Tina! But! Tina Fey wasn’t in journalling therapy as she wrote a memoir amidst shooting 30 Rock, guesting on SNL, raising her kid, doing press and other projects… she was putting together a book to entertain, not to reveal the searing wounds of the damaged soul within that can ONLY EXPRESS ITSELF through comedy, timing, fart jokes and “career woman angst.”

There is no way Tina Fey is not threatening to the male-dominant comedic establishment. There’s just not. She doesn’t have to be on her Annuale menstruation/psychotic break to threaten the status bro and she knows it. Yes it would be cool to see her totally take on the sexist inequalities in entertainment in a Blame the Patriarchy-style dismemberment, but hey, she’s got a job to do.

Can Tina Fey accomplish more by producing work that demonstrates her blatant competency as a woman in show biz or by describing how  competent women in show biz are?

I don’t think the message is for girls to be unthreatening – I think the message is for girls not to waste time being threatening when you can instead develop your skills, pay your dues, and eventually refuse to hire assholes who treated you like crap when you were coming up. Be good at what you do, be unafraid of wanting to do it well and surround yourself with people who get that.

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