Actress/writer/comedienne Allison Page kicks off her new rotating column on the Theater Pub blog, asking the biggest question of all: is that song about boobs at the Oscars really worth getting so worked up about?”
Who are you?
Man, that’s a toughie. Just like anyone who likes to think they’re varied and interesting, even if they’re not varied and interesting, I find that question difficult to answer, but the short version is my name is Allison and I’m a writer/actor/comedian/former radio announcer/former hair stylist/formerly engaged twice.
Believe me when I say that deciding which thing to list first was a pain in the ass. But you can’t say all that stuff when you meet a new person and they say, “So what do you do?” because they will definitely think you’re pretentious, and they will probably think you’re a lunatic. So when people ask me what I do, I say I’m a comedian. Here’s my own personal distinction: a comic is a person who does stand up exclusively, and a comedian is a person who deals in all things related to comedy. Sometimes I go months at a time without doing stand up, because I’m in a play, or a sketch show, or I have too much writing to do…but I’m always doing something related to comedy.
Dealing in both theatre and comedy is…kind of strange. Comics have a tendency to think that someone who isn’t doing a set every single night, is, among other things, not paying their dues. Ohhh man, that due-paying business will get you every time. And theatre people (directors, actors, producers – really anyone) think that you’re only good for the ha-has, and the more you try to convince them of your various abilities, the more you’re over-selling yourself – the more it seems they’re right. So I don’t try to convince anyone of anything. That’s my big secret. I really don’t care if someone thinks I’m this or that, I do whatever I feel like doing, and that’s worked pretty well so far. It’s like the theory that if you walk into a place you’re not supposed to be in, but you act like you’re supposed to be there, then you will be accepted as a rightful guest. And here’s another thing you should probably know: nothing feels harder because I’m a woman. I don’t feel oppressed by men or by anyone, and I really don’t sit around worrying about it. I live in a man’s world to the max – my “day job” is that I write dialogue for characters in a video game. I work at a large company with thousands of people and there are only about 7 writers, and only 2 female writers apart from me.
I have a tendency to feel frustrated when things are over-analyzed to find oppression, particularly in comedy. Seth MacFarlane (in case you’ve been dead for 100 years) hosted the Oscars the other night, and sang a song called “We Saw Your Boobs”, which was a list of movies in which different actresses breasts were seen. I laughed (I probably laughed extra because I had been drinking), and thought it was absurd and great. Now apparently there are people who are equating this song with him glorifying rape, and rape culture. All I was thinking when I watched it was, “I remember that! I saw those boobs! Remember Winslet in Titanic, ya’ll? That one’s weird to watch with your parents…what with the boobs!”.
It crossed my mind that perhaps I don’t find it offensive because I’m a degenerate freak, so I brought it up to some friends last night – let’s call them Meryl Streep and Judy Garland – and Meryl immediately piped up and said “That’s so ridiculous, I can’t believe people are mad about that. When I watched it I thought – Wow, Seth MacFarlane is a talented singer and dancer!”. Judy immediately agreed, “Yeah! This is being blown out of proportion!” and then I felt better, because I’m not a degenerate freak (that’s still up for debate.). And I think it might be that it would be really really difficult for me to feel that I’m being oppressed in any way, even though I’m surrounded by men. I don’t think the song took us all back 100 years and now, suddenly, sexual assault is totally cool and we’re fine with it because of his minute and a half of antics. No way, that’s crazy talk. I’m sure my love for comedy over all things keeps me from immediately harshly judging someone’s joke or bit or material or silly musical number, because I find it impossible to believe that he was trying to relay a crazy message – I think he just found movies with boobs in them and then arranged them in a way that rhymed. I bet it took 30 minutes. I’m happy to say I would totally do that, and I happen to have my own boobs so…that must mean something, right?
There will always be inequalities and injustices in the world, and those inequalities should and will be brought to light, but if you’re reaching so far that you’ve got to site a silly song that meant nothing and hammer meaning into it…then exactly what are you exposing but your own insecurities?
If you don’t believe me, just ask Meryl. See you in two weeks.
*No Streeps were harmed in the making of this blog.