Apparently, posing nude -- or mostly nude -- in a mens' magazine is still some sort of rite of passage for female entertainers, and there has been a spate of female comedians stripping down recently. We have to admit, as fans of comedy and women in comedy especially, my fellow editors and I die a little bit every time this happens. When we saw the new behind-the-scenes video of Abby Elliott's Maxim shoot, we decided it was time to start a conversation.
In one sense, there is a pragmatic way of looking at this: in order to win a larger male audience, women have to remind men that they are women (with a capital T & A). Conventional wisdom says that funny women are intimidating, so why not take yourself down a peg -- or article of clothing -- or two to make yourself a little more approachable?
This makes good career sense, but does it undermine the struggle to let a woman's work, not her workout, be her selling point? To put it another way, we aren't expecting to see Sarah Vowell in a Maxim photo shoot anytime soon, and we doubt that has hurt her career very much.
Another, perhaps even more crucial point, is that from all accounts, these sorts of photo shoots are a lot of fun. We are sexual beings after all and to deny that is not only wrong, it's naive.
Nevertheless, at a time when so many men feel comfortable saying, "I don't find women funny," it doesn't sit well with us to see many of those same men rewarded with getting to see actual funny women in the buff.
Below are a few examples of funny women who could/should keep their clothes on (unless, of course, it's for a role and it's tasteful and artistically justified, etc. etc.). It's not because they aren't beautiful, of course they are. It's because we consider placating the readers of laddie mags just so beneath them.
What do you think? Does seeing hilarious women strip down bother you or is it all in good fun?
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this post did not adequately attribute the photo of Tina Fey. The original photo shoot was for BUST Magazine, which describes itself as "an uncensored view on the female experience." The photo in question was re-posted at Maxim.com, where we found it.
This photo is not an insulting, literal dressing down of women who normally seem funny and empowered in the same way that "Top Gun" is not homoerotic. Photo via GQ
A lot of women argue that posing in the nude or near-nude can be a form of empowerment, that embracing one's sexuality and flaunting it fearlessly serves to actually de-objectify a woman at the very moment that the male gaze is attempting to objectify her. This video does none of that. What it does do is say to men, "Hey, don't worry, I may seem funny on TV, but really I'm just a regular girl with a hot body and adorable non-confrontational thoughts." Abby is better than this in our opinion.
The pouty face, the awkward heels, the girly beverage... Thanks, GQ, for taking one of the funniest, sharpest women in the world and making her look like a crazy, drunk sorority girl who is about to have a really bad time at a frat party. Photo via GQ
We're on the fence about this one. See, we believe in the art of comedy and this photo borders on it. Nakedness can be hilarious after all, and in this picture Silverman and the photographer are clearly playing with the reader's expectations. The one thing that gives us pause is what looks like some serious airbrushing. But maybe that's part of the joke? Photo via PopCrunch
Et tu, Tina? Et tu? This is one of those photos that a lot of women will defend because it's of a woman who is known for her smarts and her unconventional beauty who also happens to be a mom. Also, as one commenter pointed out, this photo was originally shot for BUST Magazine, so it's got some feminist bona fides. But the fact that it still found it's way to Maxim.com just goes to show, a spank bank photo is a spank bank photo, no matter how many women's studies majors cite it in their senior thesis. Photo via Maxim.com
Ok, this one just bugs us for a lot of reasons. First of all, the whole concept of Esquire's 'Funny Joke' series is kind of a kick in the crotch to real comedians, as the only criteria for inclusion seems to be being a hot actress, not an actual funny person. Second, the scantily clad Bell is telling a street joke. Anyone who knows anything about comedy knows how lame that is. However, we submit that Bell's inclusion in the list isn't really fair since she's not a comic. Nevertheless, we felt the level of insult this lobs in the direction of real female comedians was too great to not mention it.
Wow, just, WTF? Photo via Ok!
Note: Yes, we know some of you are only here for naked pictures.
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