Smoke came out of my ears when I saw Betty White recite yet another deflated joke about her libido at last night's Emmy Awards. I know, she was referring to Jon Hamm, but still: Why has this incredible woman -- six time Emmy-award winner and pioneer for women in the media -- been reduced to the role of potty-mouthed, simpleton granny?
The scope of White's career has made her renaissance exciting on so many levels. Here is a woman who has worked in radio and television for over six decades. White co-produced Life with Elizabeth and The Betty White Show when very few women worked behind the camera. It's easy to forget how progressive The Golden Girls was for its time, showcasing real female friendships, (Samantha Jones and Blanche Devereaux would no doubt be fast friends if they met in real life) and tackling risky social issues like AIDS and gay marriage. And let's not forget The Mary Tyler Moore Show.
It's no wonder millions of Americans rooted for White to host SNL. I was among them. (And good god, that New York Magazine cover with Tracy Morgan has got be the magazine's best since the the Spitzer "brain" masterpiece). But sadly, the SNL episode turned out to be one cursing-granny joke after the next. I mean, is it really that funny to see an old lady express sexual desire and say '"fuck" on prime time television?
The answer, of course, is no.
In Christopher Hitchens awesomely infuriating piece "Why Women Aren't Funny" Hitchens writes "women get funnier as they get older." If this is true, as I suspect it may be, one can only hope that our beloved Betty is just warming up.