Raphael, who is both a friend and a writer I respect, recently wrote a pretty scathing blog post targeting CollegeHumor’s Cute College Girl section. He specifically posed three questions to CollegeHumor staff members who read his blog. I felt an obligation to try and answer those questions, if not as a representative of CollegeHumor, at least as a person. Here it goes.
1) Are you aware that what you do / what your company does objectifies women, and not subtly or accidentally, but blatantly and proudly?
Put very simply? Yes, I’m aware.
2) Does this embarrass you as much as it embarrasses me?
It does embarrass me. It doesn’t. It’s complicated. Let me try and articulate.
From the strength of your reaction to the Cute College Girl section, I was surprised you didn’t take our site to task as a whole. Much of our original video content (which I help create) presents women in a sexualized manner, whether its dressed up fantasy characters, singing about Facebook, or commenting on disturbing trends in apparel. The difference, I hope, is that these videos utilize sexuality in a funny, entertaining, and engaging way, as opposed to just blatantly commoditizing it. Do we succeed? I imagine the answers are “not always” and “depends on who you ask.”
On a more personal note: My first week at CollegeHumor (June 2008 - I was 23), I attended the “America’s Hottest College Girl Party”, celebrating the winner of said contest. I drank too much, danced, and generally reveled. On a very visceral level, I enjoyed going to a party with free alcohol and a lot of attractive young women. More abstractly, I would hope that the women who attended acknowledged, at some level, the underlying silliness of the whole event. I certainly did.
Sex is a very persistent (maybe even omnipresent) part of my experience as a young man. I often spend a lot of time perceiving women as sexual beings, and spend even more time hoping to God they do the same to me. Part of me simply enjoys seeing sexy night elves or girls in yarmulke bras. It’s the same part of me that enjoys explosions, sword fights, and The Rock (Michael Bay, not WWE). In my creative life, I try to utilize these impulses in a positive, constructive, and respectful way. At its worse, you could call it pandering to our audience, but I’m right in the center of that audience.
3) Is there anything you can do to make things better? Maybe you don’t have the authority to make a change, but maybe you know someone who does? And maybe that person is just waiting for someone like you to speak up?
Now you know the truth. Yes, I am complicit in CollegeHumor’s presentation of women as sexual objects. And no, I don’t approve of the more blatant forms of it, even if, due to my own relationship with sex, I have trouble coming right out and condemning it. The lines are thin, the depths are murky and, as a still maturing young man, I’m often not sure where the truth lies. This is not an excuse. Two things I’m sure of, though: I’m a writer grateful to be employed doing something he loves, and I’m embarrassed that my work has offended someone I respect as a talent and a friend. Your post reminded me that the things we create do not exist in a vacuum. They have influence, implications, and are representative of me as a person. It’s certainly a thought I’ll carry with me as I work and create. Is that making things better? I don’t know. But I hope its a start.
I know haven’t completely addressed the issues Raphael raises in his post, but I hope I’ve at least justified his description of us as good people who have a “seriousness about their craft and a pride in what they do.”
"Blu-ray, I’ve said, is the last physical hardware that will exist of films that you can collect and keep as your own private possession, like a book. From now on, we’re going to be logging onto some screen and renting a film, which is different than owning a physical copy. With Blu-ray, the quality is tremendous, and greater than even the old prints. It used to be that if you could get an old print and could show it in your home, it was a luxury. With Blu-ray, we’ve reached another level. People should really horde their Blu-rays like old comic books and baseball cards. [Laughs.] Because they’re really beautiful, and will be worth something if you like movies as I do." -Oliver Stone
If anybody was worried about high quality copies of the filmography of Nicolas Cage surviving through the ages; don’t worry. I have it covered.