I must have been asleep at the switch, because until last night I hadn't even noticed that the New York Times now has an actual Gender Desk. It must be the replacement for the defunct and less click-worthy Environment Desk that they got rid of a couple of years ago.
No possible way would they dub it the "Woman's Page" of newspapers of yore, seeing as how that section was rightly derided as sexist for the plethora of recipes, fashions, mothering tips and how-to-please-your-hubby guilt trips. So now it's morphed to the anodyne and politically correct "Gender" moniker.
As far as the alternately melting and freezing Earth is concerned, who needs coverage of corporate pollution and climate change when our jaded hearts can be warmed by millionaire actresses vying for Best Dressed in Black honors at Sunday night's Golden Globe awards? Some of them are even bringing along honest-to-goddess politicians and activists. It's sort of a reversal of the pre-Trumpian White House Correspondents Dinners, when Hollywood stars came to the Potomac to see and be seen as guests of the corporate media.
The Times is sending its own large team of A-List reporters to provide blow-by-blow coverage of the Hollywood event, which it bills as a veritable Town Hall forum for political activists rather than the booze-soaked second-rate advertisement for the big budget film industry it's always been. It's even sending the award-winning photographer who won a Pulitzer for his glam shots of Barack Obama - the star president who not only collected bundles of cash from Harvey Weinstein, but who made performance art a major part of his own governing strategy. Since everybody who's anybody will be wearing funereal black to send a stern message of solidarity to Harvey Weinstein as they slosh their drinks, it remains to be seen whether the pics themselves will be rendered in serious black and white in order to mirror the grave glitter of it all.
Times star reporter Glenn Thrush, who was just quietly welcomed back to the newspaper after his suspension for drunkenly hitting on and badmouthing young female journalists at his previous job, is apparently not going along on the Hollywood junket. His presence would be an insult to the women reporters who are thoroughly disgusted that their newspaper's scolding of predators does not apply to the in-house predators who rake in so much revenue from their edgy, insidery Trumpworld reporting.
Regarding the Times's edgy new series/newsletter called The#MeToo Moment (as opposed to Movement), reporter Bonnie Wertheim explains that they'll be "switching things this year" and putting the emphasis not so much on "who" the actresses are wearing but on "what" their choice of outfit signifies for them, their careers, and "the future of the industry." In other words, Hollywood will be given a much-needed boost of gravitas by the Gray Lady. Clothing is not only a fashion statement, it's weaponized speech! Who knew? So entertainment journalists are now officially on notice to #AskHerMore.
I can hardly wait for all the self-righteous anti-Trump Alzheimers jokes, the annoying Tom Steyer impeachment ads explaining that an apple is not a banana, the pharmaceutical ads for E.D. and opioid-induced constipation, the anti-aging cosmetics ads, the movie tie-in ads, and of course the numerous political campaign trial balloons sure to be launched this evening.
I was wrong about a couple of things.
First, only one political trial balloon was launched, and that was from Oprah Winfrey. If her rousing speech on human rights wasn't her debut as a 2020 presidential candidate, I don't know why she even bothered. Donald Trump's empire was and is no impediment to his stint in "public service," so why should Oprah's be? It's truly a #MeToo moment for billionaires to become more directly involved in politics, rather than just peddling their influence and donating their money. Tom Steyer (whose impeachment ad thankfully did not run during the Golden Globes) is also said to be mulling a run, as is Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. Ditto for Tom Hanks, who sadly didn't get to give his own rousing speech last night because he didn't win for pretending to be Ben Bradlee. I'd be very surprised if the DNC bigwigs were not actively courting Oprah at this very moment. Because if anyone can pull off a victory based solely upon star power and populist oratory and identity politics, she certainly can. It's just too bad that she delivered her speech while receiving the Cecil B DeMille award, named after the notoriously predatory Hollywood director.
And about those ads. No, Viagra and opioid constipation didn't make the cut, because the sponsors of the #MeToo-centric spectacle were all about selling social responsibility in keeping with the narrowly prescribed theme. The New York Times ran an ad consisting of a page of scrolling print of "He Said, She Said, He Said, She Said, He Said, She Said, She Said, She Said, She Said..." It would have been more effective if Glenn Thrush wasn't the elephant in their newsroom. Mention of due process might have been nice too. Oprah herself added to the righteous flavor when she (perhaps) mistakenly called for more "persecutions" - rather than prosecutions - of offenders.
Facebook ran an Orwellian ad about changing society for the better. L'Oreal continued telling women that we should buy expensive cosmetics from them because we're "worth it." Mass Mutual pretended to be a church with a choir instead of an insurance sales pitch. Discovery appeared in several slots to tell people to be good citizen-consumers and buy more stuff on credit. Why not, since a new Deutsche Bank study shows that the number of American families with more debt than savings is now at its highest point since 1962?
Not once did anybody mention Trump, who already was the butt of all the jokes at the Academy Awards. The social purpose of the evening was as highly scripted and restricted as the Morticia Addams couture. It was all about the #MeToo moment in the approved narrative moment in time.
And is it only me, or does that new hashtag #TimesUp also double as a plug for the New York Times? I smell a Pulitzer ad campaign to go along with Oprah's presidential ad campaign.