Friday, March 5, 2010

Sarah Palin's visit to the Tonight Show was laugh-tracked, attendee reports in sexist language

A sound engineer who attended Sarah Palin's Tonight Show taping is reporting that those big laughs television viewers heard were added after the show.  The studio audience was dead silent, or laughing in all the wrong places, he says.  TV critic Ken Tucker had wondered why Jay's audience was so much friendlier to Palin than Dave's (when Mitt Romney called her "terrific," he got jeered on Letterman).  The writer describes in great detail moments of complete silence or uncomfortable groans following Palin's jokes, which were filled with gracious laughter during the TV broadcast.  He also points to moments where he hooted loudly during serious parts, which were apparently cut out.  It's quite a get, and it's important that people understand how much of the audience's response on TV shows is faked and how much isn't.  Unfortunately, said writer, Micheal Stinson, also described Palin in the following appallingly sexist way:
And while NBC Sold Palin, she sold her body, jiggling, teasing, pushing the cutesy-pie, what we used to call in the military, a "prick tease". She short circuits brains, deflects the fact that most of what she says is nonsense or hateful, as lizard layers of right wing men's brains hum a sexual fantasy tune, and women who have thrown all sense of propriety to the wind, watching her strip, want to be just like her. Rich. Stupid. The sweet "Bite Me" bitch attitude she's honed to an art form. No, she doesn't just "wink" - she uses her whole body to sell the package. Turn off the sound, just watch her body language. I find it whorish, repulsive, and I'm no prude.
Personally, what I find repulsive is his choice of words.  I don't think Palin's public persona is particularly appealing, and I don't enjoy her faux-folksiness.  But I also think calling her whorish, a prick tease, and a bitch because she, an attractive woman, dares to get on TV and make jokes while smiling is outrageous.  Handsome male politicians like Scott Brown, Mitt Romney, and John Edwards all flirt for all they're worth when on television.  Palin is being described this way because she's a woman.  And whatever her sins, she doesn't deserve it.

I would love to be 100% cheering the discovery of NBC's fraud, but instead I'm left with a strange and uncomfortable defensiveness on behalf of Sarah Palin.  Check out the video below and see for yourself, both whether you think she crosses the line in using sex to sell her message, and whether the laughter sounds canned.


  1. "Tax cuts, that's the only way we're going to create jobs" followed by applause was a really weird moment. But it doesn't seem edited. This moment about what she wrote on her hand was REALLY awkward


  2. She gave a pretty reasonable interview - very smooth for her. She's a sexy person, but I don't see that explicitly as what she's selling here. I do think that Palin would not be nearly so popular if she weren't so pretty, but that's another issue.

    Also, I generally love her hair, and she's pretty stylish in a down-to-earth way. Despise most of her policy positions, however!

  3. I agree. That description was entirely uncalled for. I took his recommendation and watched the video without the sound. At *worst* her body language might be described as "flirty," and that was only at certain sections. Even though I don't particularly like the woman, I certainly don't think she could be considered a "prick tease" or any of those words that were used to describe her.

    And yeah, the laugh track was sort of overdoing it on NBC's part. There were a few parts of her speech that got a brief snicker out of me, but that (fake) audience reminded me of the crowd that listens to the State of the Union address--the president can't get two words out without being interrupted by applause.

  4. the language may have been insensitive after all she was just being flirtatious, but the commenter did mention that she was trying to appeal to conservatives, who perhaps find that sort of flirtatiousness to be a tease. We're talking conservatives here- they don't follow her because of her great ideas.

  5. Since when is this kind of terrible writing acceptable journalism?

  6. The person who wrote it isn't a journalist per se, he's an activist and someone who is experienced with sound engineering, so felt qualified to give an opinion that the laughter was dubbed in. The problem is that The Daily Kos and other mainstream news venues gave a platform to his screed without questioning the terrible sexist language. If someone makes some excellent points about Barrack Obama, but also throws in "and he's an n-word," I would hope that mainstream news outlets would not think the value of "the get" outweighed the problems with the language. Words like bitch, whore, etc are the anti-woman equivalent of the n-word. They are slurs that have been used against women to silence them, humiliate them, and reduce their arguments to false tropes about femaleness. We need to start being more critical of people who use them, or provide a platform for their use.


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