September 10, 2007

Open letter to Keith Olbermann

Posted in Feminism, Media, Television at 7:02 pm by The Lizard Queen

Because I believe people we admire should be subject to criticism just as much as those with whom we disagree.

Dear Mr. Olbermann,

I’m very fond of you as a commentator, and I love Countdown.  As a general rule I don’t mind your celebrity coverage, which is something I’ve heard other feminists criticize.  However, I was really bothered by tonight’s commentary on Britney Spears’s sort-of comeback.  Specifically, I was frustrated with Joel McHale’s comments about Spears’s weight.  I know you have no control over what your guests say, but I can’t help but feel like you encouraged him somewhat (for example, when he mentioned her weight the first time, you made a laughing, “you-said-it-I-didn’t” sort of comment).

I’m a woman with a fairly average build — not so different from Spears’s current figure, in fact.  I thought she looked remarkably healthy, particularly given what people say about her eating habits, not to mention the fact that she’s had two babies in the past two years.  It seems like when it comes to female celebrities, people are either whispering about her obvious anorexia or they’re calling her a fat cow, and you’d better believe that women internalize that criticism and its ultimate implication that we won’t be acceptable no matter how much we weigh.

There was so much about Spears’s performance at the VMAs that was painful to watch: the half-hearted dancing, the terrible lip-syncing, the awful weave, the blue contact lenses, etc.  (Of course, that begs the question of why women’s appearances are subject to so much more scrutiny than men’s, but one issue at a time, I suppose.)  Why not focus on that which was truly cringe-inducing, rather than calling attention to her weight?

I hope you’ll give my concerns some thought, as I have a great deal of respect for you.

The Lizard Queen

P.S. I’m totally blogging this.



  1. storyofnadia said,

    I agree. The weight issue and the commentary surrounding it, whether it is Ms. Spears or any other female, has gotten way out of hand. Remember when we thought the runway models were so, so thin? It appears that has become the look that all women must strive for. I consider this blatant propaganda a crime against women.

  2. fallingwings said,

    Hopefully, he will apologize on air. i think he said ” i didn’t say it” because he knew that would be a backlash. he did seem a bit uncomfortable with the comment but I might be defending him cause I love that crazy commentator.

  3. Dave said,

    I think people are making way too much of this, not just the weight thing. Talk about a media distraction. I’m not really a fan but I saw it on youtube after hitting front page on digg and it really wasn’t all that bad. Maybe she made a few mistakes and didn’t have the energy that she used to but she hasn’t performed in a while and she did and looked a whole lot better than most people could have. Plus, the fans in the audience seemed pleased too. If she had made a performance like this earlier in her career (and for all I know she probably did), nobody would have taken any notice, the only reason this is news, and I use the term loosely, is because of what she has been through recently.

  4. Dave said,

    PS, I totally agree with you with respect to Keith Olberman, he should have addressed the issue when it came up. I think he’s the type of person that would apologize though and that he probably will.

  5. […] Ha, okay. But really, relatedly; there’s nothing wrong with her weight. […]

  6. Echo said,

    well, they made fun of her weight again on countdown. and brought alicia keys ” big A**” into it. Hey, there’s nothing wrong with a ghetto butt, Mr Musto!!! i got a big butt and no guys are complaining.

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