oh beezy

miscellaneous cultural commentary from two urban twenty-somethings. on this here interweb, we go by "bee" and "zy."

confused, NBC? then make Ellen the host of The Tonight Show.

So, aside from Haiti earthquake coverage (on the subject of which it must be mentioned, though obvious, that that crisis is way more important than any TV “crisis”), the NBC management debacle, aka Conan vs. Leno, aka Chingate, has evoked a ton of response from my American e-friends. That is, Facebook friends.

Haiti and Conan are the memes, but “I’m With Coco” is the image that people are choosing to replace themselves with. According to the Chicago Tribune, over 276,000 Facebook members have become fans, pledged to attend pro-Conan rallies, and sworn their devotion to O’Brien’s sharp wit and ginger coif.   

Now, I don’t have hard numbers, but that seems like a lot more people turning out to protest in the streets for Conan than for health care, gay rights or help for Haiti. Or at least doing so vocally, and more importantly, publicly.

Am I missing something?

I like Conan, don’t get me wrong. That lanky dude ranks up there with Craig Ferguson as one of the two least creepy dudes on network late night. Letterman gives me the funny uncle heeby jeebies, while Leno makes me want to rip my own hair out.  But they’re still white male comedians dominating the airwaves, and in that sense CoCo taking over The Tonight Show isn’t so much a change from Leno as it is a perpetuation of the comedy status quo.

Granted, “I’m With EDeg, Who Isn’t Even In The Running” does not make the best viral slogan.  Plus Ellen already has a goal in sight: Oprah’s 4 PM throne (and she will get it). There is something to be said for positioning yourself to take over the daytime stage, a position that has allowed Oprah to build an indomitable media empire based on a savvy mix of cushy specials, random prizes, books and well-placed outrage and activism.

Ellen knows what she’s doing, too. Her interviews are tasteful, her prizes lavish, her sympathy for the downtrodden sincere. Her 12 days of Christmas prize shows in December 2009 made tchotchke-hungry me drool in greedy ecstasy over the heavy piles of hubcaps, diamond watches and scented soap that I will definitely never need.  And while Ellen’s sympathy features are so far mostly limited to families who have fallen victim to the recession (a worthy subject), perhaps a few more years of entrenchment in the media landscape will allow her to do for gay youths what Oprah did for girls’ education. At least here’s hoping; being a non-threatening lesbian on daytime TV must be an exhausting daily maneuver.

Or maybe not. Ellen and Portia, the most gorgeous couple in Hollywood, were by many accounts the most talked about pairing of 2009. And Ellen’s total ease in her own body, coupled with a sweet sense of humor and killer dance moves, have allowed her to achieve mainstream success while being completely out.

But why does Ellen’s greatness, as well as that of other female comedians, have to be limited to daytime or non-network coverage? Because women watch TV during the day and men like to come home and laugh at night? Because Conan got a raw deal? Because  no woman ever hosted the late shows during or after Johnny Carson’s era, and thus it’s expected that the trend should continue?

I’m sorry Conan, but I don’t care if you get that slot. I don’t care if Leno gets it either. Because I will no longer be watching either of you. What’s the difference, in the end, between you two white, straight men sniping about how the network is mistreating you, while making millions on the same old star-flattering, side-kick pandering, gay-joke spreading routines? Not much. If I’m going to watch a big network show in the wee hours of the morning, I want a lady at the helm. And funny girl Ellen fits the bill.

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