Friday, June 02, 2006
Anatomically Incorrect, or "You Worked Hard to Get Through Med School & Become a Doctor, But You'll Settle for Being the Dumb Girl Who Sleeps Around."
If you haven't figured it out by now, I'm not a big fan of stupid people. It just seems that with everything going on these days, we can't afford any intellectual stragglers -- particularly not ones with voter registration cards. You don't have to be a genius, but for Christ's sake try; there are a lot of people depending on you.
While the stupid rank high on my list of dislikes, there's a subset of this group that ranks one notch higher: stupid women. I've always kind of felt like this was a pretty feminist position to take, although I've been told otherwise -- typically just before getting a drink thrown in my face and/or politely being asked to sleep on the couch. The fact is that I've always felt that women are generally a little sharper than men. They tend to have a better balance of compassion and reason and as far as I know are mercifully free of that ridiculous appendage between their legs which shuts down any and all cognitive functions. Women can be wise, thoughtful, and above all discriminating when it comes to their sexual partners, whereas every day across this great land of ours, operators receive embarrassing 911 calls quietly begging them to rush paramedics to Suburbia, USA, where some unfortunate idiot has gotten his penis stuck in a drainpipe. When women say that they can be just as crass and horny as men, my question is always the same: "Why the hell would you want to be?"
The bizarre desire to co-opt even the most offensive of male characteristics is just one facet of the problem however. The other side of that coin is that, ironically, women are allowed to get away with being stupid far more often than men. Complain all you want girls, you understand, because at some point there's a pretty good chance that you've thought to yourself, "Well as long as I've got these, who needs a brain?" This is the Jessica Simpson model of female empowerment. Once again, I'd like to believe that it's a feminist stance that disagrees with this, and it used to be -- back before "feminism" was defined as standing on top of a bar and stripping in front of a bunch of like-minded, Prada-clad career women, drunk on appletinis at some Cake party, or maybe flashing your breasts for Girls Gone Wild.
With this in mind, I offer what will seem like a non sequitur, but bear with me.
The other night, my wife and I were sitting on the couch watching TV when we began debating which fictional television hospital we'd most like to be taken to, should we ever come down with some kind of life-threatening disease. (If you're married, you understand this kind of interaction completely, if you're not -- oh what you have to look forward to.) We agreed that at the top of the list of places to be treated would be the Princeton/Plainsboro Teaching Hospital -- home to the irascible but brilliant Dr. Gregory House, of Fox's House. At the bottom of the list -- a no-brainer, literally: Seattle Grace Hospital. I'd love to think that most of you have no idea what the hell I'm talking about, but the ratings say otherwise. Seattle Grace is of course the principle location of ABC's Grey's Anatomy, the Melrose Place of doctor shows.
Tune in any week and you can watch the show's cast of formerly B-list actors -- fronted by the squinty-eyed Ellen Pompeo as Meredith "My Name's in the Title" Grey, and the kid from Can't Buy Me Love -- jump into bed with each other while all around them patients convulse and die. Hell, in last year's season finale, the most cringe-inducingly annoying of the bunch -- surgeon-in-training Izzie (Dr. Fucking Izzie?!?) -- accidentallly killed a guy due mostly to the fact that she had fallen in love with him. Word has it the show's rabidly loyal female fan-base actually lit up ABC's phone lines to complain about the offing. Don't worry girls, I hear he survives in the re-runs.
The most painful thing about Grey's Anatomy, aside from its resurrection of Patrick Dempsey's career, is the fact that it touches a nerve among women who see themselves in Meredith Grey. This has happened before, and at the time it was just as unfortunate. A few years back, scores of young, intelligent professional American women actually had the bad sense to identify with Calista Flockhart's flighty, high-strung, and all around vapid character, Ally McBeal. Now they have a new character whom they feel that they can really understand; she has the brains to be a doctor, but God bless her, she'll put it all aside for what's really important: screwing a married guy. Bring on the Kleenex.
Best of all, like Carrie Bradshaw on the equally insipid but just as popular Sex and The City, what's little more than selfish and immature behavior is passed off as an expression of strength, intelligence and sexual empowerment. Pay attention and you'll probably notice another similarity between SATC and Grey's: a running narration by the lead character. I'll have to assume that the only difference between an empowered woman and somebody who sleeps around for the hell of it is some flowery introspection. Add a little high school-grade poetry at the beginning and end of the show and you've got yourself an everywoman character for the new millennium.
Now, of course I understand that it's just a TV show; I more than likely sound as if I'm one step away from turning into Dan Quayle, jousting at the windmill of fictional television character Murphy Brown. Like any cultural zeitgeist though, Grey's Anatomy has an influence, and like I said at the beginning: can we really afford any more intellectual stragglers -- particularly ones who are being convinced that they're anything but?
I should probably mention that whether or not she'd like to be the beneficiary of Seattle Grace's vast medical acumen, my wife doesn't really mind Grey's Anatomy.
She's damn smart, and even if she weren't -- she's got those.
Who needs brains?