Random quote #5

I’m an atheist; I suppose you can call me a sort of libertarian anarchist. I regard religion with fear and suspicion. It’s not enough to say that I don’t believe in God. I actually regard the system as distressing: I am offended by some of the things said in the Bible and the Koran, and I refute them.

Emma Thompson being Emma Thompson in The Australian 15th October 2008

“mums aren’t good at being funny”

Don’t ask why but I recently watched an edition of The One Show (broadcast on 22nd July 2009) with Hugh Dennis as the studio guest.

The presenters asked him about the lack of women on such shows as Mock the Week (Dennis is one of the team captains) and he responds that although there are “lots of very, very, very funny women but I guess they don’t tend to be, you know, stand ups” which is why they aren’t on the show. Anyway. They moved on to a clip from the special Outnumbered produced for Comic Relief (13th March 2009) to illustrate that women aren’t funny. Dennis (as the dad) does an impression of Eric Morecambe catching an imaginary pebble in a bag and the children laugh heartily. Claire Skinner (as the mum) also does an impersonation of Eric Morecambe by poking her head around the door and being dragged out of sight by her own hand. The children don’t laugh and when she asks why not, the boy says that “…mums aren’t good at being funny”. This is a link to the first part of the whole thing and apparently mums are good at tidying, nagging and saying no.

Back in The One Show studio, Dennis says that in reality “it worked the other way round completely. I did that thing and neither of them laughed. And Claire did her thing and they both laughed”. I think he then says “so it’s cheating”.

Fabulous stuff from Andy Hamilton and Guy Jenkin that doesn’t at all reinforce stereotypes. And thanks to The One Show for digging out a clip to illustrate something that isn’t true. And look here!

Writing women (links)

I recently read this rather old interview with the estimable Graham Linehan (Father Ted, The IT Crowd, etc) in which he said,

I would probably be more comfortable writing just two men. I do find it hard to write for woman, as do a lot of male writers.

It reminded me of this article by Richard Warlow who is the only male writer on the BBC’s Mistresses who wrote about writing women in a way that irritated me mainly because he couldn’t resist sentences like,

But, well, women are beautiful, aren’t they? And mysterious and confusing.

The way I look at it is if you are writing sentences like that then you already failing. I’m not beautiful, mysterious or confusing. (Confused, yes.)

That got me thinking about the subject. If some men can say that they find it hard to write women then what does that say about the vast majority of literature ever written?

Not every man agrees. Steve Martin says,

I know the feelings, but I don’t know what’s interesting. So it was really hard to pick and choose. What needs to be known? … But it’s easy to be an observer and appreciator of the opposite sex.

which isn’t much different from Warlow’s,

Most men I know, even the gay ones, are obsessed with women. I think that gives us a compelling qualification to write about them.

but less tiresomely expressed.

I found an interesting discussion at Absolute Write (I guess there are dozens of these discussions around the Internet). Some random quotes:

Write a woman like she is a person first, a woman second. She is an individual person with her own hopes, aspirations, and importantly, flaws, and not just some member of a club called “women”. (Toothpaste and agreed with several times)

You have one thing in common with women… you are of the same species.” “Don’t watch sitcoms and dramas to try to figure out women… if I was a woman I’d be pissed about the way they are often portrayed on TV. Watch them in real life. (KTC)

(The discussion deteriorates from page 2 onwards.)

Finally, some great stuff from Marie Brennan,

We’re people. We’re individuals. We’re not Women, and we’re not types, either — the Cold But Brilliant Scientist, the Nurturing Mother Who Sacrifices All For Her Children, the Whore With A Heart Of Gold.

Seriously, I do have to read one of her books.

Stranger Than Fiction

Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because Fiction is obliged to
stick to possibilities; Truth isn’t.

–Pudd’nhead Wilson’s New Calendar. in Following the Equator by Mark Twain (1897)

I really enjoyed this film starring one of my favourite people, Emma Thompson. Great music, fascinating story, good cast and lots of baked goods. I would have happily been one of Ana’s study buddies.

Best line “I brought you flours.”

Margaret Atwood

“I’m a reader of science fiction and fantasy” – Margaret Atwood in Ursula Le Guin at 80 BBC Radio 4 17th March 2009 at 11:30

I thought at first (due to her accent) that Margaret was confessing to be a writer of science fiction…