Saturday, May 3, 2008

If Trees Could Talk

Something truly remarkable happened on The View yesterday. It was so mindboggling that it brought me to tears!

For those of you who don't tune into ABC's morning live show, The View, here is how it came into existence.

The View's premise merges entertainment and politics. You see, never before had anything like that been attempted.

Except when Ronald Reagan became Governor of California or when Ronald Reagan became President of the United States. Or when Sonny Bono became Mayor of Palm Springs.

But not since has entertainment and politics merged.

Except for Clint Eastwood, Mayor of Carmel-by-the-Sea, California. And then there's Arnold Schwarzenegger, Governor of California, and of course Jesse Ventura formerly the Governor of Minnesota.

This enterainment/politics marriage is a great show for the People!

Entertainment: "Go on punk, make my day." Clint Eastwood

Politics: "The best minds are not in government. If they were, business would hire them away." Ronald Reagan

Entertainment: "I think a gay marriage should be between a man and a woman" Arnold Schwarzenegger

Politics: "Facts are stupid things." Ronald Reagan

So leave it to Barbara Walters to create just such a forum 11 years ago in The View, a place where women (who make up 51% of the population) can get together and discuss important, critical, life-sustaining issues in today's society. Our view, damn it! Five days a week for one hour.


To accomplish this enormous undertaking and not be viewed as a joke, the moderators of this forum must have an extensive resume, collectively compiling several decades worth of experience in journalism, education, public service, socialism, judicial advocacy, and economic awareness. They must be tenacious and passionate in their positions, and unwaivering in their commitment to discussing topics - no matter how uncomfortable - for the viewers.

Oh, yes, and they also must know product placement (and hopefully wear a complementary shade of lip color - and whatever else Disney, who owns ABC, wants of them).

The hosts this year? Well there's Whoppie Goldberg, an academy award winning actress known for her one-woman shows; Joy Behar, who spent most of her adult life telling jokes; Sherrie Shepard, a woman who never really thought about it but hey! you know the world could possibly be flat I don't know, you know; Elizabeth (the blonde) Hasselelbeck, someone who appeared on the (god awful) show Survivor; and Barbara Walters, known for her winner-take-all interviews that often leave everyone in tears.

Yesterday, all the hosts were present and they discussed Barbara's long awaited autobiography, Audition, which is previewed in the current edition of Vanity Fair (a magazine, by the way, that has repeatedly printed articles calling for the impeachment of George W Bush).

It was invigorating! Barbara talked about how difficult it was for her as a woman to break into broadcasting, to become the first female anchor of network news. She was harassed. She was discriminated against. She was treated horribly by her network news co-anchor. She was forced to tears in her dressing room every single day.

She cried.

She hosted the news "Scientists report life found on Mars".

She cried.

She hosted the news "President Ford ordered Swine Flu Shots for Everyone (except male chauvenist pigs)".

She cried.

She broke down the barriers that make it possible for women to host news today "Up next, how to recycle old bridesmaids dresses into table linen". (At least now we know who's responsible!)

Then we were treated to several photos of Barbara taken over the past 40 years. When this emotional rollercoaster was over and with the door flung w i d e open for critical discussion about women toiling side by side in a man's world, about sexual harassment on the job, about disparities in compensation and bonuses and pay increases and work loads - and on the heels of Equal Pay Day (4/22/08) which is designated as a public awareness event to illustrate the gap between men's and women's wages, Babawa asked the girls: "How do you tink I wook as a bwunett? Do you wike me as a bwunett?"

All the girls gushed.

I cried.

After viewing a picture - taken about 30 years ago - of Barbara in a silk blouse and skirt leaning provocatively on a table, The View's Blonde said "Ooooh, that belt. that belt. I love that belt. I want that belt!"

I'll give her a belt.

"Ask her about the details of her contract negotiations with the men in charge." I screamed at the TV. "Ask her about the avenues that were available to women in those days who were harassed or forced to tears." I yelled. "How did she get thru the day-to-day grind of that humiliation? Ask her about the perks she was provided (car?) (driver?) (days off?) as opposed to her male co-workers. Ask her about support organizations. Ask her about NOW. Ask her how she recovered from this continued abuse. Did she spend years in therapy? Was she angry? Did she take it out on family members (she has been married 3 times)? Ask her to discuss the options that are available to women today who are being discriminated on the job every single day. What should a woman do if she's being mistreated in the workplace? Should she write everything down? Get it on tape? File a complaint? What? What?"

But to no avail. No one asked.

And if Barbara ever askes me what kind of tree I think I would be, I'd say "These days, a weeping willow."