"Vag Magazine ," which premieres today, is a new Web comedy about the bumbling staff of a Third Wave feminist magazine of the same name. So far the Observer , Salon, and a heap of other online media have sung its praises, and I wanted to weigh in because I am a feminist and a comic, and this series made me realize why public-service comedy grosses me out so much.
Poking fun at disingenuous feminists is all well and good, but it’s been done before, most notably and much more shrewdly by " ThunderAnt ," Fred Armisen’s collaborative series with Carrie Brownstien (a fact that Leila Cohan-Miccio and and Caitlin Tegart, the creators of "Vag," seem blithely unaware of ). Comedy doesn’t have to constantly reconnoiter uncharted territory to be funny, but it ought to find some new nuggets to chew on while it’s there. It appears that the grand objective of the "Vag" series is to list off as many Third Wave feminist cliches they can think of, from the absurd to the boilerplate. I imagine it’s a kick in the pants for the .03 percent of the population who still go to knitting parties and intern at BUST .
But it’s a post-post-feminist, post-Hillary, post-Palin world, isn't it? One where things much, much more ridiculous than reusable pads carry on, in broad daylight, under the auspices of "feminism." I do stand-up comedy and commune, via necessity, in circles where old-school sexism still gets a seat at the table. If you must take a stab at conscious comedy, why set your sights on such a derisory topic?
"We wanted to write a series that was about women, but had nothing to do with trying to land the guy or the fantasy wardrobe or the perfect body," the founders say in an Observer interview . Haha! What? Does Glamour magazine have a Web series I don’t know about? "I hope that it's obvious from our parodies that we are feminists. ... I think that, in a way, we are saying that this is important enough to parodied." Well, I am saying that it’s not. "Vag Magazine" is just a Web series of debatable comedic value, not a call to arms for some sequestered faction of feminism that’s bursting at the seams with comedic creativity, like so much menstrual blood.
Feminism does not need to be cultivated in the garden of comedy like a bruised sapling. In fact, the only thing that’s going to help the image of women in comedy now and forever is for women to be, and to continue being, funny.
Screenshot from the first epsiode of Vag Magazine.