“Congrats to my beautiful friend Kathy Griffin for bravely saying enough is enough to intolerance of all kinds on television.” – Lena Dunham
IT WAS never going to be easy to replace Joan Rivers, whose blow torch assessments of celebrities on the red carpet, which Ms. Rivers herself made a staple of awards shows. Kathy Griffin was off to great beginning, then suddenly something happened to make everyone on the set think twice about why they were there and the cost of what they were saying. The second guessing about “Fashion Police” was set off by the comment of Giuliana Rancic on Zendaya‘s hairstyle at the 2015 Oscars, which upset Kelly Osbourne enough to make her the first to exit the E! show.
Late Thursday, Kathy Griffin tweeted out that she wasn’t a great fit, which started a contagion of female celebrities applauding her for the reasons she was bowing out of the show after seven episodes.
One of the celebrities who praised Kathy Griffin was Lena Dunham, a woman who was eviscerated for being who she is by the late Joan Rivers, revealing the bar of criticism that also leads into a destructive conversation that revolves around the codes of beauty and expectation that few women can meet.
Joan Rivers on Dunham during an appearance on the “Howard Stern Show” reveals what “Fashion Police” was all about.
“Let me ask you something. Lena Dunham, who again I think is terrific, how could she wear dresses above the knee?” Rivers, then 80, asked Stern. When Stern suggested maybe Dunham doesn’t care what other people think, Rivers replied, “Oh, every woman gives a sh-t.”
“You are sending a message out to people saying, ‘It’s okay! Stay fat! Get diabetes. Everybody dies! Lose your fingers,” Rivers continued of how the comic actress goes naked on her HBO smash hit.
The “culture of perfection” is something I know a hell of a lot about! I lived it for decades as a Broadway dancer, performer and actress, the Miss America Pageant system actually not the toughest of the juggernauts I willingly accepted as the norm for over 25 years. But I never had to go through a national public shaming for something I wore that didn’t please the critics looking in who were sitting in a comfortable chair well away from the firing squad. It was bad enough that my introduction into the big talent agent scene was standing before a hot shot in New York City who told me I could be a star if I got my boobs done! …and, mind you, this was in the late 1970s.
In my third book, Beauty Queen, I spend quite a bit of time talking about the culture that women face today, which is like nothing seen before. Social media tweets taking after female celebrities and other public figures for how they look, it’s all very daunting for any woman looking on and considering career choice, including as a politician.
Kathy Griffin quitting “Fashion Police” is potentially a cultural moment of some note, because of why she’s stepping away.
It makes me think about Bravo and their “Real Housewife” shows, where many of the characters trade on the spectacle of women hating women and tearing each other down.
We’ll see how far this ripples, but it’s not a small thing that Kathy Griffin has followed Kelly Osbourne out of “Fashion Police,” because Guiliana Rancic told a joke written for her by someone who thought talking about “patchouli” and “weed” was a funny, and Rancic, who is not a comedian, read it like a good little girl.
“Fashion Police” will continue and no doubt many will watch when it comes back on air. To see whether it will be a train wreck, skeleton of what it was, or if the producers and remaining talent dare to do shift to serious conversations about fashion and talk about what it means to women (and men) who choose garments as extensions to themselves, as regular people do every day, just without the stylists and budget.
“We wish her all the best and are grateful for her time on the show, as well as the many laughs that she gave us all. Fashion Police will return, as scheduled, on Monday, March 30 at 9 p.m. with our talented co-hosts Giuliana Rancic and Brad Goreski and executive producer Melissa Rivers. No further information is available at this time.” [People]
Fashion matters, not like world peace, of course, but in our lives, at least I’ve always thought of human costuming as something meaningful.
The subject deserves to be discussed as something beyond a dart board on which to impale women, especially, for sport.