Caution: Minor spoilers after the jump!
As y’all have probably surmised, I watch no small amount of television. (More than I should, one might argue.) In particular, I’m always on the lookout for shows with progressive, pro-animal, pro-woman, pro-GLBTQ (etc.) themes – and Parks and Recreation is fast becoming one of my all-time favorites.
Like Bitch’s Kelsey Wallace, I’m tickled (not-pink!) by the feminist turn the show’s taken in Season 2. Amy Poehler’s Leslie Knope is looking less and less like a womanly Michael Scott (read: a racist, sexist douchebag with a dwindling pool of redeeming qualities) and more like a goofy, less intellectually endowed version of Hillary Clinton. The walls of Ms. Knope’s office are decorated with framed snapshots of woman politicians (Hillary Clinton, Condoleezza Rice, Madeline Albright – hey, what are political parties against the bond of sisterhood?); when judging a beauty pageant, she weighted the contestant’s brains above all else; and her accidental marriage of two male penguins at the Pawnee Zoo (I know, zoos, ugh!) scored her a gig as a guest DJ at the local gay club (though the penguins were sadly split up at episode’s end).
Season 2’s episode 9, “The Camel” – which aired the Thursday before last – was especially awesome. I’ve embedded the entire episode above, but the most awesomest of the awesomeness is all of 30 seconds long. Since the video will only be available on Hulu for a limited time, I’ve also taken screenshots so you latecomers can follow along.
Here’s the setup: “The Spirit of Pawnee” – a historical mural which dates back to the 1930s and decorates the walls of the Pawnee City Hall – has been defaced yet again. (This time with chocolate pudding – “that’s new!”)
The mural is horribly offensive, you see:
The mural shows a train – named, appropriately, “The Spirit of Pawnee” – barreling down the tracks, as a group of Native Americans throw themselves out of the way, barely escaping certain doom (at the grill of Pawnee, natch) – though at least one unlucky man is injured (as evidence by the trail of spurting blood). A crowd of abhorrently caricatured Chinese laborers looks on horror, as do several white pioneers – though they appear somewhat unconcerned by the bloodshed. Elsewhere on the mural (and not shown in the above screenshot), two Irish men accept payment in whiskey. So many stereotypes jammed into a hundred square feet!
So the City Council has decided that it’s time to update the mural rather than clean and restore it – thus inviting further vandalism – yet again. Because the original mural was designed by city employees, the Council gets the notion that it’d be fun to solicit entries from Pawnee’s various governmental departments. The winners will see their idea played out on the walls of Pawnee City Hall. Knope is psyched because she wants to kick the sewage department’s ass. (Inexplicably, they get all the hot interns.)
From here, we’ll skip ahead a bit, as I don’t want to spoil the entire episode for y’all. And the details are really incidental to the awesomeness, anyhow.
While waiting to present the Parks and Recreation department’s idea, Leslie runs into the Fire Department. Chatting with Chief Connor, Leslie beholds the department’s submission (one of many “camels” – hence the episode’s title).
The Fire Department’s board is black and outlined by a rectangle of orange flames. In the center of the collage, a pack of Dalmatians sit around a poker table, playing cards. One of the “dogs” is really a kid in a dog costume. In various corners of the poster board, we see images of “manly things,” cut and pasted from magazines: A toy fire truck. A red race car. A football player caught in mid-leap. Barbells. Beer. And a thin, white, large-breasted, bikini-clad clad woman – crouched down on her knees, as if to fellate a John (or her surfer-boy boyfriend) – with a triple-stack hamburger for a head.
She looks like Mayor McCheese’s much younger, much hotter “trophy wife.”
This scene starts at 18:40, but here’s a transcript for those who can’t view the video.
Chief Connor: Ms. Knope.
Leslie Knope: Chief Connor. Whaddya got there?
Chief Connor: [Walking over to Leslie.] Well uh, we aren’t really artists, but we gave it a shot. It’s your basic Dogs Playing Poker, but with a “everything’s on fire” theme. [Pointing to a child in a dog costume] This is my nephew over here..and uh, [motioning to the other corner of the board] this is an attractive lady with a hamburger for a head…just some stuff we like, you know. And anyway, we had a lot of fun putting it together. [Laughing.]
Let me repeat:
this is an attractive lady with a hamburger for a head…just some stuff we like, you know.
If you can, you really must watch the video, because it’s hard to capture the essence of the exchange in writing. Chief Connor’s delivery is just so casual and banal, as if a “an attractive lady with a hamburger for a head” is the most natural thing in the world – and not entirely speciesist, misogynistic and serial-killer depraved. Hot chicks with meat parts – just as wholesome as beer and Hot Wheels.
Shane and I guffawed at this exchange for not a few minutes. The sad thing is – though Parks & Rec is satirical – my immediate thought was that what I had just witnessed was not, in point o’ facts, beyond the realm of reality. That is to say, I could actually picture this happening. I could envision a dude submitting this as a mural idea. Seriously. In a professional setting. Without a hint of humor or irony. For reals.
Indeed, it has already happened:
I knew Mrs. McCheese and I were not strangers.
I wonder if any of the writers are familiar with The Sexual Politics of Meat?
By the by, last Thursday’s episode is called “The Hunting Trip.” No doubt we’ll have more to discuss when I get around to watching it.
Tagged: animals animal rights animal welfare intersections intersectionality parallel oppressions animals and women sexy meat mayor mccheese poop culture parks and recreation the sexual politics of meat the pornography of meat meat feminism feminist misogyny amy poehler nbc, hulu video video blogging flickr photos photo blogging sex violence masculinity speciesism