Friday, October 10, 2014

Mathew Klickstein, Nickelodeon, and Menophobia

The book Slimed: An Oral History of Nickelodeon's Golden Age by Mathew Klickstein has drawn some criticism because of the author's remarks to the FlavorWire.
"I think it’s worse when they shove [diversity] in there... [Nickelodeon President] Cyma Zarghami and the women who run Nickelodeon now are very obsessed with diversity... To just shove it in there because, “Uh-oh, we need diversity,” is silly and a little disgusting. It needs to be the best people working on the best shows. They happen to be white, that’s a shame. They happen to be all guys, that’s a shame. No one says this about sports — they do sometimes, the owners — but sorry, that most basketball, football players happen to be black. That’s just the way that it is. Publishing, too! You might not like this or care, but it’s very hard to be a man in the publishing world. No one talks about that. My agent: woman. My editor: woman. My publicist: woman. The most successful genre is young adult novels — 85% of which are written by women. That discussion doesn’t really come up when it’s the other way around.  It is 2014 now. It’s not 1995. Political correctness needs to change."
On a recent walk around town, I found a copy of Klickstein's book in the trash (along with the much better Command and Control by Eric Schlosser).

I haven't read Klickstein's book yet, but on the night I found it I turned to a random page and found this passage quoting Clarissa Explains it All director Chuck Vinson: [emphasis not added]
"Melissa, she was not a young girl anymore. Her body started to change. I mean, her breasts were growing. She started her period, and you don't want to get in a woman's way when she's having her period!" (Klickstein, p. 43)
In addition, Klickstein quotes Joe O'Connor (Clarissa's father, Marshall Darling) on Melissa Joan Hart's pictorial in Maxim magazine:
"I don't think she should have done it, myself. But there's this thing in LA where they make decisions based on this kind of stuff: initial sexual reactions. Most of the actresses in LA, while they're still young, try to do this. If a girl hasn't made it out here, in terms of movies, and hasn't gotten that image by the time she's twenty-five, twenty-six, twenty-seven, she's finished and they move on to younger girls. Pretty terrible. Actually, they do it with young guys now, too. Still, I think Melissa should have gone and tried to do it a little different. Is that way too much? I had too much coffee." (Klickstein, p. 44-45)
On the same page, Klickstein quotes Justin Cammy, who describes Alanis Morissette saying:
"[She] prematurely mature for her age. In a scary way." (Klickstein, p. 45)
A quote from Adam Reid follows he says of Morissette:
"She was definitely singing about "adult" concepts. That was the first thing that really struck me: Wow, she's really mature." (Klickstein, p. 45)
The culture at Nickelodeon in the 1990s seems to have been toxic at best, an attitude echoed by its informal oral historian.
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