Claudia Winkleman's promotion to host Film 2010 isn't the end of the world. It really isn't. It's just a programme about films, not Election Night bloody Special, and you need someone with mainstream appeal, who can do celebrity interviews, and who knows a bit - but not necessarily everything - about the movies.
Jonathan Ross was hardly a deadpan heavyweight, let's not forget. And Barry Norman wasn't AJP Taylor either - but it was his light touch and gentle humour, grumbling away about the England cricket team as an aside during links for example, that made his style watchable, even when the films weren't much cop. So is it really dumbing down to bring in Winkleman? I don't think so.
Today's Mail carries an article by Georgina Littlejohn, which to be fair plays the appointment of Winkleman straight down the line. It mentions that she is to be the first female host of the programme (Joan Bakewell did it back in the 1970s) but it's not written snidely, so you think to yourself, that's fair play; at least this decision isn't going to result in a nasty whiff of lady-bashing. Well you might think that.
But, reader, I made a terrible error of judgement. I looked 'below the line'. I swear there should be a warning that says "Here be dragons" whenever you get to the bottom of an article online. Did you ever read about the 'wisdom of crowds' and think it made sense? Well, I'm here to prove you wrong. A lot of commenters talk about 'dumbing down', which is ironic when you see what they come up with:
A lot of comments are about her appearance (and fringe, more precisely) and you have to wonder: would it all be about that if the new presenter were a man? If it were Kermode would we be having endless conversations about his quiff? I'm not so sure we would.
Again, all about the appearance. And having a go at someone for getting a job just because they have a famous parent, under an article written by Georgina Littlejohn? Hmm.
I like Chris's thinking. "Mariella Frostrup would have been better, but I'm not keen on her". Brilliant. The implication being, of course, that the ultra-PC BBC decided it had to be a woman because of political correctness, or something.
Again, the implication is the female = vacuous and she only got the job because of a famous parent. Same again.
I CRINGE WHEN SHE PRESENT 'STRICTLY' SHOW... thanks for the non-'mindless' comments, Hazel.
Yes, it was the feminist behemoth of Auntie that made her get the job... it must the the only reason. Because what do women know about films or motorcycling? It's not as if they're allowed to do either.
How did that slip through? To be fair there are a handful of these type of comments, but they're in the minority.
It's becoming a familiar theme... she only got the job because of her mother, etc etc. Not so sure that's true really, but that's the theme. A woman presenting a proper job? Must be due to feminism, or PC, or a famous parent... can't be because she's actually good enough!
Not really. She doesn't look like a disembodied hand to me. Do you mean Cousin It? 2/10.
Eh? Eh? Fringe! Scary eyes!
Because she didn't apply for the job?
Yes, women who comment on everything are awful, Jennifer. And what exactly are you doing right now...? Oh, I see. But 'men a dying breed as presnters'? I don't think that's quite the case, is it? Those pesky feminists! Why you'd think 50% of the population was female, or something!
Women don't possess gravitas and shouldn't comment on sport, or films, or anything, according to Peter. That's the kind of attitude lurking beneath a lot of these grumpy attacks on Winkleman. If you ever linger under the idea that we've moved on since the 1970s, these threads bring you back down to earth.
"If the BBC had to go for a female presenter..." - but they didn't. I imagine it wasn't some diversity exercise about ticking boxes; I am pretty sure it was about getting the best presenter for the job, which they thought was Winkleman. Now we can disagree about whether she's any good or not, but can't we do that on her relative merits or otherwise, without assuming she just got the job because she's a woman, or because of her mother, or anything like that?
Apparently not. As ever, the Mail gives you a whiff of something unpleasant, but it's worth reading, because people there are more nakedly obvious about their views than elsewhere. Perhaps a lot of people do think this, but just mask it better.
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