Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The Many Sides of Tina Fey

Quick, think about Tina Fey.

What comes to mind? Her trademark specs? Her humor? 30 Rock? SNL? Her sexy librarian image? Her wit? Her Sarah Palin impersonation?

The divine Tina Fey is one of those women whose images depends on who's doing the looking. To me, she's a witty and smart woman who's unafraid to showcase those traits first and foremost, dramatized by the fact that she wears glasses and not contact lens most of the time. To someone else, the mention of her name might remind him of comedy, or of his librarian fantasies he hasn't shared with anyone, save his therapist.

And when Tina Fey (it seems wrong to refer to her by just her last name) appears in pop culture confections all dolled up and vampy, her overt sexiness messes with some people's impression of her. "Wait a sec, she's the smart, sassy one, right?" some folks might think. "Why the hell is she doing cleavage shots like Pamela Anderson?"

Which brings us to Tina Fey in the January issue of Vanity Fair, where, alongside a lengthy feature story by Maureen Dowd, are many sexy photographs. Salon's Broadsheet blog reacted to the images with a post entitled, "The sexing up of Tina Fey," in which blogger Sarah Hepola wrote:

". . . [D]espite her disdain for hedonism, she has gone from a 'mousy,' 'goofy-looking' comedy writer who never seemed to put much of a premium on her looks into television's most unexpected bombshell. (Pictures accompanying the article show Fey in five-alarm sexy librarian mode, seductively biting the frame of her glasses and wearing red stilettos.) Fey seems conflicted about her sexuality in a way that might feel familiar to any woman who has found herself choosing between muumuus and fishnets.
. . . Maybe you find this depressing (a brilliant comic mind inevitably reduced to shaking her cleavage). Maybe you find this empowering (a brilliant comic mind finally shaking her cleavage!). Either way, it only confirms what many of us have known for a long time: Tina Fey is one of the most fascinating celebrities out there right now."

The Vanity Fair story does a good job of detailing how Tina Fey is simultaneously nerdy and shy, as well as funny and sexy. I happen to love it that Tina Fey embodies the fact that women have many different, sometimes contradictory sides. She can be witty AND smart AND sexy AND classy AND silly. This reminded me of the fake ad pitch on Mad Men earlier this season when the advertising gurus were trying to land a Playtex account. Their proposed campaign (see art above) suggested that there were two sides of a woman: a siren like Marilyn Monroe or a dutiful wife like Jackie Kennedy, as if those were the only choices.

When it comes to Emmy winning actress/writer/working mother Tina Fey, you see many different sides in the same person. And that's all right with me.

Image credits: AMC and Vanity Fair.

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