Name It. Change It. Talks to WaPo’s Erik Wemple

A couple of days ago we noticed a strange turn on Twitter. Washington Post media critic Erik Wemple suddenly started tweeting about the appearance of some male commentators on TV.

Since we’re a fan of Wemple’s work we thought we might ask him: What’s going on here?

NICI: So a couple of days ago you tweeted three times commenting on the appearance of some male speakers on Fox News (Quayle, Cain & weapons expert Mike Baker.) What was the thought behind it?

Wemple: Well, I’d decided that the men on TV have been neglected. They’ve never had the joy of having commentary on their appearances share the stage with or overwhelm reaction to the substance of what they’re saying. So I decided that I would right this wrong, singlehandedly.

NICI: So it seems like some people were annoyed by your tweets and/or didn’t understand the point. Were you expecting that? Were you expecting any kind of reaction?

Wemple: A little bit, yeah—-you have to take care of your followers, not spam them and not annoy them. I could see why not everyone would be thrilled to know that so-and-so was wearing a two-toned blue tie.

NICI: Mostly I think the type of commentary you are doing doesn’t seem to flow naturally. On Twitter when people comment on appearance it’s usually to comment how they feel about that person’s looks. (Like @EmilyMiller’s tweet for example.) So it’s judgmental in some aspect. The kind of dry inventory you are doing is more suited to articles. I think your Herman Cain tweet comes closest to that style. Maybe you need to be more judgmental about men’s appearance?

Wemple: Perhaps I should be less descriptive and more judgmental. That might be a nice turn to make.

Well that wrapped up our questions to Erik who seems to be continuing the trend. We’re not sure we’d want to encourage the political media class to comment on appearance but considering how often we find the random cataloging of women politician’s clothing and hair in news stories a little turnabout should expose how blatantly one-sided (ie sexist) such commentary is.


Published by Kate McCarthy on 09/12/2012

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