Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Bossypants (2011), Tina Fey

Reviewer: Elle Ewok

Rating: 3.5 Pierogies

Review: Every trip to Vegas includes at least one "hangover" night, where I am too sick from the previous night's age-inappropriate shenanigans to leave my hotel room. Last Saturday was my Vegas-Hangover-Night. When my travel companion (Pumy's Mommy) went downstairs for drinks with friends I stayed in bed and read the copy of Bossypants she bought at the airport bookstore. I read the whole book that evening and it only took a couple of hours.

I am a fan of 30 Rock. My little brother tells me I remind him of Liz Lemon (the character played by Tina Fey - who is based on Tina Fey) which annoys me because I don't really like Liz Lemon although I can see similarities. Isn't there a saying about hating in others what you most dislike about yourself???

Bossypants reads more like a random assortment of essays than a linear autobiography. Ms. Fey tells random stories about her life and childhood, her time on SNL, her thoughts on sexism in the comedy business and random observations on life, motherhood and aging. Despite being an autobiography, Ms. Fey doesn't reveal a lot about her personal life (for example she notes that her face was slashed as a child but gives no details). It's fine if you want to keep your personal life personal but a bit strange if you are writing an autobiography.

The humor is very much in line with 30 Rock and if you find Liz Lemon's character amusing you will like this book. Personally, I found a couple chapters absolutely hysterical and almost fell off the bed when I read the chapter about aging and how your body is determined to become disgusting. Plus, the chapters about the interworkings of SNL were very interesting to me.

So why the three pierogie (i.e. average) review? Well, the book was really disjointed. Not a huge problem but the book felt confused about what it wanted to be. An autobiography? Social commentary? Humorous essays ala David Sedaris? I guess it is a bit of all the above.

My other problem with the book is I found Ms. Fey to be kind of obnoxious at times. Granted she is 100 time more tolerable and well-behaved than most self-identified media elites but she still has her annoying moments. She has a whole section where she responds to negative comments made about her on the Internet. It was a stupid and self-indulgent section. Also, as an example of something that annoyed me, she writes in the introduction:

"Maybe you bought this book because you love Sarah Palin and you want to find reasons to hate me. We've got that! I use all kinds of elitist words like 'impervious' and 'torpor,' and I think gay people are just as good at watching their kids play hockey as straight people."

Self-identified elites love to embrace the elite label (as evident in the above quote) because they submit being educated and smart is a good thing and people who criticze them for being elite are too dumb to realize that. Well, duh. I hate to break it to you but even us rubes in flyover country will agree that intelligence and education are good things. The problem is not that you are smart enough to know what "torpor" means, it is that you are not smart enough to realize there are very few contexts where using such word will be appropriate without coming off as a pretentious a-hole. We call you "elites" because we are making fun of you for identifying yourself as such and thinking so highly of yourself not because we are too dumb to know that being elite is a good thing. Dumbasses. For the record, I went to fancy schools too and I have never used "torpor" in a conversation in my life. Mainly because I am not an a-hole. Moving on.

As I mentioned above, Ms. Fey is much less obnoxious and annoying than the majority of her contemporaries but I still found her off-putting at times. I really don't enjoy people who flex their intellectual and moral muscle by knocking down strawmen. To be fair there wasn't a lot of this in Bossypants and that which did exist was subtle but it was still enough to annoy me a little me.

All that said, Ms. Fey is very funny and it is clear she is a good person who loves her work and her family. I don't dislike her and I don't regret reading her book. There are a couple parts I will think about with a smile for a long time to come and there aren't many books I can say that about.

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