“Two and a Half Men’s” latest sexist dis

The co-creator of fart-joke staple "Two and a Half Men" is tired of all the punch lines about female anatomy on TV

Topics: Two and a Half Men, Sitcoms,

"Two and a Half Men's" latest sexist disLee Aronsohn

Lee Aronsohn is sorry he said he was tired of your vaginas. As you were, ladies.

On Monday, the co-creator of “Two and a Half Men” issued a now-standard Twitter mea culpa, explaining that “it was a stupid joke. I’m sorry.” His offense? Kvetching on Sunday to the Hollywood Reporter, “Enough, ladies. I get it. You have periods … We are approaching peak vagina on television, the point of labia saturation.” Labia saturation: no longer just a weird side effect from antidepressants.

It has indeed been a banner year for vaginas on television, with one-liners about the holy of holies turning up all over the place — including on saucy, female-driven comedies like “Whitney” and “Two Broke Girls.” The truth is that few of these jokes are legitimately funny. They’re more often deployed to shock, and thereby make lame routines notable. Surely Aronsohn isn’t the only one feeling a little exhausted by the V-word.

But a guy who admits “we do far too many fart jokes on ‘Two and a Half Men’” is not one to go throwing stones at the glass house of body function humor. There’s an underlying, unmistakable anger to Aronsohn’s words, coming as they do from a man who last year snarled at the Toronto Screenwriting Conference, “What makes men damaged? Sorry, it’s women. I never got my heart broken by a man.”

Unfortunately for Aronsohn, a whole lot of uppity broads are totally on the rag this week, and as word of his Hollywood Reporter rant made the rounds, they just couldn’t help expressing their crankiness. On Monday, writer Jen Kirkman issued a menstrual “fatwah” on Aronsohn, deploying a series of period anecdotes and lamenting, “Just looked out my window and vaginas are storming the streets with sitcom ideas!” And actress Martha Plimpton admonished, “Um, Lee, women are 51 percent of the population & a coveted demographic for advertisers. What are you thinking?” She wisely added that his version of “peak vagina” amounts to a mere “25 percent of all writers, producers, creators, DPs, editors & directors in television.” She joked, “3 women on television is more than enough. I say we bring it down to 2. One can be black if she wants.”



Initially Aronsohn, no doubt feeling defensive and “damaged” by all the unladylike hostility, replied on Twitter, “Women, please look up ‘irony.” Well, I did – and there was a picture of one of the creators of “Two and a Half Men” giving advice on comedy. What does it mean?

Aronsohn has since deleted his snarky tweet and, after issuing the excuse that he was simply making a “stupid joke,” has been laying low.

It’s a depressing reality of contemporary network television that too many sitcoms rely on easy shock-value words and ostensibly naughty behavior instead of crafting believable characters and employing clever writing. That’s a crime that both male- and female-based comedies are guilty of.

But Aronsohn wasn’t issuing a plea for higher standards. Instead, he came off as a squeamish boy, irked at the notion that estrogen is seeping into the man cave of his prime time. He was arrogant and dismissive, and his implication that jokes about Ashton Kutcher’s penis are somehow inherently superior to those about Kat Dennings’ vagina is utter sexist nonsense. But thanks for the apology anyway, Aronsohn. And if it’s any consolation, we’re pretty sick of your hole too.

Mary Elizabeth Williams

Mary Elizabeth Williams is a staff writer for Salon and the author of "Gimme Shelter: My Three Years Searching for the American Dream." Follow her on Twitter: @embeedub.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 22
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Talking Heads, 1977
    This was their first weekend as a foursome at CBGB’s, after adding Jerry Harrison, before they started recording the LP “Talking Heads: 77.”

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Patti Smith, Bowery 1976
    Patti lit up by the Bowery streetlights. I tapped her on the shoulder, asked if I could do a picture, took two shots and everyone went back to what they were doing. 1/4 second at f/5.6 no tripod.

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Blondie, 1977
    This was taken at the Punk Magazine Benefit show. According to Chris Stein (seated, on slide guitar), they were playing “Little Red Rooster.”

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    No Wave Punks, Bowery Summer 1978
    They were sitting just like this when I walked out of CBGB's. Me: “Don’t move” They didn’t. L to R: Harold Paris, Kristian Hoffman, Diego Cortez, Anya Phillips, Lydia Lunch, James Chance, Jim Sclavunos, Bradley Field, Liz Seidman.

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Richard Hell + Bob Quine, 1978
    Richard Hell and the Voidoids, playing CBGB's in 1978, with Richard’s peerless guitar player Robert Quine. Sorely missed, Quine died in 2004.

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Bathroom, 1977
    This photograph of mine was used to create the “replica” CBGB's bathroom in the Punk Couture show last summer at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. So I got into the Met with a bathroom photo.

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Stiv Bators + Divine, 1978
    Stiv Bators, Divine and the Dead Boys at the Blitz Benefit show for injured Dead Boys drummer Johnny Blitz.

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Ramones, 1977
    “The kids are all hopped up and ready to go…” View from the unique "side stage" at CBGB's that you had to walk past to get to the basement bathrooms.

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Klaus Nomi, Christopher Parker, Jim Jarmusch – Bowery 1978
    Jarmusch was still in film school, Parker was starring in Jim’s first film "Permanent Vacation" and Klaus just appeared out of nowhere.

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Hilly Kristal, Bowery 1977
    When I used to show people this picture of owner Hilly Kristal, they would ask me “Why did you photograph that guy? He’s not a punk!” Now they know why. None of these pictures would have existed without Hilly Kristal.

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Dictators, Bowery 1976
    Handsome Dick Manitoba of the Dictators with his girlfriend Jody. I took this shot as a thank you for him returning the wallet I’d lost the night before at CBGB's. He doesn’t like that I tell people he returned it with everything in it.

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Alex Chilton, Bowery 1977
    We were on the median strip on the Bowery shooting what became a 45 single sleeve for Alex’s “Bangkok.” A drop of rain landed on the camera lens by accident. Definitely a lucky night!

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Bowery view, 1977
    The view from across the Bowery in the summer of 1977.

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Ramones, 1977 – never before printed
    I loved shooting The Ramones. They would play two sets a night, four nights a week at CBGB's, and I’d be there for all of them. This shot is notable for Johnny playing a Strat, rather than his usual Mosrite. Maybe he’d just broken a string. Love that hair.

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Richard Hell, Bowery 1977 – never before printed
    Richard exiting CBGB's with his guitar at 4am, about to step into a Bowery rainstorm. I’ve always printed the shots of him in the rain, but this one is a real standout to me now.

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Patti Smith + Ronnie Spector, 1979
    May 24th – Bob Dylan Birthday show – Patti “invited” everyone at that night’s Palladium show on 14th Street down to CBGB's to celebrate Bob Dylan’s birthday. Here, Patti and Ronnie are doing “Be My Baby.”

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Legs McNeil, 1977
    Legs, ready for his close-up, near the front door of CBGB's.

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Suicide, 1977
    Rev and Alan Vega – I thought Alan was going to hit me with that chain. This was the Punk Magazine Benefit show.

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Ian Hunter and Fans, outside bathroom
    I always think of “All the Young Dudes” when I look at this shot. These fans had caught Ian Hunter in the CBGB's basement outside the bathrooms, and I just stepped in to record the moment.

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Tommy Ramone, 1977
    Only at CBGB's could I have gotten this shot of Tommy Ramone seen through Johnny Ramones legs.

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Bowery 4am, 1977
    End of the night garbage run. Time to go home.

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

0 Comments

Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>