Saturday, September 17, 2011

I Have Words for Olivia Munn

The Munn in her natural habitat.
Olivia Munn.  You may or may not have heard of her, but here’s the rundown if you haven’t (or if you’re feeling lazy and don’t want to access your Farley file on her—oh yeah, you’ve been Heinlein’d!).  Olivia Munn came to prominence in 2006 as the co-host of G4’s Attack of the Show! with Kevin Pereira.  She didn’t originate the hosting role, but she did make it pretty memorable. 

How?  Well, there are two things that probably played into Munn’s success on the show.  1) She was raised primarily in Japan, as her step-father was stationed there with the military.  2) She was a model.

Granted, Munn is also a huge geek, but still: Japan-interested model.  She was pretty much perfect.  On the show, Munn hosted several segments, including one called “In Your Pants”, where she dispensed sex and relationship advice in response to viewer questions.  She was really notable for the way she blended her sex appeal with the nerdery of the show, managing to always keep the topic sexy, but geeky.  Which is pretty impressive.

So what’s the problem?  The issue came, really, when it went a little too far.  Munn’s sexy nerd persona, always over-the-top and a little funny for the show, shifted very far in the direction of outright pandering.  I refer here to the pie incident.

Go ahead and watch.  I’ll wait.

You done?

Right, so I like pie.  Perhaps even more than the average person.  It’s not the pie that bothers me.  That part is funny and whimsical in the best of ways.  It’s the French Maid Costume.  It’s the fact that Olivia Munn bribed their viewers with her sexuality in order to get the outcome she wanted.


For the first, I think it’s a little demeaning for the viewers to be told that Olivia Munn believes that they can be bought.  Why not just implore them to do it because pie is wonderful, and a National Pie Week is a fun idea?  But if we must bribe, then have her jump into the pie in her usual clothes.  The fetishization is a real problem. 

That is a leg.
Munn is a woman.  A very attractive woman.  And she seems to have got it into her head that she must be that attractive in order to have anything to say to the geek community.  Olivia, listen to me for a minute.  Yes, down here, in the blogosphere.  You don’t.  They’ll love you for your brain.  You’re an incredibly visible she-geek.  Yes, you’re beautiful, but that’s the icing on it.  Just keep being geeky, and you’ll get the love. 

And maybe if you tone down the Slave Leia costumes, you’ll get a little more love from the other half of your demographic.  Because women can be geeks too.  Not sexy nerds or anime girls, but plain old girls who like to geek.  We’ll be your audience.  Put on a sweater and we’ll talk.

[Olivia Munn is currently a correspondent for The Daily Show with John Stewart and is appearing in I Don’t Know How She Does It, which opens this weekend.]

Read more about her on wikipedia:

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