Thursday, November 03, 2005

The Double Entente & The Double Standard

The opinions expressed reflect those of the author (namely ME) and should not be construed as those of Ms. Hazel Mae. The following has not been reviewed, commented on, revised, approved and/or sanctioned by Ms. Hazel Mae.

On October 10th,
John Molori's Media Blitz featured an interview with Hazel - who would have thought that it would create such a controversy? How could one innocuous (I would say "honest") statement give rise to so much discussion and media attention?

"I have recently begun to date. NESN has never put down rules to me about dating players, colleagues, or anyone else. If they did, I wouldn't work there..."

New England sports fans and media chose to focus on this statement, rather than a number of other positives in the interview:

  • from her rise from working at York University to the Fan 590 radio in Toronto to hosting a national edition of Sportsdesk news at Rogers and JZone to the “center of the sports world” Boston.

  • overcoming a rough welcome from some of the media outlets in Boston "I got absolutely hammered by the media. The guys on WEEI said a lot of derogatory things about me..." – and having the intestinal fortitude to persevere in a city where she was essentially on her own with no support system.

  • having the strength of character to stand up to detractors who question her wardrobe choices and try to equate it to a lack of credibility - while most would simply ignore it and not talk about it, Hazel took a stand and didn't apologize for her choices, demonstrating that she is indeed a strong female and a professional in every sense of the word.

  • Her community work, which she was known for in Canada, was not highlighted during the interview.

As has become the focus of many articles and statements directed at or about Hazel Mae - her gender, her ethnicity, her "look", and her personal life have often garnered much of the attention and been the basis for discussion. Her professionalism and her passion for sports are often thrown in as an afterthought, if at all. While the cavalier would pass this off by saying "She is a public figure, she chose this life. She chose to be in the public eye and therefore must accept public perceptions/opinions of her." I would simply ask, "Did she? Did she really choose the field of broadcasting with the knowledge/acceptance that her work and her accomplishments would be attributed to her being just another pretty face, as opposed to her being a talented broadcaster.

Did she know that her views and knowledge of the sports would be dismissed (by a vocal minority) on the basis of her gender and where she was raised? Some New England sports fans have not gotten over the fact that she was raised in Canada, and therefore could never know Boston sports like they do.

Did she know that her personal life would be open to public scrutiny because of her job? Did she know that her morals and values would be called into question (and in some cases slandered) based on unsubstantiated rumours and anonymous comments because of the exposure her job gives her? Is it not somewhat sad (not to mention unfair) that she has to go on record to the Boston Globe to state that she knows the line between her job and her personal life…that she has to say that she has done nothing wrong and has no problem living with her choices…that she has to address the “bimbo-factor” when there is nothing to suggest or point to the fact that she is one? Please, no comments on “personal” choices.

Did she know that her employers could and would step in to tell her or "suggest" what kind of image they wanted her to project, for the station and for herself? I am not media savvy, and I don't know the ins and outs of television - but I have been told that stations often plant controversial stories about their staff to get viewers talking and tuning in. I thought it a bit bizarre that the Mr. Sean McGrail had to go on record as saying
''We talked it through and Hazel has my support and the organization's," he said. ''I'm comfortable that [the interview] doesn't reflect her core beliefs and values."– well of course not, she told Mr. Molori in plain English that her spot on WEEI was about giving them what they wanted to hear - it was a JOKE...or does everyone want to think she has an WEEI thong?

I would hazard to say that the answer is "no" she didn't know or accept it - but that she has done her best to adapt and overcome many of the barriers before her, and excel in an area of professional sports which still trivializes and often dismisses the participation of women (particularly visible minority women) - while maintaining a sense of professionalism and staying true to her values...and striving to achieve career/personal goals.

I was among those who applauded Mr. Molori's article, for giving readers in New England another view of Hazel Mae - one that Canadians viewers have known since she burst on to the Canadian broadcasting scene - she has personality, a sense of humour and is pretty easy going about most things; always choosing not to take the high road in dealing with her critics, never getting into mud-slinging or public arguments. I still stand by my original thoughts, it was a very good article that was misinterpreted and misused by some to create controversy.

Whether by Hazel Mae's choice, the instruction/insistence/suggestion of NESN Management or Mr. Molori's questions (Mae mixes sex appeal and savvy for success) – the interview went back to a somewhat provocative guest spot on WEEI radio and how she interacted with the host; her sex appeal and how it works with viewers, and her public image (her sexuality). I am not here to make a judgement on whether the content of the interview is “right or wrong” – what I am saying is that it is wrong to make value judgements or professional judgements (as some have chosen to do) on the woman because of a couple of pages of text – snippets of what was certainly a much more in-depth conversation. I am certain that Mr. Molori would attest to the fact that she is a woman with a lot more substance than her detractors want to give her credit for.

This brings me to the crux of this post/entry. Why is having a sense of humour and personality such a bad thing for a female? The Boston Globe article linked her appearance on WEEI, and her comments in Mr. Molori’s article to flying in the face of the image women sportscasters had worked to build and promote. I am pretty sure she went into the WEEI segment with full knowledge of what was being said about her, about how they had been and were portraying her – so she went into it with a sense of humour, plays up to the host and the audience …and she gets lambasted by some media outlets for it. Ok, so New Englanders who pride themselves on having a sense of humour are not cool with their broadcasters having a sense of humour – good to know. So if you are a smart and sexy woman, you can’t have a sense of humour or be provocative…because there is something inherently wrong with playing and having fun with an image created for you by people who know nothing about you. Gotcha - that's how things go down in New England.

The article with Mr. Molori touched on her dating (I would assume because “New Englanders want to know”) – why this is important, I don’t know. Hazel Mae, the public figure, should be entitled to her own personal life, a certain amount of privacy about what she does when she isn’t talking to New England sports fans. Why should she have to discuss that? Her male counterparts are never asked about who they are or aren’t dating/seeing…so why should she? Not to bring it up again, but...In the Boston Globe article she had to reiterate that:

''They [NESN] don't need to say it. It's an unwritten rule. To me, having dealt with two major league teams [Blue Jays, Red Sox], it goes without saying and it's understood that reporters don't date players.

''I'm comfortable with my conduct. I sleep soundly at night. That's absolutely, with a capital A."

How much more clear does she have to be? Let it go people.

Another funny thing in the interview...The now famous "Fever Pitch Dress". I don't see why this was such an issue. The dress was an appropriate choice for the event - it was the opening of a hollywood movie...that happened to be held at Fenway Park - it wasn't a baseball game. Get over it was a glitzy hollywood event - the fact that the message wasn't conveyed to those who attended and thought it was a Red Sox event, isn't her issue. Hazel you looked stunning. Enough said.

Her brief tenure in New England, has been for the most part very positive – her station says ratings are up in large part due to her (though she would be modest and not want to take the credit for it); some New England sports fans acknowledged that she has brought a more professional approach to NESN’s Sportsdesk than previous anchors, she has gotten a lot of credit for this past springs Red Sox reports from Florida and she has gotten kudos for work Red Sox Rewind (she was great on JZone).

Hazel says she loves Boston and that there is no where else she would rather be – sadly, for Canadians, we will have to accept that. We will wish her the best.

Songs of the day on Hazelspeeps...given the content of this one...for Ms. Hazel Mae

Crucial - K-Os
"All around my home town
They try to chop me down
But the truth shall not forsake me
Take me up to higher ground"

The Grass is Green - Nelly Furtado (a favourite of Pogue) - kinda fits in with what's been happening in her world the last year or so...or so i would think.
Oh, I once had something 
Something that was so good
Better than the last thing I touched
Then turned right around on that something
And figured I didn't like that much

Oh yeah, the grass is green
But can you tell me, can you feel it, I just wanna feel it
Oh yeah, the grass is green
But I think I stained my jeans and now everybody knows that I been in it

I am a believer
But as I was standing
In line, somebody took my place
Yes, I'm a believer, nver mind what they say
I got so tired along the way

Oh yeah, the grass is green
But can you tell me, can you feel it, I just wanna feel it
Oh yeah, the grass is green
But I think I stained my jeans and now everybody knows thah I been in it

I've got a skeleton that's deeper than any closet
And a bomb that I will drop on it
But you opened up to me
'Til I could only see the beauty in your dishonesty

Oh yeah, the grass is green
But can you tell me, can you feel it, you just wanna feel it
Oh yeah the grass is green
But it think I stained my jeans and now, baby, you can tell that I been in it

Oh yeah, the grass is green but it's not what it seems cause when you think
You want it you just need it
Forget just what you need
The clock is ticking and this life is a train, man, I think you're on it
But it's what you wanted, and what you needed
It's what you wanted, and what you needed
Or is it what I needed and what you wanted


There will be more to say on this...but these are my thoughts...long overdue. But I hope that if Hazel (or it is brought to her attention *cough cough* Mr. Molori) sees this, she smiles and realizes that some people are in her corner. My man Adam didn't get back to me to review I'm posting it (I'm sure he'll touch base soon enough).

To those of you that took the time to read this - thank you. Find a way to show your support if you agree.

To Ms. Hazel Mae I would say "I hope things are groovy in your world. Keep the faith"

Peesth out.


Blogger francesco said...

hows it going? I think hazel is
very attractive she is inpiring
and I am kind of wish I could
meet her she seems to have a lot
of heart

1:27 PM  

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