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Why The AM Show has got me in a tizzy

Following a couple of weeks of controversial headlines, Alex Casey assembles a brief history of sexist drivel on The AM Show. 

Of all the soothing alarm sounds you could use to welcome a new beautiful day on Earth, Mark Richardson barking “a woman can do Dad jokes, which I’m impressed about” has got to be one of the least enjoyable to wake up to. Rise and shine, the time is 6am and the year is roughly 1950. Unfortunately, if you’ve been tuning into Three’s The AM Show with any regularity, you’ll already be familiar with this kind of boring blokeyness.  

Following a few weeks of headlines around The AM Show, including Mark Richardson demanding to know Jacinda’s womb plans, Patrick Gower sheepishly apologising for his Metiria tirade and Duncan Garner awarding a “tizzy of the week” award to Julie Anne Genter, it would seem like Three’s morning show can’t seem to catch a break. It’s like you can’t even be a little bit sexist anymore! Even as a joke! PC gone mad! The snowflakes have finally won and hell has indeed frozen over.

Observe the tizz.

The truth is, tune in any day of the week and you’ll see much of the same drivel, whether it involves a high profile New Zealand woman during election time or not. How about last International Women’s Day, when the jug hadn’t even boiled before Mark Richardson brought up why there was no International Men’s day (there is, Sunday 19 November), before surmising that all that needed to be done to celebrate was to buy a bunch of flowers for the women in your life. It was also Duncan Garner’s birthday, to which Mark spat “that’s a bloody girly cake, mate”.

It’s this kind of oafish, larrikin chat that seeps through the morning programme, gently setting the clock back by the minute. After reading a particularly irritating letter from a viewer, Mark took to bashing his head repeatedly against the desk. When co-host Amanda Gillies laughed and said he was getting makeup everywhere, Mark snapped. “Are you suggesting I wear makeup?!” Because everyone knows that popping a bit of blotting powder on your face for a job is only for girls and girls, famously and scientifically, have cooties and are bad.

And if you think Mark’s fragile masculinity around girly cakes and girly makeup is bad, you shouldn’t be surprised about his broader views on gender roles. During a segment about new smart home technology, Mark leaned back in his chair and said that he had heard it all already. “I could actually pull out my cellphone and show you a number that does all of that for me… it’s my wife’s cellphone number.” Of course a man who thinks a woman should run the home would also insist that women print their child-rearing plans on their forehead for their employer.

Last week’s tizzy-gate also revealed a deep fear of women asserting themselves, where Garner said that Julie Anne Genter needed to “calm her organic farm” after a particularly terse interaction with the media in Parliament. Amanda Gillies called it “fierce”, before immediately getting spoken over. “It’s like being at kindy,” says Garner, “and you’ve stolen someone’s bikkies or something.” Mark nods feverishly, “yeah, don’t tell us what we can and can’t ask darling.” Darling! How quaint! Excuse me while I spew girly bile into my girly bonnet.

So why do I bring all of this up? Because The AM Show has a segment called Ask For Better and yet they don’t seem to ask it of themselves. Because women get called ‘darling’ by condescending men every day in every workplace. Because the recent news-making bad reckons from Mark Richardson have not happened in a vacuum, they are just the latest in a long line of prehistoric reckons, available on TV, online and on radio five days a week. When you stitch all of the above examples together, it makes quite an ugly patchwork coat indeed. But don’t worry Mark, I would never make you wear something so girly, darling.


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