I thought the Kansas City mayor’s race was the biggest story in town these days, but fellow blogger Tony Botello (Tony’s Kansas City) has pushed the powerhouse politicians to the curb.
First, Tony was the subject of a big, cover story in the March 3-9 issue of The Pitch. Then, yesterday, he was on KCUR’s Central Standard show with host Jabulani Leffall.
Congratulations to Tony, whom I call the Blogger Baron of Kansas City. Every blogger should have his or her 15 minutes of fame. Who knows? Maybe even JimmyC will get a nod from the mainstream someday. (Yes, I said mainstream: Even The Pitch has now moved into the mainstream, by default, because it publishes stories that the old mainstream media, like The Star, can’t do properly…See Tony Botello story, for example.)
Some people, I’m sure, enjoy the view. Others think it dampens his credibility. Some think it’s just plain sexist. Such a one is my friend, first name Stacy, who, upon hearing on KCUR that Tony might be involved in moderating a council-mayoral debate tomorrow, screeched loud and long.
Here are excerpts from two comments that Stacy posted yesterday, as well as Tony’s replies, one of which I posted yesterday. The other he sent this morning.
Okay – this has nothing to do with the post but I’m a little hot right now. What is this about Tony of Tony’s Kansas City hosting a debate for the candidates this weekend? WHY would this man be given this opportunity? Why would the candidates not demand a non-sexist host the debate? Seriously ticked right now…The type of photos on Tony’s blog supports objectification..You would think the candidates would try to get away from this type of person instead of giving him legitimacy by agreeing to this debate.
I responded that Mike Burke’s public calendar said that a TV news reporter would be the moderator but that I would try to find out if Tony would be playing any official role. I also wrote that while I believed a lot of women shared her feelings about the cheesecake photos on Tony’s blog, that he had established himself — through hard work and inspiration — as the top blogger in the area and could credibly argue that he would be a competent moderator of a mayoral forum.
I then e-mailed Tony to find out about his role in the upcoming forum. He replied quickly, saying…
Christina Medina is the Mayoral Moderator . . . KC Hispanic News publisher Joe Arce might help her.
I’ll be asking Council some questions just to get started . . .
But what I’m trying to do is get as many people there so there will be a crowd of people to ask their own questions.
Christina seemed very open to doing like an Oprah-type thing . . . Which is something a bit different than what we’ve seen.
But as far as the Mayoral Candidates go, I won’t be asking any questions.
My role . . . Promoting, trying to organize doing as much publicity as possible and I’ll be one of three panelists for the Council session.
Hope that helps.
However, I wonder . . . What question could I possibly ask that would screw things up?
That prompted Stacy to respond directly (in the comments section) to Tony.
It’s not what questions you may or may not ask – you may ask wonderful, insightful questions. It’s what your web site represents that makes we wonder why any candidate would want your promotion. I know that I am not alone in my reaction to the type of photos you post on your web site. It is very difficult to continue reading what you have to say, or to hear what you may be asking, when the thoughts that are screaming in my head are, “This is the type of behavior that hurts women. This is the type of behavior that lets men (and women) think that objectification of women is okay.
…I can’t stop the thought process that occurs after I hear someone who supports the objectification of women open his/her mouth. It’s the Howard Stern effect. I just stop caring what the person has to say and I can’t hear what the responders have to say. And I do try, but it’s just lost. I am not the only woman I know who feels this way. So, the question boils down to: Will the candidates be seen in the same light as your blog if you are one of the promoters?
Not knowing if Tony had followed the entire give-and-take, I sent him the excerpts from Stacy’s comments and offered him the opportunity to respond to the substance of her charges, that is, that he is sexist and treats women as objects in his blog.
Early this morning (he doesn’t sleep much, you know), he sent me an e-mail, apologizing for not responding “in detail,” but what he did write gives me a new frame of reference for “in detail.”
First, he said that he was a dues-paying member of La Raza political club, which is a co-sponsor of tomorrow’s forum (9:30 a.m. to noon, Guadalupe Center, 1015 Avenida Cesar Chavez). The other sponsors are Dos Mundos And KC Hispanic News, newspapers for which Tony has worked in the past.
Then, he turned to the issue that so upsets Stacy.
Why are they allowing me to participate? Again, because I’ve had a business relationship with the organizers. Even through the jokes, alleged misogyny and typos, in all of my writing and work, I strongly advocate for Latinos. The forum is open to everybody, but some questions will be geared toward our community that is one of the fastest growing in Kansas City.
However, I think the root of her question is: Why hasn’t this alleged sexism or misogyny caused people to steer away from me? I don’t know for a fact, but I’ll guess that it’s just plain old expediency, pragmatism and people with a better sense of humor than the old bag who is asking these questions.
JimmyC interrupts this soliloquy to state unequivocally: Stacy is not an old bag. Now, back to Tony…
Simply in terms of photographic content: The Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue is lot racier than my pictorial referencing on most days . . . But the editors aren’t branded with the “misogynist” label. Also, some of the nation’s best journalists have written for Playboy, amid straight-up beaver shots. Racy content in Rolling Stone hasn’t overshadowed groundbreaking reporting. And today some of the best alternative journalism comes from magazines like Vice that feature nudity and far more divisive (and funny content) than my daily ramblings. Really, the images I use from time to time are akin to Victoria’s Secret advertising, and that’s a multi-billion-dollar company propped up by a public that seems to consume their “content” at a rate where any objections are negligible.
But beyond that . . . I will acknowledge that I’ve written some very nasty things about women . . . in the context of a jokey blog with funny photos, typos, big red type and an overall spirit of cheeky news-ish (attempts) at humor.
Of course there are facts on TKC and even some breaking news . . . But I’ve never hidden my objective: More than anything else I consider my blog an exercise in entertainment.
When Andy Kauffman wrestled women, it was part of his act, and the charges of misogyny still didn’t stop a great many people from noting the genius of his performance art. Obviously, I’m not at the level of an Andy Kauffman, but that’s my gold standard and the best analogy I can offer for my rhetorical battles with the opposite sex.
Ask the politicos about why they “dare to associate” with me, but I think in the end it’s because I do have a rather deft touch when it comes to what to take seriously and when to simply do straight (dare I claim?) “reporting” rather than my bloggy shtick.
So, because I’m not getting in the ring and throwing around women, because the photos that I love are tame and boring by most late-night, cable-television standards and because I’m only one person among many working on a collaborative effort to inform the KC voting public . . . I don’t see a problem with my involvement and basically regard these complaints as overwrought and coming from a lady too wrapped up in her own political correctness, delicate sensibilities and with far too much spare time.
The lady is welcome to protest my involvement, but the fact is that city council and mayoral candidates already made their decision knowing full well my content offerings and weighing that against the more important concerns of KC voters in the urban core and the Latino community.
This lady is entering into a debate that has already been settled. If she’d like to go on a date, maybe we could trade numbers and I could ask her permission before I decided to pursue any other form of civic involvement.
In a world where porn is a multi-billion-dollar industry and working its way into mainstream culture every day, reality television has introduced drug abuse, intervention and therapy as prime-time entertainment, and Ben Affleck is trying to save the Congo despite his horrendous acting work in Gigli and Daredevil . . . the humor blogging and writing that I do has not precluded me from doing just a bit of local organizing in the context of a town where very few people vote.
There you have it — the prosecution and the defense?
What do you think?