When it was announced that Jon Stewart would be leaving The Daily Show, the Internet responded in turn by nominating some viable candidates (you can read our list here). At the top of most packs was Jessica Williams, the 25-year-old black comic who has been the show’s most surprising correspondent addition in years and has proved herself to be acerbic and hilarious when talking about issues related to feminism, Beyonce, or black hair.
In fact, Hot Tub Time Machine 2 even includes a scene set in 2025 where Williams has nestled comfortably into the hosting chair. If the Cubs can win the World Series in Back to the Future 2, that prediction is good enough for me!
Williams however, despite being very humbled, tweeted that she was “under qualified” for the position, presumably with the idea that she’s only 25 and has a whole career ahead of her to do whatever she wants.
That humbleness proved to be insufficient for feminist writer Ester Bloom, who wrote in The Billfold that Williams was the “latest high-profile victim of Imposter Syndrome.” The post was meant to be an encouraging pep talk, explaining that if nudged to “Lean In” (a term from Cheryl Sandberg’s feminist tome), she would come around. Instead, the article read as condescending, suggesting that she was exhibiting the traits of women who habitually sell themselves short when faced with a job position, whereas a man rounds up to a job they’re under qualified for. Here’s a particularly telling and troubling excerpt from her post.
How modest! How self-effacing! You can almost hear all the old white people who benefit from the status quo nodding their approval. We did it, they whisper. We have succeeded in instilling in yet another competent, confident young woman a total lack of understanding of her own self-worth! We didn’t even need to undermine her; we gave her the tools and she undermined herself. Well done all. Good show. Let’s play eighteen holes and then hit up Hooters for lunch.
Jessica Williams, respectfully, I reject your humility. What on earth does “under-qualified” mean when it comes to being a comedian? You’re smart, you’re funny, you’re self-possessed. Is there something I’m missing?
The New Republic labeled this lazy writing and reporting as “feelings journalism”, or the author ascribing an emotion or feeling on public figures or others. “Bloom was essentially accusing Williams of having failed to stand up not just to sexism, but racism,” The New Republic put it.
But Williams response was by far the best, saying initially via Twitter that the article was “incredibly insulting.” She began tweeting incessantly to anyone who would listen, imploring the author to apologize, and since pinning this tweet to the top of her profile.
I am a black woman and I am a feminist and I am so many things. I am truly honored that people love my work. But I am not yours.
— Jessica R. Williams (@msjwilly) February 17, 2015
The Hollywood Reporter has catalogued all of Williams’s tweets on the subject. The whole ordeal has a lot to say about feminism, journalism, and celebrity in 2015, and here’s hoping The Daily Show can offer some powerful and hilarious insights in the week to come.
Zack Snyder tweeted the first image of Jason Momoa in Aquaman gear today. There it is above. Meh… I liked Vincent Chase better. Aquaman comes out in 2018.
Jessica Williams wasn’t the only one that was tweeting this week. Norm McDonald tweeted something close to a novel following the SNL 40 show, explaining, among other reminiscing on the good ‘ol days, that he was responsible for talking Eddie Murphy into being Bill Cosby in the show’s Celebrity Jeopardy sketch. It would’ve actually given something for Eddie to do, instead of nothing, but he explained that he didn’t want to kick someone while he was down. McDonald very clearly respected this decision and admires the hell out of Murphy for single handedly saving the show while Lorne Michaels was on hiatus. Bill Cosby later put out a statement saying “I applaud” Murphy for not portraying him in the sketch.
In this week’s casting news, Marion Cotillard is joining up with Michael Fassbender in the film adaptation of the video game Assassin’s Creed. UFC fighter and Haywire star Gina Carano will play Angel Dust in Deadpool starring Ryan Reynolds. Bryan Singer announced via Instagram that Kodi Smit-McPhee will be playing a young Nightcrawler in X-Men: Apocalypse. And Michelle Williams is reteaming with director Kelly Reichardt for Reichardt’s fourth film, their third together.
Also making news:
- Matthew Vaughn would’ve cast a new, young Wolverine in X-Men: Days of Future Past and made it a sequel to X-Men: First Class
- Street artist Plastic Jesus put up a life-size Oscar statue on all fours snorting cocaine. He intended it as a commentary on drug addiction and the death of Philip Seymour Hoffman.
- John Oliver has removed himself from The Daily Show replacement discussion by signing on for two more seasons of Last Week Tonight up until 2017.
- Characters who are still alive in the Game of Thrones books will be killed off in Season 5 of the GoT show.