Thursday, October 20, 2005

When women play poker, it isn't a cat fight

I always hesitate to write the stories like I did today in the Outdoors section of the Tribune.
I call these the Look! FILL IN THE BLANK can FILL IN THE BLANK stories.
As in, "Look! Men can shop for clothes too!" (A whole reality show was built around this, and you know the name. Hint: It rhymes).
My story was, "Look! Women can do outdoor activites too!"
Now, I tried my best to show the struggles women face in getting involved in the outdoors, struggles that have nothing to do with the fact that they don't like to get their nails dirty or other nonsense like that.
If those stories are done well, they can, indeed, be great ones, like "Murderball," the movie about wheelchair rugby. Other times, by playing up a person who has beaten the sterotypes, they actually play up the stereotype and give them even more validity.
One reason I'm writing this is last night I watched the World Poker Tour and its repeat performance of Ladies Night.
As I was falling in love with the winner, a French Canadian (ha ha, honey, not really...hmmmm), I was enjoying the good poker being played, and I forgot they were all women (except for the French one) and just respected them as poker players.
One of the announcers, however, Vince Van Patten, who reminds me of a cross between a fraternity president, a 40-year-old with a mid-life crisis, and a pack mule (or another word for it), made it hard to forget there were women out there.
"Ooooo, we've got a catfight out here!"
"Oooo, what a play, hairspray right between the eyes."
I don't need to go on, do I?
The show tried so hard to present women as real poker players, even interviewing many of the pioneers, and yet, by offering a pittance of a payout ($25,000 went to the winner, while first place usually approaches $650,000 or more) and by allowing Van Patten to go off, it played up to the stereotypes more than shattered them.
Episode III premieres Saturday. Let's try harder this time.

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