Tina Fey Brings Big Box Office, Pop Cultural Controversy

Date Night kicked box office ass this weekend, conceivably beating Clash Of The Titans for #1. Steve Carell and Tina Fey's charm clearly has plenty of customers. But Fey's return to Saturday Night Live had some loyal fans feeling queasy.

Date Night brought in about $27 million with an audience that was 52 percent female and 60 percent over 25, according to Box Office Mojo. It appeared to edge out Clash Of The Titans, subject to final numbers released this afternoon.

The promotional blitz around the movie included Fey returning to host Saturday Night Live alongside musical guest Justin Bieber, and some of our commenters weren't the only ones that were disappointed. With sketches about a pathetic teacher lusting over her student (Bieber), a single woman finding solace in her Brownie Husband, and potshots at Tiger Woods' and Jesse James' "mistresses" (rather than the husbands themselves), it was all rather Mean Girls. That's on top of Liz Lemon's weekly travails on 30 Rock. As Slate's Jessica Grose put it yesterday:

it has come to the point where the pathetic single woman trope is such a constant refrain in Tina Fey's work that one has to wonder what she's really trying to say.

Fey herself is, of course, anything but pathetic by the standards set out here: she is enormously successful, a married mother, and has her attractiveness validated by both women's fashion and men's magazine covers.

But maybe expecting such a mainstream figure to be a feminist icon was the biggest problem. Jez commenter Magnets may have nailed it:

"Reading the comments last night I was wondering whether 30 Rock makes such dead-on perfect sassy bourgeois white feminist comfort food that people somehow forgot that it is hard to find an ideologically watertight mainstream comedian, or like, what Saturday Night Live is like.

It always feels odd to be in the position of defending SNL but there is never in life gonna be an episode of that shit that is not wildly uneven and dependent upon lazy stereotypes, and honestly it is probably impossible to produce 90 minutes of comedy that doesn't move at least one Jez commenter to ask what they're trying to say about women and why they couldn't do a positive sketch about a feminist sex educator superhero instead."

So is it better to have a flawed Tina Fey than none at all?

Related: Why Does Tina Fey Always Play Pathetic Single Women? [Slate]
Weekend Report [Box Office Mojo]

Earlier: Fey & Carell Rescue Date Night From Complete Mediocrity
Tina Fey Brings Us Brownie Husbands, Women's News, And The Return Of Sarah Palin
Tina Fey Pulls Off The Relatable Sex Goddess Thing