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Disney’s former CEO: ‘Beautiful women can’t be funny’

EG Board & Leadership

Posted 9th July 2015.

A former Disney CEO has caused outrage on social media after claiming that beautiful women can’t be funny.

Michael Eisner made the claim during an on-stage conversation with Goldie Hawn at the Aspen Ideas Festival.

He said: “From my position, the hardest artist to find is a beautiful, funny woman. By far. They usually – boy am I going to get in trouble, I know this goes online – but usually, unbelievably beautiful women, you being an exception, are not funny.

“You didn’t think you were beautiful. I know women who have been told they’re beautiful, they win Miss Arkansas, they don’t ever have to get attention other than with their looks. So they don’t tell a joke. In the history of the motion-picture business, the number of beautiful, really beautiful women – a Lucille Ball – that are funny, is impossible to find.”

Eisner ran Disney between 1984 and 2005. His statement has caused a backlash on Twitter.

The actress and comedian Wendi Anne McLendon-Covey tweeted: “Sometimes old men say stupid things when they need their diapers changed (I’m looking at YOU, Michael Eisner.)”

Kayleigh Anne, Co-Editor at literature blog Bibliodaze, tweeted: “Michael Eisner: it’s hard to find a beautiful woman who’s also funny. Nah, they’re just trying hard to avoid you.”

This is not the first time that the notion that women can’t be funny has caused a wave of criticism.

The late Christopher Hitchens was faced with a similar backlash after a 2007 essay in Vanity Fair called Why Aren’t Women Funny?

It was criticised for not acknowledging the success of female comedians from Lucille Ball to Tina Fey.

Eisner has attempted to clarify his views in a statement to the Hollywood Reporter.

He stated: “In the context of a public conversation with Goldie Hawn in which I was complimenting her on being both beautiful and funny, I said such a combination is hard to come by in Hollywood.

“I certainly did not say Goldie was the only one. My point was simply that Goldie, unlike many, has not been defined exclusively as one or the other.”

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