Lady Problems: The Rockette Horror Inauguration Show

Plus Simon & Schuster & Milo

Lady Problems is a weekly column that looks at how the entertainment industry — and its corresponding culture and constituents — is treating women in a given week. (Hint: It will almost always be “poorly.”) Every Thursday we’ll review the week's most significant woman-centric conflicts, then provide a brilliant solution to each problem that nobody in Hollywood will ever listen to or enforce.

The Lady Problem: It's T-minus 15 days till Trump's America, which means that soon, every problem we've ever encountered over the course of our lifetimes is going to look like a breezy skip through a spring meadow, a drunken poolside nap, Kraft macaroni and cheese before somebody went and fucked it all up by removing the chemicals. The slow-brewing controversy surrounding the Rockettes' performance at the Trump inauguration is but a brief, Hunger Games–esque preview of the horrors to come. Just days before Christmas — suspiciously, just as Lady Problems signed off for the remainder of 2016 — Trump adviser and future comic-book villain Boris Epshteyn announced that the Rockettes would be performing at Trump's inauguration, likely because literally nobody else would except for that one confused opera singer.

Days later, Marie Claire published an exclusive interview with a Rockette going by the pseudonym Mary, who revealed that she and her fellow dancers were horrified and deeply anxious at the prospect of performing for a pussy-grabbing sociopath. “This is not a Republican or Democrat issue — this is a women's rights issue,” she told the outlet. Broadway World simultaneously got hold of an email from the American Guild of Variety Artists, informing the Rockettes that they would be expected to high-kick in the presence of a vocal sexual abuser or risk losing their jobs. Though the performance has since been downgraded to “theoretically voluntary” — dancers can and have opted out, the consequences of which remain to be seen — the AGVA letter speaks for itself: “We have received an email from a Rockette expressing concern about getting ‘involved in a dangerous political climate’ but I must remind you that you are all employees, and as a company, Mr. Dolan obviously wants the Rockettes to be represented at our country’s Presidential inauguration, as they were in 2001 & 2005. Any talk of boycotting this event is invalid, I’m afraid.”

Yesterday, Marie Claire published a follow-up piece detailing a private, “impromptu” meeting between the Rockettes and Madison Square Garden Company chairman James Dolan. Dolan said all kinds of despicable shit, including, but not limited to, “I find it a little ironic — I get all of these emails, too, from people saying, ‘Don’t perform for this hateful person.’ And then they proceed to spew out this diatribe of hate.” One dancer replied, “I mean, it just sounds like you’re asking us to be tolerant of intolerance.” “Yeah, in a way, I guess we are doing that,” Dolan replied. “What other choices do we have? What else would you suggest?” When another dancer spoke up about the backlash she was getting from friends and colleagues who “really suffered this past election cycle from this hate,” Dolan replied, “How can they be your friends if they're not tolerant of a different opinion?”

Dolan added that the performance's voluntary nature would be a one-time occurrence, and if the dancers were summoned to perform for the president on July 4, they'd be required to do so. “This is the one time we're going to do this,” he said. “We're not going to do it again.” Soon thereafter, the MSG Company released an angry statement condemning the piece, calling it “beneath the ethical standard of Hearst,” but noting that Dolan “stands behind everything he said during the meeting.”

The Solution: An all-women's performance group being essentially forced to jauntily kick up their heels for the pleasure of a man who often sees all women — including his own daughter — as mere orifices is the sort of garish story line one would probably scoff at in a dystopian YA novel. Adding insult to massive injury is that these women are overseen by a man who very obviously has no respect for them as human beings. Adding insult to the insult to the injury is that these women are on the receiving end of hateful screeds from both sides of the political spectrum. On top of all of this, they've actually got to fucking put on a show for the patriarch from The Hills Have Eyes.

The first solution here: All of the Rockettes will quit the Rockettes and start their own alternative version of the Rockettes, where nobody shaves their armpits and everyone is allowed to eat cheese. James Dolan, scrambling for talent, will get desperate, eventually turning to the only confidant he has left in the world: Donald Trump. His pleas for help will fall on deaf, dumb, bigly ears. I mean, look at these ears. Jesus Christ.

Anyway, enraged, Dolan will kidnap Trump and bring him to the secret lab beneath MSG, where he will clone Trump 120 times. Emerging from beneath the earth like so many wet, deformed sweet potatoes, the Trump clones will be herded to a training facility, where they will spend their remaining elderly years learning to high-kick in unison. Once they've mastered the art of high-kicking without dismembering themselves or each other, they'll be fitted for short little Santa dresses and schlepped back to MSG. Their first and only performance will be for an arena empty of an audience, save for James Dolan, who will be so gutturally disturbed by his own macabre creations that he will run straight into the roiling Atlantic. The Trumpettes will stand around, purposeless, confused, sexually aroused by one another but unable to perform due to lack of enhancing drugs, until their inevitable deaths.

The Lady Problem: Simon & Schuster has signed a $250,000 book deal with Milo Yiannopoulos, the Hero to Self-Pitying White Supremacists who took to Breitbart to pen such brave, incisive clickbait as “Gay Rights Have Made Us Dumber, It's Time To Get Back In The Closet” and “The Solution to Online Harassment Is Simple: Women Should Log Off.” This is the same man who, last year, incited a deluge of likeminded idiots to target and harass Leslie Jones, the man who's called transgender people “mentally ill” and called feminism “a cancer,” called Jones a “black dude” and Black Lives Matter a “hate group.” In other words, he's a sort of smaller-scale, albeit equally desperate and craven, version of Trump; both have realized that, in our current hellscape of a country, being vocally anti-women, anti-gay, anti-black, anti-insert-non-white-man-here, will get you pretty fucking far.

The backlash to Simon & Schuster's deal has been swift, with some of the publisher's other authors expressing discontent, reviewers taking a stand by neglecting to publish pieces on any Simon & Schuster books, Jones herself tweeting that the book would only serve to help Yiannopoulos spread more hate, and the U.K. arm of Simon & Schuster declining to publish the book.

Simon & Schuster has since released a statement explaining that it has “always published books by a wide range of authors with greatly varying, and frequently controversial opinions,” and that “while we are cognizant that many may disagree vehemently with the books we publish, we note that the opinions expressed therein belong to our authors, and do not reflect either a corporate viewpoint or the views of our employees.” Maybe I'm old-fashioned or rendered hysterical thanks to the machinations of my reproductive system, but throwing down $250,000 for someone's unfiltered thoughts certainly seems a lot like condonation.

The Solution: Naturally, the alt-right has already cried Social Justice Warrior re: the book's backlash, calling it an attack on free speech and likening it to book-burning.

The thing is, nobody's slapping duct tape over Milo's mouth or barring him from typing up deranged screeds about being offended by Melissa McCarthy's body. We're just suggesting that perhaps he shouldn't be paid half a million dollars by one of the world's biggest publishers to do so. We're also suggesting that Milo's book be released exclusively at Borders. Before purchase, a designated Borders employee will take each book into the Borders bathroom with them for several hours, emerging with a wild grin and a sweaty brow, the book's jacket crinkled wetly at the corners.