Her comedic ability has been praised by the likes of Jon Stewart, Robert Downey Jr. and Tina Fey, but poor Olivia Munn can’t catch a break. After becoming a feminist target for joining “The Daily Show” in 2010 (a blogger started a firestorm by condemning the show, claiming she was only hired for her looks), her new show, HBO’s “The Newsroom,” has been accused of depicting its female characters as dumb and incompetent. This is despite the fact that Munn, 32, plays an economist with two Ph.D.’s. The Post spoke to Munn — who recently appeared in Steven Soderbergh’s “Magic Mike,” and whose newest film, “The Babymakers,” premieres in theaters on Friday — about her recent hits and the hits she’s taken.
In “The Babymakers,” you and Paul Schneider play a couple so desperate to have a baby that he steals his own sperm back from a sperm bank. Was this a plot you could relate to at all?
Wanting to have babies? No. The thought of having a child is so scary to me. I have this anxiety from watching the news, a fear that something might happen. The scariest thing for me about having children is, what if they grow up and they’re not nice people. You look at some people and you’re like, man, your parents are probably so disappointed that you turned out to be such a douche.
You were also in “Magic Mike.” Given your controversies, how did it feel to be in a film where the sex objects were the men?
It’s a very cool thing that we’re showing this other side. Men can be sexy, and be strippers, and be dancing on top of women for money, and it’s considered fun and exciting and everyone giggles. But when a women does it, it’s somehow demeaning, taking away her power. I wanted to show a strong woman who isn’t apologizing, isn’t a bitch and is very comfortable with herself.
You were a journalism major in college. Has that come in handy on “The Newsroom”?
Yeah. Having gone to journalism school and worked in newsrooms — my first job out of college was at an NBC affiliate, at the assignment desk — I know that any journalist in news has this passion for getting vital information to the public, and for getting to the truth of a story. That’s what I was able to bring to my character.
A lot of critics are railing against “The Newsroom” for its portrayal of women. Given your character’s intellect, is it frustrating that they’re lobbing these critiques without acknowledging your role?
What’s interesting is that if you look at all the characters on the show, the men are allowed to be flawed and silly, but if the women are flawed and silly, it’s somehow anti-feminist. All the characters on the show have strengths and weaknesses, not just the women. So I don’t understand why only the women have to be perfect all the time, and that if a woman ever shows a moment of weakness, or becomes flustered or freaks out, she’s instantly a symbol of anti-feminism.
I think women should be allowed to have these moments without losing intelligence points. You can depict a woman who is strong and smart and a leader, and who allows herself human moments of weakness without losing her credibility.
You’ve been a lightning rod for this stuff since “The Daily Show,” where people claimed the show was anti-feminist because they hired you. How do you deal with that?
I’m a fighter by nature. I see who my opponent is — who’s coming at me — and when you see who they are, it becomes really apparent the fight we’re in. With “The Daily Show,” I felt like these were people who were only satisfied when everyone fit into a certain box. “Pretty and stupid” — one box. “Smart and funny” — another box. I believe they fit into this other box, which is, “hates women who are pretty and smart and funny.”
The only thing I can do is look at the people who have supported me. Tina Fey is the one who recommended me to the creators of [Munn’s short-lived sitcom] “Perfect Couples” on NBC, and she wasn’t thinking about my breasts. And Jon Stewart would not jeopardize his show to cast some girl based on her looks. I think a lot of women should realize that when we’re putting each other down, you’re putting the same glass ceiling over you that you are on me. The only difference is that I will find a way to go around that. I refuse to live in a world where somebody’s gonna tell me who I am.
sorry, mods! totally used the wrong link for the image.