Monday, April 17, 2006

Perky is as perky does
Face up to the perky
*Katie Couric can't escape the adjective. Some say it's descriptive. Others call it sexist.

By Robin Abcarian, [LA] Times Staff Writer

It remains one of the most famous lines ever uttered on a sitcom pilot. On "The Mary Tyler Moore Show," Ed Asner's curmudgeonly Lou Grant looks at Mary, who is applying for a job, and says, "You've got spunk." "Well … " she starts to reply, obviously flattered. "I hate spunk!" he snarls.

Years after the 1970 show, Asner had a change of heart. "No one could hate spunk, not even a curmudgeon," he told the AARP magazine. "I should have said, 'You know what? You're pretty goddamn perky. I hate perky.' "

So, it turns out, does the woman to whom the word has been applied more often, quite possibly, than anyone else in America. That would be Katie Couric, who, in September, will become the first woman to solo at the anchor desk of a nightly network newscast.

Like the VW Beetle with its dash-mounted daisy vase, SpongeBob SquarePants and Molly Ringwald's breasts in "Sixteen Candles," perkiness is an ephemeral, know-it-when-you-see-it quality, combining cuteness, a certain bubbly energy and optimism. It is a vaguely 1950s quality, not a 21st century quality. In fashion, perkiness went out with the pointed bra cup…

In 1994, [feminist Camille] Paglia said she was interviewed by Couric during a book tour. "I found her pleasant but weightless, depthless. Backstage in the green room, she said to me with a look of wonderment in her eyes, 'But Camille, why do you say all those controversial things when you know you will be criticized?' I was dumbfounded."...
‘Nough said.

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