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Ron Burgundy: Feminist Anchorman

Posted by Chad O'Connor  December 29, 2013 06:00 AM

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I recently attended an advance screening of comedian Will Ferrell’s new movie, Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues in a theater filled with hundreds of revved up Emerson College students. The audience recited beloved catch-phrases (Stay classy, San Diego!) and howled at the travails and triumphs of Ferrell’s alter-ego, the bumbling newsman Ron Burgundy. And I laughed right along with them.

But as someone who worked in a Boston ad agency in the early 1980s— right around the time Burgundy arrived in New York to report for the first 24-hour news station— I saw some all-too familiar scenes:

  • Male colleagues and executives who thought it was their unalienable right to comment on female co-workers; their bodies, clothing and personal lives.

  • Men who focused on hemlines instead of headlines.

  • Men who believed they could bully or sweet talk women out of the best assignments.

  • Men who thought it was okay to pay women less than their male counterparts.

  • Men who referred to women as honey, as chicks, as girls.

Well, we’ve come a long way, baby, but not far enough. In 2006, President George W. Bush thought it was a good idea to give German Chancellor Angela Merkel a massage during a G8 Summit meeting. Would he have pulled that move on Vladimir Putin? Understandably, Merkel was not amused.

But bad behavior in the workplace isn’t the only roadblock facing women. Today, according to the Census Bureau, women still only earn 77 cents for every dollar earned by men.

And then there are those who believe if you state something with great conviction it doesn’t matter that there is no basis in fact. Who can forget Congressman Todd Akin’s moronic assertion that women can’t become pregnant as the result of “legitimate rape”? Or FOX business reporter John Stossel’s declaration, “Women go to the doctor much more often than men. Maybe they’re smarter, or maybe they’re hypochondriacs.”

Clearly, ignorance is not reserved for men. Not too long ago, Susan Patton urged female students to earn their MRS degrees while at Princeton because “you will never again have this concentration of men who are worthy of you." The fact that Ms. Patton divorced her own Princeton sweetheart did not seem to give her pause.

But back to our story. By the end of this ridiculously funny film, Ron Burgundy has something better than a good hair day; he has an epiphany. At long last he comes to respect women as peers, as bosses, as partners. And along the way he becomes a better husband, a more involved parent, a supportive colleague and even learns the difference between “alleged news” and actual news.

Some say Ron Burgundy is just Ted Baxter on steroids, a cardboard character from a silly, sophomoric movie. But I think he’s much more. From where I sit, even if it’s in a darkened theater, Ron Burgundy is a real man.

Sandi Goldfarb is Senior Vice President at Rasky Baerlein where she manages the firm's nonprofit, consumer and arts & entertainment practice.

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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