Jimmy Kimmel may have made a show of support for Hollywood’s female empowerment movement while hosting this year’s Oscars, but his past behaviour has some questioning his commitment to the cause.
The late-night television host called time on sexual harassment in his opening monologue at Sunday’s (US time) awards ceremony, telling the audience: “We can’t let bad behaviour slide any more.
“What happened with Harvey [Weinstein] and what’s happening all over was long overdue … The world is watching us. We need to set an example.”
But before he was a household name, Kimmel, now 50, spent four years hosting The Man Show, a comedy sketch show that described itself as “a joyous celebration of chauvinism”.
Started in 1999, the show saw Kimmel and fellow comic Adam Carolla take part in overtly sexist skits that purposefully placed women in extremely uncomfortable situations for entertainment.
Throughout his tenure on the series, Kimmel poked fun at his own wife, asked women on the street to “guess what’s in my pants” and forced a group of women named The Juggies to do his bidding while dressed in skimpy outfits.
One particularly bizarre segment involved Kimmel attempting to guess the weight of various women, pressuring them to undress in order to help him discern the exact figure.
At one point, he joked to a young woman: “I’m not even going to guess your weight. You know why? I’ve got an erection.”
When asked recently about whether his antics on the show make him cringe, Kimmel was surprisingly unashamed.
“I look back at every show I’ve ever done and cringe,” he told Vulture last year.
“But yes, of course, and not necessarily for the reasons you think. I just think, ‘Oh, we could’ve done that better’… We did a lot of funny stuff. We also did a lot of stupid stuff.”
He wasn’t averse to a reboot of the skit show either, saying: “It would absolutely result in a s–tstorm, and there’s absolutely nothing better for ratings than a s–tstorm.”
Kimmel even ventured that his past behaviour gave him “more credibility”.
“To hear someone like me talk about equal rights for homosexual people hits harder than when people hear [Ellen Degeneres] talk about it. To hear the guy from The Man Show talk about that in an inclusive way – I have some credibility.”
It’s an unusual stance from a host who regularly speaks on the big issues like gun control, US healthcare reform and, of course, #MeToo and sexual harassment in Hollywood.
Much like his Oscars opening monologue, Kimmel’s late-night monologues regularly take a strong stance and shame those who disagree with this stance.
Following the February 14 school shooting in Florida, Kimmel said on his show: “This is a mental health issue, because if you don’t think we need to do something about this, you’re obviously mentally ill.”
It’s this duality that many have argued makes him an “uncomfortable” or “hypocritical” ambassador for equality in Hollywood.
“Kimmel, precisely because of his background – precisely because he once produced a show named Crank Yankers, under the banner of Jackhole Productions; and precisely because he once starred in an elaborate and casually homophobic musical sequence titled I’m F—ing Ben Affleck; and precisely because he owes his fame to ‘a joyous celebration of chauvinism’ – makes for a particularly awkward ambassador of the #MeToo message,” The Atlantic‘s Megan Garber wrote.
“Kimmel may have matured before Americans’ eyes; it is an evolution, however, built on his start as an irreverent prankster, ogling and giggling and refusing to take anything – politics, women, himself – seriously.”
— Quackenbush (@always_on_Q) March 5, 2018
Seriously jimmy kimmel is talking about sexual harrasment? I recall my first exposure to his "man show" and girls jumping on trampolines….. he's a hypocrite
— Dawn Butterfield (@DButterfieldRPh) March 5, 2018