Explain "Churchy Spice"
September 25, 2008 1:14 PM   Subscribe

Explain "Churchy Spice". It's a nickname for Sarah Palin, but I don't get the joke.
posted by ryanrs to Society & Culture (17 answers total)
Best answer: I would guess that it's a take on the Spice Girls music group. They each had a name like "Scary Spice" and "Whatever Spice." Since Palin is religious, she's "Churchy Spice."

Just a guess.
posted by nitsuj at 1:17 PM on September 25, 2008

It's a reference to the Spice Girls, whose stage names took the pattern "Posh Spice," "Sporty Spice," "Baby Spice," etc., with the first names describing ostensible aspects of their personalities. "Churchy Spice" plays on the perceptions of Palin being attractive, evangelical and a celebrity, respectively.
posted by decagon at 1:20 PM on September 25, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks for the answers, everybody.
posted by ryanrs at 1:24 PM on September 25, 2008

The joke is that if you're a woman, your looks are relevant to all areas of your life, even your religious affiliation or your ability to do your job. Ha ha ha, ho ho ho, he he he.

And nobody should say "Metatalk" if there's not going to be a callout. Don't ring the bell if there's not food, it just confuses the dogs.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 1:27 PM on September 25, 2008 [25 favorites]

I thought it was more of a Spice Girls/Church Lady mashup.
posted by dchase at 1:29 PM on September 25, 2008

How is that nickname related to her looks?
posted by and hosted from Uranus at 1:52 PM on September 25, 2008 [1 favorite]

Mod note: Several comments removed. The question was more or less answered at comment number one, and this is not an open forum for political/cultural zings. If you don't have a something substantial that further answers the question, hush.
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:57 PM on September 25, 2008

I thought it was more about her celebrity and status as a political lightweight more than her looks.

But apparently some people out there associate the Spice Girls with good looks or supermodelness or something similar? So maybe that's where people are getting looks.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 1:57 PM on September 25, 2008

How is that nickname related to her looks?

It's more to do with her age and perception of how she dresses. It comes back to that SNL skit with Palin and Clinton. It's clear that both are dealing with weird sexist attacks, but it's for opposite reasons. Hilary's old, flabby, and has cankles. Har, har, har, let's make a million jokes about pantsuits and point out her hints of cleavage and crows feet. Palin wears sexy, upswept hair and is young. Har, har, har. Let's photoshop her in a bikini and call her a MILF, or VPILF. Calling her Churchy Spice falls into the same damn trap.

Just fucking ONCE it'd be nice if a female candidate were judged primarily on her political positions, like male politicians are.
posted by piratebowling at 2:01 PM on September 25, 2008 [8 favorites]

I disagree. The Spice Girls were always seen, from what I observed, as having completely poppy shiny mindless music. Their biggest hit has to be "wannabe", with lyrics like "I really really really wanna zigazig AH."

The Church portion comes in from her well documented and pretty much over-the-top creationist views (she wanted to have creationism taught in schools, she believes in no sex ed whatsoever, etc).

Churchy Spice. It's about mindless tripe that becomes stupidly popular and is patently annoying for serious practitioners of anything.

it'd be nice if a female candidate were judged primarily on her political positions

Have you been watching her interviews? She has none. She told us today that she's got foreign policy experience because Alaska is sorta near Russia. That is the political equivalent of saying "I really really really wanna zigazig uhh."
posted by cashman at 2:24 PM on September 25, 2008 [33 favorites]

She's have to have political positions to be judged on them.

Trading politics for music, the analogy actually strikes me as pretty apt on a number of levels. I think it's as much about being manufactured, untalented/unqualified and not very smart as anything else. The Spice Girls were all about image and not really much about music, very style over substance. The people who use Churchy Spice are calling out the same problems with Palin's candidacy -- it's not as much that's she's pretty, but that she comes off as a lightweight who McCain is trying to craft, svengali-like into a candidate even though there are tons of better singers and songwriters candidates out there who don't happen to project the right image.
posted by jacquilynne at 2:28 PM on September 25, 2008 [6 favorites]

I think it also had to do with the Spice Girls' constant upbeat energy and "girl power" sloganeering, both perceived to be part of the group's corporate packaging.

When I think of the Spice Girls, I don't think sex symbol, particularly. Not like, say the Pussycat Dolls or early Britney Spears. I do think packaged, slick, hollow -- with a certain kind of meaningless, safe, fake "female empowerment." Which is what makes "Churchy Spice" work, for me at least.

Anyway, I much prefer "Snowjob Squareglasses."
posted by PlusDistance at 3:07 PM on September 25, 2008 [2 favorites]

(Not that the Pussycat Dolls or early Britney Spears are paragons of authenticity or real female empowerment. Or real sexiness.)
posted by PlusDistance at 3:09 PM on September 25, 2008

She's have to have political positions to be judged on them.

Oh, I totally agree. I'm not a Palin defender by any stretch, but I think going for the zippy one liners that play heavily off her looks* is just too damn easy. (And really, it is not just about her being "pre-packaged." If she were a total airheaded hack for the right and wasn't "young and hot" there would be a completely different set of analogies or put downs attached to her). Attacks on her should be on credentials and opinion (or lack thereof). There is more than enough to discuss in those arenas without bringing her looks into it.

*Related peeve: no need to dig into her family either. They are not the ones running for office.
posted by piratebowling at 3:20 PM on September 25, 2008

As the joke goes, Palin is Churchy Spice, and McCain is Old Spice.
posted by MegoSteve at 3:29 PM on September 25, 2008 [5 favorites]

Like PlusDistance, I had taken this to be a reference to fake feminism.
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 3:49 PM on September 25, 2008

I'd vote for the simple "empty-calorie entertainer" theory. The band's girl power angle could be part of it, but it'd depend on who's doing the name-calling.

All in all, the "____ Spice" shtick is just an easy go-to insult for the clever blogger types. But as a male born in Alaska (albeit in Anchorage), I'm more annoyed with the Alaska stereotypes... We don't all eat and hunt moose, y'know.

While the Palin jokes are certainly sexist, there are male politicians who'd get the himbo treatment, eg, Mitt Romney. ("He looks like the photo that came with the frame." "He would've been the first president to be sworn in on a copy of GQ"). Ditto John Edwards. It probably wasn't as prominent as Palin or Clinton, but I'd guess it's only because those guys aren't nearly as polarizing.

Nancy Pelosi gets her share of conservative loathing, but it has little to do with her looks or fashion sense. And if Kay Bailey Hutchinson or Kathleen Sebelius had won their respective party's VP nomination, I'm sure the sexist jokes would've been negligible.

I'm just glad I was able to come up with decent examples from both sides of the aisle...
posted by TheSecretDecoderRing at 11:35 PM on September 25, 2008

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