The Corner

Re: What Happened to Hot Stewardesses?

Daniel, with respect to Megan McArdle, feminist shaming and an anti-discrimination culture do not entirely account for the world-beating dinginess of American “flight attendants.” After all, feminism and political correctness have taken hold in other Western nations, and their stewardesses haven’t sunk to the pitiful levels of our airlines. Nor does “de-regulation” explain it. U.S. air travel has been de-regulated in terms of price, but in terms of behavior it’s the most micro-regulated environment in American life. The airline cabin is the sky-high version of Nanny Bloomberg’s New York, and that was before 9/11. In a world where the customer’s right to “service” no longer exists, why be surprised that you wind up with the developed world’s surliest trolley dollies in worn, shiny, shapeless navy stretch pants?

Okay, I don’t want to be sexist here. If you want to see America’s worst-dressed gay men, take a plane. Where have all the hot stewards gone?

By the way, the other night I chanced to see (for want of anything better to do) the prototype Seventies disaster movie, Airport. Hadn’t caught it in several decades. Plenty of hot stewardesses. Sample dialogue:

Stewardess: “I haven’t got a thing to wear.”

Captain: “Great.”

Yet I had clear forgotten that, insofar as the film has any real content, it’s the anti-abortion subtext. Dean Martin is the philandering captain and lovely Jacqueline Bisset the stewardess he impregnates. When she breaks the news to him, he demonstrates his tender, sensitive side by refusing to let her go to some “butcher” but instead offering to fly her to Sweden, where they have “clean hospitals.” Yet by the end of the nightmare flight and terrorist explosion, he’s come to understand the preciousness of life and ends the film rushing the injured gal to hospital to make sure her baby’s saved, too. I’m not sure who the 2011 equivalents of Dino and Jackie Bisset are, but I doubt you could get a mainstream star, director, producer or studio to peddle that message in Hollywood today.  

Mark Steyn is an international bestselling author, a Top 41 recording artist, and a leading Canadian human-rights activist.


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