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Why Amy Poehler and #SmartGirlsAsk Won The Internet This Week

Mihir Patkar 25-09-2015

The Internet served up some incredible cases of human kindness and decency this week. A viral Facebook post showcased a homeless man who did the right thing instead of profiting from someone’s loss. A kind soul returned a sunken GoPro camera lost a month ago, taking us back. And then there was the tale of the McDonald’s employee who shut his register to help a quadriplegic eat.


But the highlight of the week was the social campaign to bust Hollywood’s sexist red carpet stereotypes. Amy Poehler, you won the Internet this week.


Hollywood has for long reinforced some ugly stereotypes, and one of those is the questions asked of celebrities on the red carpet at award ceremonies. You’ve probably noticed female celebrities being asked, “Who are you wearing this evening?”

Ever seen men being asked that? Don’t try mansplaining your way out of this one. It’s a problem. But #SmartGirlsAsk took it head on this year at the 2015 Emmy Awards.

The #SmartGirlsAsk campaign challenged red carpet sexism this year by giving a platform for girls anywhere to ask thought-provoking questions instead of obsessing over clothes, make-up, or dietary choices. The campaign is led by Amy Poehler, Saturday Night Live alumnus and star of Parks and Recreation and several movies.


The response was fantastic. Several prominent actors, politicians, journalists, and businesswomen got involved, tweeting insightful questions for the red carpet celebrities to answer. Presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, Producer and writer Shonda Rhimes, General Motors CEO Mary Barra, pop star Britney Spears and several others joined in.

All the questions and answers were being filmed and tweeted live. Here are a few of our favorites, but if you’re interested, here’s a list of all SmartGirlsAsk answers:


Fortune magazine notes that there was an effort made by others to address sexism, perhaps as a result of the campaign. Ryan Seacrest of E’s Red Carpet Show strayed from the usual “What are you wearing?” and asked more involved questions. Emmy’s host Andy Samberg joked repeatedly about the gap between how Hollywood treats male and female talent. And several award winners and presenters took a few shots at the industry’s sexism too.

Smart Girls is an organization founded by Poehler that encourages young girls in volunteerism, activism, and breaking cultural stereotypes. To support the group, you can follow @SmrtGrls on Twitter to find out how you can help, or take action through recommended activities.

The film industry isn’t alone in its unfair and biased portrayal of women, of course. Video games can reinforce negative body images 3 Ways Game Studios Still Reinforce Negative Body Images For Women [Opinion] It’s 2012. It’s been four decades since video games first began to emerge as a form of entertainment for consumption. In those decades, game complexity has improved, massive online worlds have been constructed, and 3D... Read More .


It’s only fitting to let Poehler have the last say on this.

The Homeless Man Who Did the Right Thing


Imagine that life has kicked you in the gut over and over. You have nothing to your name, you live on the street, and you get by through the charity of others. Suddenly, you come across a lost smartphone. It would be tempting to sell it for a few desperately-needed bucks, right?


That’s the situation Mark from Leicester, UK, found himself in. But instead of selling that phone, he sought help from a stranger to figure out how to turn it on. He waited patiently for someone to call, got them to locate the owner, and returned the phone.

The story was shared in a Facebook post by One Love, a Leicester-based community organization for the homeless. The post went viral and Mark, who is found outside the popular Highcross Shopping Center in Leicester, became an overnight celebrity.

People around the world wanted to contribute and help Mark, so One Love met him the next day with items to keep him warm in the winter. The organization recommends that you help out homeless around you instead of judging a book by its cover, since there are plenty of such Marks around the world. Small acts of goodness Feel Good Every Day with These 9 Little Acts of Technology Helping others makes you feel better too. Improving someone's life is a great way to alleviate feelings of sadness and isolation in your own. It's easier now with the technology that connects us. Read More can go a long way. As for Mark, he remains as polite and friendly as ever.

“What have you done, you’ve made me famous,” Mark told One Love with a cheeky smile.

Kickstarter Makes Social Good a Part of Its Mission


This week, crowdfunding platform Kickstarter Inc. died. In its place rose Kickstarter PBC – PBC stands for Public Benefit Corporation. In a major decision, Kickstarter has made it a core mission to think about the social impact of their company, not just profits.

At a time when companies are selling for billions of dollars $1 Billion In 2 Years: The Story Of Instagram, As Told By Its Founders "What are some good places to get professional business cards printed?" When Kevin Systrom put this innocuous question on Quora 3.5 years ago, little did he know how valuable those business cards would become. Read More and trying to go public with IPOs that make their founders millionaires, this decision comes as a surprise — and puts some faith in the idea that not everyone is out only for themselves.

The move does not mean Kickstarter doesn’t care about money or profits anymore. It is more symbolic than practical, but the symbol matters at a time when fraud is a threat to crowd-funding Why Fraud Is a Real Threat to Crowdfunding Crowdfunding, once novel and untested, has started to make its way into the mainstream. As a result, it has attracted scammers and fraudsters able to exploit the system and walk away with millions of dollars. Read More . What Kickstarter is saying is that profits aren’t everything — the way you make profits matters too.

So what does being a Public Benefit Corporation entail? The New York Times explains:

Under the designation, companies must aim to do something that would aid the public (such as Kickstarter’s mission to “help bring creative projects to life”) and include that goal in their corporate charter. Board members must also take that public benefit into account when making decisions, and the company has to report on its social impact.

Kickstarter’s founders have listed their Benefits Charter for everyone to see what their goals are in this new mission.

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  1. Anonymous
    September 25, 2015 at 3:20 pm

    I applaud Amy Poehler's goals. As a dad of two girls and a boy, I can already see the differences in the expectations between my kids. Anything that moves the needle away from the focus on physical looks as the be-all and end-all of women's value is a plus in my book.

    • Mihir Patkar
      September 25, 2015 at 3:51 pm

      Thanks for commenting, Ian, and I couldn't agree more. Getting the world's prettiest people to say that there's more important stuff than looks? That's really something, isn't it?