January 1, 2010 § 4 Comments
I’ve seen some atrocious new ads pop on subway platforms, as part of a marketing campaign for Spike TV’s new television series Blue Mountain State. According to the network:
The football-themed series focuses on what it’s like being a freshman at national champion Blue Mountain State, but there’s much more to it than football… there’s also girls, partying, hazing and of course, class. “Blue Mountain State contains four key ingredients to being a guy…football, partying, women and hazing,” said Spike TV President Kevin Kay.
Hear that, dudes? Kevin Kay just told you everything you need to confirm your manlymanhood. So get on that.
The first ad is a gross display of the objectification and dehumanization of women and their bodies. Of course, the woman whose legs are featured is thin, white, and hairless. Anyone else repulsed by the idea that donning a varsity football helmet will automatically get you between girls’ legs?
The second ad — what can I say? It’s disgusting.
(I’d rather not hear any protests of, “Oh, the show is trying to call attention to damaging norms of masculinity! You’re so silly, you don’t understand their edgy humor!” Maybe that is what the producers are hoping the show will do. But using blatantly sexist advertising imagery doesn’t clue your audience in to that hope. Misogyny, in these ads and countless others, is not edgy; it’s all too common.)
September 11, 2009 § 33 Comments
Last night I decided to stay in and watch the second episode of the new TV show, Glee. The pilot episode was pretty interesting, with over the top high school characters, cheesy dialogue and intensely bright wardrobes. This was all intentional, similar in style to Ugly Betty. The pilot was entertaining enough, and I’m a huge dork and LOVE singing on television, so I thought I’d give episode two a try.
I’m glad I did, because now I know I will NEVER watch that show again. Glee simply took the high school stereotypes way too far, to an extremely uncomfortable level! I was shocked!
The gay kid, in a ridiculously high-pitched lispy voice exclaimed that he refused to mess up his facial. Everyone knows he’s gay. It’s perfectly fine, in a show like this, to emphasize that fact… but seriously? He needs to have SOME unique characteristics. I don’t even know his name. He is known as the gay kid, without any other personality traits. Guess what? Homosexual is not a personality type! That was the first indicator of extreme prejudice among many examples.
Perhaps more offensive was the portrayal of the only black girl in Glee club. Obviously, when the club tackled Kanye (which was pretty fantastic, unfortunately), “black girl” took over the lead. Because she’s black, of course. She was teaching everyone else in the club some finger-wagging riffs. Additionally, the black girl (I don’t know HER name either, same story as above, NO personality except “ghetto”) is the only girl on the show who isn’t stick thin. Because black girls must have booties… but I haven’t even got to the bad part. When she was angry about the impending termination of Glee club, she threatened casually to bust her knife out. WHAT THE FUCK???? Way to support the belief that black people have an inherent predisposition to violent behavior.This show is really quite sickening.
Glee also decided that episode 2 was the right time to insensitively deal with really devastating teen issues, such as bulimia. The show poked fun at the ridiculous pamphlets in the guidance counselor’s office, once again crossing the line. There were several pamphlets, but the only one I distinctly remember said, “So you like throwing up?” Let me tell you, I wanted to throw up RIGHT THERE.
Interestingly enough, the lead female of the Glee club crashes the celibacy club and spouts some knowledge about the negative effects of teens practicing abstinence. This was sort of cool because the celibacy club hardcore judges those who choose to involve themselves in sexual behavior, so they deserved some sort of attack, however, I was slightly uncomfortable that the lead girl was telling everyone to give into their desires point blank. Not that there’s anything wrong with doing that, but I think it’s something that does take a certain amount of rational assessment.
And if you thought only high school students were victims of the condescending blows, think again! The older generation on the show has their own set of ridiculous incidences as well. Most offensively, the show really belittles the terrible phenomenon of hysterical pregnancy (this is the term they used, anyway, I’m not sure if it’s the appropriate one). They actually turned the false pregnancy into a comedic plot. I wanted to cry.
All in all… EW. I warn you, do not watch Glee. It’s not even entertaining enough to be a REALLY guilty pleasure.
August 3, 2009 § 1 Comment
Miranda kindly sent me this Bust article via Facebook, which reminded me of something I was thinking about posting a while back.
Like the Bust blogger, I must explain my opinions of the show before I post. I LOVE SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE. The show is pure entertainment. I love being exposed to great dances every week (albeit usually choreographed to less great music). I particularly love how the show doesn’t encourage unhealthy competition. The dancers all genuinely seem to enjoy being around each other, and are not manipulated in to saying nasty things about each other. With that being said, I had a BIG problem with one of the audition episodes earlier this season.
During the auditions back in June, So You Think You Can Dance saw its first ever male ballroom dancing partnership. Here is what happened, according to “TV Squad”:
Misha and Mitch are same-sex ballroom dancers. Mitch had a female partner, but it didn’t work out. Mitch is straight and Misha is gay. It’s like the odd couple, except with sequence. It’s funny because the two have strong lines and good legwork. Nigel just had this look on his face (we know how he feels about gays). In one move they messed up a lift and land on the floor. Nigel has no clue what to say and compares it to Blades of Glory. He thinks that they alienate audiences. He thought that they were strong. Mary was confused because they were both male and female in dances. The lead/follow was strong, but the technique needed help. Sonya sees a lot of female qualities but is confused with classical form. The two are sent off to choreography.
For a show that is supposedly all about embracing new ideas in the dance world, breaking down barriers and accepting people of all backgrounds, these judges were very narrow-minded when it came to gender roles. They managed to throw in some remarks about the dancers’ lines and general technique, but on the whole, could NOT get passed the guy on guy dance action. They all claimed to be thoroughly “confused” by it all, and felt that they could not judge the dancers properly because they strayed so much from conventional ballroom dancing. What a FUCKING STUPID excuse!!!! Alienating America? Like the media doesn’t alienate all the Americans who don’t fit into their cookie cutter gender roles every damn day.
I never really cared for Mary Murphy and her ridiculous pitch and volume, but I have certainly lost a huge amount of respect for the three judges that day, who could just not get over a man ballroom dancing with another man. As far as I’m concerned, dancing is about art. Art doesn’t have to abide by conventional gender roles, in fact, great art is often created by challenging those roles!
I still love SYTYCD, and I do approve of the kick ass lady routines created by Sonya (also, Nigel did mention the ridiculous treatment women get in most dances), but it broke my heart a little to hear these two poor men get shut down immediately because of who they chose to dance with!
August 2, 2009 § 7 Comments
This summer I have been a tiny bit addicted to watching Netflix instantly from my computer. Their eccentric collection has, um, forced me to watch some pretty weird TV. Kindly, Netflix automatically organizes my viewing options into some categories to help me navigate their website. The categories include stuff like “TV sitcoms,” “romance,” “thriller,” “TV show with a strong female lead.”
Wait, what was that last one?
Am I the only one who finds that just a little bit weird? Don’t get me wrong, I love that they suggested shows like Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Dead Like Me. Those shows are pretty great, and I think they are great precisely because they have strong, quirky, entertaining females at the center of them. But it seems to me that making an entire Netflix category out of them is just highlighting how odd it is in the movie/TV industries to have such shows. I didn’t see any “TV shows with a strong white male lead.”
Perhaps Netflix is simply reflecting a larger issue, but I can’t help but think that their method of categorization, in some small way, is helping to perpetuate that issue. Then again, perhaps I’m overreacting. Still, it struck me as a little weird, slightly more disconcerting, and entirely blog-worthy.
June 10, 2009 § 23 Comments
This is an advertisement for the second season of True Blood, a television series on HBO.
I have never seen this show, and my thoughts on this poster are difficult to articulate. But they’ve been stewing for weeks, and I know for sure that I am troubled by the combination of the sexual picture and the words “It hurts so good.” A few days ago I saw one of these on a payphone booth, and on the plastic cover was written in black marker: “Stop Domestic Violence. This Ad Is Dangerous.” I am seriously inclined to agree.
My response is complicated by my knowledge that some people achieve certain kinds of pleasure from certain kinds of pain. Some people embody the phrase on this poster. These people might be my friends, partners, teachers, or peers. They might even include my future self. I am conscious that this group, linked by sexual preferences, has a history of being demeaned and fetishized and caricatured by society, and I want no part in that degradation.
But at the same time, this advertisement scares me. Like the glamourization of dead women, this design portrays direct physical violence as something sexy. It tells boys and men that women will automatically lust after violent sexual interactions. The problem is not that women may indeed have such fantasies, and that they will have male partners who will participate – it’s that this ad sanctions sexually violent attitudes on a grand scale. In our consent-confused culture, this subtext could easily translate into an implicit excuse for sexual assault: it was hurting her good. She liked it, even if she didn’t say so.
That thought makes me more than a little nauseous.