sábado, enero 21, 2006

Brainwashing or Style Gurus?

The TLC show What Not to Wear, is often entertaining and can open you up to whole new "looks."
And yet, it's also a form of brainwashing. (Not that I really believe in brainwashing).

Humiliation is central to the "re-making" of the subject: to see that others look upon her with disdain or mockery. A public screening of the "secret footage" that shows her blissfully unaware of how bad she looks.

Isolation is also important. The subject is taken away from her family and friends and from her familiar environment.

PanOpticon: To internalize the idea that she is always being looked at, always being judged, the subject is placed in a circular room with 360-degree mirrors.

Shopping Day One: The subject tries (and fails) to shop successfully for herself. She is demoralized by the process of picking clothes, trying them on in unflattering light, with little feedback. At the same time, she is again being filmed and judged by her "mentors."

Shopping Day Two: the "mentors" choose "appropriate" clothes for the subject, and convince her that she looks better now.

Again, I'm all in favor of people looking good and dressing well. And yes, I have learned about dressing in a style that is "age appropriate." (No more hello kitty for me! No mini-skirts after 35!)

But a couple of things continue to work me about this show.

1) If a woman is butch, they will make-her-over into a femme. It is possible to be butch and fashionable, and the gurus should be true to their "you, only better" mantra, instead of trying to make all women look like ladies. (there's often some internalized homofobia going on here, because obviously Clinton Kelly is a big skinny queen)

2) Everything about their process is skewed toward white people. Cutting black hair is an art and a craft, and it's not Nick Arrojo's specialty. I really hate it when they approach black hair as "problem" hair. (Yeah, it's a problem to you, mister, if you don't know how to cut/treat/style it!) Ditto with Carmody who does the white-girl makeup thing very well, but can't seem to move out of that comfort zone.

3) Mean spirit. It's all so mean-spirited. Like everything else about the current era.

[Aside: They put so much emphasis on fit, why don't they talk about how to get a bra that fits right, and or how to get a bra that does what you want it to do: provide voluptuousness, show a trim and sport front, go from workout to work environment)

All of this is in contrast to my favorite TLC show, CLEAN SWEEP, which is multicultural and queer-friendly. And provides a sort of counseling like environment, because, face it, sometimes people are verging on emotional disturbances when their homes are chaotic piles of stuff. They emphasize respect for the people with whom you share your life and your home, and commitment to them.

5 comentarios:

La Brown Girl dijo...

You've hit the nail on the head. I watch this show sometimes and I almost always change the channel because I'm so annoyed by their mean spirit. Plus, you're right you never see any queer (as in the academic definition, although, that sort of creates an issue, but I know you know what I mean) people on there. At least, I never have. Bastards!

cindylu dijo...

I saw What Not to Wear once and it just seemed completely humiliating for the women they were making over. I don't really watch those shows primarily 'cause I don't have cable and they kinda suck.

nubian dijo...

i saw it once too. i could not stand how they made the women feel, like they were losers for not adopting the played out ideals of whats in fashion/whats not in fashion.

Sherri dijo...

I watch "What Not To Wear" a lot because, well, it's as close to reality TV as I ever get. The whole "mean spirited" part is the appeal -- how many people LOVE clever dissing of other people? I mean, if it works for American Idol and Survivor...

Mostly I watch, like you mention, to pick up on things to help myself. I figure anyone who is willing to undergo public humiliation for a $5000 wardrobe is going into it understanding the rules and I can't dig up much sympathy. Oh, and they have done shows where they didn't take the person to New York, and they did one on a very Butch firefighter that didn't femme her out, but did make her look less like a punky 18 yr old skateboarding boy (not a look a pro firefighter really wants at 27, I think.)

But I much prefer Clean Sweep. Although it has a few pointed remarks (mostly deserved, some of those rooms are horrors) made here and there, it applies a little tough love where it is needed. And Tava Smiley doesn't "over blonde" me.

Cracked Chancla dijo...

you're never too old for hello kitty. just my two cents tho.

i prefer clean sweep to what not to wear because it usually inspires me to go clean and purge. although some of what they do doesn't seem practical sometimes.