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Jul 05 2008

Yeah, I watched TV again

You know how spinster aunts love to lounge around on or about the TempurPedic eating Cool Whip and watching TV. Today I saw a series of programs on the E! channel. The E! channel, for those blamers who obstinately decline to monitor world misogyny via American television, consists, even more transparently than most other channels, entirely of antifeminist celebrity idolatry/hatred. Whose dress is ugly, who drove her celebrity man into the arms of another celebrity woman, that mouthy slut Amy Winehouse in rehab, etc.

This morning there was a show called “Soup” where a smirking motherfucker cuts famous people down to size by screening embarrassing video clips of them attacking their fans or being fat.

This was followed by a show starring a young hottt woman named Denise Richards. In this show, a camera crew follows Denise Richards around while she goes about the grueling business of being hottt. What? You’ve never heard of Denise Richards either? I looked her up, and here’s the summary: she was married to and divorced from a couple of other famous people, and appears to be made almost entirely of flowing hair. In today’s episode, Denise explains to her 13-year-old nephew why she did a spread in Playboy and starred in some patriarchy-affirming pornographical films. She did not do it for the money, apparently. No. She did it to prove that a hottt young woman who was married to and divorced from a couple of famous people can still be sexy, dammit. Any 13-year-old boy ought to be able to respect that.

Then there was a show where a camera crew follows Lindsay Lohan’s mother and teen sister around while they go about the grueling business of being related to a famous person with a drug problem. The sister is 14 and is recording a CD in Las Vegas. The skin crawls when the words “Vegas! All right!” squirt like Astroglide from the teenager’s mouth as she plops into a limo. Her entourage tells her what a genius she is and how she’s going to be the next big thing. She has a lot of eyeliner on.

I need not describe the stomach-churning details of the show entitled “The Girls Next Door,” where a camera crew follows around a few of Hugh Hefner’s interchangable 19-year-old blonde bikini “girlfriends” as they go about the grueling business of being prostituted in a brothel built to glorify a famous septuagenarian perv’s exceptional sexploitational success.

What all this programming has in common is the combined fascination/abhorrence that afflicts all modern media characterizations of women. Particularly of women who have bought into the patriarchal myth to the extent that it has rewarded them with the only thing that counts in this world: attention from men with money. It blows the Twisty mind that the subjects of these “reality” shows never seem to get that the whole point is to make them look like morons so their insatiable public can more devoutly despise them. Why this obvious truth universally fails to expose Hollywood as ground-zero for American misogyny I cannot say, but watching Hef protrude his grotesque liverlips at his teenage girls certainly seems to generate a lot of ad revenue from cosmetics corporations who have convinced a nation that female skin can and should “glow.”

51 comments

  1. ghost of a dead Nazerene on a stick

    For many years I have loved a man named Jerry Mander (Yes, I know.). He wrote a book called: Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television.

    There’s so much more. I’m so sorry he’s a male but there you have it.

    Television began as a sales tool and remains ever thus, with no debate amongst the populace regarding the pros and cons of technology.

    He also wrote a book called: The Earth Shall Weep, with subtitle.

  2. ghost of a dead Nazerene on a stick

    Which makes me think of all this HDTV bullshit.

    I mean, please.

  3. ghost of a dead Nazerene on a stick

    Vandana Shiva, then?

  4. rootlesscosmo

    women who have bought into the patriarchal myth to the extent that it has rewarded them with the only thing that counts in this world: attention from men with money.

    Or, just possibly, women who have made a calculated decision to pretend to have bought into the patriarchal myth, as a way of getting hold of some of that money. (Cf. Dworkin’s Right Wing Women for an analysis of similarly constrained choices.) I’m not (let me hasten to add) making the case that this is empowerfulizing or that it represents genuine freedom, only that in some circumstances, narrow self-interest may indicate the path of feigned submission. Robert Townsend’s movie “Hollywood Shuffle” depicts an African-American actor, choking down his revulsion at the parts he’s offered, parts that he knows are an insult to him, his family and his community; the voice of wisdom in the script is his grandmother, who answers his defense of “But it’s work” by reminding him that “There’s always work at the post office.” But it’s a genuine dilemma; for its existence and its power to distort the lives of (especially young, conventionally good-looking) people, IBTP.

  5. keres

    Thank you Twisty for helping us keep our home TV free.

    I do have to admit to liking Richard’s performance as “White She-Devil” in Undercover Brother, which was a hit-and-miss parody of Blaxsplotation movies.

  6. ghost of a dead Nazerene on a stick

    So then, what do you think about the Constitution and the Bill of Rights and the founding fathers and all that bullshit which is all talk and no do by prick-waving sonsabitches?

    Pride in my country? Light up a firecracker? What the fuck is that shit?

  7. That Girl

    Why would you torture yourself so? I believe there is worthwile tv but I have never seen any on E! Please take better care of yourself!

  8. ghost of a dead Nazerene on a stick

    I happened to see a thing about Denise Richards—a show, perhaps. She talked her dad into going to a spa, apparently so he would not embarrass her on the “red carpet”. She could not BELIEVE that he’d never been top a SPA before.

    I said to myself: Goodbye you stupid bitch.

    Sorry. The word came so naturally. I do love dogs, though.

  9. ghost of a dead Nazerene on a stick

    Crap. I get these two books mixed up. The Earth Shall Weep is by James Wilson. My bad.

    Jerry Mander’s book is called: In the Absence of the Sacred. With subtitle.

  10. Lara

    “I said to myself: Goodbye you stupid bitch.”

    As much as I think women like Denise Richards are annoying or supportive of the patriarchy in so many ways, I know who the hell to blame at the end of the day: MEN.

    I will NOT fall into the trap of so easily dissing other women and calling them “bitches” and other misogynist labels. I can still hate or dislike things that a woman says or believes or does without hating her partly because she’s a woman, thanks.

  11. ghost of a dead Nazerene on a stick

    Lara, you may be right. i just can’t think of a worse word to call evil women.

    There ARE evil women, you know.

    But I do understand your complaint and wish that I had better words.

    Do you?

  12. ghost of a dead Nazerene on a stick

    And, by the way, I am fucking tired of being the “peacemaker”. Know what I mean?

    Ooh, a gentle answer turns away wrath says the book. Right. Sure. Uh-huh. Let me always be gentle.

    Fuck that shit.

  13. CoolAunt

    “…watching Hef protrude his grotesque liverlips at his teenage girls…”

    I need to go vomit now.

  14. The Baroness Blossom Von Gutenkatzen

    We have to give credit to the purveyors of gossip and celebrity-driven entertainment for providing some of the most disturbing photographic evidence of the ravages of “liberation” on a civilian population. E-Online and TMZ bring us daily reminders of our nation’s blood-thirsty predations upon the world’s more vulnerable populations by highlighting our own casualties of the cat walk and the “Red Carpet”. This aptly colored symbol of America’s ongoing love affair with preening, gratuitous spectacle has become ground zero in the war on women at home. Over the years it has served as hallowed ground for Hollywood’s growing army of corpse brides, where the fittest among these surgical survivors bask in the white hot glare of the male gaze before they are graded, stamped and herded off to their rightful place on the Hollywood food chain. With the nation facing a short fall in ill-gained plunder abroad, it seems only fitting that this Imperial relic of class privilege and power worship has become synonymous with America’s bottomless appetite for prime cuts of freshly exhumed female parts.

  15. ghost of a dead Nazerene on a stick

    Hef=liverlips

    Yes. Can I die now?

    He has made me vomit since the beginning of time.

  16. Twisty

    Ghost of a Dead Nazarene? You need to give the blame button a rest, hon.

  17. Jezebella

    Denise Richards isn’t “evil”. She’s “stupid”. And “boring”.

    Two of those Girls Next Door are *over thirty*, and I’m pretty sure the youngest one is, shall we say, “developmentally delayed.” She ain’t too bright, is what I’m saying. I kinda feel sorry for them because none of them is smart enough to realize she’s gonna age out of the system sooner or later. Hef makes me want to puke every time I see him.

    I recently acquired cable and I, obviously, got sucked into the Eeeee! Channel, too. I have watched a few episodes featuring Ms. Richards and the Girls Next Door, but I draw the line at the exploitation of the underaged Lohans by their nefarious mother. Who I still will not call a “b*tch”.

  18. wisewebwoman

    Welcome back Twisty. I missed your missives from the trenches.
    Being TV-less by choice, I am frightfully ignorant of what you have undertaken to watch on my behalf. Which affirms for me, yet again, the depths to which this patriarchal device continues to descend, ever lower, yeah I say, even lower than the previous low-bars set by Springer and his ilk.
    My question would be: who are the advertisers in this bottom-feeding frenzy. Not that I shop them or ever will probably. I just want to add to my long list of products to avoid.
    XO
    WWW

  19. panic

    @ rootlesscosmo
    Or, just possibly, women who have made a calculated decision to pretend to have bought into the patriarchal myth, as a way of getting hold of some of that money
    I really think you’re giving these particular women way, way too much credit. I don’t think they’ve really done that much analysis on their lives, or the patriarchy, to make the conscious decision to milk the system that way. Not that I don’t think they know they’re milking the system, but I doubt it’s based around a decision to fool the patriarchy into giving them the cashola. They simply understand that to “get ahead” in this world, you play ball. Or with aged balls. Whichever.

  20. PhysioProf

    Twisty, thank you for watching E!, so I don’t have to. What a fucking nightmare.

  21. CoolAunt

    They simply understand that to “get ahead” in this world, you play ball. Or with aged balls. Whichever.

    Thanks, panic. Now I need to go vomit again. ;)

  22. lawbitch

    It *is* all about the $$$.

    Thanks, Twisty, for reminding me why I don’t watch tv.

  23. Ali

    Liverlips.

    Yes, that fits.

    No TV here, except for (I’m sorry) hockey. It’s good that someone is out there keeping an eye on the motherfuckers, though.

  24. Moo

    Yay! Twisty, you’re back! I’m really, really happy. I was missing my doses of smart and humorous patriarchy blaming. You light up my life!

  25. Windstorm

    Excellent post, Twisty.

  26. phio gistic

    It blows the Twisty mind that the subjects of these “reality” shows never seem to get that the whole point is to make them look like morons so their insatiable public can more devoutly despise them.
    You’ve perfectly described the entire porn industry here.

  27. The Hedonistic Pleasureseeker

    I’m SO glad to see you back.

  28. Belle O'Cosity

    Yesterday I had the misfortune to stay at a corporate hellhole of a hotel on the beach in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Now you may think that sounds very nice, but you would be wrong. This hotel had as part of it’s whole complex a number of restaurants, one of which was Hooters. Seriously, Hooters. This hotel is marketed as a family type of place. Nice eh? After I checked in I got on the elevator with a couple of tourists from Canada and a boy of, I’m guessing 13. He was in mid conversation with the Canadians about how great Hooters is, recommending it to them as a really great restaurant. They got off the elevator and so he turned to me, and asks if I had been to Hooters yet. That poor child. I was in a very blamey mood, so I told him what I really think. I said, honey, I would not be caught dead in a place that commodifies women’s bodies to sell chicken wings. He said, no it doesn’t. I told him it was a step away from porn and that he should ask his mother how she really feels about it. Of course she was probably with him when he went there, a woman helpfully indoctrinating her son into porn culture. When that kid left the elevator he said, uh ok, good to know. I hope that I made him think at least a little.

    Sometimes I feel so depressed when I see women being our own worst enemies in this world. We learn to hate ourselves so much from birth that it is hard to see how we are screwing ourselves.

  29. thebewilderness

    Sometimes it annoys me that I can’t boycott companies because I already wouldn’t touch them with someone elses money.
    I do enjoy the polling point polls though, when they ask which companies I have heard something bad about in the last week.
    And letters, I write letters.

  30. rootlesscosmo

    @panic:

    I really think you’re giving these particular women way, way too much credit. I don’t think they’ve really done that much analysis on their lives, or the patriarchy, to make the conscious decision to milk the system that way. Not that I don’t think they know they’re milking the system, but I doubt it’s based around a decision to fool the patriarchy into giving them the cashola. They simply understand that to “get ahead” in this world, you play ball. Or with aged balls. Whichever.

    I agree, teenage pop stars probably don’t do a careful feminist analysis and then set their course for fame and big bucks; by and large, teenagers aren’t noted for careful strategic planning of any kind. On the other hand, they don’t run the system, it runs them; it tips them fairly lavishly out of the money it makes off them, but only for as long as they’re profit centers, and when this year’s star is next year’s answer to a trivia question, the biz–a patriarchal, capitalist institution if ever there was one–will grind on regardless. Maybe I give the teen celebs too much credit; mostly I’m concerned that the Blaming gets directed at the right target.

  31. Mimi

    I stayed at a hostel in a southern California city and met more than a dozen young women from eastern Europe without work visas who found it very easy to get a job at the Hooters downtown. It was better than cleaning houses, they said. These girls were lucky they could choose that kind of pornification, having luckily evaded the rape traders in their own countries.

  32. Belle O'Cosity

    Is that really a choice? Well yay for Hooters. I guess they are helping the down and out. Or actually exploiting the down and out. Show your tits and you don’t have to clean a house. Seriously Mimi, are you defending Hooters?

  33. volvatrack7

    I catch glimpses of E, and I would like to ask (anyone, help!), who are these Kardashian characters? I get the Denise Richards thing, the Lohan thing, and even old Hugh and ‘the bunnies’, but who are these other people?

  34. Headbang8

    As a guy watching such TV, it depresses me that the only male role models are all different varieties of Hef. Some younger, some more handsome, but all buying into the notion that a man is judged by the dosh he can spend. The houses. The cars. The gadgets. The jewellery–often in the form of a chain around his neck, most symbolically. It’s a pornography of money.

  35. norbizness

    That’s not the E! Entertainment television channel I knew and grew up with, what with its grammar lessons and 24-hour Puccini marathons.

  36. Cycles

    Elle magazine ran a feature last year about the “Girls Next Door” show. Plenty of blaming opportunities, despite its ironic tone and lip service to feminist concepts.

    http://www.elle.com/featurefullstory/11238/the-girls-next-door.html

    The author meanders about boob jobs and demographics and personalities and Heffner’s perpetual-15-year-old demeanor. And then she has the gall to ask this:

    This seems as good a moment as any to pose what I consider the $64,000 question: Given that his vision of life doesn’t allow for women over 30 as love objects, what does he think they should do? Collectively jump out of the window when their time is nigh?

    This, from a magazine famous for its fashion spreads that feature unobtainable designer clothing modeled exclusively by skeletal Caucasian teens who have been made up, lighted, coached, and airbrushed to exude alien-like ennui in every damn shot.

  37. thebewilderness

    The implication from the commercials i saw a couple years ago was that the Kardashians were a mobster related family.
    I have no idea who they are other than subjects of a scripted reality teevee show.

  38. smmo

    Thanks for taking one for the team Twisty and reporting back from the cesspool of popular culture.

    The Kardashian young women seem to have followed Denise Richard’s lead (flowing hair, grueling business of being hott, sex with famous people) without her film career, such as it is. Their father was one of O.J. Simpson’s lawyers. Yeah.

  39. panic

    rootlesscosmo:
    Yep, I think we’re on the same page here.

  40. Antoinette Niebieszczanski

    Quoth the Bewilderness:

    “The implication from the commercials i saw a couple years ago was that the Kardashians were a mobster related family.”

    And here I thought they were Star Trek villains.

  41. Jezebella

    The Kardashians? Based on their dead-behind-the-eyes faces and identical flowing manes of hair, I thought the show was an ad for a new variety product line: the “Slightly-But-Not-TOO-Ethnic LA Princess” Fembot. I mean, they’re *different* because they’re not blonde, right?

  42. ghost of a dead Nazerene on a stick

    You need to give the blame button a rest, hon.

    I know, Twisty. I know. Sorry.

    But hey, you started it!

    Oh wait! This is not my blog. Crap and dammit.

  43. slythwolf

    And here I thought they were Star Trek villains.

    Yes! That’s what I always think of when I hear the show mentioned. “Keeping Up With the Cardassians”. I think to myself, what the hell is Garak up to now?

  44. Gayle

    And to make you all feel a bit better, the A & E channel has become yet another E! channel! Why bother with Art when you can follow Gene Simmons around? Go Kiss Army!!

    Does anyone else remember when people said we could do away with public TV because cable was going to fill the void? That hasn’t quite worked out the way they promised.

    It’s great to read you again, Twisty.

  45. Lar

    Never move to Mexico. E! disgusted me enough when I lived in the states, here “Latin E!” provides you with such classic jewels as “Naked Wild On” (like normal wild on but about 200% more disgusting) and their between-misogynistic-programs clips called “120 seconds of sexy” where they barrage you with so many clips of T&A that you don’t even know who most of these body parts even belong to.

    Why do we even bother naming these channels? They should just call them “Man channel 1, man channel 2… oh and women can have the Lifetime Channel because chicks like watching movies about bulemia and wife beaters.”

  46. Hattie

    MY greatest fear is of becoming old and/or disabled and living in a nursing home where the TVs go all day.

  47. Lara

    You know in about 30 years from now the whole world will end because of global warming: hurricans; flooding; fires; etc.

    With our blatantly violent misogynistic racist world we live in going into a downward spirl maybe that’s a good thing.

  48. bellacoker

    Hattie:

    I had not considered the possibility of ending up in retirement home tv hell, but now it is one of my greatest fears as well.

    Thanks a lot, I am now praying that I go deaf.

  49. Donna

    Not that I don’t think they know they’re milking the system, but I doubt it’s based around a decision to fool the patriarchy into giving them the cashola. They simply understand that to “get ahead” in this world, you play ball. Or with aged balls. Whichever

    I think that’s an accurate description of FunFeminists(TM), though many of them do like to act as if they are cleverly subverting the paradigm. Of course, that kinda undercuts their whole I’m Doing This For Myself(TM) argument. But hey, whatever floats their boat.

  50. Virginia

    Mimi – despite general problems with human trafficking it’s quite a gross sterotype to suggest that ALL Eastern Europeans do this.

  51. Mooska

    Belle O’Cosity:

    “That poor child. I was in a very blamey mood, so I told him what I really think.”

    Good for you! It sounds as if you went about it the right way, too. I am now kind of ashamed that I smiled politely when a girl at my yoga class said she’d been to pole dancing lessons and how much ‘fun’ it was. I would’ve said ‘no fucking way because…’ if she’d asked, but I was too English to just come out with it.

    [And since this is my first post: I love this site, and I love your lucid, rational, amusingly colloquial style of writing, Twisty. Oh, AND the way you articulate things I feel but struggle to express. Ta very much!]

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