Sunday, December 24, 2006

TV: Victoria's Real Secret

With Ty on a break from reading e-mails until the new year, we've all been pitching in and we (Ava and C.I.) found one from Theresa who was bothered by a TV special she'd seen and wished we had weighed in. The special aired December 5th on CBS and, unfortunately for Theresa, this was watched in her home by her father and two brothers. When Theresa complained, she was told it was "just like a beauty contest."

The CW aired the special last week and, no, Theresa, it's not "just like a beauty contest." For one thing, there are no beauties. Like many an undergarment passed down the line, the women on display are irregulars. Some had necks way too long, many had heads way too small, one actually had a mustache, and one was wall-eyed. It was entitled The Victoria's Secret 2006 Fashion Show but it played like The Victoria's Secret 2006 Ho-Down.

That's because successful models do the undergarmet work early on if at all. Underwear models either have nasty, known drug habits that prevent them from working in more demanding fields or they lack the basic beauty tools required for success in the modeling field. Tranlsation, if you're too short to be a fashion model, you grab bra and panties.

The 'beauties' were chosen for their boobs and not much more. Most lacked the grace to convincingly work a runway. But it's not about walking, it's about shoving your tits out for a bunch of middle-aged men to drool over and, in that if nothing else, the 'models' were a success.

Backstage and 'blooper' footage reassured the (male) audiences that the irregulars had big boobs and tiny brains as they repeatedly flubbed lines (even when singing along with songs), demonstrated that rhythm was a gift not easily passed on, and looked like, as Theresa observed, "tired Barbie dolls weighed down by excessive hair." (She meant on the tops of their heads -- we're not aware of anyone else commenting on the mustache sported by one -- but we'd guess most viewers weren't looking at the faces of the 'beauties.')

The musical guest was Justin Timberlake and he was the perfect unich to please the intended male audience. Throughout his hideous "Sexy Back," he would make a show of looking at the women but, if you paid attention, he wasn't looking at them. Not like the audience was. Look for him to star in Doogie Howser: The Movie any day now.

During his second 'performance,' he embraced his inner castarati as he sought out high notes (falsetto) that even Mariah Carey wouldn't go near. Then the song's beats were supplied and he was off to the Camptown Races dancing around with several males while repeatedly sliding his hand over his groin. Not cupping it -- message: There's nothing there. Message recieved.

Victoria's Secret's dirty little secret (as outlined in chapter seven of Susan Faludi's Backlash) is that "Victoria" was a man: one Roy Raymond. So the garish, cartoonish trash that flies out of the closet, flies out of a man's closet and we think most women would be better off leaving the wares to cross dressers.

After watching the CBS telecast, Theresa writes that her younger (13-year-old) brother felt it was okay to slap her on the ass. (Her parents stopped that quickly.) We think that's the real damage of this crap.

It's presented as acceptable and women are presented as possessing no abilities, just the function of display. That's as big a lie as the lie that the women are 'beauties.' A beauty pageant (and we're no fans of those) at least makes the pretense of being interested in the minds of the women. As the bloopers and backstage offerings demonstrated, these 'beauties' had nothing up stairs. So it may not be fair to personally blame them for participating in the degradation of all women. However, they cashed their checks and went on their way.

In the real world, it's women like Theresa who have to live with the damage the 'beauties' create. If there's any comfort to be found, it's the fact that in the real world, even semi-clothed, none of the women would turn even one head. If there's any justice, having elected to profit from stereotypes, the 'beauties' participating will be stuck living with them for the rest of their lives.

And Victoria? As Austin Powers would say, "She's a man, baby."
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