Syllogismism

Notes from a night of the TV

Posted in Pop Culture, TV, Women's Bodies by Dizzy on April 24, 2008

1. Does Kelly Ripa really expect us to believe that she runs home and cooks macaroni and cheese for her family after hosting a nationally televised morning talk show and then doing 6 other gigs? Ok, let’s say that’s even possible. Why is she doing this? Hubby Mark isn’t working these days, is he? I haven’t seen him since his All My Children days 10 years ago. I’d like to see the commercial where Mr. Ripa talks about the demands of supporting his wife’s career while taking care of the family and home. WAY more compelling.

2. Top Chef is the most gender-egaliatarian show on TV. Talented chefs compete against each other to make the best dishes with nary a mention of what gender is supposed to be like this and like that. No female chef is coined “the hot one.” None of the women talk about being a “girl winner” of Top Chef. (See The Biggest Loser for comparison). And there is no reason to believe that this competition isn’t entirely about the chef’s body of work and not the chef’s body. Love it. (For the record, I feel the same about the competitors on Project Runway, but the fact that they’re making outfits for rail-thin models and are consistently befuddled when presented with regular-woman-size challenges sorta negates its feminist goodwill).

3, Do the powers-that-be at Law and Order and CSI think that the raped and tortured and dead women will remind us of how dangerous it is to be a woman and we’ll proceed accordingly? Or do they know that TV watchers at large actually prefer to see women raped and tortured and dead as opposed to, uh, alive?

4. From The Office: “Yeah, I have a lot of questions. Number one: How dare you.” Ha! Kelly makes me laugh. Everybody on The Office makes me laugh. I love this show.

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6 Responses

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  1. RZ said, on April 25, 2008 at 1:30 am

    RE: #1. I was wondering the exact same thing. I did notice a lot of wine bottles being tossed around. Does merlot really go with Bundt cake?

  2. TP said, on April 25, 2008 at 8:42 am

    Stay at home dads are usually too busy feeling sorry for their sexist selves and bemoaning the loss of their male privileges to even get close to considering the idea that they might throw themselves into taking care of their family and house. So yes, I believe that Kelly Ripa, at times, does rip open a box of macaroni for her kids. Why should she be the exception?

    She’s the one getting the constant message that she’s not human and just a machine for feeding the kids from the holy traditions of our patriarchal culture. The messages the dad gets are shame and ostracizing if he seems at all resigned to anything with the whiff of the debased female role.

    Who knows? Maybe he’s a big time feminist sympathizer who loves his ids so much he enjoys taking care of them, the house and cooking and shopping. I know I do. When I’m able to do a great day of housework I feel very proud and full of love for my family. The only reason I’m free to feel this way is because I’m not oppressed, of course. A woman will always feel differently about it until women are treated like human beings.

  3. Dizzy said, on April 25, 2008 at 8:49 am

    Just for clarity’s sake, the meals that we see Kelly cooking in that commercial are gourmet multi-course. The ad is for a super high-end stove oven thing, so the macaroni and cheese she refers to is more along the lines of a baked cheddar pasta casserole and most definitely not a box of Western Family. That would have been a whole different commercial!

  4. Nine Deuce said, on April 25, 2008 at 4:02 pm

    As for the Law and Order-type shows, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what it is that attracts people to the ever more brutal depictions of raped and mutilated women on these shows. I wrote a post about it awhile ago (which I’ll be gracious enough to not put a link to here) because I think it’s one of the more disturbing trends in mainstream popular culture.

  5. thebewilderness said, on April 27, 2008 at 9:21 pm

    I think that the answer to the L&O question is a little of both, plus the added attraction of having a woman turn out to be the perp most of the time. Thus the women get raped and murdered for the titilation of the menz, but it is either the fault of a crazed monster, or a woman, never the menz.

  6. Ciccina said, on May 12, 2008 at 12:20 pm

    I think there’s a different reason for the brutalized beautiful woman fetish in Law & Order, CSI etc type shows.

    In our culture, “sexy young women” are considered natural victims. Its become the norm to assume that a sexy young woman “naturally” runs the risk of acquiring a stalker / abusive partner / kidnapper / crazed killer. By “natural” I mean its considered just part of normal life – not something that is symptomatic of a grievous social problem that can be addressed (partially) by policy and program initiatives.

    When you switch up the victims – say, have the victim be an elderly woman or man, or a heavy-set woman – it needs to be explained in the narrative. People don’t instinctively “know” why a killer would harm someone like that. But with a sexy young woman – no explanation is needed. Everyone “gets” why bad things happen to her. After all, its the victim that attracts the crime, right?

    I know I don’t need to elaborate to you all how evil this is, on so many levels.

    It is also the case that “unattractive” women have been all but disappeared from the country we see reflected by the mass media. It’s become very hard to find women who look like real women. I happened to watch the 1980 movie “Foxes” (starring Jodie Foster) on cable the other night. The movie focuses on four young women, and I was shocked to see how normal they looked. All four looked… irregular in a way that isn’t seen anymore. And this from a movie that was considered somewhat exploitative in its time. There is no way a movie would be centered around four girls that look like that now. It would be a non-starter, at least in the U.S.

    My point is that of course the victims are beautiful – because in tv-land, if you’re not beautiful (or carry signifiers of beauty), you don’t exist.

    As for that annoying Kelly Ripa ad, its not so much that she is doing all that work – its her perky enjoyment of it all that offends me. Like the women who find joy by using their Swiffers, and so on. Ugh.


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