Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Post #1 The Girls Next Door: Entertainment by Degradation

I had never actually seen an episode of The Girls Next Door before we watched “Happy Birthday, Hef!” in class. I was surprised to find that it was even more degrading and condescending to women than I expected it to be. This “reality” show portrays masculinity and femininity in an extremely stereotypical manner. Hef, of course, is the man with the money and the power, and the girls are basically just sex objects. The contents of this show are disgusting, and the messages that they send to young viewers are detrimental.

Stereotypes of society expect women to be subordinate and inferior to men, and this show supports and encourages this expectation. Hef is surrounded by hundreds of young, sexy women on his 80th birthday, all catering to him. The girls walk around half naked, Hef pays for everything, and all is dandy. This show draws a thick dark line between the roles of women and the roles of men. It makes girls think that if they are sexy and willing to lower themselves to these levels, they will be taken care of. It makes men think that all attractive women are dumb sluts. What the show fails to address is what these girls are supposed to do once they aren’t so young and sexy anymore, as well as, what men should do if they happen to meet a beautiful women with a somewhat functional brain.

The male dominance in this awful show is overwhelming. It’s almost as if these girls are submitting themselves to this lifestyle because they agree that Hef, and men in general, are superior. Hef is the man in charge, and the girls accept this with smiles on their faces and nothing on their bodies.

One specific part of this episode that deeply disturbed me was when Kendra decided that she wanted her parents to witness her birthday show rehearsal for Hef, which happened to be her jumping out of a cake wearing only a thong and gems on her nipples. It wouldn’t have been so bad if she practiced this routine in front of just her mother; however, the inappropriate father-daughter interaction crosses one too many lines. I thought that fathers were supposed to protect their daughters from being subjected to sexist behavior, but apparently I was wrong because it seems as though if your daughter is sexy, why not look?

The Girls Next Door is further imposing the stereotypes that women should be beautiful and beautiful women are stupid. In addition, it continues to show society that men with money and power can pretty much do whatever they please. It is obvious that this show portrays masculinity as having power and authority and femininity as being young, dumb and sexy. It is sad to see a society that doesn’t recognize the immorality in women willing to grant power to a wealthy icon who acknowledges only the beautiful. Also, this show is just another example of how the media has power over society’s stereotypes. In his article "Hegemony," James Lull emphasizes this point:

“Because information and entertainment technology is so thoroughly integrated into the everyday realities of modern societies, mass media’s social influence is not always recognized, discussed, or criticized… Hegemony, therefore, can easily go undetected,” (Lull, 63) - Gender, Race and Class in Media

1 comment:

Jessie said...

You start out your piece super-strong and maintain a quite admirable momentum throughout the blog post.
I would caution you (pretty strongly) to avoid using generalizations, such as "It makes men think that all attractive women are dumb sluts. What the show fails to address is what these girls are supposed to do once they aren’t so young and sexy anymore, as well as, what men should do if they happen to meet a beautiful women with a somewhat functional brain."
You're smart, and you write well, therefore, you're one of the first likely targets to get called on a written over-generalization that is (very likely untrue) unable to be reconciled with the first paragraph's inclusion of the info that you've not watched the show other than this one during class. Therefore, I doubt all men have been programmed to think attractive women=slut-tastic catatonic (but pretty) vegetable. Does this episode strike you as the sort of overtly stereotypical gender roles that you refer to? If it's the episode, then say so...you'll avoid future headaches when writing and articulating yourself if you catch the generalizations now :o)
Also, Kendra was the one w/o a present; the striptease was Brigitte. You state that it wouldn't be so bad if it was her and her mom; however, the father is a different story...why? Is there a distinction between mom/dad via male/female? Are they both parents? What about Hef's age? He's older than her dad...
Try to delve a bit deeper into why it is you've made certain assumptions and why others in contemporary US society might likely make similar assumptions. What do they tell you about gender roles, expectations, etc?