Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Just a Barbie Girl, Livin' In A Barbie World

Now that I'm actually taking note of the stunning array of crap in the mass media, it is getting harder and harder to turn on the t.v. much less get through a network newscast. Even the daily fluff of the morning news show or just walking past a magazine rack can make me shudder. It's not that I think people really believe all the lies and shallow consumerism that is shoved down our throats every day, but you have to acknowledge that it has an effect.

So, this morning I'm doing my usual getting-ready-for-work routine with Good Morning America keeping me company. I know I pick on them a lot but, hey, they're the best morning show out there. I would much rather have coffee with Diane Saywer than Katie Couric. Ewwww. At least Diane doesn't leave me with the feeling that she's been dipped in saccharine. Anyway, there were two, count 'em TWO gems on in the half hour I shared with my television friends.

First we have GMA's new series, Life-Over. These are supposedly inspirational human interest stories about people who have turned their lives around. Our story this morning was about a 28-year-old woman who was overweight in high-school and always dreamed of being a cheerleader. She got married, had a baby, got divorced, had a car accident, then went through physical therapy and gained 150 pounds. She decided when her daughter was about three that she was setting a very bad example. She didn't want her kid to grow up overweight and unhappy. I certainly don't want to paint the picture that big girls are unhappy people. Goddess knows we, as a culture, need to realize that beauty comes in all shapes and sizes. I can see, however, that she was concerned about her health and that of her little girl. I just heard a story the other day talking about the alarming number of kids being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. I can say from experience that diabetes is a drag and the health risks here are real. So, I get that. There is a difference betwenn beautiful womanly curves and being unhealthy.

This next part was what made me want to write scathing letters to the program director. This woman goes on to say that not only did she loose over 120 pounds over about a year, but that she has finally realized her dream by becoming a professional cheerleader for the Seattle Seahawks. This is her idea of providing a good example for her daughter? She's a pin-up girl for one of the most violent sports in our popular culture. Her favorite thing about her new gig? She gets to pose her 120 pound, size 2 bod in the Seattle Sea Gals calendar. (Oh, yes, they made a point to tell us how much she weighs now. I guess I'm supposed to feel inferior if I'm a bigger size?) This is her fourth year as a cheerleader and she couldn't be happier. I wonder what kind of example she's going to set when she is too old to pose in a bikini and she starts to lose her value as a model and super sexualized pom-pom girl. What happens when the over stimulated 18- 28 year old men she's supposed to be hawking her wares to no longer want to buy what she's selling? I think she could have set a much better example for her daughter by, oh I don't know, going back to school and finishing her degree or furthering her education with a masters or anything involving her brain rather than her boobs. Hey, I'm not in a position to tell anyone how to live their life, but come on, do you really want your daughter's highest aspirations to be to parade, scantily clad, up and down the sidelines of a football game?

Then there was the appalling plug for a new Broadway style show based on everyone's favorite free thinker, Barbie. Yep, Barbie has a live stage show starring a suitably tall, thin, pretty, blond girl with, I must admit, one hell of a voice. They filled the studio with little girls in pink princess dresses and frilly bows, gazing up at their idol and waving excitedly. Most of them were smiling. A few of them just looked confused and one little Asian girl looked positively hostile. You could see her looking up at this epitome of western beauty and wondering why her mother had made her get up so early to come be a part of this display. I know a five-year-old doesn't understand the implications of all this stuff, but I really did get the feeling that she was uncomfortable. It was really quite chilling to watch all these little girls worshipping at the feet of their unattainable idol. I pray that they are not scarred for life.

And finally, there was the Robin Robert's segment on Self magazine's best beauty products for the upcoming summer season. Even Robin knew that was crap. She was smiling and nodding at this woman demonstrating mascara and you could tell she was wondering how much longer she was going to have to keep it up. It's tough out here for an intelligent news lady.

News programs are the gatekeepers of information. The average "real" news story on the nightly news gets about 20 seconds of coverage. Really important stuff might get a whole minute. Granted, GMA and shows like it have much more time so they can do these fluff segments. As a matter of fact, most of their content is just that. But couldn't they cut back on the blatantly demoralizing stuff? Maybe try to limit it to one per show instead of three or more?

I understand that these morning news magazine shows have a target audience that is predominantly mothers. When you get to the bottom of it, this is all about the money. They have to sell us crap to stay on the air. I get all of that. I just wish I could enjoy the intelligent conversation and actual news without the typical beauty-myth stupidity being paraded around as though it were 1. true and 2. healthy.


Marz said...

News shows make my brain hurt too. And it is not just TV that is the culprit. I was driving home from Universal City yesterday and was tuned into KNX 1070 AM, "News radio". I turned them off when they spent a good 20 minutes talking about how the 'tom kitten' had been born yesterday to Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes. They were also aflutter with the news that Brooke Shields had her child the same day and were commenting on how ironic that was considering Tom and Brooke's war last year regarding post partum depression.

News radio my butt!

Ms. S said...

First, I would love to have that old-fashioned type of news where we hear about the weather and going on's on one's own neighborhood.

Second, I loved Barbie growing up. But, I was a bit thrown off kilter because of her. I thought you could only be beautiful if you were blonde. Of course, I was a burnette. Thanks Mattel!

meesh said...

I feel your pain. I think it's a symptom of America's need to embrace escapisim. We are so overwhelmed with the huge problems in the world (ie. the war in Iraq, the polar ice caps melting, the economy) that it's just easier to pretend that anything that TomKatt or Brangelina do is news. Sadly, our media outlets pander to this stupidity and devote entire segments to interviewing people outside Tom Cruise's house about the much awaited "kitten"