‘Reality’ shows and bullying judges

I didn’t watch the show (I rarely do), but DWTS certainly generated some fireworks online and in this morning’s entertainment news. I’m not linking, since they appear to be deliberately trying to confect outrage and hits.

I had no idea who Brynne was, or the level of her claim to fame, this morning. Now since I googled it, I know: she married a much older, much richer man and she generally dresses to show off lots of skin. Apparently that makes her a target for the judges for more than just her unimpressive dancing, which is what they are supposed to talk about. What dreadful thing has Brynne done to deserve such withering scorn from these people? Shaming her for her costume choices, and then for the size of her breasts? So she’s not a very good dancer – she’s not the first on the show to be guilty of that. What the hell was all the rest of it about?

Some thoughts from a 12 year old girl were read out, who apparently asked her mum stuff like this (paraphrased from memory): “isn’t this just bullying? like those tv ads tell us is really bad and we shouldn’t do it? that’s supposed to be getting better for kids like me?”

I also noticed that it was the two women on the show who do not have petite physiques who got the most criticism. Is that a pattern? It wouldn’t surprise me.

This is why I don’t watch, and I don’t let my kids watch, shows where insults from the judges are part of the dynamic that’s supposed to hook viewers. It’s also why I’ve actually started to watch American Idol more often this year – no more Simon Cowell, and J Lo seems to be setting the tone of the panel to be generally highly supportive of the contestants rather than running them down, and people seem to like that.

Categories: arts & entertainment, ethics & philosophy, Life

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6 replies

  1. Yep, that’s pretty much why we don’t watch them too. I found it interesting that the few times Caitlin (who is 12) has seen one of these sorts of programs, when she goes for a sleep over at a friend’s place or something, she’s found the judges’ behaviour fairly horrifying. It bothers me a lot that so many kids are essentially learning that bullying is fun from their entertainment.

  2. I like reality shows where the focus is on the contestants’ skills – like Project Runway – much more than on their personal “failings” but for some reason (probably because the entertainment industry thrives on it) there seems to be a lot of crossover between the two on singing and dancing shows. It’s really off-putting – critique the skill, not the person, because they can’t (and shouldn’t have to) change their very self to be there.

  3. It’s a bit much to criticise her for the very reasons she was put on the show in the first place.

  4. I don’t watch American Idol, but I recall that Shakesville wrote an interesting article last month about racism and sexism in the show: http://shakespearessister.blogspot.com/2011/04/ugh-american-idol-ugh.html

  5. That’s why I quite like “So you Think you can Dance” – it seems to be all about building everyone up and having a blast rather than cutting people down and making them miserable. (At least, I’m referring to a year and a half or so ago b/c I haven’t had time to watch much TV since then, so for all I know it could have gone to shit since then.)

  6. I don’t watch this show either, and I say that not to claim my tv taste is any better than anyone else’s – it’s most certainly not – but just to admit that I didn’t see this episode for myself, I read the newspaper article about it and I may miss some context in my comment.
    Having said that, I find the judge’s phrasing interesting:
    “And then if she’s going to come on Dancing With the Stars and wear a shoestring strap, fully-breasted dancing around and not very well, then she’s gonna cop it,” McKenney told The Morning Show.
    “She’s asking for it.
    “For us to not mention the elephants in the room was always going to be tricky.”
    (Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/tv-and-radio/bombshell-brynne-asking-for-it-judges-stand-firm-on-elephants-in-the-room-20110510-1egiu.html#ixzz1Lx7gs8lZ)
    She’s asking for it? A woman with big breasts is asking for it!
    Also, as Kate Harding once noted – any woman with big breasts, and I am one of them, looks ‘showy’ in pretty much any top – spaghetti-string straps or otherwise. Not because of any particular intention on the wearer’s part, just because big breasts stand out and in our culture big breasts are associated with many slurs. If your big breasts are noticed then it is open season on you – you’re asking for it.

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