Monday, 15 June 2015

Critisizing Plain Jane part 4: Episode 1 part II

Part 1: Introduction on why I hate these kind of reality makeover shows
Part 2: Opening credits
Part 3: Episode 1 part I
Part 5: Episode 1 part III
Part 6: Episode 1 part IV
Final part: Episode 1 part V

Continuing with my review-commentary of the first episode of this horrific makeover show...

Part II:

üSummary: Cristen’s sexist training begins. The first step is as invading and insensitive as it is illogical: It involves making her face 'her biggest fear' (in this case, snails) in order to put her date with Tye into perspective. Because that makes so much sense.

-So the first step of this stylist's genious plan to make Cristen desirable and 'girlfriend material' is the phobia strategy ('This is the real beginning of your transformation'). Yeah, because tackling your biggest fear is comparable to asking someone out (and don't forget about all that emphasis on dates, and especially, your first date: ‘one of your biggest moments of your life’!).

  I really don't like this 'strategy' because it's massively out of context and because it's downright mean  - Why force her to be in such an uncomfortable situation? Exactly how is that going to help her to give her ‘courage to go on a date’?
Tackling your biggest fear in a right context or brainwashing a girl into thinking she must go through this ordeal because of sexist and out-of-context reasons?  My money's on the latter.
-In a flash-forward, Cristen thinks about the experience and says: "It was one of the most horrifying, terryfying experiences of my life...I don't think anything could be worse than that, even getting rejected by Tye" <- Notice how he's the one who gets to decide about the relationship status. She’s afraid of being rejected by him, if he doesn’t find her desirable and flirtatious enough, apparently.

Also, it's also worth mentioning that Cristen's relatives make sure to laugh at Cristen becuse of her oh-so-stupid phobia. Sure, let's talk about how awesome and smart and wonderful Tye is every single tme, but let's tell the world about Cristen's irrational phobia, and, as a necessary bonus, about how messy and 'masculine' she is. Hello again, double standards.

 It's all right to encourage someone who's shy about asking someone out, if that person really wants to go on said date, but that's extreme. And like I said, illogical and out of context. And not only that - It's insensitive and pretty sadistic, to tell the truth. It seems that we enjoy watching scared and passive girls here. Also, the scene includes serving live snails in a French restaurant (they serve a bucketful of live snails and make her touch them, just so you get the idea). So very civilized and nice. I will never understand how people can go and eat live things, I just can't.

-So yeah, let's force this girl to have a terrifying time because we're doing it for a great cause (making her succeed on a date), and because they’re gifting her loads of money as a bonus incentive, namely a thousand dollar cheque that will pay for her new clothes (it’s not for her studies or anything, don’t be misguided – Hey, we don’t even know what she’s studying, if she’s studying!).

-Upon informing Cristen that there’s a thousand dollar cheque in the live snail jar, the stylist claims 'I would do anything for a thousand dollars'. Well, I definitely applaud you for your moral high ground, stylist.

 I find so many wrong things with this scene. Oh, and she's supposed to "feel empowered, because you can kick ass". Well, we have different ideas of what it means to be empowered, if that's the best you can think of. Try about feeling proud of being yourself, maybe? Even with all that 'overcoming your fears' talk...let's talk about the fact that she's basically doing it so that the date seems inocuous to her in comparison, plus with the materialistic motivation of a money cheque, and because forcing someone to overcome a traumatic and TOTALLY UNNECESSARY experience is necessary to "man up" (sexist language used deliberately) and feel ‘empowered’, apparently. You know what? When in danger or need, people are ready to try to overcome their fears. Doing this for such shallow (and sexist) reasons is what makes it unnecessary and outright sadistic. Like I said in the introduction, people with fear of heights don’t go jumping off planes in a parachute because they are nervous about an exam, for heaven's sake!
Makeover shows tip: This is the right way to feel empowered
And it's also interesting that in all these episodes the girl's (probably scripted) deepest fear goes along the lines of bugs, heights or darkness - All these fears and phobias are completely legit, but it's also easy enough to create a frightening experience or scenario around them in order to terrorize these girls into feeling that going to a date with some guy is so challenging they must go through that rubbish before (allow me to facepalm again because this 'tactic' is pure idiocy). But if one of these girls went and said something like 'death', 'illness', 'natural disasters' or 'something happening to my loved ones' (or, in my case, an example could be 'extreme fanatism and societies with downright inhuman mysoginist laws that are compulsory' - think Handmaid's Tale), then what? Would they be expected, I don't know, to kill themselves or walk through a house in fire in order to face a date? I guessed not. That's how logical this 'phobia strategy' is. 

  And all that twisted 'conquer your fears' talk is about the best morals this episode gives us, by the way. Yaaaay! *sarcastic slow clapping*
Ten also thinks that all this is plain disgusting
  üSummary: The stylist bashes Cristen’s room and clothes style using rudeness and sexist stereotypes as her arsenal.

-As they are making their way to Cristen's room, Louise very knowingly starts: "Now, when a Plain Jane doesn't have love in her life [and we all know how essential that is for women] a good first step is to check out her house and her bedroom [Yay privacy! This woman really does like invasive actions and situations, doesn't she?]. Her surroundings say a lot about her [Probably about how messy, sloppy, unfeminine and depressed she is, right?]"

-"This is like house of horrors". It's fascinating how utterly rude she is and how incredibly charming she thinks she is. 
So, boys can have messy rooms, and it's more or less OK, doesn't challenge their masculinity either (and anyway, we don’t even care about Tye’s room, he’s already awesome in every way and he keeps an aura of mystery, or, at least, he gets to have his privacy and personal likes respected, which must be so nice). But if a girl has a messy room...She isn't 'girly' or 'feminine', and she hasn't got love in her life. The thought didn't enter into her narrow mind that depending on each one's personality, you have a different take on order.

Also, is it me or is it glaringly obvious that they made this girl’s room so messy in order to emphasize just how ‘tomboyish’ and ‘in need of a man’ she is? This show likes to link casual wear and lack of make-up and heels with messiness, lack of hygiene, ‘tomboyish’ behaviour, self-consciousness, shyness and the like - just because the girl in question isn’t the tube-skirt, high-heeled, make-up-wearing flity sexy woman she’s supposed to be. These people are making us think that this girl has a messy room because she's not dressing sexy and because she's depressed and forlorn for not having a man in her life. Clichéd and utterly sexist.

-Oh look, having plush toys in her bed is bad and shameful as well, especially if you want to start a relationship.  For shame! You can't get a boyfriend if you have toys on your bed, you're not sexy or seductive or grown-up enough! "There is no sexy time going on in here" Seriously? So many girls, myself included, have plush toys in their bed, boyfriend or no boyfriend! Hell, many boys have a lot of toys and stuff in their bedrooms. Guess it's OK to have toys and/or be geeky if you are a guy, but not OK if you're a girl. I think the guitars are going to pay soon, too, seeing as playing the guitar is so utterly 'tomboyish'.
I guess the only aim of a girl's room is to furnish it for  'sexy times'. You know, because her life revolves around men and that's the only aim her room should have as well. How dares she have plush toys, guitars and other out-of-context, off-putting objects!
-Now they’re going on about a prom pic she’s got on her wall (of course, she liked the guy for eight years, and he had to ask her. And then proceeded to cheat on her. But somehow, it's all her fault for being messy and shy). First of all, even if for once the stylist does have a point (why on earth do you keep a picture of one who dumped and cheated on you on your wall, for heaven’s sake??), you don't take a pic from someone's wall without permission, jeesh. Also, you go and remark 'that's not good for ego'. That's rich coming from a stylist whose only  job is to alter young girls' looks, personality and lifestyles. Hypocrisy much?

-Another scene of Cristen’s parents and friends, who just keep insulting Cristen. Now she's 'shy' and 'walks hunched down'...'because of guys like this'. Guess she needs to learn to flirt, without even considering that crappy guys who cheat on people are the bad element of the equation!

-"Can you imagine Tye in this room?" The one and only reason why you should redecorate your room, Cristen!
Thank you for all these fascinating dating tips, please give me more. 

-So yay, now she's going to critisize the hell out of her clothes. What the stylist doesn't like, she throws to the floor, and her commentary takes being rude, obnoxious and dogmatic to a whole new level. In the meantime, Cristen has to justify herself and laugh apologetically for liking those clothes and having the nerve to have her own choices. The conclusion is that Cristen needs to be sexier, of course. It's basically compulsory.

-The rude, sexist commentary included:
Oh look, she does wear dresses, maybe she's not as 'tomboyish' as we thought, but oh, they're ‘old-fashioned’, ‘childish’ and ‘oh-so-not-sexy’. The cheerful coloured plaid shirts are allegedly so ugly as well (you can only wear them if you own an ice-cream van and are not female, apparently).  And yes, it gets worse: 'Tell me this was your granny's, and you're looking after it for her'.  "I got it from a thrift store" - "Is that supposed to make me feel better?". This person is so rude it's disgusting.
Let me tell you how everything you wear is ugly and rubbish and how you must wear exactly what I tell you in order to succeed in life - or that is to say, in order to succeed in your date, because that's basically what your life is, right?
"Okay, what's the last thing Tye saw you in...(ugh) Oh my god! Don't do this to me! Good news is, my love, I'm going to take you shopping" Yes, thank you for reminding us that we must dress for men's eyes.  And thank you from the bottom of my heart for being utterly rude and dogmatic and  for imposing your personal style and preferences to everyone else.

What the hell, I now applaud Molly Hooper from Sherlock BBC more than ever. She has this cute, unconventional, whimsical kind of style (a bit like Luna Lovegood, actually, another great model) and she rocks it without really caring about what people think (She did dress conventionally 'sexier' during the Christmas party in order to try to impress Sherlock, but that was the one time, and even then she was pretty much 70%+ Molly with the plastic bow in her hair). What's also important, Sherlock doesn't give a damn about her needing to change her style in order to 'impress him'. By season 3, he's already pretty impressed with her and her wonderful personality (think friendship or Sherlolly ship, or both, your choice) WHILE wearing her whimsical clothes. Take that, stylist!    
Now, this is an example of people who don't give a damn about changing their own clothes style. Molly gains Sherlock's respect and friendship (at the least) because of her intelligence and her kind and trustworthy character, not because of her clothes or appearance.


  1. So… making her have an experience that will now associate her phobia of snails with going on dates, with the potential of she having memories of that event during the date that would make her lose any appetite or the desire to be kissing anyone for a while? Isn't that like the worst idea ever?

    I think my brain went into snark mode after that, and my reactions when reading were the following ones… (This comment might turn into a live-blogging of my thoughts on what you describe, after this point)

    "So yeah, let's force this girl to have a terrifying time because we're doing it for a great cause"
    Producers' room, after watching the footage:
    "God dammit, Lousie, what did you do?! We said she should have a 'terrific' time on her dates. 'Terrif*IC*'!! I guess we'll have to repurpose the whole show now…"

    "Hey, we don’t even know what she’s studying, if she’s studying!"
    Maybe if she said she was studying they'd be like, "You're what? A good woman stays at home taking care of her man and the children! Why would you study anything? At least tell me it's not a manly degree, is it?"

    "'I would do anything for a thousand dollars'"
    o_O Nooooo… Just… no >_<

    About the messiness in the room… it might have been made like that on purpose, or maybe not. I've seen rooms like that. And regarding 'sexy time': it did *not* matter. Had she had the duvet and cushions well organized on the bed to make it look neat, everything would probably end up on the floor next to it, in a pile looking pretty much like what would happen if those things remained disorganized like in the pictures. Also, as you say, many girls have plush toys and I don't think that's ever been a problem, unless we're talking of creepy dolls with unsettling gazes or something like that. A mess like the one seen in the pictures could cause some problems if the room was much smaller and cushions or clothes didn't leave much space for walking around, for example, but even that one is not really that bad. When someone says that a mess would be so incredibly off-putting for a date or boyfriend, I think of this.
    Also, having things that are geeky or related to her interests might make a potential partner be attracted to her *more* if they like similar things! Which would be good!

    "And then proceeded to cheat on her. But somehow, it's all her fault for being messy and shy"
    WHAT THE… HELL??? Seriously? :( And they claim to be helping girls with their self-esteem in this show?

    "Also, you go and remark 'that's not good for ego'. That's rich coming from a stylist whose only job is to alter young girls' looks, personality and lifestyles. Hypocrisy much?"
    Exactly! See above! :-/

    "Cristen’s parents and friends, who just keep insulting Cristen. Now she's 'shy' and 'walks hunched down'...'because of guys like this'."
    I guess everyone telling her she's a mess and she won't ever be loved as she is has not contributed at all to her shyness and low self-esteem, in their view?

    I don't even know what to say about the bit with her clothes… Reading all that is just making me sad about what a horrible person the stylist is. Basically telling her that her personal choices for years about the looks she identifies with are worthless, and making her feel bad for every single one of them :(

    Aaaand the post ends with another reason for me to keep watching Sherlock. I will…! I promise :P

    Seeing how just *reading* this makes me angry and sad, I can only try to imagine what you must feel watching the show and writing these posts. So I feel I should say a big THANK YOU for doing it and sharing it on your blog for all of us to see. I'll be here for the next one…

    1. I recall discussing parts of this comment in FB, but still, I wanted to say thanks for posting your live-blogging comment :)

      -Par 1-3: Yep, definitely the worst idea ever in those respects, plus a very invasive and downright mean thing to do overall :/ Apparently, it something that happens in every single episode with every single girl (I've only watched through series 1, while bleeding through all my pores because all the sexism, so I can't say if this is the case of the rest of seasons...more than one season of this garbage, can you imagine??)

      -Par 4: I suppose they would use the 'manly' or 'feminine' degree card if they asked about her occupation/studies, yes. Especially now I've just read that the stylist apparently thinks that studying Physics is the total opposite of being 'feminine' and 'sexy' *facepalming*

      -Par 6: I think the 'messy room' issue was the thing that we most discussed while on FB, so I'll try not to elaborate xD I'd like to repeat the idea that these people perpetuate the stereotype that single women 'with no love in their lives' and apparently so depressed about their single status tend o have messier and dirtier rooms and houses/flats in general. Because how on earth can a woman cope, or be remotely happy, without a man in ehr life, gods??!!!! Not only is this utterly sexist, I find it frankly distasteful that women be portrayed as chaotic and appallingly unhygienic because they are single or live alone. And like I think you mentioned, men are more 'allowed' to have messy rooms, even dirty rooms, because they are somehow more 'masculine' and 'manly' because of it, and because they need a woman to clean it all for them, right? Because men are allowed to be messy when they live alone or with someone because it's 'in their nature' to be like that so that women have to do all the freaking cleaning, apparently. Also, it's pretty funny how women are the 'cleanliness fans' only when they are cleaning for their man, but turn out to be messy and unhygienic when they mope alone in their man-free status...

      And absolutely, these shows keep on implying that these dates are only about attraction, and that shared interests are neither important nor attractive.

      Par 7-9: Yep :/

      Par 10: "Basically telling her that her personal choices for years about the looks she identifies with are worthless, and making her feel bad for every single one of them :("

      I agree, people who have a go at another people for the way they dress because they're not 'conventionally attractive and fashionable' are horrible beings who objetify and promote gender bias everywhere :/

      Go Sherlock :D!

      Thank you very much for the last paragraph :) Thank you as well for reading these and understanding these issues :) :)