Hollywood’s Misogyny: Top Model’s Beautiful Corpses

March 25, 2007, 1:35 pm


By Andrew L. Jaffee

Jennifer L. Pozner exposes the decadent garbage that Hollywood peddles as “entertainment” under the rubric of “free speech,” but which is in reality, “deeply dangerous to our culture.” Are TV viewers immune from Hollywood’s message? “A 19-year-old Texas A&M University student was killed by her ex-boyfriend, who then dismembered and burned her body on a patio grill… because … she had begun a new relationship.” You know where I stand on Hollywood (here and here), but you should read Pozner’s excellent essay, “Top Model’s beautiful corpses: the nexus of reality TV misogyny and ad industry ideology:”

Ain’t nothin’ hotter than a dead girl. That’s the take-away message from this week’s episode of America’s Next Top Model, in which Tyra “I care so much about my girls” Banks & co. created the most brazen bit of ad-industry misogyny ever to grace the reality TV genre: an entire episode presenting a gaggle of underfed model wannabes as the mutilated, mangled and murdered epitome of beauty. …

Story continues below gruesome image…

Hollywood's Misogyny...

I’m so disgusted by the photos that I refuse to give them extra visual traction on this blog – but do click over to Zap2it’s photo gallery if you’d like to see for yourself how ANTM gives new definition to the phrase “suicide girls.” The lithe lot of ‘em are arrayed in awkward, broken poses, splayed out in cold concrete corridors, lifeless limbs positioned bloodily, just so, at the bottom of staircases, bathtubs and back alleys, mimicking their demise via stabbing, shooting, electrocution, drowning, poisoning, strangulation, decapitation and organ theft (!), to judges’ comments of “Gorgeous!” “Fantastic!” “Amazing!” “Absolutely beautiful!” and, of my favorite, “Death becomes you, young lady!”

For decades, media critics such as pioneering advertising theorist Jean Kilbourne have argued that ad imagery equating gruesome violence against women with beauty and glamour works to dehumanize women, making such acts in real life not only more palatable and less shocking, but even aspirational. ANTM’s pretty-as-a-picture crime-scene challenge epitomized the worst of an insidious industry trend that, ahem, just won’t die.

The “beautiful corpses” episode of Top Model (a series that traffics in bottom-feeder humiliation, objectification and degradation of women in the name of fashion, fun and beauty for the deep profit of integrated marketers such as Cover Girl and Seventeen magazine) serves as sharp reminder that what millions of reality TV viewers believe is harmless fluff… is anything but. ANTM is less a “guilty pleasure,” as TV Guide and infotainment shows have called it, than it is a cynical CW cashcow guilty of making product placers, and Tyra Banks, rich at the expense of not only the self-esteem of the few hungry (in every sense) young strivers appearing in the modeling competition, but of the millions of girls and women, boys and men, who watch the show uncritically, learning that unhealthily underweight, Brazilian-waxed waifs can only achieve the ultimate in beauty when they appear to be erotically, provocatively maimed and murdered (as they were this week), self-abusive (as when models were made to pose as bulimics mid-purge last season), corpses (as they were during a prior season when the challenge involved posing in caskets lowered into open graves in a cemetery). …

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Related: Hollywood, Media/Blogsphere, Political Correctness

3 Responses to “Hollywood’s Misogyny: Top Model’s Beautiful Corpses”

  1. WIMN’s Voices: A Group Blog on Women, Media, AND… » Blog Archive » Top Model looks ugly to the blogosphere - thanks for rolling with our outrage! Says:

    [...] Andrew Jaffee at NetWmd blog drew connections between the prevalance of dehumanizing images such as those pumped out in this ANTM episode and brutal crimes against women, such as the Dayton Daily News-reported murder, dismemberment and burning of a college student by her ex-boyfriend. [...]

  2. Prime Mover Says:

    Wow! This is a great piece!

    Pretty much says it all. The normalising of sexual bruatalism, basically priapism via pornograpy is my own bete noire.

    Any views on it?

  3. publisher Says:

    You may like these posts:

    Taking On Hollywood’s Ultra-Violence

    Get Your Quentin Tarantino Rapist Number One Doll

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