Borderline Exploitation

When it comes to the news, television, fame, advertising, the whole lot, I like to give credit where credit is due. I think that the primal coverage of the events that took place on September 11, 2001 was done well. Peter Jennings was amazing, giving the American people the perfect mixture of professional and human reaction. I love watching basketball games and the sportscasters always know exactly what is going on, no doubt. I am thrilled that Matchbox Twenty (the band) is finally getting the recognition that I think they deserve.

But when I think about whom in the media I actually respect, it is all coming up men! A woman could not have done as good a job as Peter Jennings because she would have either been too young and not esteemed, or she would have already been forced into early retirement because she was beginning to look too old. And in sports casting, all those women need to know is how to read. So many have even admitted that they don’t know much about sports. And they chose to admit that in an issue of Maxim where they also all posed in rather scantily clad outfits and not exactly in reputable positions. And of course, fame. All Britney Spears has to do is take off her clothes and shake her derričre, and she is suddenly a millionaire. Let’s not worry about whether she actually has any talent! Bands like Matchbox Twenty, Blues Traveler, and Barenaked Ladies are only now finally getting some of the recognition that they deserve, after years and years of hard work and honing a brilliant talent.

Why is it so difficult for a woman to get respect in the media? Because people like Anna Kornacova, Britney Spears, the actress that plays the older daughter on “8 Simple Rules to Dating My Teenage Daughter,” cars show models, Jennifer Lopez, the Coors Light twins…exist. These women possess little or no legitimate talent, yet they are all financially successful! But these women are not respectable. These women are all selling their bodies and good looks, not their talent. Perhaps because their talent is lacking, but either way it sets a precedent that even if a woman is intelligent or talented, she must be attractive. Well, the thing is, if we all had nothing to do all day but eat exactly what our private chef has made, do exactly what our personal trainer says, and were constantly surrounded by hair and make-up professionals…we would all look like Elizabeth Hurley. But there are real women who exist, and they are having trouble getting into any form of media. Except maybe radio, newspaper, and internet. Those all have something in common, don’t they?

When legitimately talented or intelligent women do break into the media, it is a very big deal. We do not show less attractive or slightly overweight women in a positive light (hello? The Anna Nichole Smith Show). So it is an important thing that no one asked Camryn Manheim of the television show “The Practice” to lose any weight (although producers probably did until her “This is for the fat girls” speech given after winning a Golden Globe) and she was still a success. It is rare. And it was not until around 1998, I believe, that America embraced the first well-known plus size model, Nelle. She is not like Carmen Electra, considered a “plus” at size 8! She is a real plus size 14. I would like to give respect to the women who ignored pressures to conform: Ani DiFranco, Camryn Manheim, Bette Midler, Rosanne Barr, Winonna Judd, Ellen Degeneres, etc.

The way America uses women is borderline exploitation. Whether the individual is paid or not, they are still being used and setting an unrealistic precedent for the every day, average woman. Women are used sell a product: To sell alcohol (The Coors Light twins, St. Paulie Girl, all the Budweiser and Jeiger Meister servers, shot girls at bars), to sell men’s products like deodorant or cologne (Axe deodorant), to sell men’s accessories (Dockers pants) etc. And once women have even stepped their big toe into the entertainment industry, they feel the pressure. Pressure to lose weight, change their hair, change their style,