I’ve got a bone to pick with two women’s cable channels, namely We and Lifetime. Both channels boast a line-up of television shows, series, and movies geared to entertain a female audience. That’s fine. Lord knows that most shows that air on television are predominantly written from a masculine perspective (since most studio executives and producers are male). But lately as I’ve been catching the stream of shows and films that seem to rally against men, I wonder if the stations are succeeding at their quest.
Is It Really Better Television?
Has-been Hollywood or out-of-work actors provide a good portion of the talent in the shows that air on Lifetime. So much so that agents have been known to book their clients on several Lifetime specials to gain exposure and interest for future projects. Whatever the incentive, the films are mediocre at best and don’t really pose a threat to major stations that have more of a variety of shows to pick from. The majority of the movies that do air are sappy romantic tripe or emasculating epics about how rotten men are or can be. There are the occasional reality series like, “The Secret Lives of Women” which paint genuine portraits of various women from lesbians to strippers to cougar moms. Even though some shows may fall short, some are on the money and challenge even the established “Big Dogs” of cable.
Two Wrongs Don’t Make A Right
My biggest complaint comes from the women romance novelists who make these hideous mini-series based on their books. This is the romantic tripe I was talking about earlier. The women always live in lush neighborhoods with sprawling gardens, housekept by a maid named Conchita in an affluent suburb. Is this a reality-based slice of life? Nay, I say. Are women so transparent that they long for the romance novel lifestyle complete with muscular pool boys and rich husbands? Do women really want to live in twenty bedroom mansions or Italian villas? I think not. Yet, that’s the stuff that is being promoted on these crap-tacular stations. In addition, there are the negative stabs at men; films aimed at hating on the mass of men picturing them as abusers, womanizers and reckless evildoers. I’m not saying that these men don’t exist, but I think that the smear campaign is counter-productive. It is almost a reverse sexism that makes me wonder if Feminism isn’t just the negative version of what women have been complaining men have been doing all along.
Backlash Payback: This Time, It’s PERSONAL!
In 1991, Susan Faludi wrote about Feminism boomeranging into a societal campaign targeting womankind. Her theory was that the 80s sought to re-establish traditional roles of women, flooding the market with condescending and belittling characterizations based on reinvented stereotypes of women. She went on to say that the mass media helped release these negative images in various forms to the general public. There is something to be said about the evidence that she presented; such as, the typical Glenn-Close-Fatal-Attraction-crazy-yet-sexy jilted lover, The Femme Fatale, and The Mother Hen trappings which have become recognizable staples in storylines and subplots everywhere. She even added quite a bit about fairy tales which I thought was completely innovative and thought-provoking. Since I’ve read it, it always lingers in my mind but I still hold true to the belief that lashing back by producing and airing a She-Woman-Man-Haters-Club of television is conducive to progress.
It seems like every time I catch a back-to-back episode of a movie based on a Danielle Steele novel, where women look all empowered and self-sufficient, it kind of sickens me. Or, one of those “girlie” movies where all the women are crying about their failed relationships and rebuke men by going away to some island in the Caribbean to “get their grooves on”. That’s just not reality. That’s not even reality tv.