Saturday, April 21, 2007

Feedback from Erin D., author of Model Behavior

Hey Devon!
I thought you showed strong analysis on last blog post, where you critqued Anna David's article--you didn't just take her article at face value, but inspected it for key points, as well as highlighting its flaws. You do great research and respond well to outside sources, so maybe try including some in your final blog presentation.

You definitely seem to be interested in your topic of "Beauty and the Geek" and the posts are cohesive and have a clear theme. The topic had tons of different representations of gender and hegemony, which seemed to provide you with lots to discuss, which you did very well. Your arguments were compelling and you included examples and evidence from the show and outside sources to back up your point. The refernces used were great, and your footnotes were clear and well-marked. Every reference seemed carefully selected and pertaineed both to the topic and readings we covered in class. Your quotes are never stuck in just to fill a requirement--they add real meaning to whatever the post is about.

The only thing I think you could improve on is maybe adding some pictures and graphics just for aesthetic value--the look of the blog itself is a bit text-y and could be jazzed up a little. However, all your content is thoughtful and analytical. I especially liked the lastest post and your collage, which perfectly blended the ideals of "Beauty and the Geek" with Laurie Oullette's article. All in all, great job so far!

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Blog Buddy Work with Erin D., author of Model Behavior

1. Where has your Blog buddy shown strong analytical work (be specific—is it a particular post, a type of analysis, a site for analysis that seemed to click more so than others, etc)?

2. How could your Blog buddy use this strength for the final Blog post and presentation?

3. Think about the following statements in relation to your Blog buddy’s Blog and then provide feedback on each area (constructive praise/criticism):

The Blog is on a topic that has been clearly evident in the Blog posts throughout the semester

The Blog is on a topic that seems to interest my Blog buddy

My Blog buddy’s topic is one that has produced a good set of posts that were analytical used gender as a primary category of analysis

The posts make analytical arguments. The posts are understandable and each post logically outlines and supports the argument presented. The posts were clear, provided insight, evidence, and analysis to connect the topic with the assignment for each of the posts

The sources cited in each post are relevant to the topic and help to aid the understanding of the argument and/or assisted in proving the argument.

The quotes used illustrate a broad range of course readings throughout the semester.

The quotes were clear and succinct; additionally, the material was presented so that I could differentiate the Blog buddy’s ideas from that of the author cited.

4. Finally, complete the following:

I thought it was great when you...

I found it confusing when you…

You’re really great at…

I wish you could focus (more) on/alter/edit/explain/expand on/etc these three things…

Thursday, April 5, 2007

"Reality Check: Artificial Intelligence on Beauty and the Geek"

Anna David’s article, “Reality Check: Artificial Intelligence on Beauty and the Geek,” explains her opinions on the interaction between the beauties and geeks on the television show. Although issues regarding race, class, and gender typically appear in analyses of popular culture, David mostly sticks to discussing gender, which is understandable considering it is a central part of the show’s premise. Her main point is that being around beautiful women makes smart men come off as dim-witted, mostly because of nerves and intimidation. Her argument therefore deals largely with aspects of gender and gender differences that contribute to the effect attractive women have on men.

David portrays the beauties, and women in general, in a rather negative light, while sympathizing with the geeks and depicting them as naive, pitiable, and “adorable.” It is clear that she thinks the women on the show are dumb, lazy, and full of useless knowledge like popular culture references and slang terminology. On the other hand, she makes the geeks out to be the innocent playthings of the beauties, who break hegemonic norms by manipulating and dominating the men. For instance, the author says she felt sorry for Matt when Cecille put makeup on him because his explanation for letting her do it was that he felt lucky to be spending time with such a beautiful woman, which he never gets to do in his real life (i.e., when he is not starring in a reality television show that forces attractive women to live in a house and interact with socially awkward men). This goes back to the author’s claim that desirable women make smart men act less intelligent than they really are. Had Cecille not been a beautiful woman, Matt presumably would have objected to the makeover; however, since he wanted her to like him and wanted to continue spending time with her, he permitted her to do whatever she pleased, regardless of the humiliation and taunts he endured from other contestants.

At one point in the article, David not only criticizes the females of Beauty and the Geek, but stereotypes other women as well. In discussing the situation between Matt and Cecille, she writes, “I had to wonder just how many IQ points breasts and platinum hair can deduct from a person’s mind.” David is undoubtedly referring to Cecille in this statement, but millions of other women also fit this physical description. It applies to many females who are not brainless and would not be perfect candidates for this show. Just because a woman has blonde hair and a large chest does not automatically make her an unintelligent, attention-seeking flirt whose passions include shopping and looking good. However, whether or not she intended to, the author does imply that interacting with any woman with “breasts and platinum hair” will make you dumber. In a piece about gendered television, John Fiske describes the typical soap opera villainess as a woman who "turns traditional feminine characteristics (which are often seen as weaknesses ensuring her subordination) into a source of strength. ...[S]he uses her insight into people to maniupulate them, and she uses her sexuality for her own ends" (474). Despite the fact that she is not a character on a soap opera, Cecille, who used her femininity and sexuality to win Matt over, seems to fit the description of a villainess. Again, Fiske, like David, (indirectly) portrays her and women like her in a negative, almost evil way.

In addition to gender, the media could easily propagate race as a controversial topic in Beauty and the Geek, but David steers clear of it in this piece. The only two black women on the show happen to be two of the three women she talks about in her article, but this seems to be a mere coincidence. Nowhere does she mention or imply anything about their race, yet she could have without difficulty if she so chose. The only indication of race in the article is where David describes Cecille as blonde, which implies that she is white. This seems to be included more as a reference to beauty, superficial appearance, and stereotypes (e.g., “dumb blonde”) rather than race, though. While race is hardly included, class is not discussed in the article at all. David focuses primarily on gender as the basis of her writing, but some of her views are surprisingly negative. She illustrates the men as being innocent geeks guilty of no wrongdoing while describing the women as unintelligent, manipulating flirts who make smart men act stupid. Given the context of the show, this is probably how viewers are supposed to think of the beauties and geeks in the beginning, but David does not take into account the changes incurred by the men and women throughout the show. Her depictions of gender in Beauty and the Geek unfortunately seem one-sided, showing only the innocent side of the geeks and the negative side of the beauties and women in general.


David, Anna. (2007, January 7). Reality check: artificial intelligence on
Beauty and the Geek. FOX News. Retrieved April 5, 2007, from,2933,241842,00.html

Fiske, John. "Gendered Television." Gender, Race, and Class in Media. Eds. Gail Dines and Jean M. Humez. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications, 2003. 469-475.