Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Beauty and the Geek 3 - Alice Marwick

Since my old Beauty and the Geek post still gets plenty of comments, I thought I’d post my thoughts on the current season.

I’m hating it. What made the show so good– the honest interplay between people raised to value very different aspects of themselves– has been largely abandoned this year in favor of bitchy cattiness from the girls. The current crop of Beauties are not just vapid and shallow, they’re mean to each other, and they’re mean to the Geeks. The editing is emphasizing this, so I can’t say they aren’t being called on it, but… I’m not sure what the Geeks are supposed to learn from these women except that “women are bitches!!!1″, a message we hear enough of on television already.

I’m also tired of the way the show equates the two knowledge bases. I guess there is some validity in keeping up with popular culture, just in terms of small talk, cultural capital, etc., but don’t insult your audience by pretending that BASIC political knowledge– like, who ran for VP in the last presidential election– is on the same level as whether or not Cameron Diaz or Justin Timberlake are dating. I am a pop culture and gossip junkie, don’t get me wrong, but it makes me very disheartened to see the unbelievably low standards that pass on this show for scientific, political, etc. knowledge. MARKETING is not on the same level of importance with history or physics!

I just get so tired of people positioning history, math, science, literature etc. as “boring” and celebrity culture, fashion, and workout knowledge as “interesting”. Personally, I think the upteenth story about Britney’s new boyfriend is way more boring than, say, the history of the French Revolution, and I think this show really enforces that dichotomy more than it attempts to break it down. But god, people, could we please have a season with some smart women?! Enough of these bimbos.

My response:

You made some really good points in this post. I’m doing a blog about Beauty and the Geek for my Gender and Pop Culture class, so feel free to check it out (

I especially agree with your description of season three’s beauties as being bitchy and mean. Their shallowness led to the formation of cliques, which was basically a race/discrimination issue. The five blondes all stuck together and were united against the three brunette women, two of whom were African American. The blonde alliance put the brunette women into the elimination room until there were no brunettes left; the teams with brunette “beauties” were the first three to be eliminated. The fact that the blondes could not look past such superficial characteristics as hair and skin color is unbelievable, yet somehow unsurprising at the same time. After all, those beauties were chosen for the show because they value appearances above most other things. It’s sad how quickly the brunettes left the show because this advocates the idea that to be beautiful means to be blonde.