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ABC cancels Work It after 2 eps only! Good riddance! Good riddance!!
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Summary: Jerkwad protagonists Lee and Angel actually go on sales calls. Angel gets results by stereotypically flirting and playing up "feminine" mannerisms. Lee gets jealous and accusatory, then tries the flirty style to great failure. Meanwhile Angel gets a date with one of the doctors he was selling to.

Analysis: Oh God, I can feel my will to watch draining away as I watch this show. I feel my mouth hardening into a permanent cringe. I thought that the collective scorn and criticism of the Internet and the known world would force this show back into the dank hole of "isms" whence it came, but apparently not.

The transphobia...because Lee can't describe how Angel looks as a woman without mocking him for stereotypically masculine traits such as big biceps and a broad chin!

The sexism and misogyny...because this episode just assumes without question that women using their sexuality in the workplace to get what they want is acceptable and appropriate!

The slut shaming...because Lee can't express his jealousy of Angel's success without intimating that Angel is a whore!

The trivialization of date rape...because Angel was going to drug his doctor date if the date put any moves on him!

The homophobia...because God forbid that two men touch in an affectionate or intimate manner!

Disclaimer: This is not a comprehensive list of prejudices evinced in Work It. The stupidity is multi-dimensional, much the same way as Dan Savage's bigotry, and no one entry can comprehend it all...maybe a series.

My favorite response to Work It was someone's tweet saying, "I think ABC left out a letter when they described this as 'the new hit show!'" LOL!

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Besides being horrible for reasons I enumerated previously in my first two entries about Work It [1, 2], ABC's comedy about two men impersonating women to get sales jobs, the show is also racist as heck. Arturo of Racialicious discusses the show's racist crack about Puerto Ricans automatically being good at selling drugs, how this line has stirred criticism around the country and how the star who said the line has not responded at all. ABC, cancel this rotten mess!
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Earlier I wrote about ABC's new sitcom Work It, in which two men impersonate women to get jobs at a sales company. I just caught the first episode of this dung heap on Hulu. I am here to report that I stand by my earlier comments about all the show's prejudices and to report that it was, besides being offensive on many levels, poorly written with unfunny jokes, unoriginal characters and lazy execution.

A few especially stupid and offensive moments stood out for me after my cursory viewing:

1. In an early conversation in a bar, the laid-off protagonist commiserates with his two laid-off friends, a mechanic and a shuttle driver. The shuttle driver describes the recession as a "mancession," insists that women are "taking over" and predicts that soon men will only be kept around as "sex slaves" if women continue asserting their dominance. This character is factually incorrect; there is no mancession; women are not taking over, and the joke about "sex slaves" makes light of sexual abuse and rape. While the shuttle driver clearly serves as the "stupid comic relief friend" archetype, no one corrects him or calls him out on his behavior, thus reinforcing the idea that his false interpretation of events is acceptable.

2. While I have detailed earlier how the entire show is transphobic, one especially transphobic moment caught my eye. In a flashback scene where the protagonist, now impersonating a woman, tells the mechanic "how he does it," a saleswoman is shown at a counter. She sees someone off-camera and screams and recoils. The camera then shows the protagonist with makeup all over his face [including lipstick on his teeth, blech], imploring the saleswoman, "Help me, please...help me!" The laugh track resounds.

Now is the saleswoman [and the laugh track] laughing at a generally bad application of makeup or a man in drag? It doesn't really matter because the show is mocking the protagonist, who dares to "look bad" in makeup. The show thus looks down on the protagonist's gender presentation in that scene, allowing the interpretation that the saleswoman shrieks because of the "incongruity" in a stereotypically masculine-presenting person wearing makeup, a stereotypically feminine accessory. The rigid implicit heteronormative bias of the saleswoman's shocked scream militates against anyone who dares to deviate from traditional stereotypical masc/fem gender presentations.

I really hate this show. It's bad, and it's offensive.
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So I learned, thanks to Shakesville, that ABC has a new show coming out in fall 2012 called Work It. In this show, two cis straight guys pretend to be cis straight women in order to get jobs. How bilgey is that?

Oh, the horrible sexism. Shows like this, which pretend to be reflective about gender and sex but really aren't, usually end up cementing the vast, irreconciliable differences that supposedly exist between men and women. Shows like this also tend to suggest that, somehow, the male protagonists are better at being women [you know, fooling all those stupid cis straight wimmenz] than women are, thus denigrating the sex and gender of women.

Oh, the horrible transphobia too. Shows like this assert that it's funny when biologically male people try to radically change their gender presentation. Shows like this say that biologically male people who radically change their gender presentation will never successfully pass; they'll always eventually be seen as their "true," biologically male selves. Shows like this portray gender transition as fatuous and ultimately futile, preferring to see it as a comedic device, rather than a way that some people use to manifest their true identities.

Oh, finally, the horrible stupidity. It doesn't really make sense, given the barriers to employment that women face [such as pay disparities with men and risks of sexual harassment], that being a woman would somehow make things easier for our two cis straight guys. In fact, new challenges would crop up, not of the easily resolved comic variety, but of the deeply situated, kyrarchical kind. What a stupid show!
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The Law and Order: SVU ep “Identity” [season 6, ep 12], summarized earlier, features a bitten penis, gangbanging, homeless women, ID theft, an anti-graffitti task force, a pair of unusually identical twins, a sex therapist, a secret language, possible incest, violent siblings, possible lesbianism, unethical investigation of medical records, non-consensual gender reassignment of a minor, molestation by therapist and, finally, “the perfect crime.” Now that I’ve summarized the plot for you, I’m exhausted. No, seriously, it’s time to examine some of the deleterious assumptions at work in your average SVU ep.

Thesis: SVU pathologizes everything in sight.

Read more... )

 

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I've been watching a lot of Law and Order: SVU lately [enough to realize that the script writers have an unhealthy obsession with prison rape jokes, which they are apparently contractually obligated to shoehorn in once per episode]. Among the many eps that I've watched is "Identity," ep 12 from season 6. I remember enjoying this ep especially because it features a pair of identical twins, of which I am one, as you no doubt know. I also remember this ep for its particularly exploitative and melodramatic plot twists. Heck, this thing has enough melodrama and occurrences for an entire season of a show! Let me summarize for you...

A corpse drops off the top of a building right through the windshield of some guys with blue balls. Stabler, Benson and the ME wonder who the dead chump is. His bling labeled "SCA" seems to be a clue. Also someone bit his penis real hard. DUNT DUNT! Read more... )
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Because I'm reading My Husband Betty again, I went to Helen Boyd's blog, thence to her personal site, where she linked to media appearances. From there I hit upon a clip from All My Children in which the transgender character goes to a transgender support group. Betty is in the clip, which is why the clip was linked from Boyd's site.

I have mixed feelings about the clip. On one hand, I appreciated the presence of all the other support group members, who were transgender activists and authors, appearing under their own names. I think that it's important to show all types of people in media so that all types of people can identify with the media figures. Furthermore, I also think it's important that all types of people be shown not as sicko freaks, but as happy, well-adjusted individuals, which all of the activists appearing under their own names appeared to be.

That being said, the clip really blew my mind because there was such a difference in presentation between the AMC trans woman and the trans activists. The trans activists, if anything, underplayed their roles, with a very matter-of-fact, level tone and no histrionic affectation, which gave the support group scene a very naturalistic air, as if the viewers were eavesdropping. By contrast, the AMC trans woman was a barely coherent pile of melodramatic jelly [behaving like the subject line], in the manner of all soap operatic characters when they are on the edge of something momentous [which they always are]. The acting style of the person who played the AMC trans woman did not fit with the rest of the players in the support group scene, which distracted me to no end.

Perhaps I shouldn't say that the AMC trans woman's character did not fit into the support group scene. After all, the AMC trans woman's character is a soap operatic type, and this is a soap opera. Therefore, with the insertion of an underplayed, naturalistic scene with well-adjusted individuals, the support group scene and the well-adjusted trans activists are the things that do not fit in the soap opera. Soap operas thrive on ostentatious suffering and angst, sad endings, bad turns of events.  I think the goal of trans inclusion is laudable, but it's hard to make trans people look happy, healthy and productive when the TV universe into which they are being introduced makes EVERYONE look miserable, perverted and stunted. So is it really much of a step toward trans understanding, inclusivity and tolerance to turn them into hammily degraded victims, just like almost everyone else in soap operas?

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