Monday, October 12, 2009

Nip/Tuck is sewin' up the perfect woman

Not that I've seen more than an episode or two of FX's Nip/Tuck or think of it as a bastion of feminist virtues, but still, is this really necessary?

There are just too many problems here to name them all: from the perfect (white) woman being sewn together by two (white) men and a group of stiletto-and-bustier-clad Asian women working in what looks like a very antiseptic sweatshop and the disturbing interplay of sexualized imagery with scalpels and needles to the outright ogling of the perfectly-constructed faceless woman by the two male protagonists at the end of the ad. Talk about the male gaze and the deconstructed, dis-empowered female body!

I realize all these themes fit in quite seamlessly (no pun intended) with the show, but that still doesn't mean this promo doesn't bug the shit out of me.


Anonymous said...

If the men and the audience are enslaved to the natural sexuality then who is really wielding the power. It is the woman. The sweatshop motif I have a problem with but if you look at where most women in general get their nails done it is in Korean nail saloons. The woman is artificial and sown, cut, and placed together into an image that impacts culture. All plastic surgery is voluntary.

In spite the commentary on beauty that we tell our kids, both female and male, it doesn't pay out in the real world. I'm not a very attractive male and get tons of comments on how funny I am, and the positive notes on my personality. But women don't want to be approached by a man like me with the shell i have. Even though it is underplayed, females are sexually attached to visual attributes. Down playing that in a narrative does disservice to women and men. If the roles where reversed and the show was targeted to women and the sexual nature of women was forefront would the objectification of the man be valid? Would it be do him because women have been in that place and its only right that a man be oogled just the same? If you can't honestly say their is the same injustice then the issue is how one views our sexual attachment over a since of right and wrong.

The other problem that is faced is that by removing the sexual behavior from the main societal view any party that does so at this stage would be seen as oppressive and sexually regressive. The end result would be a reinforcement of the behavior due to resistance thus justifying the continued interaction. Outside of rap and underage sex there is no moral statement that really can be said about public displays of sexuality from a moral or ethical perspective.

Aviva DV said...

I'm not sure if I'm really seeing this promo from a moral or ethical position or rather from a position of personal dislike. I think it's problematic. I'm not sure if I'd be willing to argue that it's unethical, but its objectification of the woman is certainly ambiguous to say the least. That said, I would have a problem with a man being objectified in the same manner: with overtones of violence and dis-empowerment.

You say, "all plastic surgery is voluntary," and while this may be technically true, I would argue that many people--both women and men--feel pressured by society to change their physical appearance through plastic surgery. This is not to say that this pressure removes the possibility of free will, but only that we can't guilelessly proclaim plastic surgery voluntary without considering the potent, sometimes overwhelming, social insistence that we need to be beautiful or at least conventionally attractive.