Journalista BarbiePosted: August 24, 2012
I really try not to pick on women for their choices in hair, clothing, and careers. However, there is one group of women that is hard to ignore. That’s the number of look-alike, sound-alike bleach blonde barbies on the Fox propaganda network. Women captured by fundamentalist sects frequently wear empire waist, home spun, calico-looking dresses and long hair. Women captured by Rupert Murdoch dress like Journalista Barbie. They look like they just stepped off the I won “Miss Texas” circuit and sound like they memorized the top 20 conservative canards to use as directed. “Well, Bob, I just wish the government would stay out of all businesses but make sure women die having babies like in the bible. Oh, and I believe in World Peace through US dominion of the world.”
Of course, TV news shows have always put a premium on appearance, more so for women than for men. And it’s hardly a revelation that some networks place more pressure on women than do others: C-SPAN has no makeup room at all, just a collection of powder compacts that guests can use if they are so inclined. At MSNBC, Rachel Maddow is known to prefer minimal makeup, while other anchors want more, and the artists oblige with a range of choices, from neutral tones to berry hues. Bloomberg TV tends toward the corporate aesthetic; CNN favors a professional style that makes women and men look crisp, as if they have been ironed. As for Fox, suffice it to say that there is a YouTube montage devoted to leg shots of Fox anchors, who are often outfitted in body-hugging dresses of vibrant red and turquoise, their eyes enhanced by not only liner and shadow but also false lashes. A Fox regular once commented to me that she gets more calls from network management about her hair, clothes, and makeup than about what she says. “I just think of it as a uniform,” she said of her getup.
But here’s the newer development: It’s not just anchors who are pressured to look good while talking, it’s relatively ordinary women, too. For a contingent of female bloggers, ideologues, advocates, pundits, and writers, a Fox gig brings with it an unexpected dilemma. There you are, a renowned expert on nuclear proliferation/immigration policy/the Middle East, obliged to regard yourself in the mirror and ask: Will I really go on national television looking like a cross between Captain Jack Sparrow and a waitress from Hooters?
So, there’s even a name for what Fox makes their women do to be on camera. It’s called “Fox Glam”.
But the best explanation for Fox glam may be the channel’s largely conservative audience. An argument can be made that conservative women are typically less squeamish than progressive ones about embracing what the sociologist Catherine Hakim calls “erotic capital,” otherwise known as using your looks to get ahead. See the gleeful Laura Ingraham/Ann Coulter school of beautyology, which holds that the angrier and better-coiffed you are, the more attention you will receive. The Republican Party welcomes looks in a woman—Michele Bachmann, Sarah Palin, Nikki Haley—and so does Fox.
“They’re definitely pandering to a male audience,” says Meli Pennington, a makeup artist who runs a blog called Wild Beauty. Also, cable-news viewers tend to be older, so Fox may be specifically catering to the sensibilities of older men, she posits, by making women a little “brighter.” She means this literally. “You think of Hugh Hefner’s girlfriends,” she says: “As he got older, they all get brighter and blonder. Look at Anna Nicole Smith. It’s like the large-print edition of women.”
The media critic Jack Shafer adds that the women you see on Fox are not just winsome, lavishly cosmeticized women, but winsome women paired with older men. He says the network almost appears to be taking a page from the theory of evolutionary psychology, which argues that women are attracted to prosperous (often older) men, and these men are attracted to women whose youth and curves signal fertility. “
The men are kind of frumpy older men,” Sherman agrees, “paired with hyper-feminine women. That kind of kinetic energy between the sexes is one of the reasons Fox is successful. Oftentimes the older male hosts—Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity—in the prime time, at night, are paired with women, debating politics, and the women are generally much younger … It almost goes back to 1940s Hollywood.” For guests, the Hollywood screwball routine can be unnerving. It was for Nell Minow, a critic of inflated CEO pay, who was taken aback when a producer urged her to “attack the masculinity” of her debate partner.
So, who more represents the Faux Hooter Girl look than Megyn Kelly pictured over there in a come hither pose and look. Kelly is one of those women that make me wonder if we’ll ever get past women that do more damage to other women. She’s a lawyer and the daughter of a professor. What happened to turn her into Rupert Murdoch’s pin-up girl?
Do you consider yourself a feminist?
I don’t really love that word. That connotes a harshness and almost a shrillness that I find unattractive.
What is it about that word?
Hmm, I respect women like Gloria Steinem who paved the way. But when you say “feminist” now, there is a message that if you are sexy and you acknowledge that part of your personality publicly, then it’s somehow an affront to women. And I reject that.
You caught a lot of flak this summer for covering the New Black Panther Party case so aggressively. Kirsten Powers, a correspondent on your network, said you were doing “the scary-black-man thing.”
This is a story in which not one but two civil rights attorneys within the Department of Justice had come forward to say that the DOJ essentially has a racist policy when it comes to enforcing the laws. If that is true, then the department itself is breaking the law. That is a story. Period.
Fox makes a big deal about how its daytime shows aren’t political at all, how they’re just news shows. But do you think the act of deciding what to cover and what not to is in itself a political act?
It’s not political. Television is a service, but it’s also a business. And in choosing what you’re going to put on your program, you have to figure out what’s going to appeal to your audience and what’s going to rate. When I came to Fox, I noticed that we wouldn’t ignore stories having to do with home-schooled children being discriminated against. Will you see those kinds of stories on our competitors? I don’t think so.
Yes, who will stand up for the poor discriminated against home-schooled children if Megyn Kelly (Did her parents really put GYN in her name?) were not showing all those legs and glossy lips on TV? Is this really the future I envisioned when I worked tirelessly to change rape laws so that women wouldn’t have to submit themselves to endless questions about asking for it or slutiness by virtue of not being virginal? Is this what moving towards the glass ceiling is supposed to be? I dunno. Like I said, I hate to slut slam or judge women by their appearances but what is it about the Fox Propaganda Network that just seems to make me want to face palm and switch channels? Maybe it’s just because I recognize the new breed of Tokyo Rose. Also, how come Greta gets away with a natural look? Some one, explain all this too me, please.