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A World of Dolls

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For my critique, I chose the newest ‘search for a star’ show- The Search for the Next Doll. If you haven’t heard of it, the point of the show is to find a seventh member for the pop girl group The Pussy Cat Dolls. The group and the show seem to embody every gender stereotype we have been picking apart in class. The name of the group itself, “The Pussy Cat Dolls?, implies a promiscuousness and cattiness from the girls with ‘Pussy Cat,’ as well as a sub-human quality by being ‘dolls.’ We have seen all of these ideas, and even labeled them as harmful stereotypes in our discussions, yet here the music industry is blatantly making them idealistic.

The structure of the episode I watched seemed carefully put together to portray and support the stereotypes of what a perfect woman should be. To begin, the ‘Pussy Cat House’ they were taken to had no shortage of decorative hearts and shades of pink. But once in the bedroom, the decor changed to animal prints, depicting that a woman should be sweet and cute on the outside, but an animal in the bed. A little later in the show, the contestants were brought to their first challenge, which turned out to be dancing in lingerie in a glass box at a bar. The challenge was meant to test their confidence, which silently said confidence in sexuality and in physical appearance is more important in a woman than confidence in who she is personally and intellectually. This is not to mention that dancing half naked in a bar invites the world of female objectification. The last structured segment of the show was the elimination, in which the nine contestants stood on a stage each with a hot pink, feather boa. The one eliminated, was asked to “please hang up [her] boa? to signify she had lost. She had failed, and proven she was not the best of the women, and therefore was not worthy of the pink feather boa.

The contestants and their expectations, actions and goals also perpetuate the stereotypes of what a woman should be. Near the beginning, one of the contestants confessed, “I used to be extremely overweight, like up to 192 pounds. I went from no friends and not being very attractive at all, to having the chance to be in one of the sexiest girl groups.? Her comment shows the direct link in our society between attractiveness in women and their success socially and financially. She admitted without pause that the change in her weight was the sole force that changed her life from deficient to successful.

The girl’s actions also strongly illustrated popular feminine stereotypes. Three different times in the hour long show the girls cried about pressures and failures, making them both overly sensitive and incompetent at the same time. The girls stressed the importance of their physical appearance and beauty when they were told they only had one hour to get ready to have dinner with guests and they all sprinted to their rooms. They also were made to seem gossipy and catty as a shot sequence showed two girls looking in the direction of a clumsy fellow contestant and then shrieking with laughter.

The Search for the Next Doll seemed to pull together every feminine stereotype they could and push it out to the viewer as ideal and attractive. They covered women being toys, both sexual and trophy-like, women being unstable and incompetent, and even grabbed the hypocrisy of being promiscuous yet chaste. The contestant who was eliminated at the end was let go because the judges thought “sometimes she says ‘sex,’ not ‘sexy.’? These are the characteristics of The Pussy Cat Dolls, the group that parallels the Spice Girls of our generation. These are currently the role models of our siblings, and the women they will try to imitate in their real life interactions. This is the message of our mainstream culture and undeniable evidence that gender stereotypes and sexism still strongly exist in our society. This is evidence that feminism is still needed in our generation, that it not unnecessary or without purpose, and I believe evidence that the media is feminism’s biggest target.

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