The Pussycat Dolls: The Search for the Next Doll
The reality show that I decided to watch was â€śThe Pussycat Dolls, The Search for the Next Dollâ€?. I had never seen the show before this but it seemed, even from the title that it would be a good one to do a feminist analysis on. The show airs on Tuesday nights at 8 pm on CW. The title gives away the main plot of the show. The popular musical group, The Pussycat Dolls, is on the prowl for a new kitten to add to their group. Through extensive â€śPussycat Doll Boot Campâ€?, the new doll will be voted on by the creator of The Pussycat Dolls and the current lead singer of the group, as well as a dance instructor and a vocal coach. This particular episode was the auditions, where a group of eighteen is narrowed down to a final nine by group renditions of former Pussycat Doll songs and dances.
The intended audience of this show is definitely a younger one. The fans of The Pussycat Dolls are younger and it is apparent by the commercials played during the program. Like many other programs shown on channels like VH1 and MTV, there are no commercials for minivans or new medications. Instead, the commercials are mostly those for new makeup (maybe that will make you look like the next Pussycat Doll as well?) or for updated, high-tech cell phones. There are also many commercials advertising new shows that are aired on CW. I also think that this show is mostly aimed for girls because of the â€śgirl dramaâ€? and the music.
The first thing that caught my eye about the show was the title of the group. First of all, why any person would aspire to be a â€śdollâ€? is confusing to me, and after seeing the way the girls trying out for this show dressed and acted, it confirms the title of doll. A doll is fake, plastic, and perfect. Its actions and words are completely up to itâ€™s owner or someone else who is â€śplayingâ€? with the doll. Also, the sexy and erotic dance moves done by these dolls suggest that their title of â€śPussycatâ€? refers to more than just a cat or their catty appearance and personalities.
The introduction of the show claims the fame of the Pussycat dolls, calling them an international sensation and pure talent, however, I found it ironic that the description of the show is â€śA hunt for a beautiful and talented girl to join The Pussycat Dolls.â€? It struck me as odd that even though this group has pure talent, beautiful is emphasized first in the description. At the beginning of the show, Robin Antin, creator of the group describes what a Pussycat Doll should be and she first says that they must be sexy. She continues in a new sentence to say that they must be talented singers and dancers as well. It seems strange that this group of â€śpure talentâ€? cares first about the appearance rather than the talent.
Throughout the show gender and sexuality stereotypes are at work. The girls in the top eighteen all â€śdo their genderâ€? just as Judith Lorber discusses in her essay, â€śâ€™Night to His Dayâ€™: The Social Construction of Genderâ€? She says, â€śGender norms are inscribed in the way people move, gesture, and even eatâ€?. The girls dress, talk, and walk in a way to shows the world that they are in fact, female. One of the girls breaks out of the gender norm of being a girly-girl and shows off her burping abilities. Where stereotypically guys burp and think its cool, the girls on this show thought it was disgusting that one of their fellow future dolls burped that way. You could see in their faces that a beautiful girl burping was not inside the gender norm. The dance instructor to the girls also provided a stereotype, but instead of a gender stereotype, he provided a sexuality stereotype. His name was Mikey Minden and he acted as the stereotypical flamboyantly gay man. He taught the girls how to dance erotically and was very well groomed with a higher pitched voice, a stereotypical gay man. In the essay written by Liz Morrish and Kathleen Oâ€™Mara, â€śQueer Eye for the Straight Guy: Confirming and Confounding Masculinityâ€?, they discuss the stereotypes of gay and straight men. They say, â€ś[T]he whole show functions as a carnivalesque assault on traditional assumptions about masculinity and sexuality, while operating superficially with a set of comforting stereotypes about gay men.â€? Never in the show is Mikey Minden said to be gay, but because of these stereotypes, itâ€™s assumed that a less masculine dance instructor is gay. The other male present in the show is a vocal coach who acts more masculine and has a lower-pitched voice and never once is he questioned in the show to be gay.
This show is produced by 10X10 Entertainment which is a smaller branch of Wonderland Entertainment. This company produces other popular reality shows of launching ordinary people into fame like Americaâ€™s Next Top Model. It also produces shows on networks such as MTV and VH1, shows that are intended for a younger viewing audience that are connected to the pop music scene. The affect this show could have on audiences is the normalization of the problematic stereotype of women as objects. Girls could think that in order to find fame they must be tiny, beautiful and have sexy enough dance moves to intrigue men and that talent really doesnâ€™t have that much to do with it. One of the girls says on the show that The Pussycat Dolls are about â€śfemale empowermentâ€? and my question is how is becoming a beautiful plastic â€śdollâ€? empowering to anyone besides the person playing with it?