Tower Block of Commons is a four-episode reality TV series in the UK that features five Members of Parliament (MP) who have agreed to live for eight days in British housing projects, or, as they're called across the pond, "tower block estates." Each MP was given £64.30 (appx $100 USD) to cover their expenses for the week. (The amount is the average weekly allowance provided to a job seeker receiving public assistance.) The point of the experiment was to pull the privileged MPs out of their posh lifestyle bubble and sensitize them to the struggles of working class people. But (surprise!) less than 24-hours into the experiment, one of them was caught cheating.
Not only does this show perpetuate the popular "fat equals unhealthy" with its unspoken corollary "therefore, thin equals healthy," it also overtly coaches its participants to engage in what Kate Harding so aptly called "the fantasy of being thin." And then there's the vomiting and dehydration. That's healthy, right?
Earlier this morning in Istanbul, Turkey nine women were rescued from a fake reality show set where they had been held captive for two months. The women each responded to an ad for a new season of the Turkish version of Big Brother, and signed contracts stipulating that they would live together in a villa and be forced to pay a hefty fine if they wanted to leave early.
Now, there are a million things that are f@#%ed up about this story. These women were held captive against their will and threatened when they tried to leave without paying a fine to their captors. They were told to wear bikinis and "fight" with one another by the pool, while four men filmed them. They were on camera 24/7, even while changing. They weren't allowed contact with the outside world, not even with family members. However, the worst thing about this awful situation is that it is disturbing because the footage was not aired on national television.
Think about it. If this exact same scenario had played out with the footage being aired as a reality television show, no one would think twice about it. We have officially reached the point where just about anything goes, as long as it will be viewed by millions of people. (In this particular situation, the footage was aired only online, though the women were told it would be aired on TV.) Take the cameras away, and this is an incredibly upsetting kidnapping story. Bring the cameras back, and it's good television.
If you haven't been watching America's Best Dance Crew this season, it's time to start. For those out of the loop, ABDC (as it is known in the in-crowd) is a dance competition show on MTV that combines crew battles and audience voting to determine, well, America's best dance crew. Sure, the show is a little corny, and the awesome Artistry in Motion crew was eliminated last week despite their body-positive message, but ABDC has a lot to offer the feminist television viewer. The show focuses on teamwork and togetherness as opposed to the abilities of certain individuals, and every week they give the teams a different challenge (the Beyoncé challenge was particularly kickass). The real reason to watch, though, is Vogue Evolution.
America's Best Queer/Gay/Trans/Vogue/Activist Dance Crew!