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.
Those of you who, like me, have been hooked on VH1's Rock of Love Bus this season (perhaps against some of your better feminist judgment), may have found last night's finale a bit unfulfilling. Not only was it a challenge to care whether it was Taya or Mindy (the two final contestants) who won Bret’s cowboy-hat loving heart in the end, but the episode broke some new and unsettling ground when it came to reinforcing sex and gender-based stereotypes. (You thought they had already broken all of the available ground and then some, didn’t you?)
This season of Rock of Love Bus kicked off with some vagina shots on top of a bar, so it shouldn’t surprise us that it ended with some sex and gender weirdness as well. What is surprising, to me at least, is that the show’s finale managed to both promote and condemn female sexuality AT THE SAME TIME. How is this possible, you ask? Read on and let’s discuss!