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By Ben Cohen a “legendary master of the left field.” -BRP!

“Unintentionally misunderstood since 1975.” –Anonymous

“A big f@#k you, to the audience.” -B. Pendarvis

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Monday, April 5, 2010

Project Runway Looses its Way

Not since Jason Jones (now of the Daily show, husband of fellow corespondent the brilliantly ballsy Samantha Bee) and Craft Corner Death Match has there been a better opportunity on television to witness the artistic process, then on Bravo and now Lifetimes Project Runway(perhaps its tied with So You Think You Can Dance?).  I use to defend this "reality" TV valiantly.  No more, I say, no more.  It will switch over to that category and growing group of shows I watch out of idiotic tradition and mindless meditation (along with Survivor, Big Brother, The Real World, RW/RR Challenge, American Idol ect...).  I watch these in guilt and/or protest.

There have always been times where I have disagreed with the panel of judges.  I have often looked at the work being made and wondered, why is that person still around, or why isn't this person still here.  But there is almost always one or two contestants and at least one judge (the Simon) who I have faith in making sense.  Then the show moved to LA (I thought it would be refreshing) and the most talented designer won (but I hated her attitude).  Two of the regular judges were not regular do to scheduling (which I guess was the over all issue) and suddenly I found myself feeling like I did about the last season of So You Think You Can Dance? (which now hangs on as the only show worth watching for artistic process...but it to is frustratingly falling apart).

So the show regrouped and returned to NYC.  All the principle players were back and the schedule was working...but somehow the show had become a hot mess and even Tim Gunn (you have seen him in Marvel Comics Milly the Model) could not "Make it Work" (I use this phrasing with my students...it works).

In fact the show became offensive to artist/art teachers and to women, their principle audience out side of some gay circles (I would say they were sportive of our offense).

The most mind blowing example of stupidity on the shows part was airing a guest judge in critiquing an Designer from Oakland say, "I don't think orange and blue are very complimentary colors.  Do you?"  The other judges (all regulars) respond, "No," in unison.  Was this a case of east coast or cultural bias.? Well, NO.  This is a case of a judge of art and design not understanding color theory and the color wheel...something we learn in grad school, middle school, high school and college.  This is a basic lesson that illustrates how dumb these people are.  BLUE and ORANGE by definition ARE COMPLIMENTARY.  On top of it this palette and design which landed the designer in the bottom two was a very contemporary, palatable in almost all areas of the design world...apparently outside of fashion.

However intellectually offensive that was, it was nothing compared to the three-time champion (in other word at least in three different episodes this propaganda was spewed), the anti-big butt argument.  It culminated in last episode, with principle offender Micheal Corse (who I normally really admire) saying, "No women on the planet would want their butt to look bigger."  On a previous episode a designer actually went home for this offense specifically.  I am here to testify, Sir Mix A Lot is not the only one who likes big butts.  But more objectively Corse's statement is factually wrong.  Many women and many cultures value the naturally attractive female forms that are pear and hourglass (30% of women have these shapes).  Ironically, They are wonderfully support of the busty forms on the show; perhaps they learned to appreciate the female form "the Marvel Way."  This aesthetic perception is not only isolated and inaccurate, it comes with an air of elitism.  That the aesthetic cultivated in a small circle of aristocracy is projected, propagandized and marketed in order to keep women (the serfs) trapped in a cycle of dieting and self criticism.  It also encourages their partners and suitors to suppress their feelings of natural attraction and go underground in pursuit of their instinctual attractions...the results are health and psychological risks for both males and females in our society.  It really illustrates who bizarrely isolated these people are and how bigoted their aesthetics are.


  1. i was just listening to a kitchen sisters' radio piece on girls all over the world in which young women in jamaica were interviewed about body image. apparently in jamaican culture big behinds are the conveted standard of beauty, and young women take what are known as "chicken pills", which are hormones fed to poultry to produce bigger, fatter animals. several things are clear here: one, that the judges and producers of project runway are deeply, entrenchedly eurocentric and probably will never stop being so, because in this country the advertising money that pays heidi's tidy salary is entirely geared toward making women want to be skinnier. and two, that no matter what the standard of beauty is, young women are encouraged to mutilate themselves to achieve it. *sigh*

  2. Yes...but Euro-centric isn't even correct. This is a purely modern issue brought on by the fashion industry, film industry and Jane Fonda. Even the standards in these industries have changed drastically since the 50's.

    I encourage you to check out Fellini's Amarcord. In it an Italian boy trying to achieve manhood is obsessed with the female form (like all heterosexual men of his age). His obsession finally overcomes him when he seeks out a store clerk. The most voluptuously large women in the town. Now perhaps the obsession has more to do with her breasts. However, it is her overall size that is fetishized. She is an appealing challenge to this boy, who wants to prove his manhood. I believe this fantasy is prevalent throughout all cultures. It to objectifies women, but the denial of it in defense of health or aesthetics has provided far more harmful to women. But regardless, the objectification of form coupled with the self worth's dependence on appearances for girls makes this a life time battle that for some at best ends up in these fetished trysts, that provide any real growth.