Thursday, 15 November 2012

in defence of the ridges

seeing as i have been going through some heavy stuff lately, i thought it was time for a lighter pop culture post.  pretty out-of-date, i know, but it's been sitting at the back of my mind waiting to get out & now is as good a time as any.

i remember all the times i've written on this blog about my antipathy towards reality television.  i mostly can't be bothered with it, mostly because there seems to be a lot of hostility & nastiness involved in the competitive aspects of reality tv shows, and i don't have the patience for that.  i did manage to sit through one whole series of american idol, i can't even remember why.  and of course i'm a well known masterchef fan.  but that has generally been it, when it comes to me & reality tv shows.

so you would think that "the ridges" is not a show that would particularly appeal to me.  never watched the osbornes or the kardashians or any other shows that concentrated on the lives of a particular group of families.  it just sounded so boring, i've never even made an attempt to sit through 5 minutes of it.  not that i'm judging people who are into that stuff, just saying that it really doesn't appeal to me.

and i can't say i'm a fan of sally or jamie ridge.  since i avoid women's mags & entertainment sections, i'm blissfully unaware of the gossip.  some of that stuff does spill over into "the news" though, so i can't say i was unaware that sally ridge split up with matthew ridge, and hooked up with adam parore, and then that was all over too.  and i was dimly aware that sonny bill williams had been going out with jaime ridge at some point, but i didn't even know what she looked like until i watched the show.

so why did i bother watching?  the hook for me was that this was a programme centred on women and women's experiences.  sure, many of those experiences come under the category of "first world problems", and essentially the show is yet another one focusing on the lives of people of privilege.  but even so, i think what kept me watching the show was the really strong mother-daughter relationship and the way these two women were so supportive of each other.  i really don't think that we get to see enough of positive female relationships on our screens.

i also found it interesting to see the pressure on jaime ridge to be super-sexy, when it wasn't how she wanted to portray herself.  i thought it was great that she fought back as much as she could, and tried her best to assert her own boundaries, with the support of people around her. i did hate that people were criticising her for being prepared to model underwear while not being prepared to wear skimpy clothing for the fight for life promotions.  as if she doesn't have the right to choose in each instance what she's comfortable with.  it reminds me way too much of women who are deemed to have a bad reputation for one action, which somehow makes them fair game for the rest of their lives.  it's total nonsense.

the whole weight-loss thing was pretty bad as well.  although i can see it was a requirement for a fair fight in the fight for life thing, it was still handled badly by the people responsible for her training.

clearly these are not perfect people (but who is?), and they deliberately put their lives into the public arena where they knew they would be judged.  that's beyond celebrities being photographed without their consent, or having their personal stuff splashed across the tabloids.  this was a case of informed consent, and so there is a much stronger case of saying that we have every right to be judgmental about this duo.

but even so, some of the judginess sounds incredibly misogynistic to me.  i really couldn't believe that 7 days were willing to run a clip of some random guy calling them "skanks", and it seems to me that there has been too much criticism of that nature ie criticising the show because it focuses on women's lives and centres on the things that concern women. i'm not saying the show doesn't deserve criticism, as there were a few things that made me feel uncomfortable, but they don't deserve to be criticised just for being women who live their lives, and pretty successfully by the looks of it.

if there's going to be a season two, i'm not sure that i'll watch it.  but i certainly don't regret watching season 1, and i think there was some use in seeing the kinds of pressures that women are subjected to.  and while i still can't say i'm a fan, i can say that i wish both of them well.

1 comment:

Mikaere Curtis said...

Really interesting post, I did not watch the series (I avoid those kinds of shows), but I can see how a positive real relationship adds value to how women are portrayed.

First world problems are still problems, IMO it comes down to whether the solution to your FWPs contribute to non-FW suffering. e.g. if you had angst around not owning some product that was actually produced in a sweatshop. In this case, your FWP is invalid because it order for it to be satisfied, somebody else needs to be exploited.

it seems to me that there has been too much criticism of that nature ie criticising the show because it focuses on women's lives and centres on the things that concern women.
True. This is not unrelated to the criticism of Jennifer Lawrence in the Hunger Games for not being skinny enough to be congruent with the premise of the book/movie. IMO, the only reason she got singled out for this is because it was about her size, not about the general concept that scifi movies should be internally consistent. Where are the commentators where an truly physically impossible / scientifically stupid movie gets released (eg Sunshine or The Core) ?

The one thing about The Ridges that stuck with me was around how Jamie has no relationship with her dad. No matter the reason, it's simply sad.