Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Superficial pedestal

Sofia Vergara made a power play at the Emmys, stepping onto a rotating pedestal so the millions could admire her figure during a tongue-in-cheek public service announcement. “Objectification!” some howled. The Red Carpet, though, where Joan Rivers mocks the women’s dresses and shoes and makeup and hair—that’s not objectification. Oh no, that’s “fashion.”

In Modern Family, Vergara plays Ed O’Neil’s trophy wife. The dynamic the show’s creators wanted was an older, cantankerous, wealthy white guy and a fiery, middle-aged, Latina hottie. O’Neil and Vergara fit their roles.

Is appreciating the value of what someone brings to their trade “objectification”? Albert Pujols put up gaudy numbers when he played for the St. Louis Cardinals, winning two World Series. Was he objectified?

Steven King writes dense, engrossing stories. For that he is beloved. Is he objectified?

“But those men are rewarded for their talent, which they worked their lives to perfect.” Does Vergara not work hard, at 42 years old, to look like she’s 25, and pass off as the characters she plays?

Vergara plays in the major leagues. She started her career as a model. Her $70 million net worth is chiefly earned from being admired by men. That’s a testimony to the superficiality of celluloid and its inherent contradictions with liberal high-mindedness. Recognizing this at the Emmys was a rare public puncturing of the Hollywood fa├žade. “Sex sells, and we’re not sorry.” If there’s a fault to be found, it’s that the joke was too low brow for the high-brow occasion.

Did God create women to be sex objects, mere mates for breeding? Or, even less, for pleasure? No. This primitive view can be ascribed to retrograde feminism, a social Darwinist philosophy that prioritizes love of self over love of others. In that scenario, which prevails from want of assertive religion, men use women for sex, and the Sofia Vergaras of the world are passed from alpha male to alpha male. The titillating images on TV and in music, movies, and the Internet are a primal outlet for men who don’t enjoy such prospects.

To be clear, on this view Vergara and an elite set of women are the winners—they receive all the affection—and everyone else are the losers. Only a few women qualify to stand on that pedestal for the joke to work. Like Beyonce, Vergara wants to be objectified. That’s a contest she will always win. That is distressing to the majority of feminist women who compete solely on a superficial plane.

The traditional view is fairer to the majority of women who are in the middle of the bell curve in the looks department. God created women to be companions to men. That is where Vergara’s advantage diminishes. As universally appealing as she is, many men would find her incompatible as a lifelong partner, as other qualifications would assert themselves.

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