We've talked about "looks-ism" on other threads, like the ones about gender and race on TV, but I think it deserves a topic to itself. Especially after reading this essay in today's Washington Post by a Hollywood acting coach. (Face It. It's Not About Talent.) It's gotten to where I usually watch British TV, which has always been better than American TV about casting actors who looked like "real people," with a range of body shapes and sizes and facial characteristics. So I was stunned when I caught an episode of, I think, Zoe 101 that my niece was watching. Not just by the fact that the acting was so terrible, but by the fact that every single girl on the show looked alike. You had your Studious One and your Exotic One and your Airhead One, with only the barest hints of costume changes to tell them apart. (Studious One had glasses, for instance.) Is this what we're churning out for kids nowadays? Not just an emphasis on looks, but an emphasis on physical homogeneity?
Of course, pretty doesn't necessarily have the best connotation on TV, either. Over on the Doctor Who threads, there's some discussion of a line a recent character had: She had been gorgeous but dumb, and when we see her again, she's smart but beyond ugly and crossing over into deformed territory, thanks to CGI. Her line is, "[I now have] the two qualities needed to see the truth: I am brilliant and unloved." Because, obviously, if you're ugly, you're going to be unloved. There's been a bit of debate over whether that's a sexist line or not. I tend to think not, but mainly because I don't see men, especially on TV, being exempt from the same assumption. Think of how many times people have pitched a fit over the Jim Belushi-type character having a gorgeous wife because he, well, looks like Jim Belushi. (We'll forget the personality traits of the Jim Belushi-type character for a moment.) And look at how often women write fanfiction about the Supernatural-looking guys, and adore their characters, and build entire websites around their characters, compared to, say, Michael Chiklis.
Edited by D.C., Jun 8, 2008 @ 5:24 PM.