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What Does THE SWAN Say About Our Society?

The reality series THE SWAN is like Stepford Wives Roadkill . . . so awesomely outrageous you find yourself watching it because it's so sad . . . so unbelievable.
Does turning average American women into Barbie Dolls cure all of their problems? What do you think?

We had a running bet going that every Swan was going to get "Da Vinci veneers" on her teeth and every one of them was going to say, "Oh My God" when they pulled the curtains away from the mirror. Easy money.

Everybody gets liposuction and while the program dwells in loving detail on the surgeries, equivalent time is not given over to discussing the importance of proper exercise, nutrition, and mental health counseling (yeah, it's mentioned, but only in passing). Hey, you don't get a cute little button nose, hair extensions and bleaching, and big boobies through therapy.

Even if the women return home to unresolved issues that no amount of plastic surgery is going to correct, at least the makers of Da Vinci veneers will be sitting pretty.

It would be interesting to see some 1-2 year down the road followups. Did these ladies keep the weight off? Are they happy? Any lawsuits?

And, by God, let's add a talent competition to the Swan pageant or it will be obvious that this is about nothing but "acceptable" physical beauty (wink, wink, nod, nod).

Rather than monkeying around with the bodies of perfectly healthy, low-esteem women, why not a show where uninsured people with real medical threats were helped out by this glitzy crew? Naaaah, the ratings wouldn't be nearly as good.
What does it say if you watch whatever crap they broadcast? 30.Nov.2004 19:49

Kill Your Television

Just turn it off.

Totally Predictable 30.Nov.2004 20:34


Ha, ha! Bet my friend that some self-righteous prick would post exactly what you did and I won! Seriously, we don't watch much TV - use the set mostly for video movies. We caught the Swan because someone told us about it and we couldn't believe it. You're right - intelligent people will turn it off.

But think about the impact on the masses who won't. And address the question: What does it say about our society?

What is this article about? 30.Nov.2004 20:37


Cosmo, what are you talking about?

You use many words that I know, but strung together as they are they make no sense. Reading this makes me feel to be a stranger in my own land. WTF are "Da Vinci veneers"? Am I missing something? Must be, since I'm starting to feel inadequate.

I presume that this is all original material, but if there was any kind of editorial justice in the world, this post would be 'eaved into the the compost heap!


argh! 01.Dec.2004 08:22

NW Paddler

Unplug Your Television/Free Your Mind
(We've been TV Free for 2 1/2 years now... it was one of the best things we've ever done.)

Jennifer Pozner is one smart lady 01.Dec.2004 09:23


I don't want to violate any "corporate news" rule here, but if Ms. Magazine is run as a nonprofit and doesn't accept regular advertisements from the usual suspects maybe it's not considered 'corporate'?

Anyhoo, I think this is a brilliant bit of analysis on gender in 'reality' TV shows.

Why women on "reality TV" have to be hot, desperate and dumb

In this summer's defanged revamp of The Stepford Wives, impossibly thin, impeccably dressed and intellectually vapid women exist for no other reason than to cater to their husbands' every desire, delivering fresh-baked cookies and midday nookie with equal aplomb.

The film banked over $30 million in its first week of release, but if viewers wanted to watch independent women reduced to domestic drones they could have kept their cash and turned on "reality TV." Nearly every night, on every network, dating, mating and makeover shows routinely glorify the same stereotypes lampooned in Stepford.

Well-rounded, Well-armed 01.Dec.2004 11:31


I didn't mean to come down hard on people who don't watch TV. More power to you. I was without a television for three years at one point and for four years at another. There's something empowering about getting away from mainstream media - and sometimes you HAVE to or go insane - but you lose something as well.

It's a good thing to know what you are up against and to try and understand (does not necessarily mean accept) the appeal of some apparently inane broadcasting to the masses that watch it. In that way, you have a basis to discuss it and to deal with its impact.

Ignoring TV and the impact it has on a majority of the American population does not make it go away. I think we are better informed and better armed if we occasionally expose ourselves to drek.

In the context in which they were discussed, it would appear that Da Vinci veneers are some sort of dental caps, although why they should be called "Da Vinci" is a mystery. Maybe because their creators consider them "works of art."

When we completely ignore what we don't like and surround ourselves only with things we're comfortable with or agree with, we become no better than the mindless masses that do nothing but watch network television.

Comment on Subject, Not Author 01.Dec.2004 11:43


Why should this post be composted? At least it is an original opinion, not a cut and paste article without comment, taken word-for-word from somewhere else. Comment on IndyMedia's recent policy statement, posted elsewhere:

"Since Saturday, Nov. 20, a new criteria for composting articles has appeared in the site's editorial policy. Now, portland indymedia worker drones reserve the right to hide any newswire articles that are "reposted from corporate media outlets". These, and other hidden articles, can be found in the compost bin."

Quit attacking the writer and attack the subject matter. As a woman, I breathe a sigh of relief when I see a normal woman on ANY network television programming - and I mean a strong, positive woman who may not necessarily be blonde, big-busted, and thin as a rail - just healthy, warm and with good self image and direction. There's nothing wrong with improving someone's physical appearance, particularly if they are truly disfigured or in pain, but this should not be made more important than anything else and we should recognize that there are different kinds of beauty - even physical beauty. Has anyone noticed that there have not been any black women on The Swan? I think it's because people of color tend to scar more easily after surgery and the results would not be as "amazing" either for the black Swan or the crew of plastic surgeons.

If anyone wants to direct their kids toward material that empowers both girls and boys, let them read Marc Jacques REDWALL books where the hero is as likely to be a heroine and badgers live and fight alongside hares and voles.