Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Part 1 Analysis of "The Girls Next Door"

The purpose of this article is to analyze the concepts of femininity and masculinity as found in popular media and advertising through “The Girls Next Door” Reality TV show.

At first glance “The Girls Next Door” appears to define hegemonic definitions of femininity and masculinity through the portrayal of Playboy founder Hugh Hefner and his three blonde, busty girlfriends in which the show is centered around. However, a closer look at the roles played by Holly, Bridget, and Kendra in Hugh’s elaborate life reveals various elements of popular culture and its representation of gender.

In the opening of “The Girls Next Door” each girlfriend is briefly introduced individually with their head on a cartoon character, dancing around and smiling, doing something that offers an insight to their interests. For example, Bridget, the “educated girlfriend”, is surrounded by books, is wearing thick black glasses, has on a graduation hat and is holding a diploma. Bridget has a masters in communication and is therefore depicted as the nerd of the trio. Holly, Hef’s main girlfriend, is shown wearing a cheerleading uniform, and flailing her pom-poms all over the screen. Kendra, the sporty girlfriend and self proclaimed tom boy is shown in a softball uniform with her hair in a bouncy ponytail.

The girls are portrayed as having varied interests and personalities but they all represent the normative definition of beauty represented in the media and are all attempting to attain fame and fortune. Their bleach blonde hair, skinny figures, and large (most likely silicon) breasts represent the ideal feminine subject. This ultimate model of femininity advertises the need for young girls to recreate their bodies to be socially accepted and appealing in today’s materialistic society. “Advertising is one of the most potent messengers in a culture that can be toxic for girl’s self-esteem” (Kilbourne, 1999).

Most young girls are given Barbie dolls to play with, usually accompanied by a Barbie mansion, Ken doll, and sports car. Bridget, Holly, and Kendra represent real life Barbie dolls from their appearance to the man, the mansion, and the cars. Girls see this portrayal of a real life dream world through the media and “spend enormous amounts of time and energy attempting to achieve something that is not only trivial but also completely unattainable”(Kilbourne, 1999).


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