Misandry TV: BBC Documentary ‘Blurred Lines’

Posted: May 12, 2014 in Uncategorized

The Knowledge

Last week I had to force myself to watch the BBC documentary, Blurred Lines: The New Battle Of The Sexes. I knew it would be bad. I didn’t envisage quite how bad. But maybe in the midst of the horror, the programme had one single redeeming feature. Like Harriet HarmanBig Red and Lindy West, it at least serves as an instructive display of feminism’s true colours. The BBC have produced a perfect lesson in misandry.

For those of us involved in online gender politics, Blurred Lines didn’t tell us anything we didn’t already know. It rehashed some of the most well known internet ‘gender wars’ of the last couple of years. Playing the role of concerned, fussy grandma (or auntie?) to the young women of today, presenter Kirsty Wark reeled off a familiar catalogue of injustices that feminists claim damage women and girls’ wellbeing.  Twitter abuse sexism in gamingrape jokesobjectification of women , student lad culture , it was all in there. We’ve read it before in The Guardian, Jezebel, Slate etc. But on primetime National television, the blatant, stereotyped portrayal of women as vulnerable victims of brutish, ‘misogynist’ men came across as particularly manipulative. Especially narrated by a very  successful and powerful woman in the UK media.

One of the glaring flaws of the programme was its use of individual examples to make generalised claims about how awful men are, as a group, towards women as a group.  The Steubenville rape case, though horrific in and of itself, does not in my view tell us anything about gender relations amongst young people overall. It may help with the viewing figures though. Similarly, Grand Theft Auto is one single video game amongst thousands. Kirsty Wark heard young men gamers tell her clearly that they did not approve of or make use of GTA’s feature enabling players to simulate violence against women sex worker characters, but their words were drowned out by the graphic ‘misogynist’ imagery from the game.

This brings me to another weakness of Blurred Lines. In using the sensationalist examples above, Wark employed what I have termed concern porn. As another blogger has pointed out, the programme put  forward moralistic, anti sex views ( no sex workers were asked about the Grand Theft Auto footage, for example). But it combined those views with showing the very scenes of explicit sexual violence that it claimed to disapprove of so much. I can still see the middle aged Ms Wark in my mind, staring wide-eyed at her computer screen, tutting loudly.

The central ‘thesis’ of Blurred Lines was that the expressions of aggressive heterosexual male sexuality that emerged in the 90s in the form of ‘lads mags’ and internet porn have reared their ugly head again, in the full blown social media world. The message  I got was that if boys and young men are allowed the freedom to express themselves and their desires, their interests and passions, this will lead to all sorts of evil.

‘Evil’ is a strong word, that I use deliberately here.  because throughout the show, Kirsty Wark’s language evoked shadowy, malicious (male) forces. I lost count of the times she referred to ‘darkness’, as she referred to men’s sexism taking a ‘darker turn’ in recent years, or sexist behaviours by men leading to something ‘much darker’. She spoke of ‘visceral misogyny’, of men’s hatred of women ‘infecting’, and ‘polluting’ the lives of girls and young women. Once again, a feminist woman painted a picture of ‘patriarchy’, as a malevolent man in a dark cloak, threatening womankind everywhere.

I might have hated this ‘documentary’ a little less, if it had have owned up to its ideological bias. But it presented a semblance of ‘balance’ by including one or two critical voices. A male stand up comic and British journalist Rod Liddle made some good points. Liddle exposed feminism’s doublespeak when he pointed out that everyone gets abuse online, not just women. Is it that you think women are different from men, and less able to handle difficulty? he asked a bemused Kirsty Wark. But any reason coming from Liddle was undermined by the fact he’s a favourite ‘hate figure’ amongst feminists and liberals in the UK, and tends to be ridiculed and dismissed. Wark will have known this when she chose to speak to him on air. Here is a feminist on twitter illustrating my point:

blurred_lines_rod_liddle

Then, right near the end of the broadcast, a final piece of hypocrisy flashed by. In promoting feminist resistance to all this misogyny in the internet age, Wark mentioned favourably the feminist parody of the Robin Thicke video hit, the original ‘Blurred Lines’. Maybe you can enlighten me in the comments as to why the women in the video talking of ‘castration’ and ’emasculation’ whilst pushing some scantily-clad young men around is any different from the ‘offensive’ lyrics and images of the Thicke output. Anyone?

However much I disliked it, I wasn’t surprised, following the programme, to see that most reactions to it were positive – not just on twitter but also in the British Press. It was a self-fulfilling prophecy, whereby the constant repetition of the word ‘misogyny’ on television was echoed throughout the land by the many feminists and feminist supporters who tuned in. What never ceases to anger and upset this non-feminist woman, no matter how many times it happens, is how the narratives of ‘misogyny’ are so often built on an unacknowledged hatred of men. It’s clever I suppose, if you think about it. But it doesn’t fool me.

Comments
  1. NotesonFilm1 says:

    Really interesting piece and concern porn is heretofore part of my vocabulary.

  2. Dave says:

    Hi Quiet Riot Girl.

    Its pretty much standard feminism, such as it is. Men are ‘Fair Game,’ & its always open season.
    Dissing men is their favorite sport. To be honest you couldn’t expect anything else from
    the ‘Sisterhood of Permanent Offense.’ Its their usual brand of propaganda, myths, and Gynosexism.

    It reminds me of a quote by the writer Hermann Hesse.
    ‘If you hate a person, you hate something in him that is part of yourself. What isn’t part of
    ourselves doesn’t disturb us.’

    I think it sums up their attitude to men.

    Kind regards,

    Dave.

  3. I am minded of an Alex Atkinson/Ronald Searle I read in my youth entitled “By Rocking Chair across Russia”, which had the strapline “Written without the prejudice created by actually visiting the country”. In a similar vein, I’m glad you watched this so that I didn’t have to. Cheers. I did see Rod Liddle’s two penn’orth on Youtube, and imagine that was the only piece of sanity in the whole thing. Even in that segment Ms Wark managed to invert an insult he had received to be an insult to lesbians, thus reinforcing the original slight. Is that the brilliant, critical analysis being lauded on twitter?

    • robertcrayle says:

      Not to mention the only insult to lesbians is Miss Wark’s pathetic show of offence on their behalf, considering the majority of lesbians in the western world are actual grown-ups who would either laugh at the suggestion, or even take it as a good natured but bemusing compliment. They aren’t the mewling victimhood-porn crowd she thinks she’s pandering to.

      Also, who was the male comedian on the show offering an alternative? I’ve heard Frankie Boyle talk of ‘concern porn’ with respect to the snorting outrage at virtually every joke he’s ever said.

  4. elissa says:

    Great read QRG!

    Social media has been a boon to the Social Justice enterprise. Twitter threats – being called a “cunt” from someone on the other side of the planet is pegged, screen captured, blogged and evidenced.

    Melody Hensley claims PSTD from online trolls:

    http://fox8.com/2014/04/17/woman-twitter-gave-me-ptsd/

    Safe spaces sprout faster than condos in downtown anywhere.

    Ironically, from the inside of the sphere: forced civility is a tool used by the oppressor

    http://skepchick.org/2014/05/fuck-your-civility-bullshit/

    Slacktivists are leading the digital Renaissance, on the front lines, in harm’s way, and courageously across the enemy’s Blurred Lines.

    The hilarious part regarding the lyrics of the original Blurred Lines is that it was completely misinterpreted as rapey for the sake of imaginary fodder.

  5. esboella says:

    the guardian talks a lot of bollocks, as does the BBC they are run by people who haev the mental illness called feminism, I ‘d dont have to buy the guardian but I am forced to fund the BBC.
    The guardian banned me from thier commets, they won’t say why but it is basically because I don’t agree with looney femisnist ideas.

    • Richard Ford says:

      I refuse to fund the BBC and simply got rid of my TV set. I phoned them up and explained this and was (initially) believed.

      Two years later and the legal letters start arriving. I am not worried as the inspections guys need proof on my (non existent) TV.

      For some reason it is quite legal to use the BBC iPlayer provided you watch only recorded programs.

  6. Mat says:

    In a college level course on theory, the discourse on feminism centered around how male centered activities such as American football resulted in real rape culture. My arguement was the opposite a highly disciplined sport like American football can bring awareness to young men and that real rape came from lack of awareness. The idea that men young and old are the opitome of “evil” and that women do not share in that dubious cultural role seems not merely unconcious and unaware but perpetuates cultural sexist structures. One need only to read the sex positive ideas of Catharism of the 13th century and the power women were instructed to employ and one can get a hint at a possible alternative where passion and restraint are the ideal for every man and woman. Catharism also affirmed both opposite gender and same gender passionate love. The point I am making is we can not even have a real conversation on sex and gender and gender power when it always disintegrates towards the profanity of blame.

  7. redpesto says:

    Personally I thought the England v Ukraine women’s football international had much more appeal, so I didn’t give this a serious viewing: as QRG explains, all the past controversies and ‘usual suspects’ were present (though as one person noted BTL at the Guardian, no women of colour).

    That said, there’s an irony in the use of ‘Blurred Lines’ as a title. As with the feminist stage show of the same name at the National Theatre’s Shed (written by a man, incidentally), the use of the title doesn’t refer to ideas of ambiguity. Instead, it’s used to name-check the Robin Thicke song (boo!) and argue against ambiguity in favour of an nice and simple adversarial right/wrong or good/evil contest of ‘feminism v ‘trolls’ or men v women – hence the TV show’s subtitle ‘The New Battle of the Sexes’ (so what happened to the ‘old’ one and when did it change? And most of all, who won?). As Faludi noted in Stiffed, having an ‘obvious’ adversary makes it easier for feminists to ‘rally round the flag’ and campaign.

    As for Rod Liddle v Laurie Penny (as it were): Fox News claimed they interviewed all the stupid Democrats v all the clever Republicans – I’m assuming a similar principle was at work here.

  8. Very nice piece. How do we stop the great British public from being led by the nose and told what to think by this sort of stuff?

  9. Hello Quiet Riot Girl,

    I can understand if this is something you wouldn’t want to discuss, but does a spree killer like Elliot Rodgers count as “metrosexual?”

  10. Henry says:

    Glad I didn’t see this.

    Can I just say that I think Kirsty Warkcomes across as one of the stupidest women I’ve ever seen? Just needed to get that off my chest.

    I once mentioned something Rod Liddle said in an online forum. The response was “if you quote anything Liddle says as evidence, you and I aren’t going to agree about anything”

    Unbelievably immature. Because they don’t like Liddle, everything he says is null and void. Nothing he says could ever be true

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