Battle of the Sexes: Whiner Takes All
posted by Kristen on 6/11/03
Have you ever found yourself alone on a Sunday afternoon, still in your Victoria’s Secret nightie having just woken up from a Saturday night debacle, looking for something good to watch before “Six Feet Under” comes on? You know you’re not going to find anything, but you’d have to get off the couch to put on a DVD, and everything is still kind of fuzzy around the edges.
You’re flipping past cooking shows and CNN, stopping for a few seconds when you see naked flesh. But it’s only a Lifetime made-for-mom movie, so you keep going. Through crappy Nickelodeon animation, over baseball/football games, until your remote control (like the little fucker it is) suddenly stops working, stranding you on what is known (at least in Tallahassee) as the dreaded “36.”
At first, you’re fooled by its superficial resemblance to watchable TV. It has fun, fast commercials that stimulate your dry eyes. Sprint and Snickers, Saturn and 7-Up, and is that Beyonce singing “Carmen”? Damn! Now you really want a Pepsi!! And who wouldn’t be convinced to buy a new computer by those wacky Dell interns? They’d remind you of the crazy time when you were an intern at a huge corporation, except that you never were. Still, you have to give Dell snaps for canning the “Dude, you’re getting a Dell” guy. He nearly tripled their sales, that irksome bastard! Computer companies aren’t out to make money!! They’re only here to help us connect to the world!!
"I'm an actor, not a tool for big business. Or maybe I'm just a tool. Line!!!"
What was I talking about? Oh, yeah, now I remember. Basically, unless you get off your pink panty-clad butt and manually change the channel, Dude, you’re watching MTV. And it’s Real World/Road Rules Battle of the Sexes Marathon Day. You cringe, you whine, you do your Carrie imitation to get the TV to come to you, but to no avail. Like herpes, you’re stuck with thirty-six strangers picked to show some skin in Jamaica.
The thing is, it would be so easy to write an article that totally blasts the show, using cute catch-phrases like “one big fucking paid advertisement for Chili's and Saturn Ion's” and “the plague God forgot to tell Moses about until now” to describe its blatant product placement. I certainly could, if only, and here’s what’s been driving me insane for the past couple of months, the damn show didn’t have some validity as an experiment in gender differences.
For anyone who’s not too lazy to get up and change the channel and might not know, Battle of the Sexes (BOS) takes eighteen girls and eighteen guys from eleven seasons of the Real World and Road Rules, orders them to pack nothing but bathing suits and short shorts, and flies them to Jamaica to compete in same-sex teams and vote each other off every day for a couple of weeks. Fun for all ages. If you’re in the fourteen to twenty-five demographic…and can't stop raving about your recent lobotomy.
My first thought upon stumbling across this show was, “PUCK!!!” Yes, one of the eighteen guys chosen was everyone’s favorite peanut-butter pirate, Puck from the RW San Francisco. According to MTV.com, you either love him or hate him. I won’t argue that; I’m too busy trying to figure out which side I’m on. Actually, I'm not entirely sure Puck exists as such. I believe he is the Andy Kaufman of our generation. Either that, or he's a wacky android, kept in storage at the MTV studios until ratings start to lag. I think I might hate him, but only because I wish I could be a total bitch and get fame and a small fortune, too.
Not since Anna Nicole Smith have we seen anyone work so hard for their fifteen minutes.
My second thought was, "who are all these people…just how many of these damn shows have there been, anyway?" I won't bother to list all thirty-six unblemished beautiful bodies, because unless you really, seriously need to get out of your house, you probably will only recognize a few. Suffice it to say that the MTV casting peeps never let us down. They can analyze and predict the most combustible combinations ever conceived. Why pick one person from each show, with seven left over, when you could take two or three from one show who hated each other and re-unite them on camera? Common sense, ya’ll. Can you dig it?
My third and final thought was, “shit, girls are really fucking petty.” Actually, I pretty much knew this already, having a vagina of my own. Wash my mouth out with soap, I said ‘vagina.’ Those with the penis assumed long ago that women will go to great lengths to back-stab each other over such crucial issues as money and boys and being the fairest one of all. And whether I like it or not, they're not always wrong. BOS exemplifies this for whatever generation we are right now. To illustrate what I mean, here’s the break-down of the show’s best girl vs. girl moments, in case you have better things to do than sit around on a Sunday in a silk pajama top watching the tube.
Julie vs. Melissa
"Why you try t'get crazy wit' dis t'ing? Don' you know I'm loco?".
Background: You’d think that being picked to live in a mansion in New Orleans and have their lives taped would have brought this sheltered Mormon and girly Grrl together, but it just wasn’t meant to be. They hate each other with all the heat of a nova star because each believes the other is trying to steal away post-RW work from them. Apparently, once you’re on the Real World, colleges will hire you to speak to their students. I can't imagine why 'cause I'm an old fart having graduated a whole six months ago, but I guess today's students do need to learn about birth control and who better to teach them than people who never seem to use it?
Conflict: As soon as these two crazy girls stepped onto the island, they were at each other's throats, screaming obscenities and waving accusations with more emphasis than Puck would wave a machete at everyone much later into the show. (PS: That was prime entertainment.) In true girl fashion, each then went out and tried to rally supporters for herself. Boy, girl, it didn't matter. Julie managed to get Dan from Miami on her side, so kudos to her for finding the one player who counted as both.
Resolution: Sadly, Julie's time on the island ended before it even began after Melissa won the first competition and led the Inner Circle to unanimously vote Julie off. A victorious Melissa then went on to...fail almost every single mission. Julie went back to Utah or wherever all the Mormons live and kept on riding her skateboard and praying, I guess. I don't really know.
Stereotype Re-enforced: That girls can't spell "teamwork" without an "I". That we hold grudges until the end of time. That we like to hang out with gay men.
Emily in the Inner Circle
"You know…I really can't stand looking at Christina's bleached hair. We should probably vote her off.".
Background: Okay, I don't watch Road Rules, never have. But apparently there's this chick, Emily, from RR USA who's a really good competitor. And like any good athlete, she's made enemies on her path of blazing glory, specifically another BOS girl, Veronica from RR Semester at Sea. (By the way, I'm getting all these titles from MTV.com; I usually don't memorize such large quantities of useless information for no reason.) Apparently, Emily helped vote Veronica off another compilation show awhile back, Veronica then made a play for Emily's boyfriend, James from RR Maximum Velocity...it's all really juicy, yes? Good, glad you're with me on that.
Conflict: Emily, while consistently on top in competition, can't seem to stand James looking at anyone else, kind of tricky since everyone is running around either naked or at the very least, scantily clad. Except Ruthie from RW Hawaii, for some inexplicable reason. I remember watching her on her show; she got naked at the drop of a hat! I guess laying off the fruit punch really helps you keep your top on. James doesn't show any interest in Veronica, except for some camera angles of him looking in her general direction. Emily is unconvinced.
Resolution: When presented with the opportunity, even after Veronica passed up the sweet chance to vote her off, Emily goes for the kill and Veronica's so off the island.
Stereotype Re-enforced: That women will claw out the eyes of any other woman who thinks about thinking about their boyfriend's name.
Ellen the Drama Queen
Bringing whining into the 21st century. Thanks, Ellen! We were wondering what was missing..
Background: Since I haven't started watching Road Rules in the time it took me to write the last segment, I had no idea who Ellen from RR The Quest was before this show. Now, after watching seventeen episodes, I'd like to vote her off the planet (I'm so clever with the quips). Although an excellent example of female athleticism, she's also a shining example of why so many guys cringe at the thought of marriage. I would wince too if I thought that I might inadvertently tie myself for life to a small, shrill bitch who will screech and shriek if I put one toe over what she considers the line.
Conflict: Where to start? Ellen is one of those girls who takes everything personally, and I do mean everything. "Puck yelled at me. Rachel didn't help a teammate during competition. Emily's playing the game too mean. Ruthie (wisely) stayed out of a bitch-fest I instigated. Whine, whine, whine." Before I slip into bed at night, I get down on my knees and pray to whoever will listen that I never, ever become anything like Ellen. And if I ever do, you all have my permission to hire someone to take me out.
Resolution: Apparently, whining works. Ellen has made it to the top three and will be competing for $150,000 with Ruthie and Lori from RW Back to New York. I just hope this doesn't start a trend or something. "Want to win and win big? Find something really insignificant, blow it totally out of proportion, shed a lot of tears, and you'll come out on top!!" It's the American way.
Stereotype Re-enforced: That women are actually everything my bitter guy friend accused us of being, namely irritating, over-blown airheads who, if we keep our mouths shut, are a lot of fun to wake up next to and not much else. Yeah, he's still single, by the way. And ever shall be. If there's any mercy for the male species, the same will be said for Ellen.
The Nudity Clause
Staunch feminists, or women who skipped a bikini wax or two?.
Background: Most of the competitions in this show were pretty much based on athletic performance. But then along came Battle of the Opposite Sexes, a battle of wits between the girls and guys to find out which side knew more about the other. Sounds like good, clean fun, right? That's where you'd be wrong!!!!! At least according to half of the girl's team.
Conflict: The catch to this game was that if you buzzed in and your answer was incorrect, you had to remove one article of clothing. The shit hitteth the fan as a good majority of the girl's team absolutely refused to participate in a strip show. Sacrificing their points for the day, they formed Club Zero and sat the mission out. I guess the thing that cheesed me off most about this was not that, once again, MTV created a way to get their stars out of their clothes, but that Club Zero missed the point of the game. It wasn't to get naked; it was to keep from getting naked!
Resolution: The girls lost the competition, Emily and James (gasp!) nearly broke up because he played the game and didn't adhere to his girlfriend's principles, and the already-fractured girls team took another stunning blow.
Stereotype Re-enforced: That while girls might talk big about equality, when it comes right down to it, we're a million times more reluctant to get naked than guys are, even though we're a trillion times better to look at naked. Sorry guys, we are. And you know it.
A System That Works
They had to go with this battle plan when it became clear that they couldn't whine their way across the field. Sorry, Ellen.
Background: From day one, the guys had a single voting philosophy. Whoever has the lowest points, no matter what they bring to the team physically or mentally, is going home. Simple. Clean. Fair. The girls, on the damn other hand, had no such system, and instead had their Inner Circle actually use their allotted hour of time to decide who deserved to go home the most, based mostly on personal issues. (ie: "I don't like her! Girls like her made my high school years wretched.")
Conflict: Around the middle of the show, the guys started winning. All the time. After about five missions lost, the girls started wondering why. It was immediately pointed out that all of their good athletes had been voted off early on. I give this the world's biggest fucking DUH!!! Of course you're going to keep losing if you vote off a girl with rippling muscles (Rachel, RR Campus Crawl) and an extreme skateboarder (Julie), but spare a girl who never won a single game on the first challenge she was in (Amaya, RW Hawaii) and a girl who weighs about two pounds and that's just bone density (Anne, RR Northern Trail).
Resolution: The girls' losing streak dragged on while bitch-fights raged and good athletes got the boot. The guys sailed through victory after victory without tears, scuffles, raised voices, regrets or hurt feelings.
Stereotype Re-enforced: That girls suck at strategy. That after a nearly two thousand years of staying home and baking cookies, putting actual thought into competition has not yet been drilled into us. That we'll play to win, but we'll do it dirty and put our emotions above practicality.
Just don't look, Gloria. It's not even worth it.
Background: Remember Emily? Remember her boyfriend, James, for whom she kicked off a strong member of her team? Remember feminism? I hope you can, because Emily single-handedly killed it.
Conflict: Emily, who was dying to win no matter what it took, no matter how many enemies she might make, no matter how much of a bitch she might look on national TV, decided to abandon her teammates and go home the day James' number was finally up. "My boyfriend's getting voted off. We won't be able to have mad sex on the beach anymore. Screw you guys; I'm going home." Die feminism, die!!
Resolution: The girls let her go. Wouldn't you?
Stereotype Re-enforced: That women can't survive without our men. Like bread and butter, we flock together. That it's far more important for us to be with our penis-person (and keep an eye on his wandering eye) than stick with our teammates and do something big for ourselves.
Sorry, had to vomit.
Of course, I'm leaving out a lot of stuff, the biggest thing being what the ultimate outcome will be. Can the girls pull the greatest comeback of all time, not including some wrestlers whose names I couldn't tell you if you put a gun to my head, because I pride myself on having never watched wrestling. I'm girl, after all, and if BOS has taught me one thing, it's that I should never make apologies for being what I am.
If someone looks at my boyfriend wrong, if someone tries to take a job away from me, if I'm asked to remove my top, if Puck tells me to get out of his face because I'm annoying him, I'm perfectly within my rights to create as big a scene as possible, back-stab whoever I can reach, or just sit down, cross my arms and say "I'm not playing anymore."
Am I being unfair to my own gender? Hell, no. I actually momentarily considered a sex change after watching a full afternoon of the RW/RR girls perpetuate the world's worst stereotypes about us. But then I thought, I like my breasts. Why should they suffer for the sins of eighteen other pairs?
Final Thought: It's not so much that guys are better athletes than women; it's that they have the uncanny ability to keep emotions out of just about everything. And at least in competition, that helps a huge fucking lot. If this game were to be played again, the girls could learn a thing or two from the guys. And not just about how to feel no shame in nothing but a thong and ass-hair.
It's not every day that you get to tune into MTV and see something as beautiful as this.
Second Final Thought: I have the overwhelming urge to take my Saturn Ion over to Ellen's house, cut off all her hair and then go out to Chili's to celebrate. Who's with me?? Just to warn you, you'll have to get off the couch and get dressed. No one gets naked in my car.
No, really, this is my Final Thought: I wrote this article a long time before it was posted, and during that time, the show came to its climactic (sort-of) conclusion.
The guys won the final obstacle course and claimed the cash prize. Mostly because Ruthie and Lori were too nice and Ellen was too busy whining to remember to knock down their completed brain teaser puzzle when they moved ahead of the guys on the course. The guys, being strategizers and having no qualms about cheating, copied what the girls did and advanced on them.
I have no doubt that if Emily had been there, or if Ellen had shut up long enough to consider the situation, it never would have happened. Of course, since these shows are meticulously planned out, the guys were destined to win from the get go.
Way to go, MTV. As if Jessica Simpson wasn't bad enough, you've given little girls all over the world one more reason to truly believe they can do anything they want, as long as it doesn't involve too many clothes or too much thought.