ilona the pest

insecurity + narcissism = awesome!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

reality tv: subverting the gender binary

my new favorite reality tv program is A Shot at Love with Tila Tequila. it's less hilarious than its immediate predecessors (Flavor of Love, Rock of Love), because it has a reasonably intelligent and sane (and hot) girl as the starring bachelorette, rather than an over-the-hill rock star. it's always going to be more interesting to watch a girl, rather than a guy, choosing among potential mates, 'cause you know she's not going to simply choose the hottest/sluttiest person; rather, personality, charm, and sincere emotional connection are all going to be essential elements in her selection.

but i digress. the real reason i am obsessed with this show is that it's the first girl-girl dating show i've ever seen on tv. just as good maybe is that it's the first bisexual dating show -- true, more mainstream-acceptable in some ways, but also potentially more radical, in showcasing the range of sexual and emotional attraction that exists outside the rigid straight-gay binary.

beyond that, i love the way the show challenges the gender stereotypes of the audience and the contestants, especially the dudes. almost every episode features some activity that requires the straight, macho guys to do something they view as girly or gay, from eating a bull's penis & balls, to wearing girls' underwear, to getting waxed, to getting spanked and tied up by tila in a dungeon. i'm sure it's meant to be entertaining television viewing, but i think it's fascinating that tila puts these guys through this "torture" week after week, requiring them to prove how gender-subversive they are willing to be in order to win her affection. it's not just a fear-factor-type gross-out challenge (although that might be what the frat-boy audience sees): i think she's actually looking for someone who's comfortable playing with the strict binary rules of gender and sexuality. maybe she's even a little bit of a domme, but i can't tell for sure. either way, she helps show the audience that a guy who's comfortable enough to break those rules is going to be way more secure, smart, and fun than someone who's so uptight that he won't even experiment with letting go of his male-hetero-dominant privilege.

but my absolute favorite transgressive element of the show is that a hot butch lesbian ("dani" the firefighter) is becoming a serious contender for the leading lady's attention. this is the first time i've ever seen a butch woman represented in popular culture as a attractive, sexual figure, who's serious competition to the more gender-conforming guys and lipstick lesbians she's up against. most masculine lesbians that we do see are portrayed as sexless, genderless figures only acceptable as comic relief, like rosie o'donnell and ellen. i guess there's shane on The L Word, but she's not really all that butch -- she's more androgynous, with all that eye makeup -- and anyway The L Word is aimed at a queer, liberal, already-in-the-know audience. A Shot at Love seems designed for a heterosexual, middle-America, frat-boy audience hoping to catch some hot, wild girl-on-girl action, and it's teaching them (and tila, who, like so many newly-queer women, previously only fancied other girly girls) that butch dykes are a whole new type of threat. it's about time butches get the respect they are due as objects of sexual attraction -- the best of both worlds, as it were.

of course, i just want tila to be happy and find the person she connects with the most, but i'm rooting for the butch to get the girl, because that would be the ultimate culmination of the show's transgressive potential. and 'cause she's hot.

Friday, November 16, 2007

cat tail

i was just heating up the tea kettle on the stove (i'm staying home sick today), and when i went to turn it off i noticed a weird smell, like something burning. i looked around and finally noticed that my cat daniel had managed to burn several inches of fur (just the tips) at the end of his tail. but he was just strolling around without a care in the world. i don't think he even noticed.

poor daniel. i hate to say it, but he really fits the dumb blond stereotype.

(that's one of his baby pictures. he's still cute now, at 9 months, but my camera isn't working today.)

Friday, November 02, 2007

duel meaning

i was at my gym tonight and they had flyers posted all around, advertising a new class.

the signs said "DUEL: not for the faint of heart."

that had to be a typo, right?

*addendum: i guess this wasn't as obvious to everyone else. my obsession with puns is apparently excessive. to be more clear: i thought the flyer would be vastly improved if it the slogan were written "not for the feint of heart." no?