I typically don’t share my thoughts or observations on current events here. It’s not that I don’t have any – it’s just that by the time I get my thoughts collected and am prepared to present them in a rational manner (as opposed to jlalwenklallenaRAGESADaejkgllkkeHERE’SAPICTUREOFAKITTENTOMAKEUSALLFEELBETTER), fifteen other well-written and thought-provoking pieces have appeared articulating more or less what I wanted to say, which leaves me in the position of doing the Internet equivalent of, “Yeah! I agree with that!” So instead, I mainly talk about the dumb crap I do and how much I fancy Joey Ramone, for the benefit of that one non sentient space rock on Jupiter’s third moon that has somehow managed to remain blissfully unaware that I do, in fact, fancy Joey Ramone.
Today, however, I am going to attempt to comment on a current event. Granted, I’ll be commenting on the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, which is a borderline “current” “event” at best, but, you know…baby steps.
It’s “The Sexiest Night on Television,” or so the posh voiced British lady on all the CBS commercials kept telling me. Million dollar bras made of diamonds! Slightly scandalous because some moms’ group (who, in my head, I for some reason picture as being a veritable army of women who all look exactly like Kate Gosselin equipped with mini hand sanitizers and Skechers Shape Ups) staged their annual freak out because they might have to explain to their kids that people wear underwear! Celebrities in the audience, doing celebrity things! But as I was watching this year, I couldn’t help thinking, “Isn’t this a little…”
“Isn’t it kind of….”
I wholeheartedly admit, I more or less checked out about twenty minutes in, instead opting to do a search on Amazon for this one Hellbunny cardigan I’ve become obsessed with and haven’t been able to find anywhere.
“But how?” you might be asking yourself. “How were you so bored when there were models and sequins and diamonds and glitter and lace and Taylor Swift? You’re a burlesque performer – this should be, like, the highlight of your year.”
Well, let’s enumerate.
1. All the models look more or less the same.
Granted, this is an age old criticism not just of the fashion show, but of Victoria’s Secret in general. The “most beautiful women in the world” are mostly white, tallish, have long, shiny, wavy hair (in brunette or blonde – there is nary a redhead in sight) almost uniformly parted in the middle, and they’re curvy above the waist and slim below. They’re gorgeous, of course, but they’re all the same kind of gorgeous – a gorgeous that has been market researched to within an inch of its life. It reminds me a little of Kurt Vonnegut’s story “Unready to Wear,” in which futuristic people are amphibious and can avail themselves of a body library any time they fancy a new look. Which, I guess, is kind of the point of Victoria’s Secret Angels in the first place. They’re supposed to be aspirational. Women are supposed to want to be Victoria’s Secret Angels – to think that, maybe, if they buy a VS labeled bra and spritz on some Love Spell, they’ll magically become Karlie Kloss instead of continuing to be the executive under assistant to the chief beancounter of marketing with her tits suddenly jacked up to her collarbone. And who now smells like someone spilled Hawaiian Punch in the junior high girls’ locker room. That’s why I lost count of the number of “Time to put down the cake and hit the gym, amirite, ladies? LOL” jokes in magazines and on blogs promoted to women. Make no mistake, this show is aimed at women. The only men who are really, really into the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show are minor celebrities (and Leonardo diCaprio) who are model shopping. And at this point, I must say, seriously, Ed Westwick? Chuck Bass would never, ever beg.
How to make it better:
Mix it up a little, VS! More ethnic diversity is a given. How about some a few different hairstyles? At least one of those poor girls wants enormous Jane Fonda in Barbarella hair, I promise you. If you truly want to be epic, let someone have some epic hair. Maybe, if you’re feeling especially daring, you can throw in a couple of girls with tattoos. Or pale skin. Or short girls. Or anything at all that is actually representative of the many kinds of women you are marketing to.
2. The musical acts are kind of a snooze fest.
I don’t know about you, but I expect the “sexiest night on television” to have a little edge to it. A little danger. A little chainsaw guitar. A little sultry whisper. Not the playlist for a midwestern Junior Chamber of Commerce Winter Dance, sponsored by Wal Mart and with decorations provided by your mom’s quilting class that meets at Jo Ann Fabrics twice a week. Taylor Swift, et al, are fine (and, make no mistake – I am in love with this ensemble Tay Tay sported at the top of the show), but music I routinely hear in the waiting room at my dentist’s office definitely does not make me think “sexiest night on television.”
And also, let’s talk for a minute about how Taylor Swift and Ariana Grande could easily have blended in with the models walking the show if they strapped on some wings, but Ed Sheeren and Hozier put on suits and looked embarrassed to be there. Victoria’s Secret couldn’t have come up with something fun for Hozier to wear while a model strutted past him in a sexy…umm…ice tree fairy? I guess? Costume?
I’m not suggesting the boys had to go the full Dr. Frank N. Furter (although that would have been AWESOME, and I would not have started looking for cardigans on Amazon if they had). But maybe some big black wings? Some leather? Put Johnny Weir in charge…I’m sure he’d come up with something great.
How to make it better:
How awesome would it have been if, say Cherie Currie showed up in her trademark Runaways ensemble and belted out Dead End Justice. “I’m a blond bombshell and I wear it well/Your mama says you’re going straight to hell.” What catwalk queen isn’t going to strut a little harder? Can’t you just picture Cherie yelling “All of you are drunk and stoned!” at the assembled model shoppers, who probably ARE all drunk and stoned? And then acting out the prison break bit ON THE RUNWAY with one of the models? If that doesn’t make your blood race a little faster than Alessandra Ambrosio blowing her eleventieth kiss to no one, then there is something wrong with you.
And for a male performer….hmm. Iggy Pop. Shirtless with sequined hot pants and gogo boots. Your Pretty Face is Going to Hell. I know a lot of his stage antics are probably out of the question now, but maybe he could manage a back bend or two while snarling “All the pretty girls really look the same.”
In the end, I know the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show is probably going to remain exactly as is. It’s supposed to make the typical middle class woman aspire to fit the image VS is selling – a carefully market researched version of sexy that’s pretty narrow in scope. But I think there’s a multitude of women out there who have a multitude of ideas of what sexy is. It’d be nice if Victoria’s Secret, as perhaps the most accessible and visible purveyor of “sexy,” could think beyond the status quo and aim to be more reflective of their customer base as a whole.