Thursday, December 17, 2009

Turning People into Fetishes

Blah Blah, I have gastroparesis, blah, blah.
Let's talk about fashion shows.

Has anyone caught the new Bravo show, Launch My Line? From the first, I was pretty sure I was not going to watch this show. Bravo's reality shows typically don't interest me, with the exceptions of Top Chef, and in the past Project Runway. Bravo's shows seem to thrive on the stereotype-for-ratings, and fail to capture any sense of humanity, or include people who live functional or reasonable lives, and I can't relate to the characters displayed in any way. I don't generally enjoy "reality" TV for that reason, but Bravo seems to be one of the worst offenders.
This week, though, I decided to give LML a shot. I won't be doing so again.
If you're unfamiliar with the show, the premise is that 10 designers are paired with 10 professional people who want a clothing line. The show is hosted by twins Dean and Dan Caten. In concept, it's interesting. In practice, the whole thing feels like bad acting in a bad theater production.
Has anyone ever spent a lot of time with "theater people"? Dancers, musical theater folks, or your stereotypical Actor? They're lovely people, and I don't want to disparage a culture, especially not one I'm essentially part of. But often you run across the person who has actually managed to fetishize himself. The person-as-fetish perceives himself as unusually magical or potent, or pays excessive attention to the minutiae of his own real-life appearance and behavior. It is not so much ego as everything that person says or does is Acted and overplayed. It's like taking Tim Gunn's "it's a whole lot of look" saying and applying it to a person's mannerisms, dress, and other personal characteristics.
As I watched LML it became clear that, not only were there a lot of Actors, but the whole show seemed to revolve around that and even encourage it. The show's scripted components were not delivered in ways that seemed fresh or natural. The framework of the show ("We're opening the trim room! It's been stocked with things that fit your animal inspirations! You have a half hour in the trim room, and then you're not allowed back in!") also seemed to lack fluidity. They were set pieces, no more. The effect was heavy-handed in the fact that it clobbered me with, "We're a TV show! We're very dramatic! *wink*" all the time. The whole thing made people into objects, and how can fashion survive and be genuinely creative when the people have their own selves to counterbalance?
It's true that Project Runway has its poor moments, too--especially this season. But I think on the whole PR takes a more mature and adult approach to fashion. There are some oddballs, but often they're gone within the first few weeks because their results seem like jokes that have gotten out of control. PR also doesn't throw around a lot of darlings and sweeties, and LML seems to go that direction often. If you have a young soul, LML might be for you--it has a sort of teenage joie de conflit that some might relate to. I found it grating.
The proof, though, is really in the results. This week's challenge was to do an animal-inspired one-piece look, no dresses allowed. Guess how many jumpsuits? Lots. The parameters of a challenge that would produce that many jumpsuits seem just silly to me.
So, I gave it a try, but this show is not for me.


Anonymous said...

Haven't watched LML, but your description reminds me of RuPaul's "The Drag Race." Except that the queenly contenders _of course_ act like that, it's just the way they are, and it's part of the dramatic fun. TDR had set piece challanges, too, and often quite cheesy -- like, they each had to think up a real-life Executive look, a swimwear ensemble, and an evening gown inspired by one of Absolut Vodka's four fruit flavors, and they were given bags of fabric and trims in their fruit colors to assist their own drag wardrobes. (The show is partly sponsored by Absolut.) Oh, but I couldn't stop watching.


Abs said...

Yes!--LML is not that extreme, but it has some of the elements of how drag queens behave. When you watch a show about drag queens, I think you expect it. I wasn't expecting it from LML. I guess that's the difference in enjoyment for me. I am quite sure many people would get pleasure out of LML, but it wasn't my bag, baby.

Carrie said...

I just read on TWOP a challenge was to make non-dress one piece outfits. Any show that centers around jumpsuits is not a show for me.