• Worst TV Show of the Week: Victoria’s Secret Swim Special on CBS

    by  • March 5, 2015 • Broadcast Decency, Sexualization, Worst of the Week • 0 Comments

    For promoting the sexualization of women, CBS’ Thursday, February 26th airing of the Victoria’s Secret Swim Special (10:00 p.m. ET) is the Worst TV Show of the Week. 

    A montage introducing the models is a perfect illustration of the manner in which the program pushes its thinly-veiled pornography into every living room in America:

    Candice leans against a rock, her head tipped in what is apparently supposed to be a come-hither look;

    Lily lies on a rock, her back arched, breasts thrusting toward the sky;

    Behati leaning forward, dripping moisture;

    Alessandra, lying flat on her back in the sand, her hands over her head in a posture resembling surrender, displaying her cleavage;

    Adriana, lying on her stomach, her eyes gazing longingly into the camera;

    Elsa, her legs parted as water splashes against her crotch (Gee, nothing suggestive about THAT!);

    Martha, lying back on a bed while beckoning to the camera (and the viewer); and

    Stella, crouched prostrate on her hands and knees, as the camera pans up her body.

    Ever notice how none of these women are allowed to simply STAND there, like normal women, but are at every moment lying in bed or on a beach, straddling a rock, posed with legs spread like an animal, or are in some other position suggestive of sex?

    As is typical of these shows, the male guests – in this case, the bands Maroon 5 and Juanes –  are not required to parade around nearly naked, or pose in an overtly sexual manner. Gee, aren’t TV producers always boasting about how “progressive” they are? Then how come they don’t treat men and women equally?

    The camera features a close-up of Lily’s crotch as the model discusses in voice-over being in Puerto Rico. Wouldn’t want to show her face like she’s a real human being, would we? No, far better to focus the camera solely on the parts of her body. This continues as the camera pans lovingly down Elsa’s torso and legs.

    Then, in another feature typical of Victoria’s Secret’s self-congratulatory narcissism, various women rhapsodize about how appearing in this tawdry show is “like the Super Bowl,” “there’s nothing else like it,” and “people all over the world want to see these pictures.”

    “This is so much different than the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show,” says Lily. She then goes on to talk about the hair stylists and make-up artists around them. This serves as a reminder (if any were needed) that everything about the Victoria’s Secret shows is palpably phony. The women may look as if they’re ready for sex every minute; but in reality, they’re simply posed  like puppets, used to help a vast, multi-million dollar company sell overpriced underwear to sex-obsessed men.

    Lest there be any doubt about the aims of the tawdry show, Australian photographer Russell James opines, “The drama of these boulders in these shapes complements the amazing shapes of the girls!” This voice-over is given as Lily writhes orgasmically while lying atop a boulder. Interestingly, a scene is left in the program which shows Lily complaining about scratching her leg on the boulder (“There’s blood everywhere!”), underlining the fact that the producers and makers of Victoria’s Secret products don’t really care about the models, or anyone else, they’re just in it for the money; and that the “vacation to Puerto Rico” is merely a story, with the entire program being nothing more than an extended sales pitch.
    What’s really depressing are the brief clips of women, apparently working on the production crew, applauding for Lily. In contrast to the anorexic models, these women are actually built like (and dressed like) normal human beings. What a pity real women are reduced to support crew positions and do all the work, while all the applause (and money) goes to sticklike waifs who are able to project the correct vapid facial expression.

     

    Then Bahati desperately tries to convince the viewer she is “interested in culture,” as she is taken on a tour of Puerto Rico by one Joan. By a strange coincidence, Joan just happens to be driving a classic ‘50s convertible…and by an even more amazing coincidence, she just happens to look like a supermodel herself. And by an unbelievably astounding coincidence, Joan also knows just how to pose for model-like photos taken of her. Gee. What are the odds?

    Candice: “There’s definitely something about being in nature, in the elements, that makes me feel sensual and sexy. But me in a bikini, in the water and the sand and grease me up, and I’ll give  you a sexy picture.” She then talks about how she goes “out of her body” and speaks of herself in the third person, all of which helps her become like “a vixen.” (Translation: the women have to set aside their real feelings and even identities in order to do the job of selling sex.) Unsurprisingly, most of Candice’s photo shoot is of Candice bare-chested, coyly holding an arm (and nothing else) across her naked breasts.

    Viewers are then forced to ogle Martha and Stella as they film the “Victoria Secret Very Sexy Lingerie Commercial,” during which they lie on beds, arch their backs and display their cleavage, and thrash about as if in orgasm. Stella also inadvertently provides the biggest laugh of the program, when she claims that her photographer Jerome is “very good at capturing a moment and making it look really natural.”

    Let us be clear: NOTHING on this program “looks really natural.” Certainly not the models, cinched into unrealistically tight lingerie, worked on by hair stylists and makeup artists for hours, and carefully contorted into the most artificially “sexy” poses possible as photographers and lighting technicians hover around them for hours on end.

    The result may indeed appeal to some men’s prurient fantasies; but what is it doing to destroy the self-esteem of millions of girls and young women whom CBS is encouraging to watch this show (by rating it TV-14)?

    At the end of the day, there is nothing inspiring or enlightening about this program. It is merely one more tawdry underwear ad, made under the presumption that “sex sells” and intended to appeal to the lowest common denominator in viewers. Unfortunately for CBS, viewers aren’t responding. As reported by Deadline: Hollywood, the swimsuit show was down 71% in viewership from the previous VS special.

    Bad enough that CBS subjects its viewers to the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show each Christmas; by adding yet another Victoria’s Secret program – even when nobody wants to watch it — the network is pushing the sexualization of women to a greater degree than ever before…which is why CBS’ Victoria’s Secret Swim Show is the Worst TV Show of the Week.

    _________________

    Victoria’s Secret sponsored this program. To contact them with your concerns, click here.

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    About

    Christopher Gildemeister is the PTC’s Head of Research Operations. He began as an Entertainment Analyst at the PTC in 2005. From 2007-2016, he was Senior Writer/Editor, responsible for communicating the PTC’s message to the public through newsletters, columns, and the PTC Watchdog blog. Dr. Gildemeister holds a Ph.D. from The Catholic University of America.

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