I don't watch a lot of television and I'm the first to admit that I'm not very up to date with the trends on it. However, lately that seems to be a good thing as television, traditionally the media of pop culture, has steadily grown worse and worse.
But the trend I consider the most disturbing is the trend of makeover shows. These shows, an extension of the ongoing trend of unscripted television (I refuse to call it reality TV anymore), disturb me in a way that no other show has been able to.
While these types of shows are hardly new, they've literally been around since the beginnings of television, they've been on a constant quest to one up themselves and progress to newer heights or dig to deeper depths depending on how you look at it.
That's why these shows have gone from offering makeovers to those who desire it to going out and trying to save the “terminally unhip” and those with no sense of style. Most of these shows now rely on friends and family to set up someone to go on the show, usually someone that dresses in a way that others feel is repulsive and needs to be fixed.
While this seems like harmless fun and perhaps a good joke, the problem that I see is that most of these poor suckers already have a style of their own, it just happens that their friends, family and the rest of the in vogue world doesn't seem to approve of it. Be it style based upon comfort, outdoors apparel or whatever, these people dress their bodies and design their homes as they want them to be and the way they feel the happiest. If they wanted to be up to date with modern trends, they'd either do it themselves or seek out help on their own.
If you need proof of this, just watch one of the “return” shows where they go back and visit old victims. You'll discover that many, if not most, have reverted back to their old ways either in whole or in part. You'd think if the makeover was what they wanted and needed that they'd have stuck with the program.
The truth is that this frightens me. Where once being out of touch with style and following your own lead simply got you odd looks and the occasional chuckle, now it can make you the subject of a half-hour nationally syndicated program. It's as if society, which has always despised iconoclasts and individuals, has now dedicated large blocks of television time to rehabilitating people that made the horrible mistake of following their own lead when it comes to clothing or their decorations.
To be blunt, I'm not playing. I'm know that I'm out of touch with fashion and that my black clothing would be great fodder for “What Not to Wear” or “Queer Eye” but anyone who has the gall to set me up for one of these shows is going to get a pair of boots clean up their, well, you get the idea.
Let's be honest with ourselves. These shows are little more than an exercise in conformity and what little individual expression that is allowed in it is both tightly controlled and regulated. When you consider the power that television could have to promote creativity and expression, it's pitiful to see it used to showcase herd mentality so blatantly.
Of course, I shouldn't act shocked. Television has been the primary weapon of pop culture for as long as it has been around. It just used to be that it had the decency of slipping its conformity-driven message into slick commercials or under the surface in entertaining shows. Now it just slaps us in the face with it.
It's so flagrant it's disturbing and while it's hard to deny the entertainment value of the show, after all, change is inherently dramatic, it's the ethical values I have to question.
After all, do we really want a society where everyone follows the same trends and looks, dresses and decorates the same way? We don't, but marketers do and that's exactly why these shows exist, to please marketers. The fact that you and millions of others find it interesting, that's just an added bonus.
Keep that in mind the next time you sit down to another makeover show, I think you'll see what I mean.