I, like most people, love a good scandal, especially when it involves the media, but here is a headline I never expected to read: Is the Danish TV show Blachman the most sexist show ever? Well, I’ve had a brief look, and the answer is: No, but it certainly is revealing.
Revealing about many things, but not women’s bodies, unless you’re a sheltered eleven-year-old boy who has never seen breasts before. In case you were wondering, this is the premise of the show: Women take off their clothes in front of two men, who then proceed to talk about the women’s bodies and, more generally, their views on women, relationships and sexuality. TV show host Blachman (the Danish version of Simon Cowell, I hear) introduces this concept as a means to “find the poetry” of women’s nudity amidst our culture oscillating between porn and “politically correct Puritanism”, since women’s bodies are “thirsting for the words of men” (because obviously men have never attempted at describing female bodies before).
I have to admit, I didn’t even make it through more than five minutes of the show, because it was too cringe-worthy and I felt intense vicarious embarassment, though not for the woman, who stood there rather serenely and didn’t seem very bothered by the whole process. It was the men that I could no longer bear watching, for they seemed so unaware of how incredibly pretentious, irrelevant, navel-gazing and anachronistic their opinions were, that had better been left unexposed, tugged away in some baggy old man jeans. Contrary to what many critics have written, this show is not humiliating women, it’s humiliating these men, by exposing the masculinity crisis in full bloom, raw and uncensored, and so sadly self-important and sincere, I couldn’t even keep watching for the pleasure of mocking them:
There’s Sten Hegeler (sexologist and psychologist), who -upon seeing the naked woman- revels in his memory of an encounter with a “fanatic women’s libber”, who scolded him for seeing women as sex objects. In a surprising twist, Blachman then starts to compliment Hegeler on his “masculine” attractiveness and credentials as a sex object (fyi, the man ist over 80 years old and seems to be missing an eye). There’s a bit of narcissistic innuendo, then Hegeler claims that women are never content in life(!), based on a personal anecdote(!!) involving his first ex-wife(!!!). I quit watching when he lamented the many relationships nowadays, in which women are in control.
If you ever needed proof of the fundamental crisis of men’s self-image, feel free to watch this show. If you ever wanted to see grown men crumble emotionally on television, and in front of a naked women’s body no less, this is your chance. Yes, this show is sexist, but it is not degrading these women, unless you think that Blachman and his guests’ “expert” opinion is worthy of consideration. If anyone should take offense with this show, it should be educated Danish men, who are clearly being targeted as an audience, even though the host is trying his best to insult their intelligence along with their manliness.
So while I can understand the outrage from a certain perspective, I believe it is fair to assume that this show will be remembered not for its objectifying display of women (TV has delivered much worse and then some), but as a testimony to the end of a certain zeitgeist, embodied by a former elite that is on its way out. Blachman is post-patriarchy in the making: a system based on essentialized inequalities that can no longer sustain itself in an egalitarian society. Such a system is simply unbearable, much like this show.
However, as it turns out the show had a lot of viewers, but I attribute that to the hype – or perhaps Danes just wanted to see for themselves where their tax money went to. But please, spare us another round of middle-aged men discussing antiquated ideas – we’ve got enough of that on political talkshows already.