Carly, you’ve got your finger on the pulse when it comes to fashion, beauty and the media. This is a question about beauty/media.  If you were to produce a show based off of the concept for “Hot or Not”,what would call it to be female sensitive? Thanks!

Read on to see my answer!

First of all, thank you for contacting me and soliciting my opinion. (Though I’m sure if you’re a producer, you already have an advisory team and have conducted market research, etc., so what I say may be pretty superfluous!:-) I don’t mean to be rude, but I am above all honest out of a sincere desire to help, not to criticize for criticism’s sake.

In all honesty, my first response after reading your question was “!”

I’m not sure where to start with this one. First of all, it’s laudable that you’re at least aware that the title is not exactly “female-sensitive.” But really, the question of how to title such a show that objectifies people should probably be the least of your concerns. By creating such a show, you’re pandering to the basest instinct that so many of us share: to judge. We all do it, and to say there isn’t a market for it is ludicrous. In an ideal world, there wouldn’t be, but in the world we inhabit, there will always be that need (shared often by a group of bawdy, low-educated, raucous guys) to judge women on their physical attributes. As a hetereosexual woman, I would likely watch an episode of such a show (because I, like everyone, *do* secretly love to judge and find out “what’s hot” and yes, sadly compare myself to it) – and then turn it off, disgusted at the reign of the blonde bimbo. “Hot or Not” has a catchy, journalistic ring to it – it’s easy to remember (best for your audience) – and there’s tons of similar lists out there on the Internet, on E!’s “Hot 100” episodes, in Maxim Magazine, etc. I’d say trying to mince words and doing something like “Comely or Non?” “Do we find this chick attractive? or even the in-your-face-but-oh-so-honest “F$#&able or not?” is not going to disguise the issue of objectification. You are going to receive a lot of flak from a variety of groups for doing so, regardless of the title.

We do live in an age where shows such as Jessica Simpson’s “The Price of Beauty” attempts to re-educate us as to accepted standards, and to ultimately empower women. That show is far more female-sensitive than something that is comparison-based on looks alone.

My thoughts are that if you do create such a show (and it sounds like you will – why not when there certainly is a market for it?), a) the name is fine, and b) what’s good for the goose is also good for the gander. How about tapping into that Bravo Real Housewives or Bad Girls Club audience to bring women “Stud or DUD?” where you are equally objectifying men? Might be a good way to draw some criticism away AND reach an audience that hasn’t had much since Sex and City went off the air. “Sure, we’re objectifying people – but it’s BOTH sexes – get off ya high horse,” might fly a little better.

Or “Hot or Not” could be turning preconceptions on their head – like a photo of a celeb most would agree is “hot” but she stiffed her assistant out of her last paycheck, was involved in 3 DUIs, and was caught dealing dope – vs. a celeb who may not be considered “hot” necessarily, but who instead contributes to charities, wrote some books, and volunteered in a soup kitchen. Who’s “hot” now?

Or, alternatively, when polling guys for the answers to “Hot or Not” – by turning the camera back on them (“Caucasian males 30-35, 90% of them only have a high school degree etc. think Pamela Anderson’s HOT”) it might take it from crass objectification to slightly more meaningful social commentary. You could certainly expand on looking at your audience more – what sex icons they grew up with, favorite “hot girls” and “not” girls – and WHY – to really examine why there is even such a concept as “hot.” Such a show would certainly capture the attention of the media – and thinking people – more than a run-of-the-mill seen-it-a-thousand-times-before “hot or not?” show.

Hope that gives you a few ideas how to make it more sensitive not just to women, but people and society in general. “For the greater good” maybe *should* be something we begin to contemplate in media – rather than a degenerative spiral of judgmental schlock a la Bravo and E!.

Best of luck-

So readers – what would be your advice to this guy?  
What should he call his show?


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