When viewing any/all programming from MTV, it’s almost a given that you will undoubtedly run into something that makes an effort to “push the envelope”. This is seen on MTV in a variety of ways stemming from how our culture craves the need for promiscuity, drama, and controversy. Of all of MTV’s robust examples programming to choose from, Girl Code really stood apart from the rest in how it has (somewhat) good intentions from its creation, only to ultimately get in its own way and fall flat. As a spin-off from the less successful Guy Code, this show aimed to “open the dialogue about the wonders and woes of womanhood” as MTV described it. The show centers around 3-4 topics of discussion each episode, as a slew of comedians we’ve never heard of give their take on these “topics”. Why the quotes? Well the topics in question are merely age-old gender-confined tropes that are only reinforced again and again. We see the classic reinforcement of how young woman are supposed to act, think, behave, and ultimately feel. There are also scenarios that add to commonplace stereotypes, such as: tips on what to do in a heterosexual relationship, dealing with pregnancy scares, getting dumped, the notion that all guys care about are food, video games and porn, and the perception that all girls like sleepovers, to name a few.
The above clip centers around weight gain, and all of the negative backlash that comes with it. We see an overall negative stigma around weight gain, and the idea that women have to be thin to be considered attractive. The comments made by the guests are sometimes going against social norms I will admit, but in terms of the overall message of the show, the ideology behind it still manages to reinforces the norm. The Parents television Council had this to say about Girl Code, “it is a series which degrades young women by teaching them that they are valued only for their looks, and that servicing men sexually is their purpose in life.” The quote may seem a bit extreme at first, but after watching a few episodes it’s hard to argue. While yes, the goal is to open a dialogue about these topics is done in a successful manner, via the integration of social media, is it something that is hurting or helping young women?
The heavy use and references to popular social media go a long way in how it has managed to connect with its audience. The show has a huge presence on the micro-blogging site, Tumblr and over 854,099 followers on Twitter. The show’s stars take this a step further and often live-tweet the show and create unique hashtags, and retweet the best responses from the public. While highly successful, the messages the show provides give a good arugment to the idea of post-feminism. The women of the show have all of the agency in terms of what they say, and their opinions on subjects, but what they actually end up saying is merely a rehashing of stereotypical social norms, unbeknownst to them or not. This is more an operation of the hegemonic ideology and less about the individuals agency. What is considered common sense to these speakers really isn’t anything more than a clear demonstration of the masculine power that still exists. The show’s stars are the agents of there own oppression. The show speaks to female empowerment, but at the same time argues about what it takes to look and feel attractive in order to attract the opposite sex. Evidence can be seen in a segment around the female genitalia, when regular Carly Aquilino says, “A vagina is something every girl has, THAT YOU LET A LOT OF PEOPLE IN”, as we see a cartoon illustrate this point with the following image:
The image above tells viewers everything they have to know about MTV’s attitude toward women. “Rampant promotion of sexual promiscuity, without concern for consequences or potential problems…standard procedure for MTV”, says the Parent Television Council. The show does aim to be sarcastic and funny, but even the jokes themselves are disjointed and the “advice” given to the audience is so obvious that we are left wondering what the actual message behind the segment was.
The Feminist movement itself is an intellectual, conscious raising movement to get peole to understand that gender is an organizing principle of life. The belief is that women and men should be accorded equal opportunities and respect, but having shows that segregate the genders while reinforces certain masculine stereotypes to a younger audience goes directly against that goal.