Friday, February 24, 2006

Blonde on blonde (except when they're brunette)

I'm usually a huge fan of our dark lord Jack Shafer, whose cantankerous media criticism is usually spot-on. This week's deconstruction of TV's Aryan Sisterhood ("They know only one hair color: blonder!"), however, was uncharacteristically sloppy and off the mark.

First of all, he left out some important people, the most obvious being Elizabeth Vargas and Soledad O'Brien. I'm sorry, but no amount of Amy Kelloggs, Alex Witts and Laurie Dhues make up for leaving off anchors of their stature (and your theory doesn't become right just because you conveniently leave out contradictory evidence). Vargas and her shiny chestnut mane just scored an exclusive sit-down with President Bush next week (first since the Cheney-shooting port-securitizing extravaganzas), and have kinda been in the news lately, to put it mildly (turns out she's pretty fertile, too, thus shooting holes in Shafer's tenuous argument that blonde TVNewsers are unfairly imposing an impossible fertility standard on brunette wombs). As for Soledad, she wasn't the one axed from American Morning.

Jack does give a shout-out to Carol Costello, who is brunette, cute, and looks fertile enough to me. But let's consider some other brunettes, for the record: Daryn Kagan, Contessa Brewer (who is about as gorgeous as it gets, on any network), Maria Bartiromo (the Money Honey, authoritative and smokin'), Kimberly Guilfoyle (who works the sex appeal like nobody's business), and Campell Brown (by the way, (a) she looks way better as a brunette and (b) Jack, you are no expert in blonding if you don't know about dyeing the eyebrows to match! For shame). There are more -- Erin Burnett, Adrianna Costa, Jeanne Meserve -- but don't take my word for it, just take a look at Jack's "Periodic Table of Blondness"...which actually features a large proportion of brunettes.

As for the so-called enhanced appeal of blonde male anchors? Jack is REALLY smoking something here. There is just no correlation between dude blondness and on-camera appeal (no offense, Chris Matthews). In fact, there is an argument for the contrary; who remembers the hullaballoo over Daniel Craig as the new Blond Bond? I'm thinking Miles, Hemmer, Colbert, Williams, Lauer, and CNN's delectable Rob Marciano. Let's hope Rob is fertile. He'd make beautiful babies.

NB Anyone else notice anything about all the newsladies mentioned, brunette or blonde? That's right, they're all white. Is Connie Chung dyeing her hair? How about Robin Roberts? If the women of color aren't skewing the sample, then that's an issue in itself: not, "why is there a preference for blondes reading our news" but "why is there a preference for white people reading our news?" That's a question to ask about both sexes.

Speaking of the aforementioned sample: Jack says that by "my definition of blond, at least 60 percent" of female anchors qualify. See that pic up top? That's me, fuzzily taking pics of myself to document my blonding for a magazine article. Biggest comment I got on the big change? "It's not really blonde." I'd say a healthy proportion of Jack's sample straddles the sun-kissed, caramel-colored world between blonde and brunette, a category many refer to as "golden brown." Note which word is the modifier. By the way, for the record: I'm much more fertile as a brunette.

p.s. All that said, it's sentences like this that make it hard to stay mad at our Jack: "I'm told that powder, pencil, and paint can turn even the weakest mouth into a juicy vagina dentata." I'm pretty sure I read that about Walter Cronkite once.

TV's Aryan Sisterhood [Slate]

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home