Friday, May 4, 2007

Whose Got the Power?!?!

Power is defined as the possession of control or command over others. In society, men are depicted as the dominant and authoritative figures. They possess control in politics, in relationships, and in the "typical" family household.

The Girls Next Door confirms this norm with Hef being the dominant, assertive figure in control of his thriving corporation, his mansion, and the three girls. However, he is not the only one in the show that possesses power.

Many people who watch the show believe that the girls are just "sex objects" and are there for the sole purpose of male pleasure. In contrast, they can be seen as empowering figures who have used their "femininity" to their advantage to get where they are today. They come off as naive, weak, and unable to care for themselves, and as a result, the strong, dominative Hef must fulfill his role and protect and provide for these fragile women. He does this by launching their careers, providing them a home, setting their status, and spoiling them.

How else are these girls empowering? Their overtly sexual behavior and dress gives them power over the males who succumb to their flirting and temptation. Holly, Bridget, and Kendra were successful at embracing this stereotype of women since they transformed from "nobodies" to famous Playboy girlfriends by luring the right man.

In addition, power is demonstrated in many less overt ways. On the show, there is little representation of any other race or sexuality than the White, heterosexual. The only minorities shown are those doing manual labor in the kitchen or garden, and there are no gays present at all. This speaks volumes about where minorities and homosexuals are placed on the hierarchy of power in today's world. These individuals are seen as inferior and unworthy of representation or power.

Ultimately, the show provides many images of power and empowerment through its characters and lack thereof. The White male may be the main focus of power in the patriarchal society. However, beneath the act, the women are empowering. They have conformed to society's definition of femininity and used it to control men's minds and wallets. Gays & Lesbians, as well as racial minorities are not given any recognition by the show and therefore, are seized of any power or authority over the predominately white, straight world.

Overall, The Girls Next Door carries a lot weight in regards to the hegemonic norms and images of power/empowerment that it sends to its viewers. There is plenty to be analyzed and an increasing amount to be learned from what some would consider just "another TV show."