On Political Correctness, Eye Candy, And “Deal Or No Deal”

Where are the hunchbacks? Where are the amputees? Where are the burn victims?

A friend of mine—a real one– on Facebook, in a pathetically desperate exercise in virtue-signaling to his leftist hive-mind lawyer friends, issued a naive or disingenuous post making the claim that all “political correctness” was about was “not being an asshole.” This factually and historically false assertion naturally was met with unanimous likes until I again played the skunk at the picnic by pointing out that his comment was utter fantasy. The directive from the British college that laid out guidelines for comedians was classic political correctness, and it was the guidelines-peddlers, not the comedians or those who mocked the restrictions, who were being assholes. Those who persist in calling illegal immigrants illegal immigrants (and not “undocumented immigrants” or just “immigrants”), for that, Virginia, is what they are, are not the assholes, but they are “politically incorrect.” The assholes who go searching through the Twitter feeds of young celebrities searching for politically incorrect words about gays, women or minorities are wielding politically correctness as a weapon of personal destruction. And so on. I could write volumes on similar or more nauseating examples. Maybe I have.

So I pointed out, correctly and undeniably, that political correctness has been used for decades by one side of the political spectrum—guess which!—as a tool to manipulate public discourse and hobble the expression of ideas and attitudes that end doesn’t like, while relieving them of the obligation of making a substantive argument. The immediate attack on this retort came from someone I don’t even know, who wrote, “You are so tiresome.” Yes, I’m quite aware that doctrinaire progressives find ethics, facts and logic tiresome, but there it is. That is what passed for an argument in Facebook’s hive: “Shut up.” I haven’t bothered to respond to the other attacks on me on that thread; it’s not worth my time. If you defend a manifestly false characterization of political correctness, then you are either not being honest, you have an agenda, or are no longer thinking objectively and clearly. Either way, I’d rather debate my dog.

This was a roundabout way of introducing a classic example of political correctness silliness, attacks on the appropriateness of “Deal or No Deal” returning with the same bevy of beauties whose job it is to hold and open suitcases, a job that could be performed with equal competence by the homeless, paraplegics, 9-year-olds, or robots. Writes the Times, metaphorical brow furrowed,

CNBC’s “Deal or No Deal,” which returned for a new season on Wednesday after a nearly 10-year hiatus, and features 26 female models in matching high heels and short, skintight dresses. It’s a formula that helped make “Deal” a prime-time hit when it debuted on NBC in 2005.

That was 13 years ago. But in 2018, as the culture continues to grapple with the way women have been disregarded and sometimes abused by Hollywood and its machers, “Deal” and shows like it raise an awkward question: Is this a convention whose time is up?

Series like “Deal” encapsulate the paradox of the modern game-show modeling gig: On one hand, it offers a stiletto-heeled foot in the door for many young women who aspire to careers in entertainment — Meghan Markle and Chrissy Teigen, among others, got their starts on “Deal or No Deal.” On the other hand, it is unclear whether those advantages are worth the broader message it may communicate in the #MeToo era…

“I do feel it’s a bit tone deaf,” said Nicole Martins, a professor at Indiana University Bloomington, who focuses on media and body image. “These women are used as eye candy, and it reinforces the idea that these women should be appreciated for how they look.”

Yes, Professor, that’s because THESE women are being appreciated for how they look, and for no other reason, because they aren’t doing a job that couldn’t be handled by a well-trained ape. So what? “Deal of No Deal” is moronic, but there is nothing whatsoever unethical, sexist or “tone deaf,” now or ever, about employing attractive people in an entertainment context as “eye candy,” meaning “employing attractive people to be attractive.”

Attractive women are attractive. People like to look at them. People would rather look at them than look at average, typical people they can see every day on the street, or by looking in the mirror. Is there anything wrong with enhancing a stupefyingly repetitive and boring game show with beautiful women? There is not. Nor is there anything wrong with women who are gorgeous while having no other areas in which they excel making a living based entirely on that one asset.

Check these pages, and you will see that Ethics Alarms has frequently condemned the use of physical appearance as a primary criteria for jobs where appearance is incidental or irrelevant. The Fox Blondes drive me nuts. You cannot tell me that there are not older, smarter, plainer, fatter women (or men) who are capable of sharper analysis and more trenchant commentary than the typical interchangeable “Fox and Friends” babe who has to sit between Steve Doocey and Brian Kilmeade, neither of whom would ever be mistaken for Cary Grant. This isn’t just lookism, it’s stupid  lookism, where emphasizing youth, beauty and sex appeal interferes with the alleged job at hand. The airlines were finally forced to stop catering to flying businessmen’s sexual fantasies by using the same qualifications as Playboy Clubs for hiring flight attendants.

Good.  So were department stores. “Weather girls” were gradually replaced in many markets with female meteorologists who actually know what they are pointing to, even if they didn’t look great in a cocktail dress. That’s progress.

Decreeing that there is something amiss when models, actresses, and people who stand around holding suitcases are hired with their pulchritude in mind isn’t progress. It’s political grandstanding and a power grab: “Let’s see if we can force “Deal or No Deal” off the air to prove how influential we are! Let’s see if we can force them to fire those young women and replace them with fat, middle-aged people with bad skin and rotten posture!”

The Times article harkens back to the bad old days when Bob Barker called his models on “The Price is Right” “Barker’s Beauties.” Yes, that was demeaning and sexist, and obviously so. (My dad retched at it 40 years ago.) Howie Mandel, the host of “Deal,” calls the suitcase-holders “ladies” en masse.  (What else? “Women”? “Female units”?) and by name individually. (They call him “Howie.”) The Horror. Says another professor who deserves to be unemployed, Elana Levine, a professor of media studies at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee,

“[G] ame shows are about winning money or commercial goods, and the figure of the spokesmodel is very much part of that. She’s kind of on display as another product.”

Excuse me?  Another product? How so, exactly? Are they for sale? Can contestants win them? Do they have a price tag? Apparently being a professor allows one to utter complete nonsense and still have it solemnly recorded and published while others nod their heads in admiration.

The beautiful women are on stage because they are pleasant to look at, and have to stand around for 30 minutes on camera. Giving women jobs to serve that function as only attractive women can isn’t “being an asshole.”

But trying to put them out of work using political correctness is.


29 thoughts on “On Political Correctness, Eye Candy, And “Deal Or No Deal”

  1. Ugh. I’m sorry to everyone who commented on this post before: the comments are lost. It’s a WordPress think: the post was up, then my other computer substituted a different draft for it when I turned it on, and in order to restore the original I had to reconstruct the whole thing.

    This has happened to me twice. I could explain it, but it would be boring. Again, I’m sorry. I did read all the comments, if that’s any consolation.

    • Ask the first commenter if he/she turned on email notifications, then that person will have copies of each comment…those can be copy-pasted into THIS comment thread.

      You may also have physical copies of each of their comments in your email or wordpress tracker as well. Those could be copy-pasted back into here.

  2. Jack,

    I know it’s not your flavor as it were, but have you seen or heard about the media campaign against YouTube star Pewdie Pie? Also the recent purges going on on Patreon bear some mentions as well.

    • Did the girls all get run over at the start of a race? What happened to them? Did Bernie cave and banish them? Did he banish his wives and daughters as well?

      • Oh man! That would have been at least entertaining.

        Instead it was just busybodies saying models were being exploited and having the ruling organization ban teams from hiring them. What happened in the end was even more absurd, because now there are grid kids filling the role of cheerleaders (or at least there were for the first season the thing was enforced). Putting 10 year olds on a racetrack right next to powerful machines, combustible fluids, sitting for hours under scorching sun… There’s no way THAT is a bad idea, right?

  3. One of my sons is 15 years old, 6’7″ and, if I do say so myself, VERY handsome. When I walk with him, women and men both stop dead in their tracks to ogle him. He has a lot of challenges in life, but one of the things that he has going for him is his looks and his physique. He’s also very kind and very eager to do what’s right. I’m not so eager as Jack to denounce the use of physical appearance as a job criterion. I’m a Catholic, converted as an adult, and one of the things that our religion teaches is that we all receive unique blessings from the Holy Spirit. My son has his, and I can’t escape the feeling that attacks on people like him grow out of resentment from — let’s not call them ugly people — people who lack his gifts. People with powerful intellects are not the only ones who bring joy to the world.

    • What? Where did I denounce physical appearance as a job criterion? The whole point of the post was the opposite. I denounce the use of attractiveness when it’s not related to the primary skills a job requires.

      People just don’t read. Sometimes I wonder why I bother…

      • I don’t think I misunderstood. I believe that if you’re applying for any job where other people have to look at you, physical attractiveness is a quality that can fairly be taken into consideration in making the hiring decision. Looks matter even when they’re not related to the primary skill that the job requires. If I’m hiring for a law firm or an investment bank, I might well hire a an good-looking person over a less-attractive one with stronger skills in legal or financial analysis. I wouldn’t hire one who was incompetent, but if clients are going to spend face time with them, the good-looking one brings something important to the table. The Fox Blondes and the pretty weather girls who know nothing about meteorology drove you nuts. I kind of liked them. Assuming that the newsreader meets a minimum level of competence, I think it’s fine to cater to the tastes of the many customers who would rather look at an attractive one even though there’s an uglier one who might have smarter things to say. I won’t watch those shows when I want penetrating analysis. I’ll read your blog.

        • I will admit to a certain…ick factor… when reading this post.

          However, I attribute that to my bias as one of those ‘smarter’ candidates sometimes passed over in favor of ‘dumb’ but eye-catching ones.

          I cannot disagree that this is more a matter of taste and perceived leverage seeking by those hiring. If all things are equal, there is no foul, in my opinion.

          My experience is that all things are NOT equal, and when the ‘less smart’ eye candy gets in trouble, they turn to those who were better qualified in the first place to bail them out, often without credit being given.

        • Nope. That’s just bigotry. and playing to the biases of others. Unless someone is hideous, as in “causes people to run away screaming,” using physical appearance as a job qualification is unethical.

  4. Check these pages, and you will see that Ethics Alarms has frequently condemned the use of physical appearance as a primary criteria for jobs where appearance is incidental or irrelevant.

    How about sales? When the decider is an older man, or group of mostly older men, I’m not convinced that using beautiful young women is solely “incidental.” It’s not a secret that many giant corporations use modeling agencies to obtain sales talent for special contracts. (Think things like who’s to the exclusive cell provider for Ford as an example.) They work with an agency, seeking the “smartest” good looking women there. They then put them through sales boot camp so they don’t seem stupid or out of place.
    They will dress them up in glasses, have their hair up, and conservative, professional business attire. These women will do the bulk of the pitch, only deferring when they hit the most technical parts of the deal.
    Getting swayed this way is definitely unethical. If it works, then I’m not so sure the people who are doing it are.

    • This used to be extremely common in the male dominated world of IT. The salesperson was often a very attractive woman accompanied by a “sales engineer” man who would answer the technical questions. I like women as much as the next guy, but this tactic always bothered me because it felt like they were trying to sale me on tittlation instead of technical specs.

  5. Not having had TV for about ten years now, I can’t really envision what their jobs must be but I can tell you there are two great things about the hiring of 26 attractive young women: (1) that’s more opportunities for the attractive young women who, as has now progressed from speculation to fact*, are being turned away from jobs on Wall Street (and presumably elsewhere where employers eschew eye-candy), and (2) it’s really hard to get away with sexual harassment in that large a group, unlike the two or three in The Price is Right of old.

    * fact: a workmate’s husband whose company H.R. department now actively hunts for men only (preferably not young and attractive, either – this is reversal of policy for San Francisco’s Financial District which has in the past, on purpose, and in spite of an open gay population, not been as heavily male-centered as others) — and a visiting friend of theirs who says his Wall Street firm is not looking kindly on their current female employees as well as discouraging more. Instead, they are hiring (including hiring back) older, married, and reportedly less distracting women so as to, he says, “not mess the stats”. According to The Atlantic, women are saying they are leaving “in droves” because of #MeToo reasons, but given the legal options they have now, sudden departures from well-paying and advancing level jobs without any complaints or rise in lawsuits seem more to come from growing hostility from male cohorts as well as management.

    It is silliness as far as I this eye can see. What I can’t see is where it will stop. Right now Trump would have a better chance of building a wall between the sexes than with national neighbors. (and it would be cheaper, since people on both sides would donate materials and labor)

          • Lame attempts at humor are my specialty. But I have always agreed with Robert Frost: “Something there is that does not love a wall.” From Jericho to Berlin walls have been, at the least, nothing but blockages to access (and commerce), encouraging concrete challenges to bring them “tumbling down,”and casting fearful shadows on both sides. “Trump’s Wall” (it’s inevitable name) would become – already has become – Trump’s possibly terminal folly, the physical focus for unreasoning hatred on one side and rigid defense on the other, lessening day by day any chance of rapprochement. This is not a matter of wishful thinking for any happy “Kumbaya” solution but a conviction that there can be no good end to this – on either side. If Trump does not succeed in getting the wall built (or maintained), the failure will fall not only on him, not only on the Party, but on everyone who did not subscribe to the whole Left madness in the first place. It wasn’t the only way to go: increasing the legal immigration – and reporting so – while tightening the security checks around it was/is one way to start. That was there waiting for legislation, now stalled, even before the 2016 election. There are still people out there who ask legitimately (and provably) for entrance to the United States. They could be facilitated in and supported after they arrive – all without fanfare – on their way to full citizenship. The furor will not die down as long as people are beating their childrens’ heads against the gate, but with some (friendly, but not necessarily partisan) transparency (whatever happened to Life Magazine-type photography: don’t tell me: Photoshop), the lies can be countered, at least better than they have been. Okay. that’s it for a fairly reasonable rant, I think. I’ll be back for arguments, if any.

            • Why the Wall?

              From my entire lifetime, Americans have been gamed regarding illegal immigration.

              Reagan was promised border security and enforcement of existing laws in exchange for Amnesty by the Democrats. They lied.

              Bush (both) were promised border security and more funding for Border patrol. Democrats (and GOP elites) lied.

              Obama supported border security… but did nothing. He lied (who would think it?)

              Trump is being promised a ‘virtual wall’ instead of a barrier by the Swamp. (Swamp = Establishment Elites on both sides of the aisle) Such a ‘barrier can be turned off easily once progressives are again in power, which is why it is being proposed. We need a barrier.

              In truth, the Wall is only a partial solution. CEOs whose companies turn a blind eye to the hiring of illegal aliens, at the expense of American workers, need to spend real time in jail. If a fiduciary responsibility were established making the elite 1% responsible for how they get their obscene profits, we would have a solution.

              Heck, if the existing laws were aggressively enforced we would not need a wall: the Obama recession of 2008-2015 saw self deportation when jobs dried up in 2008-2009.

              Walls may indeed do all you say, Penn, but they are necessary as we are battling an internal enemy who wishes to trade our citizen’s best interests in the name of power.

  6. Wait. We have “Deal or No Deal” to thank for unleashing the likes of Meghan Markle and Chrissy Teigen on society? That is reason enough to banish the show to the ash-heap of television history.


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