December 6, 2018

"But the one-hour TV special was such a nonevent of excruciating cliches and non-sexiness that it’s not worth a cultural renovation. It’s a teardown."

"Or we could all just get out of the way and let it rot until it falls down on its own....  You’d think Victoria’s Secret would have made sure this show was exciting and captivating — a sort of good-faith argument in favor of its stubborn commitment to marketing-as-usual. Instead, executives produced a show in which the models paraded down the runway like dusty showgirls blowing kisses and drawing hearts in the air, with one model practically indistinguishable from another... If the show is all about empowered models, why not identify them by name when they appear onstage? Or is anonymity part of the fantasy? If some of these women can attract millions of Instagram followers just by posting selfies from elevators, imagine the thrill Victoria’s Secret might be able to gin up if it really made the show about connecting with these women — not in some earnest, substantial way, of course, but in a gleefully superficial, faux-intimate, social media-enhanced way that would be perfect for television. It takes an extraordinary amount of ineptitude, laziness and sheer disregard to make a show as stultifying and lifeless as the Victoria’s Secret one. It may be that the company was so focused on defending its casting against those who call it anachronistic that it forgot that the whole argument becomes moot if the show is so boring that it’s unwatchable."

Writes Robin Givhan in "The Victoria’s Secret fashion show is too boring to even argue about" (WaPo).

I've always assumed the show is unwatchable, and it seemed anachronistic to me all along. When did it begin? I have to look it up, because Givhan didn't mention it. I was not back in the days when bras and panties were called "unmentionables." It was 1995. The middle of the Clinton administration. The first season of "Friends." The Oklahoma City bombing. Mississippi ratified the 13th Amendment. "Forrest Gump" won the Oscar. O.J. Simpson went on trial. Maybe much of America saw this as a time to watch tall, fit women prance around in bras and panties from a mall store, but it seemed hopelessly old fashioned to me. It's boring and unwatchable now, Robin Givhan says, and I don't doubt it. But why was it ever watchable?

51 comments:

richlb said...

The internet killed so much sexuality. Who wants to watch PG-13 blondes in underwear at a preset time with commercials when any R or X fantasy you have can be on the screen of your choice in seconds for free.

stevew said...

Who wants to bet that Robin once opined that the show was fresh and edgy, perhaps even a bit risque and empowering? Anyone?

Personally, I've always found those models to be anything but the embodiment of the idealized female.

Phil 3:14 said...

Watchability is dependent on the audience, the target audience. Maybe you and Ms. Gihven are not the target audience.

gilbar said...

richlb said.. Who wants to watch PG-13 blondes in underwear at a preset time with commercials?

who wants to watch anorexic blondes with flat chests and no hips?
i didn't watch, but saw stills from it; those women looked like boys

in other news; the Miss Universe show says that THEIR models are So Flat Chested and without hips, that An ACTUAL MAN will win this year https://metro.co.uk/2018/12/05/first-transgender-woman-in-miss-universe-is-now-favourite-to-win-8211325/

Guys (straight guys) don't watch these shows on account of because the models LOOK LIKE BOYS

Wilbur said...

Those models are way too skinny to be attractive to me.

gilbar said...

Phil Pi, their target audience is not watching either
Victoria's Secret show tumbles to lowest ratings

Dave Begley said...


“But why was it ever watchable?”

Ann! The women! For most men, the female form is the most beautiful thing God created.


Jupiter said...

Ms. Givhan watches it so we don't have to.

gilbar said...

in other other news,
the miss america contest says they'll get rid of swimsuits; 'cause people don't watch that

in other other other news,
The most popular internet site (and, In Fact, MOST internet traffic) is ONLY about watching women get rid of swimsuits; but in a different (totally different) way.

Looking at pretty women is as popular as EVER, but companies don't see that?
I'll bet Adam and Eve already sells more than Victorian Secret does

Greg Hlatky said...


Those models are way too skinny to be attractive to me.

Gay fashion designers want them to look like the teenage boys they want to molest.

MadisonMan said...

It's too boring to argue about, but it's not so boring that I can't write about it.

rehajm said...

More feigned ignorance from Ann. See Dave Begley’s comment.

Another hint: You are not the target audience.

Tom Grey said...

I didn't watch it, but if I did ...
I'd watch it for beauty.

The beauty of a lovely woman, showing all she can "decently" show -- maybe a bit more.

I don't need nor really want their names, they are models; I want the fantasy of my wife wearing what the model is wearing, and looking as good as the models look.

A & B cup bra sizes are fine with me, but I like women who look like women, not boys.

The reviewer could easily write the same about pornography, which I also don't watch (tho I used to a bit, before getting married). But porn is the sexual fantasy.

Lingerie, like the other NYT lingerie ads, are more about beauty.

A huge part of the beauty of a woman is when she is objectified, sexually.

rehajm said...

The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is a living dinosaur too.

rehajm said...

Get out of the way and let it rot on its own is good advice.

iowan2 said...

My guess is the target audience is women 16 to 29.
When will women, like Givens, admit that women dress for other women?

(I have never watched, for all the reasons above)

rhhardin said...

Maybe bras and panties with built in legal consent clasps would sell to attract men.

mezzrow said...

"tall, fit women prance around in bras and panties" = your answer

Bob R said...

I've never been attracted to this or the SI Swimsuit issue. They aren't pornographic (I know it when I see it) and they take something that's eye-catching and sexy in a small dose, but cloying in a whole magazine. The articles really did have an aesthetic purpose in Playboy. They framed the (uninterestingly photographed) nudes.

rhhardin said...

SI Swimsuit issue. They aren't pornographic

Derbyshire described the SI issue a couple of years ago as revaling the foothills of the mons veneris and probably it shouldn't be displayed openly at retail.

Bob Boyd said...

I've never seen a VS show. Is it more boring and predictable than Robin Givhan?

rehajm said...

The VS raison d'etre via Moe Sizlack

Oso Negro said...

As a serial dater of young women, I confess to having a VS card with an astonishing credit line. But it doesn't get me going unless I can smell and touch the model. And the unfortunate truth is that most American women are too fat to look good in lingerie.

EDH said...

It was 1995... Maybe much of America saw this as a time to watch tall, fit women prance around in bras and panties from a mall store, but it seemed hopelessly old fashioned to me.

"Any time of the day is a good time for pie."

WK said...

VS was a customer of a company I worked for. Corporate HQ visits were interesting and borderline NSFW.

tcrosse said...

Kingfish, I is stultified!

Sebastian said...

"My guess is the target audience is women 16 to 29."

"A huge part of the beauty of a woman is when she is objectified, sexually."

Hence, the Givhan/Althouse reaction.

MayBee said...

Feminists are giving me whiplash.

chickenlittle said...

Yes, Robin, the whole notion that men want to see women in bras and panties is ludicrous. And even if they did, women should not placate them -- It will only encourage their "toxic masculinity." What women should really strive for fashion-wise is the the sort of drabwear worn by Rachel Maddow.

chickenlittle said...

Rachel Maddow is a drab queen.

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dave Begley said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
RonF said...

I've always thought they were all kind of skinny.

sean said...

Wow, Prof. Althouse is really going full bore on the grumpy old hippie routine these days. Since the world is a wheel, sometimes things turn her way again (as Victoria's Secret is apparently falling out of popular favor), and sometimes they don't. I think it's awfully futile to sit around in your 60s endlessly proclaiming the rather idiosyncratic and historically contingent values of your 20s, but most human action is futile, and this one is at least harmless.

HG said...

It's always nice to see underdressed, good looking ladies. The VS show has more and harder competition on TV and online, but the checkout counter still has women's magazines displaying attractive women.

Oso Negro said...

@Sean - I was thinking it was more in the line of bluenose Yankee prudery. But, yeah.

William said...

It needs to become more socially relevant. Perhaps they can stage the show in Qatar in order to protest religious intolerance. Perhaps a UN refugee camp to highlight the difference between hunger and willed anorexia. Victoria Secret models can become the Tom Joads of the women movement. Wherever you see a woman hungry or burdened or mistreated, there you will find a Victoria Secret model hitting her mark.

Andy Krause said...

Older women are never going to like watching young more attractive women parade their bodies. For obvious reasons that can't be mentioned.

Ingachuck'stoothlessARM said...

obsolescence.
As obesity becomes the norm, the appeal and efficacy of (sexy)lingerie dissipates

Howard said...

UGGs. Another Marcsist Fleminist lol lecture from Professor Pris

tcrosse said...

It's like a Leroy Nieman painting come to life.

Laslo Spatula said...

Perhaps the Victoria's Secrets show can get some cultural juice by including transgender models next time.

They can tie it in with their new line of skimpy cock-hiding panties.*

(*strategic lace, mostly)

I am Laslo.

Skippy Tisdale said...

"with one model practically indistinguishable from another"

Saying they all look the same is sexist, right?

William Chadwick said...

I didn't see the last one, and haven't tuned in the special for a few years now. I am a heterosexual male and I find the show very un-sexy, too. Granted, it one of those models appeared before me in that scanty attire (even with those wings, which I find annoying and distracting), it might be a different story; but I get the criticism that the models are "practically indistinguishable from one another." That was what killed my interest in PLAYBOY, too. I'm old enough to remember when the Playmates had individual looks and (at least as captured in photos and in their biographies) personalities. Not long after Hef moved his headquarters to California the Playmates became cookie-cutter blondes.

Darrell said...

I want to know the models' names. Their dreams. Their aspirations. What they think about anthropogenic global warming. Their assessment of Donald Trump.

Wait. No I don't.

Big Mike said...

@Althouse, putting up a post that marks you as a superannuated hippie chick -- do you think that's wise?

Leland said...

Other than the performance by Bruno Mars at the fashion shows, years ago and scene on YouTube; I never watched the Victoria's Secret fashion show (or any fashion show). I admit that the performance is great because they do show the models enjoying the song backstage and the few who interacted with him on stage was interesting.

I do think it is boring.

But I don't agree with Robin that it is important to empower the models and get to know them. Victoria's Secret isn't selling models. It is selling bras and pantries. Maybe woman would purchase more of the show was more of a View, Chew, Talk thing. But Victoria's Secret was started by a man to help men become more comfortable in buying "unmentionables" for their wives and daughters. Before it, such things were considered unmentionable and there for not marketed at all and the result was less quality and ill fitting garments. I always thought the show was marketed to men.

JaimeRoberto said...

I wonder what Meade thought of the show.

Kirk Parker said...

gilbar,

Aaaannnnd... who's to say they are real blondes anyway?

William said...

We go to all that trouble to keep the snail darter around, but we!re willing to consign the VictoriaSecret models to oblivion with just a casual wave of the hand. Just because they're relatively recent doesn't mean they don't deserve to be part of a hallowed American institution like the Supreme Court...,,,,This is contingent upon Hillary croaking first (because she'd never approve) but I'd like to see a contingent of Victoria's Angels as pall bearers escorting the coffin of Bill Clinton out of the cathedral. They could wear those gossamer wings so it wouldn't look irreligious. I suppose you would have to debone his corpse and use a balsa wood coffin to make the weight manageable, but it could be done. I don't think a contingent of military members would be in keeping with the spirit of the Clinton presidency. That man was not a militarist. The Victoria's Angels as pall bearers would be in keeping with the aspirations and goals of his presidency and help to dignify the status and function of Victoria Secret models.

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