Commonplace: Roxane Gay, “Garish, Glorious Spectacles”

“If reality television has any connection to reality, it is that women are often called upon to perform their gender, whether through how they present themselves and their sexuality, how they behave, and how they conform (or don’t) to society’s expectations for women. The repetition of gender acts in reality television becomes grossly stylized through artificially tanned skin, elaborate hair extensions, dramatic makeup, surgically enhanced bodies, and chemically injected faces. The acts become grossly stylized through bad behavior, often carefully orchestrated by producers. Under the persistent glare of the camera, these women have little choice but to sacrifice themselves for our entertainment. The women of reality television are, perhaps, the greenest of girls, women who revel in watching themselves suffer because they have been so irrevocably interrupted they do not know what else they should do. We can’t look away. These women–these interrupted Ruths and Marias–look at their ruin. They are such garish, glorious spectacles.”

~Roxane Gay, “Garish, Glorious Spectacle,” Bad Feminist


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