Thursday, July 24, 2008

Hooray For Gossip Girl

I don't watch Gossip Girl. I'm not a woman between the ages of 18 and 34. But it just became one of my favorite shows.

It's on the CW Network. CW is admittedly in trouble these days, but they are doing a good job of positioning themselves as the hippest network on TV, catering directly to the late teen/early twenties demo advertisers supposedly crave. In addition to "Gossip Girl" they've got the slacker comedy "Reaper" (the one CW show I never miss), and they're actually reviving "90210." They are trying to be edgy just to survive. And from where I'm sitting they are doing a good job of it.

Apparently "Gossip Girl," based on a popular series of teen romance novels, is about sex in a fancy high-school on the Upper East Side, sort of a 90210 for the 21st Century. It is essentially "Cruel Intentions" as a TV series ("Cruel Intentions, was, of course "Dangerous Liasons" set in an Upper East Side prep school).

Predictably, the Parents Television Council and other anti-fun groups, along with regular parents who only want to raise Wally and the Beav, have been lambasting the show as inappropriate. CW is firing back. An ad for the shows April return had two of the teens apparently making the beast with two backs, overlayed with the letters OMFG (which the CW coyly claims to mean "oh my, feeling good"). But more recent adds have been truly brilliant. They show similar sexy scenes of couples accompanied by quotes from critics of the show, such as "Every Parrent's Nightmare," "Very Bad For You," and "Wildly Inappropriate," that last supplied by the P.T.C. themselves. In other words, they've taken the prudes own language and thrown it back in their faces.

Good for them! One of the best ways to fight back against the language of oppression is to co-opt that language as symbols of pride, like the way the gay community co-opted the word "Queer" and the pink triangle, or how the black community co-opted the word "nigger," or, comically, the entire plot of "Revenge of the Nerds." Instead of denying the language that is being used to marginalize them, these groups take the beligerent stand of adopting the insult with pride saying "Yeah, that's us! Now what are you going to do about it?" CW's add campaign is, of course, not the noble social protest of these other examples. It is crass and commercial and only serves to promote their right to talk about sex on TV. But it is both effective and funny, and it puts the prudes in the PTC in their place.

Besides, if the PTC ever saw what went on in *my* high school, there heads would all probably explode as one.


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