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Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Ladette To Lady

Robert Jackman wrote this article about The TV programme Ladette To Lady.

He takes the view that the programme is a snobbish cultural surpression of the lower classes and the makers/teachers/``hair-gelled apes in... tweed-clad bourgeois`` are hypocrites for doing so.

I think, for once in my life, I'm going to disagree with someone else's view. For a start, Jackman's opinion that the programme is a transgression of the principles of human rights is misinformed at best. The girls in the programme are allowed to leave at any time. Nor are they forced to engage in being a lady.

The programme has a goal of equiping girls of a different class and upbringing into the customs and manorisms of a more elect one. If they are expelled from the house then that is merely means they're slow or reluctant to learn these new ways. To compare that to Orwellian mind control is rediculous. In the dystopic novel `1984`, the citizens of Oceana were only allowed freedom from prison [Ministry of Love] after their `reeducation`. In this context, like Jackman said, reeducation is indeed discomforting and horrifying.

But is `reeducation` quite so discomforting and horrifying if those privy to the system volunteer to be so? I can only imagine Jackman has only watched a clip of the programme as he's obviously missed the girls' passion for more respectability and honour. In the first programme, they were taught to respect themselves sexually: `you must put a value on yourself`. To the promiscuous ladette in the group, this was a revellation. I don't think you can say with or without Christian morals it's a bad thing that the programme makes the women value themselves more and allow them the freedom to think of themselves as more than some random guy's sex doll.

But also, are the ladettes really changing? Or are they just learning the skills how to cook and how to dance? My take is that these ladettes don't have the basic skills to socialise without alcohol or have the restraint to *court* gentlemen without offering themselves in some way. My thruppence are this programme is a wonderful opportunity for boys/girls everywhere to know they're not defined by their class and more importantly, that they are worth more than they think they are. Also I think the programme is an education that binging and promiscuity are mere temporal `joys` and the skills learned as being ladies are more perennial and ultimately more fulfilling.

So is this merely harmless entertainment? No, it’s quite the opposite. It’s a stark reminder of the need to place ethical shackles on reality television. It’s a sadistic display of the infallibility of reality television. If such brainwashing and degrading treatment was being practiced in a Middle Eastern state then everyone would be quick to label it an appalling abuse of ‘human rights’, but since it’s all in the name of reality television, it’s just good primetime entertainment. - Robert Jackman

Funny thing is, the same reasons Jackman objects to the programme are some of the reasons I think it's good entertainment. The only unethics of the programme are the low values and lack of self esteem the girls have for themselves at the beginning, and their constant regressions back to them now and again. To mould these girls into looking like ladies is not an abuse of `human rights`, would Jackman say the same if they did all the cooking and cleaning in chav clothes? Perhaps it's difficult for our culture to come to terms with the disapparation of personal identity, which is what's going on in this programme. The girls are denied their clothes, often their vernacular, their habits and as a result, they're changing, developing.

There's no shame in being the `lowest` of society (and I don't think it's judgemental to say that most people would say that these people would be called `slags` outside of teleland), but I think the point in Ladette to Lady is showing the girls not only that there's more to life, but more to themselves. There was a similar programme called Bad Lads Army (or something) where convicts and chav men re-enacted national service and the discipline, exercise and self value made them to change for the better. So I ask you, what's wrong with tough love? What's wrong with offering someone the chance to change? What's wrong with offering someone the tools to go about life with confidence, self respect and dignity. After all, isn't that viewer wants for themselves?

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