Katherine Sender (U Penn) & Brenda Weber (IU)
Katherine Sender, a professor at Penn, visited IU’s Department of Telecommunication today to discuss her new book, The Big Reveal: Makeover Television, Audiences, and the Promise of Transformation. Her work focuses on makeover television shows like Queer Eye for the Straight Guy and What Not to Wear. She says, a true inner self is a concept that is at the heart of an audience analysis of these shows. Being reflexive and recognizing who this inner self is is important to the process of producing ourselves in an “authentic” fashion, Sender says.
Brenda Weber joined professor Sender in discussing her new book, Makeover TV: Selfhood, Citizenship, and Celebrity. She suggests that Pimp my Ride has as much gender in it as What Not to Wear. She rejects the notion that makeover shows are simply toxic cultural wastelands. Instead she says they are worthy of in depth analysis because they are “smart, banal & hurtful and lots of interesting elements are built into them.”
Weber suggests that the makeover expresses anxiety about the lack of selfhood. She says there is deep anxiety on a larger social level about the ambiguity of self. The self, she says, is our greatest economic asset. If we make poor choices about the self, we may harm our earning potential. Makeover shows lead us to believe that we have to harness our selves so that we can compete through global networks.