Here, and below, is my fourth and final Blog World piece. I want to thank The San Diego Reader, and editor Judith Moore for inviting me to take part. Judith has written a breathtaking book. Maybe you’ve heard of it? This is what it tastes like. And this is why.
At first gasp, France's Télématin could be the identical twin cousin of The Today Show. The hosts hum along to pop music on the way back from commercial; there's corny banter; a stodgy man in a bowtie minces and camps it up, just like Al Roker. The French Katie Couric would have to be a petite blonde named Sophie Davant who got her start doing weather 20 years ago.
But then, there's this: female hosts wear complicated tops in the style of Jean Paul Gaultier; meanwhile, America's Kelly Ripa is left to languish in a palette of corporate beige and focus-group-friendly blandness. And the male host of Télématin sometimes wears a jaunty jean jacket. Sure, I could see Regis or Matt in denim if they were on location with, say, a rock star. But would they turn the collar up?
And also, the camera angles. Today, we're discussing some new sunscreen technology with a beauty expert. The shot begins off kilter, showing profiles of guest and host as they project to the imaginary audience. Focused on the expert in the foreground, the perspective then changes to the host in an artful manner. Returning from commercial, the camera gaze lingers tightly (voyeuristically?) on the beauty expert's face while the music plays. Wrapping up the segment, she finally declares a certain brand of sunscreen most effective, but who could think about dermatology now? I want to put on a black turtleneck and play bongo drums with Truffault.
The weather girl on Channel 6 is showing her navel. She speaks of last week's hurricane in Florida, talking about the horrible devastation. All the while, her little olive belly button winks at the camera. She signs off with a bouncy clap of her hands. You, mademoiselle, are no Al Roker. I can't decide if I'm more annoyed at the objectification aspect, or the fact that it's such a gross cliché--sexpot weather girl. “Oh, her! Did you know she's not even a trained meteorologist?” my cousin reads my mind when I ask her about this particular jeune fille, “She used to do télé réalité.” When I flip back to Télématin, the host tells the female expert that men will be distracted by her legs if she sports the chiffon sarong in question. The woman responds archly, “And what will you be wearing on the beach?” And with that bit of flirtatious repartee, I mute the television.
I go to the grocery store before my friend Julie's birthday party Wednesday night. It being the day before la fête nationale, (Bastille Day), the lines are epic. An American couple behind me frowns at the inconvenience--in their Connecticut grocery store, “this would not fly.” A few minutes later, the cashier runs a price check. “Why don't you call Kara?” the American woman sighs to her husband, “Tell her we're in line at Monoprix.” As if her daughter Kara will be at all surprised, or need any further explanation.