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Wed Dec 12, 2012, 09:08 AM

Foxy Ladies -- Why one network applies so much makeup [View all]

I was in the break room making coffee, and ran across this item from September. Just thought I'd share

?m95yky

Fox no doubt has several reasons for pursuing the look one guest described as “Fox glam.” The advent of high-­definition TV screens is probably one of them: saturated colors (including, conveniently, red) work well in HD. And then there’s the management. Gabriel Sherman, a journalist working on a book about Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes, notes makeup’s unique role in Ailes’s creation myth, which dates to a fateful encounter with Richard Nixon. When Nixon lost to John F. Kennedy, in 1960, many said that his fate had been sealed by bad makeup during a televised debate. Before an appearance on The Mike Douglas Show seven years later, Nixon groused about having to stoop so low as to go on television; Ailes, the executive producer for the show, persuaded him to embrace the medium, and the makeup. Nixon hired him to work on his next presidential campaign, and won.


Ailes, Sherman points out, under-stands that while TV news may be journalism, it is also entertainment. “He works like a Broadway producer,” says Sherman (indeed, at one point Ailes was a Broadway producer). That, Sherman says, is why Fox sets look like stage sets: “The colors are brighter, the camera angles faster. Everything pops on the screen more, every­thing is eye candy.”

But the best explanation for Fox glam may be the channel’s largely conservative audience. An argument can be made that conservative women are typically less squeamish than progressive ones about embracing what the sociologist Catherine Hakim calls “erotic capital,” otherwise known as using your looks to get ahead. See the gleeful Laura Ingraham/­Ann Coulter school of beauty­ology, which holds that the angrier and better-­coiffed you are, the more attention you will receive. The Republican Party welcomes looks in a woman—Michele Bachmann, Sarah Palin, Nikki Haley—and so does Fox.


The media critic Jack Shafer adds that the women you see on Fox are not just winsome, lavishly cosmeticized women, but winsome women paired with older men. He says the network almost appears to be taking a page from the theory of evolutionary psychology, which argues that women are attracted to prosperous (often older) men, and these men are attracted to women whose youth and curves signal fertility. “

The men are kind of frumpy older men,” Sherman agrees, “paired with hyper-feminine women. That kind of kinetic energy between the sexes is one of the reasons Fox is successful. Oftentimes the older male hosts—Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity—in the prime time, at night, are paired with women, debating politics, and the women are generally much younger … It almost goes back to 1940s Hollywood.” For guests, the Hollywood screwball routine can be unnerving. It was for Nell Minow, a critic of inflated CEO pay, who was taken aback when a producer urged her to “attack the masculinity” of her debate partner.

http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2012/09/foxy-ladies/309054/

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