Is “Stop Pretty Boys” any different from reality tv? February 6, 2008Posted by Malene Charlotte Larsen in Facebook, Reality tv.
Yesterday the Danish news media reported on a new Facebook group called “Stop Pretty Boys!” (see e.g. press coverage here, here or here). The group was created by two Danish students as a joke and in order to ridicule boys who care about their looks, wear tight clothes, make-up or a lot of self tanning cream etc. On the site the creators upload pictures of boys/men who they consider to be “pretty boys” and the members of the group then make fun of and comment on the pictures. According to the news media, this is the fastest growing Facebook group in Denmark (at the moment there are slightly over 28.000 members).
A couple of journalists called me up yesterday to ask me what I think of this group, if it is a form of bullying, a new Facebook trend and so forth. First of all, as a researcher I really don’t have any opinion about this group. I have not been following it and know very little about it. Therefore, I didn’t want to comment on it. Second of all, I do not consider this kind of public ridicule to be a new “trend” or “phenomenon” in relation to online social networking. It is not what online social networking is really about and it is in stark contrast to the normal loving discourse between IRL-friends on social network sites.
However, the many critical questions asked by the journalists made me and some of my colleagues think about something that – once upon a time – was considered to be a new trend, but is fairly mainstream today; reality tv.
This kind of entertainment is usually about ridiculing specific groups of people. At the moment the public service channel DR (Danish Broadcasting Corporation) runs a popular show similar to American Idol called “X Factor“. In the first couple of shows many people (who cannot sing) are publicly ridiculed. (And the show has more than a million viewers which is a lot in a Danish context.) Also, other currently popular reality tv shows like “De Unge Mødre” (“The Young Mothers”), “Supernanny” or “Paradise Hotel” are concepts where specific groups of people are exposed and more or less publicly ridiculed.
Therefore I ask: Is “Stop Pretty Boys!” really any different from reality tv ? At least, I would hesitate to call this kind of practice a social networking trend or new internet phenomenon…