September 29, 2007
Cut to a gangly college student wearing clashing patterns and suspenders. He nervously laughs, revealing his two front teeth, the size and shape of tombstones. He’s slightly hunched over with his eyes half-closed, giving the impression that his double-rimmed glasses aren’t quite as efficient as they seem. He awkwardly backs into a corner, pretending he’s invisible, which most of the time he is. A busty blonde with the I.Q of a trash can walks into the very same cafeteria. Most people wonder how she even graduated from high school, let alone made it to college. Her voice is breathy, a quality achieved through years of practice. She walks slowly, swaying her hips, making sure to show everything off. She might be aesthetically pleasing, but only after the collagen, extensions, and layers of makeup. When it rains, her face looks like a streaky rainbow. The male college student is what we call a “geek” and although there are many names for the female, she is technically considered a “beauty”. Ashton Kutcher decided to put the two together on national television and call it a social experiment.

It’s no secret that our society thrives on exploiting themselves in order to attain wealth or fame. Why are these people any different? The “social experiment” is supposed to help the geeks gain social skills and the beauties to magically become intelligent members of society. However, at the end of the competition, no one has changed that much. The beauties and geeks agree that their lives have changed, but the transition isn’t apparent to the viewer. The geeks get make-overs, but that doesn’t make them less awkward or more confident. The beauties learn how to do various things, but that doesn’t improve their speech or make them mature, intelligent members of society. All the show has accomplished is finding a new way to safely create and further promote labels.

Imagine waiting in line through cold rain, sickening heat, or impossible snow in order to prove to a group of strangers that you are stupid. Imagine having to demonstrate how you are flawed on national television. Can you name all of the state capitals and say them backwards? GEEK! You don’t know who the president is and you’ve got some lovely lowlights? BEAUTY! It’s that easy. Of course, not just anyone is chosen. You must be the most extreme form of the label you’re representing.

Blaming society for encouraging the exploitation of our nation’s youth is always easy. The issue is that all of these people volunteer themselves to be humiliated, criticized, stereotyped, and subjected to all kinds of ridiculous tests. In a world were people will do anything to prove their individuality, the true rebels are the ones working to abide by the constrictions of their label. These men and women from “Beauty and the Geek” openly admit to being one-dimensional caricatures of real people. It’s obvious that most of them want the money and not the experience. My question is, how many of these people really want to change?

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