MasterChef’s ‘Guys vs Girls’ Spin: An Interesting Plot Twist or a Stereotypical Hype Fest?

PUBLISHED ON 24/4/13 ON HITZ247

Is MasterChef taking a step back in time? MasterChef, prepare for the social media backlash!

OH MY GOD. Normally I refrain from dipping my toes into the mess that is gender politics, but this new advertisement for MasterChef 2013 is utterly horrifying. The forthcoming new series of MasterChef Australia is a groundbreaking examination of gender politics in the kitchen.

In short, the theme revealed for this year’s MasterChef is: BOYS VERSUS GIRLS. It remains to be an utter cesspool of stereotypes, sexism towards BOTH genders and annoying, tired clichés. It is so utterly horrifying that it cannot be a mistake – television is now out to be irritating as opposed to charming… a technique used to reel in the viewers (see: Joel Madden, My Kitchen Rules contestants). Calling the new series “an original” and “the world’s most loved cooking show” is like calling cancer a holiday. In the promo contestants are dressed in baby pink and powder blue. A particularly judicious contestant observes: “If you look at all the top chefs in the world, they have one thing in common: they’re all men.” A sassy lady counters with: “Women can multitask!” as she sprouts extra limbs.

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Obviously they are trying to get a rise out of people, but there are other ways to get the attention of the public without completely disregarding a century of social progression. I am stunned that this made it past their PR people. Surely nowadays there is no reason to pigeonhole people into pink frilly aprons and blue flannelette and other gender conformity norms.

“Women are better at presentation… we’re used to grooming ourselves!” Is Masterchef being serious? I’d have thought that the potential PR nightmare would’ve been too much of a risk to do something like this, but perhaps reading between the lines, maybe it just says they don’t care about the opinions of those groups in society who will complain. Is this a perfect example of why people don’t pay any attention to mainstream media anymore?

Since the show’s first season in 2009, audience numbers have dwindled, but some genius thought the idea of gender stereotypes would be just what the franchise needed to be revived. There are unspoken concepts of “girls” versus “boys”, pertaining to the inherent differences in the way they cook. In Australian culture, men are associated with a “barbie and a beer”, whereas women are associated with a mixture between working and still having time to place a meal on the table. As a frilly, flakey woman says: “Men should stick to barbecues. You know, the simple stuff.”

Even in the recent MasterChef: The Professionals, both host judges were male, Marco Pierre White being the one with a booming voice and general alpha-male vibe. Professional chefs are depicted as aggressive and egotistical, creating the image of a man. What about women in the industry who are questioning if they have to act the same?

MasterChef shapes how its audiences perceive contestants, manipulates how we view guest judges and how we see the industry as a whole. The audience are presented with the media’s gendered representation of the chef: male chefs are aggressive, whereas female chefs are gentle and calm. Some people may say it is just a television show, but the way the mainstream media creates gender stereotypes can affect careers and the way individuals see themselves.

The social media backlash of the show’s 2013 promo has already begun: YouTube comments are reverberating disgust and Twitter is full of snide tweets. Facebook has seen the link of the clip placed in numerous newsfeeds with comments pouring in. The promo is attempting to communicate certain types of people in this season; people others can relate to: ‘The Tiger Mum’, ‘The Dude’, ‘The 1950′s Housewife’, ‘The Cattle Rancher’, ‘Daddy’s Little Princess’, ‘The Tough Cookie’. Not only is it waging a war on gender politics, but also on identity stereotypes. Do individuals have to fit into the path of one of those types?

Still from the Masterchef Promotion.

Still from the Masterchef Promotion.

The promo concludes with a pie being thrown in the face of judge Gary Mehigan – perhaps what awaits the PR department and conceptual creators of this season!

Why do we need to perpetuate this ‘boys vs. girls’ mentality that pervades our society? Why can’t we all just get along, rather than reinforcing gender stereotypes and inequalities? What message is that sending to our kids – that boys and girls are constantly warring off with one another and cannot cooperate together?

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One thought on “MasterChef’s ‘Guys vs Girls’ Spin: An Interesting Plot Twist or a Stereotypical Hype Fest?

  1. Pingback: Final Reflection Piece | Silent Observer

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