Thursday, January 17, 2013

A lifestyle event, now with stereotypes!

Article originally published on Technorati as: A lifestyle event, now with stereotypes!

It's January in Scottsdale, Arizona and that huge traffic jam on the 101 freeway can only mean one thing, Barrett-Jackson's back With examples from classic to wild custom there's always something to drool over at this largest of the four Barrett-Jackson auctions. 

It's said to be "The" automotive event of the year that both collector's and wannabe's alike use to value their dreams.  Is that all original Hemi RoadRunner in your garage  a good investment or is it just another Satellite?  Barrett-Jackson will clear that up for you.

Since 1993 Speed Channel, now called just "Speed" and recently acquired by Fox networks has broadcast the event.  Each year a week's worth of coverage in the middle of January dominates the otherwise Nascar centric programming on the channel.  It offers a view into not only the cars but the lifestyle and people that surround them. 

Watch it for an hour and you notice that the "lifestyle" is populated by primarily affluent 50'ish white men.  None of which seem to have any compunction against throwing ridiculous sums of money at cars your parents probably couldn't wait to get rid of back in the day.  They call it an investment but it's dubious reasoning.  The collector car market is as fickle as Wall street.  It's more likely an attempt to recapture lost youth with a bit of braggadocio thrown in at their financial ability to try.
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Speed has always been good about staffing the event with veteran commentators from across motorsports.  Whether they've been covering Nascar or writing articles for Hot Rod there's sure to be at least one you can identify with.

Which makes a recent change to the event coverage perplexing.  Last year saw the addition of what can only be described as a "booth bunny" to the lineup.  I appreciate an attractive woman as much as the next guy but does shoehorning a stereotype from a bikini contest really add anything to the broadcast?

There's nothing wrong with female broadcasters so let's get that out of the way.  Speed's choice, however,  is little more than a foil for dumb blonde jokes.  Is there a dearth of female motorsports commentators versed in their subject? If this is the way motorsports views women I wouldn't blame them for staying away. 
Still, it's not as though Speed hasn't had access to female journalists at least familiar with motorsports.  Is it too much to ask to not perpetuate a stereotype?  It's demeaning.  On Wednesday night's broadcast for example,April Rose (of Maxim fame) was seated in a driving simulator and actually said,

"They should make one of these for women drivers where everyone stayed far away" 

I hate Internet shorthand but...O M G ! 

She even did the hair flip thing! 

Gender equality set back 50 years in 20 seconds.  Were I an affluent woman considering the purchase of one of these shining examples of lost youth I'd likely have switched off Speed channel's coverage left the auction and headed across the street to Russo and Steele instead..

I'd like to say it was an isolated incident but unfortunately it was only one of many.  It's obvious that to the old white men in charge of Fox, she is the pinnacle of female broadcasting.  

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