Friday, May 05, 2006

My contribution to reality TV

M. and I watched the PBS living-history show Texas Ranch House, which turned into "MacBeth in West Texas," as several bloggers noted.

I guess that means that the three Comanches were the three witches.

Afterwards, M. was critiquing some of the gender stereotyping that went on, although to be congruent with its setting year of 1867, there should have been more gender stereotyping.

But I got to thinking: how could we do living history with some non-traditional gender roles? Here are my suggestions, offered freely to the producers of reality TV shows.

1. New England Transcendentalist House. Set about 1840. Everyone, male and female, converses on high-flown topics, writes poetry, and plans utopian communities, although one middle-aged guy does dominate the breakfast conversation.

2. Theosophical House. Filmed in India and set in the 1880s. Everyone reads books on comparative religion, meditates, and gossips about just who is really in touch with the Ascended Masters. Servants do all the work. At times the re-enactors interview pubescent Indian boys to see if any of them might be avatars, especially the cute ones.

3. Peaceful Ancient Matriarchy House. Filmed perhaps in Bulgaria or Ukraine. There is very little conflict, of course, except over the missing bronze mirror and over the cuter adolescent boys. Anthropology grad student Maura Finkelstein from Texas Ranch House reprises her cowgirl role, demonstrating that she can herd cattle as well as any patriarchal, thunder god-worshipping Indo-European.

All the scholarly advisors for Peaceful Ancient Matriarchy House will be hired from the faculty of the California Institute of Integral Studies.


Blogger branruadh said...

Oh, suh-NERK. :)

12:13 AM  
Blogger prairie mary said...

According to Louisa May Alcott, the Transcentalist House, though filled with ingenious little homemade labor-saving devices, was basically made possible by women doing the usual things -- cooking, washing, keeping the fire going.

You might remember that in the spirit of communal equality, the Transcendentalists planted their small grains mixed together. It all went swimmingly except at harvest when they ripened at different times and had to be sorted.

Sounds like Dagwood and Blondie to me, except with the high thoughts.

Prairie Mary

5:48 PM  

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