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Saturday, March 28, 2009

What not to wear: Paul Henry

Okay, so was shocked to see this item this morning - I missed it on Breakfast this week. In between banter on products we should buy and pseudo-news, Paul Henry would like to tell us women how we should look.

I'm sure TVNZ are more than slightly alarmed at Henry's outburst - who does he think it is that constitutes the audience for his show that they can then sell onto advertisers at this time in the morning? From the responses I have read from other blogs, I would say that TVNZ may have just made a serious dent in its female audience for Henry's show.

We are used to being judged continuously on surface appearances, this is part of what life is like as a woman under patriarchal culture. We are bombarded with unrealistic images continuously of what women should look like. In fact, by the end of the 1990s, theorists such as Jean Kilbourne estimated that the average American was exposed to over 3,000 advertisements per day. As academics such as Jean Kilbourne, Sut Jhally, Gillian Dyer, Stuart Ewen and Anthony Cortese have argued, the images of women that we see in advertising and on television are remarkably standardised according to dominant social norms of what is considered beauty: thin, glossy hair, thin nose, full lips, big eyes. The images we see of women have changed little since sociologist Erving Goffman published his 1976 study Gender Advertisements, which concluded that from a sociological perspective women were shown as having the same social status as children in advertisements. Goffman used the analogy of aggressive and passive dogs: while men, even when positioned in their underwear, were shown standing upright and strong, women in contrast were positioned cant and contorted in the same way a dog might reveal its neck to demonstrate its submissiveness. While men look straight at the camera, women in ads are overwhelmingly positioned looking vacantly into wistful space in a process Goffman terms 'licensed withdrawal'. Some 40 years after Goffman's study, it demonstrates how little we have progressed when I turn on the television and an advertisement for toilet cleaner illustrates double cleaning power by two women miraculously materialising.

Television, for women (and men), presents a distorted, sanitised, norm(alised) reality of what gender constructions are; a framework that is responsible for socialising us with levels of anxiety about whether we can fit in socially so that purchasing products becomes the magic acquisition to solve our problems. The outrage at Henry's response points to the role of the host in such a programme to be able to distinguish between the mythic realities of femininity that we are presented in advertising and the 'reality' of the news format - a distinction that clearly eludes Henry. For all those women out there who are outraged at TVNZ for allowing this to run, I suggest that we hit Breakfast in the pocket where it hurts the most by refusing to buy the brands advertised during Henry's programme. Perhaps that way, Henry can be left blowing his Civil Defence hooter under the table by himself.


At 28/3/09 11:38 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's not just women.

I'm a guy and found his comments horrifying. What struck me more than anything else though is how he just doesn't seem to give a damn.

At 28/3/09 11:53 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm surprised that someone with Paul Henry's looks feels free to comment on how other people should look!!

At 28/3/09 12:10 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

that was funny as hell. i look forward to more politically incorrect comments from paul. its good for a laugh.

At 28/3/09 12:17 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let me get this straight. As wwe speak thousands of children of dying of preventable diseases everyday and you are shocked becuase some douchbag says something mean about women on TV.

Maybe you should reaccess your priorities Phoebe.

At 28/3/09 12:27 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon 12:10

There's a big difference between politically correct and just plain offensive. Anyone who relies on Paul Henry for humour also probably finds "Two And A Half Men" hilarious.

And 12:17, that's an odious comparison. If there was even the slightest chance those two issues were mutually exclusive you may have the faintest, wispiest of points, but the fact is your argument is about as thin as Paul Henry's hairline.

At 28/3/09 1:51 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It may be odious but it is correct.

At 28/3/09 2:31 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

and yet you're taking the time to complain about a post when those same children are dying.

You monster. How do you sleep at night?

At 28/3/09 2:53 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Paul might have a few issues about gender and roles etc.

He did lose a previously held National seat to Labour, that would be to Labour and the Transgendered Georgina Byers.

I expect this sh*t from Paul but the real problem is Williams laughing (encouragement?) and Alison defending him as only reading viewer comments.

At 28/3/09 2:55 pm, Blogger dave said...

Moral topdog, I suppose you were out their campaiging to save the children and just had to dash into a internet cafe to comment on this trivial little episode.
This is a good post. Henry is a patriarchal arsehole relying on whoop whoops from other arseholes like you.
This was bad enough, but remember what he said about Georgina Meyer when campaigning for National in Wairarapa, "at least Ive still got balls".
He needs a good kick just to prove he's not lying.

At 28/3/09 4:34 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"You monster. How do you sleep at night?"

Drugs help numb the pain.

Yeah I'm a hypocrite but at least I don't pretend to care like Phoebe does.

At 28/3/09 5:31 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Better people than you who actually care about dieing children and are doing something about it are still allowed to talk about whatever the fuck they want, no matter how trivial it might be compared with the dieing children.

At 28/3/09 5:40 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm also a guy and was horrified. I thought he was going to apologize after the letter from the woman who was brought to tears but he just kept on ripping into them. How ignorant is he? I think that he really believed he was being hilarious.

At 28/3/09 5:48 pm, Anonymous nemesis said...

The matter is one of basic decency and respect for others. Ridiculing someone for their appearance on national television is just wrong. Had the woman had a cleft palate, a port wine stain, a bad burn scar or a fake eye, would it be acceptable to joke about it? It is one thing to make fun of clothing, or perhaps even piercings or tattoos, since these are matters of choice. But to ridicule someone for the manifestation of what could be one of a number of medical conditions is outrageous--as it would be even if there is no medical condition involved.

Plus, Henry is a coward--he said nothing to her when she was interviewed, then smirked and joked after she was of the air. Allison Mau should have walked off the set rather than sit there in mock protest.

Put in comparative perspective, so as to get this straight--Paul Buchanan gets fired for an intemperate private email that was leaked to the media, leaving him with a ruined career, blacklisted in NZ academia and forced to live abroad after years of contributing to the public debate in NZ (both in class and outside of it). Paul Henry, who has contributed zero to the public interest, openly displays bigotry and an absolute meanness of spirit construed along gender lines on the most important media outlet in NZ and does not even get a mild sanction from his employer. Go figure, but at a minimum it says a lot about the state of affairs in NZ today.

At 28/3/09 6:37 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What the hell was that woman thinking coming on TV with a moustache? she could have at least shaved it off for the interview.

At 28/3/09 7:15 pm, Anonymous gfy said...

anon at 6.37 ..i guess YOU are paul henry's target audience .I also happen to think, that like him, you are an idiot.

We women should shave, pluck, wax etc etc so ugly leering men like paul henry can fantasize that we are all hairless pubescent girls of 9 or 10 I suppose.

Go fuck yrself henry and anon above .

At 28/3/09 7:29 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Judging by the touchiness of 'gfy' comment it can only be assumed she is a woman with a moustache.


And do your legs too while you're at it.

At 28/3/09 11:08 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

OK Paul - we know it's you posting under the 'anonymous' pseudonym!

At 28/3/09 11:21 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...


And do your legs too while you're at it."

There's a place for males like you - and its called The Taliban - or maybe you could try the 1950's.

Either way I'd imagine the only relationship you're capable of sustaining involves a blow up doll and a rubber repair kit.

At 28/3/09 11:28 pm, Blogger SeaJay said...

The whole studio was laughing about the place, even that nice man Peter Williams, Ms Mau and her faux mock horror 'no Paul no' intro to the whole clip, the shame of it. I guess what gets me is that this shit Henry - who is horrible - is manipulated by someone like Mau - and her producers - and we .....watch. And Henry says - quite clearly - 'its only TV'......

At 29/3/09 12:02 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"There's a place for males like you - and its called The Taliban - or maybe you could try the 1950's."

The Taliban have a point. Ever since women have had the same rights as men the world has gone into a deathspiral.

"Better people than you who actually care about dieing children and are doing something about it are still allowed to talk about whatever the fuck they want"

Right and if blogging counts as 'doing something' the truly tumeke is the last refuge of the self delusional.

At 29/3/09 10:40 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This little prick just makes anglophilic closet poofs horny. Axe the lightweight.

At 29/3/09 12:58 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Paul Henry is out of control. He seems to take joy in denigrating people, including his junior colleagues on the show, and generally treats the program like it's his own personal wanktorium.

If TVNZ needs to cut costs, I'd say Henry's is easily one of the larger salaries.

The best way to make TVNZ take notice is to lodge a complaint with the BSA:


At 29/3/09 1:44 pm, Anonymous Grant said...

what does this have to do with "political correctness" ?? Its about an arrogant idiot on television with simple bad manners ...how does a public outcry by television viewers to that somehow become "political correctness"? Thats such a meanlingless term whereever its used anyway.

At 29/3/09 8:12 pm, Anonymous James said...

"There's a big difference between politically correct and just plain offensive. Anyone who relies on Paul Henry for humour also probably finds "Two And A Half Men" hilarious"

It is....Charlie Sheen is a crack up!

Im waiting for the Stephaine Mills jokes to come out....should be some doozies!Im formulating one that starts ..." The Elephant man is in a bar when Stephanie Mills walks in...."


Hey Anon (the obviously humour free lezzie one)....start a group!

At 29/3/09 8:54 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I suggest that we hit Breakfast in the pocket where it hurts the most by refusing to buy the brands advertised during Henry's programme.

Yeah, good luck Phoebe, like that'll work.
Name one company that advertises during the Breakfast show. Having trouble? Yeah I thought so, given how much lefties hate Paul Henry due to his National affiliations I bet none of you even saw it live anyway.

You've all taken about a week to hear about it (whaleoil blog on it atleast three days before you clowns picked it up) and then see it on youtube before you could post your staged outrage at what he said.

None of you would even know what companies advertise while Paul Henry is on tv, let alone actually buy any of those products, the irony is that you will actually have to watch the show atleast once to figure out who you are going to boycott - and it won't work because this time next week nobody else is going to give a fuck.

At 29/3/09 11:12 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Who said blogging was 'doing something'? People are also allowed to do whatever the fuck they want in their spare time also you useless tard.

At 29/3/09 11:14 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is no doubt that Paul Henry is a total prat and a dick and he's so odious i can't stand to watch / listen to him - so i don't.

However: it's fair to say that some women do have moustaches, and its also fair to say that most men do, or can. That's the thing: if we don't want to look like we have a moustache, we just shave it off. If I was to appear on national tv (even if it was only the low rated breakfast show) then i would probably make sure I had a shave before i went on tv, so i didn't look like i had a 5 oclock stubble.

So it really is nothing to do with him being a dick, its more that she feels she has the right to appear natural, and not have a shave or a wax, and so therefore she should / must be used to people commenting on it.

There are a few women in my city with definite beards and / or mo's - and so the fact that they don't shave them off or pluck them out is saying that they are making a political statement.

Its not like they can't have noticed them....

At 29/3/09 11:26 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a woman i'm appalled at the little twits comments , on so many levels I barely know where to start.

I feel like writing to Stephanie Mills and offering her support for must be a truly awful time , to be mocked on national tv by a jumped up little pratt like p.h and then to have the whole issue extended on talkback - I heard Matthew Hooten tonight agreeing with a caller ... "well yes i'm surprised, why didn't the make-up dept sort it out before she went n air " !!! OK, so what IS it about right wing males and chauvinism ?

I want to tell my daughters " Stephanie Mills is a woman with integrity , a woman who has displayed bravery and the courage of her convictions many many times in the past AND she is a FAR better role model than the blonde who sat next to p.h and DID NOTHING while p.h mocked and derided Mills ".
I sat with a group of friends today and we discussed what p.h had done - without exception it was agreed that he is a little creep , a 'full of himself' little creep and most of all a BULLY .

Anyone who disputes that we have a bullying culture in NZ need look no further than this shameful episode , a woman is held up to ridicule and mocked on national TV and the person who does it isn't sacked , in fact large groups of Kiwis ring talkback and AGREE with him.

At 30/3/09 2:23 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Phoebee's point that Hideous Henry will have turned off a painful chunk of his puny viewership is a good one, and, hopefully will lead to the smirking quick-witted dumb cunt being arse-kicked into oblivion. He's the new Veitch.

At 30/3/09 9:44 am, Anonymous Right Said Fred said...

"From the responses I have read from other blogs, I would say that TVNZ may have just made a serious dent in its female audience for Henry's show."

Lol....a small beltway survey..clearly indicative of the mood of the nation..

At 30/3/09 11:07 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You not allowed to call woman fat, bald, old, mo-wearing etc zzzzz. You can all join that woman's mo support group Paul was talking about.

At 30/3/09 11:08 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

it was funny as hell!!!! learn to laugh people. she KNEW she would have people looking at her thinking "look at that bloody thing..ooohh! shave it!!"..but no she's woman, she's proud, she can't be seen to conform to any part of modern society. she should hug a whale and go to the depths with it. and you too phoebe. LIGHTEN UP!!


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