Clearly not satisfied with just taking our doctors, engineers, and miners, Australia is now looking to poach New Zealand's reality TV talent for Beauty and the Geek Australia. Mediaworks' channel FOUR says the next season of the gameshow will feature a Kiwi beauty and geek, but applicants must play into some heavy and insulting stereotypes in order to be eligible.
Beauty and the Geek pairs together "Geeks" (socially awkward nerd types) and "Beauties" (beautiful women handpicked for portraying bimbos), who then take on challenges to win AUD$100,000 in prizes. Along the way the geeks are given make overs, and the beauties learn a few things about nerd culture.
A spin off from a 2005 American reality TV programme, the show is The Bachelorette meets Survivor, but with the class of neither. This hasn't stopped Beauty and the Geek from becoming one of FOUR's most popular shows, with last year's season two finale bringing in around 84,000 viewers.
Idealog is unsure of exactly what qualities the show's Australian producer Shine is looking for, but various PR releases over the weekend paint a clear image rife with misogyny and geekism.
For the beauties:
"They’re preened and ready to take centre stage, but ask their opinion on politics, the solution to a mathematical equation, or how to reboot a hard drive and they’ll be stumped."
For the geeks:
"They love sci-fi, comics, gaming and computers. They are socially-awkward, conversationally-challenged and some are still waiting for their first kiss."
To get a head start in casting for the geek, talent scouts at Imagination TV have approached influencers from New Zealand's tech community. The two Idealog has spoken to, Paul Matthews and Ben Gracewood, say they won't have a bar of it.
Matthews is the CEO of the Institute of IT Professionals New Zealand (IITP), a technology industry body promoting careers in the sector. He says shows like Beauty and the Geek reflect negatively on IT, ultimately making it more difficult to attract younger people into technology professions.
"[Beauty and the Geek] reinforces the sorts of stereotypes that make lots of smart kids choose not to get into our incredibly broad and interesting industry," says Matthews.
Ben Gracewood, a developer at Marker Metro, technology commentator, and organiser of the Codemania programming conference, simply says the show is "appalling bullshit". A point he says he made clear to the talent scout that got in touch with him.
Updated 18 February 1:46pm: "They are tongue-in-check desciptions similar in tone to company names like Need a Nerd or Geekzone," says Rachel Lorimer, a spokes person for Mediaworks.
"There's certainly no intent by Mediaworks or the programme producers to promote negative stereotypes. It's made clear in the press release and other show information that the Beauty' and Geek definitions relate specifically to the characters in an entertainment show (not a documentary) not the wider population."
You'd like me to promote "Beauty and the Geek Australia"? How about you fuck off with your misogynistic bullshit? What an evil program.— nzben (@nzben) February 17, 2013
Talent scout for ‘Beauty and the Geek’ has asked us to circulate a flyer to members. Emailed back to confirm they’re looking for the beauty.— Paul Matthews (@nzPaulM) February 17, 2013
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