TVB's wannabe brides set off storm over values
Lo Wei and Vivienne Chow
A group of academics and professionals have set up an alliance to fight what they call the 'distorted values' of a new TVB reality series.
Bride Wannabes, which first aired on Monday of last week, brands single women 'leftovers' and tramples on women's dignity, Ho Chi-wan, a retired academic, said yesterday.
The 10-epsiode series follows five single women searching for 'Mr Right', with the help of what the group says is questionable advice from self-described life coaches and beauty experts.
'We are concerned about its ideologies and approach,' Ho, a former Polytechnic University associate professor of applied social sciences, said.
In one episode of the series, a life coach called Winnie advises one of the contestants: 'When you keep your mouth sealed, you are Central. But when you start speaking, you are Mong Kok.'
Another coach, Santino, who claimed to be a lecturer on relationships, taught the women that they should lean over at a 45-degree angle when having a conversation with a member of the opposite sex.
'Remember one key point about sending SMS [texts], your message must be shorter than the other [person's], and make sure he is the last one to send a message, not you,' Santino also told the contestants.
Ho said the 'pseudo experts' gave distorted and narrow definitions of beauty and success for women.
TVB did not explain the professional background or experience of the show's 'experts'.
'The show looks at single women as if it is a social problem, which is a backward gender concept,' Susanne Choi Yuk-ping, associate professor of sociology at Chinese University, said.
Choi, director of the university's gender research centre, also said advertising supporting the show played on women's negative images of their bodies to sell products.
'TVB is being irresponsible as a public broadcaster,' she said.
The 'Say No to Bride Wannabes' group was formed last week and includes Ho and 11 other members, including clinical psychologists and scholars. Its Facebook page had been 'liked' by more than 1,600 people as of last night.
The group has complained to the Broadcasting Authority about the show and called on the public to do so as well. But TVB celebrated the high ratings for the first episode at a party last night in Tsim Sha Tsui.
The show had an average of 26 rating points last week, meaning an estimated 1.7 million viewers were glued to the screen when it was aired.