Manning Up

I have no doubt that our overload of civic frustrations is the main reason "Beauty and the Geek" is so popular.

Let us admit that nearly all of us are major geeks, failing at the supposedly simple task of maintaining the 1948-model state we inherited from our forefathers. We geeks elected a government of certified dolts who would without a doubt have failed the first round of interviews for a reality show looking for nerds, such as Channel 10's "Beauty and the Geek."

But unlike the geeks starring in this likeable show, they, the cabinet ministers, refuse to get eliminated. Take, for example, Interior Minister Eli Yishai, a typical geek who this week mustered every means of persuasion to prove to television reporter Sivan Rahav-Meir that he is being persecuted not because of his failures, but because he is an ultra-Orthodox Mizrahi Jew.

Manning Up
Eran Wolkowski

I have no doubt, therefore, that our overload of civic frustrations is the main reason "Beauty and the Geek" is so popular. It lets us laugh at our own doltishness through half a dozen geeks and half a dozen bimbos. They help us console ourselves that one day, if geek X can change a tire, clean a car's air filter, change the starter and remember how many boyfriends singer Ninet has had, then maybe Eli Yishai will learn to take responsibility for the Carmel fire or Avigdor Lieberman will become a worthy foreign minister.

The classic "Beauty and the Beast," from which "Beauty and the Geek" took its name, was about the tension between outer and inner beauty. Through true love, a monster can be transformed into a prince. Something of this idea survived in "Beauty and the Geek," when one of the bimbos described how her geek was at first "a man in appearance but not in character," but gradually became a real man - that is, someone who knows his way around women and lost his embarrassment at splashing around in a pool with her.

Another tells how she learned to like pudgy Alex, the show's uber-geek. With the attention and hugs that will be showered on him for the rest of his life, as she did during the show, he will become a happy human being.

Altogether, the pseudo-bimbos act with common sense. Any reasonable viewer can see they are consciously playing a role, and that they are not really dumb blondes. This is without a doubt driving women's rights activists out of their minds, and it is a wonder they haven't obtained a cease-and-desist order against the show.

In this respect, the show is a resounding slap in the face to the self-righteous, politically correct bluestockings of our times. It proves that childish naivete is still a firm foundation of femininity, including not being interested in knowing, for example, that Theodor Herzl was the visionary of the state, who David Ben-Gurion was and when the Six-Day War was fought.

"Beauty and the Geek" is there explicitly to restore conservative values to our consciousness, but this paradoxically contains something subversive against the public's self-righteousness concerning women. The simple message from "Beauty and the Geek" is that we still perceive the ideal woman as a pre-cultural, emotional figure who runs on instincts and intelligence.

But the even greater subversion in this ultra-conservative show is about masculinity. It shows us step-by-step how to transform a geek - a creature lacking any manly characteristics, bordering on homosexuality - into a functioning straight male through artificial social pressure.

Social pressure works wonders: With its help, the geeks overcame their natural reluctance to abuse others last week and assailed customers wonderfully when disguised as supermarket checkout clerks. This week, pressured to act like men, they overcame their fear of parachuting out of an airplane. They learned to court women, and so on.

What, in fact, does this say? Compared to femininity, which is a supposedly natural state, masculinity is acquired. In other words, theoretically, many so-called real men among us are mutations of gays, in the worst case, or geeks, in the best case, after somebody pressed the button and decided they had to act like men. On "Beauty and the Geek," we see these processes accelerated in front of the camera. In real life, we also see the mutations of this geek education to masculinity.

Take Moshe Katsav, for example.