This vs. That vs. LADIES
She was a scientist – I knew it immediately because she wore a lab coat and glasses and no pants. She pointed to my tentacle mustache laying on the table and asked what it was.
“It’s a tentacle mustache,” I said. She looked unsure, so I elaborated: “A mustache that looks like a tentacle.”
She held it up, examining it as only a scientist could.
“Where does it go?” she asked, with a scientist’s talent for knowing exactly the right question to ask.
“Under your nose,” I said, immediately before realizing my lack of scientific imagination. I quickly added, “Or other places, I guess.”
She put it down and pulled out a postcard, though I’m not sure from where. She handed it to me, saying, “You like science, right? You should watch this show. You’ll like it.”
The card was a promotional flyer for This vs. That, a new show that, according to the card, uses science to test claims.
“Like Mythbusters,” said my companion, Surly Amy.
“Only better,” said the scientist’s companion, who appeared to be cosplaying as Pamela Anderson wearing the Baywatch bikini with a towel wrapped around her. It took me a moment to realize that it wasn’t a towel, but a strapless jersey t-shirt dress with the logo of This vs. That printed on it. I turned back to the scientist and realized that under her lab coat she was not only wearing no pants but also she was wearing a t-shirt that had been cleverly ripped in such a way as to reveal the maximum amount of skin while still leaving just enough room for the This vs. That logo.
“Awesome,” Amy said. “And you guys are on this show?” She asked the question as I examined the card, which featured the show’s logo and three middle aged white men.
“Oh, no,” said Pamela Anderson, “but I’ve seen some clips of it and it’s great. Really funny.”
“You haven’t seen a full episode?”
“Well no, but . . . ” she started to say, when the scientist interrupted.
“I have, and they’re really good,” she said.
“We’ve also seen the guys at panels here at the convention,” added Pamela.
As we gave polite smiles and nodded, the scientist looked slightly apologetic. “We’re paid promoters,” she explained. We nodded. I had heard of her kind, before, though I’d never actually seen one in the flesh. I’d been to four DragonCons and four CONvergences, but this was my first run-in with the legendary “Booth Babe.” As the realization dawned, the two women waved goodbye and moved on to the next table.
“Booth babes” are women who are hired by companies to promote their wares at conventions despite the fact that the women have nothing to do with the product and occasionally have no idea what it is they’re promoting. I’ve heard of cons like PAX outlawing them because they treat women like sex dolls used to attract stupid and
undersexed oversexed (thanks to Smashley in the comments below) heterosexual men to booths like horny moths to a half-naked flame, making everyone who isn’t a stupid oversexed heterosexual man feel uncomfortable and unwelcome. So I always assumed they were on their way out of style, until I met the This vs. That promo team.
I would have forgotten about this interaction were it not for the fact that for the past few days, I have periodically received spammy Tweets from the This vs. That Twitter account:
That one links to an Imgur album titled, “Gorgeous Ladies of DragonCon,” which mostly consists of pictures of the booth babes.
I didn’t click that link because I found the previous one so repugnant.
With that last Tweet, I finally clicked the link and watched the video. Then I watched it again to see if I was missing anything, and then at last I responded:
@thisvsthatshow I don't get it.
@rebeccawatson Watch the video. Make a choice.
@thisvsthatshow I don't know anything about them though, they both seem nice
When I didn’t hear back from them, I checked out their Twitter feed, finding such gems as:
@thisvsthatshow I don't twerk.
— Amy Ratcliffe (@amy_geek) September 8, 2013
I guess I wasn’t the only one getting some poorly targeted Tweets.
Finally, a TV show that will REALLY help you get laid. http://t.co/cZ3IDF6pNX
If you click on that video, you won’t find out how to get laid but you will get a lot of this sound: “PSSSSSSSHOOOOOOOWWWWWWWW!” Also the word “Booya,” and a lot of quotes about how great the show is without any hint as to who may be giving these compliments.
In fact, watching that video made me 300% less likely to get laid, thanks to all my sex parts shriveling up and dying due to the frequent shots of women’s asses interspersed with lines like, “A program that speaks truth to power,” and “The vast preponderance of the TV landscape has deliberately chosen to explicate its content,” and “When it comes to facts and science, we will never elucidate, demystify, expound, oversimplify – you know, dumb it down?”
Plus there’s the conspiratorial suggestion that no TV show has ever examined which flotation device is better for saving your life if you crash in water because of Big Airplane, the powerful industry lobbying group that wants to stop these dudes from bobbing around a swimming pool holding seat cushions but somehow failed to notice Discovery Channel crashing a 727 in Mexico.
That’s about as far down the This vs. That unfunny misogyny hole I wanted to climb. I’ll conclude with a few suggestions:
Do you want to see (real) explosions and myth-busting? Watch Mythbusters.
Do you want to see tits and asses? Check out this new thing called the Internet, where you can see all the body parts you want for free.
Do you want to make a show for people who love science and critical thinking? Try treating women like people instead of props, and also try being funny. Hell, I occasionally watch Top Gear because it’s funny despite the fact that the hosts are shitty, lying, conservative jackasses. But if you want to be the next Mythbusters, note that they manage to be funny, progressive, and pretty damned scientifically rigorous for a 30-minute TV show. It’s not impossible.