The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

“Catfish” needs a facelift

“Catfish: The TV Show,” henceforth referred to as “Catfish,” is a recent, popular MTV television show, and lately I can’t watch it without wanting to incinerate my television in a blazing fit of sheer anger.

The basic premise of the show is as follows. Two people have been chatting online, and they love each other, but have not met in real life.

One of the two people contacts the producers of the show, saying they need some help in determining whether their online relationship is the real deal or not.

From there, Nev Schulman and Max Joseph — the hosts of the show — look into the person in question and determine whether or not they are a “catfish”: a person who creates fake online profiles and pretends to be someone they are not.

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The show, in and of itself, is not a bad thing. Given the digital age in which we live, “Catfish” is enticingly relevant; more and more people are seeking relationships online. In fact, I really like the basis of the show.

In execution, though, the show is abysmal and downright offensive. I have watched several episodes that could not be more politically
incorrect if they tried. At times, it is cringe-worthy.

During interviews, the hosts of the show can usually handle asking questions about sexuality pretty well. The worst it gets is the repeated, not-so-subtle implication that one can change their sexuality.

The really infuriating questions however, tend to accumulate whenever a transgender person appears on the show, because the hosts have no idea how to approach gender.

That certainly doesn’t stop them from showcasing transgender “catfishes,” though it probably should.Instead, the hosts of “Catfish” stroll into the interview and blatantly pronoun swap, clearly unaware that they should be using pronouns based on gender, not sex.

In “Kya & Alyx,” a girl (Kya) falls in love with a man she met online (Alyx). All is not well in digital paradise though, because both have been lying to one another. Alyx is actually Dani, and although born female, Dani identifies himself as a transgender man, unbeknownst to Kya.

This plot twist plays on the overarching fear held by many transphobic individuals: that transgender people are somehow trying to dupe them with their gender.

This is simply untrue and obviously troubling in a world that is far from free of anti-transgender violence.
Even after the “big reveal,” Nev naively continues to call Dani “she” and “her,” and goes so far as to confront Kya about her sexuality because according to Nev, Kya is basically dating another woman.

It takes a teaspoon-full of common sense or a five second Google search to respectfully ask questions about a transgender person.
Evidently, that’s expecting too much, and audience reception reflects this lack of respect for transgender individuals.

This type of ignorance is not unique to “Catfish,” however. It is probably indicative of where America is at with understanding gender

Take to Twitter after a screening of “Catfish,” and you see the same kind of mistakes, such as pronoun issues; the only difference is the
frequent use of derogatory terms.

It is not a coincidence that the most viewed episode is one of the two episodes with a transgender person.

People love to gawk, and MTV encourages it by presenting material that does not educate, but rather makes the popular mistake of perpetuating ignorance.

Even as they renew it for a second season, MTV should seriously consider getting one of the brains behind “Catfish” enrolled in a Queer Studies course.

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“Catfish” needs a facelift