Ugly Betty’s ugly Golden Globe

The actress who plays Ugly Betty said she thought it was awesome that America has embraced a completely new face.

Ugly face of American comedyNew face, her ass! Ugly Betty is a new face like Urkel was not Webster, Gary Coleman, Fat Albert, and Kid Dynamite. Like Alf was not Ronald Reagan.

The best thing I can say about Ugly Betty –I learned tonight from the acceptance speech– the show is about hispanic American immigrants, a faction of our population sorely lacking in heroic protagonists on Anglo TV. Too bad the creators consider Hispanic ugly.

What does Ugly Betty say about how Americans see themselves on TV when to see ugly, we have to fit an actress with prosthetics, bad hair, braces, and a fat suit. And of course, eyeglasses. Ugly is artificial. We seem also to want to say that ugly is genetic and it’s for keeps.

Although the dental braces indicate Betty is consiously on track for self-improvement and TV normalcy, her transistional ugliness is also a movie insider’s ugly. It’s the stereotypical Hollywood beginner’s ugly where female Horatio Algers start out as caterpillars but everyone is already assured a happy ending because from the begining they could recognize under the familiar cliched trappings the butterfly that is going to emerge, usually a recognizable beautiful actress. The actress who accepted the Golden Globe award was of course very pretty.

Except where most story lines dealing with appearances are guided by the idea that beauty is only skin deep etc, Ugly Betty is self-consciously inferior. struggling as she is every episode to prove and improve herself.

Though not enough to dress better. A superficiality that strikes me with Ugly Betty is the insistence on ugly clothes and support shoes. How many ugly people do you know address corporate boards in their grandmother’s worst frock? One of the glaring aspects about unattractiveness in the real world is the insistence of some homely people to dress like they are not.

World Cinema, like typical domestic independent film, is distinguished by actors who look like authentic people. The faces are real, the complexions imperfect, the looks asymmetric, the hair whatever it is. Their stories are thus easier to communicate and identify with. In Hollywood, plastic is real, and the audiences who watch the blockbusters don’t get anything from the experience but adrenaline.

Why did I not see the Hispanic component in Ugly Betty before -except for the dad who doesn’t speak English and who gets a visit from the INS? Because Ugly Betty’s caricature masks every nuance of reality. Her artificial face shows cultural, social or racial feature. She is a potato head with four or five “ugly” accessories, one of them being race.

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Eric Verlo

About Eric Verlo

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3 Responses to Ugly Betty’s ugly Golden Globe

  1. Avatar Tony says:

    Actually, Betty the Ugly is an inferior version of one of the best telenovelas ever, the Colombian soap opera, ‘Betty, La Fea’. It ran on Colombian television about 7 years ago and then spread to being shown all over Latin American television everywhere.

    The name of the show is a play on words. ‘Vete, Fea!’ pronounced the same as ‘Betty Fea’ means, “Get out of here, Ugly One!”, something a friend or family member might affectionately say to another one (female) while playing.

    In fact, I tell my kid that all the time in joke when she is bugging me. And Betty is a common name in Latin America, where it spread years ago from the English speaking world. A cute play on words.

  2. Eric Eric says:

    Norman Lear’s All in the Family had already been a popular BBC sitcom for years featuring a white British bigot before Archie Bunker became the prototypical American conservative.

    Three’s Company was a daft English TV comedy too before Aaron Spelling recast it in Southern California with Suzanne Sommers as the American Dream of a girl next door sidestepping what would become Leasuresuit Larry and nimble Jack of folklore fame.

    Who is not an immigrant?

  3. Avatar Jonah says:

    It does flash both ways though. The beehive hairdo of the early 60s was an attempt by white girls to mimic a black hairstyle, which in turn was a Black attempt to straighten their hair to more closely match the White standard of beauty in the 50s.

    A really ugly thing that is happening is the attempts to mimic what is perceived as Ethnic Gangster behavior, dress, lifestyle and language.

    Maybe something good will come of it all, people might start looking at the richness of the cultures rather than the superficials.

    Perhaps learn the languages of other cultures… who knows?

    One final thought: at Ethnic beauty stores, you still find products like hair straightener and actually skin bleach called Toner.

    I think of toners as a special ink you use in printers. But that’s just me, I suppose.
    It is disturbing that people would feel pressure to chemically alter their complexion just to fit in.

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