Saturday, April 13, 2013

Accused of being an ungracious, acidic, snotty and ageist "wretch," regarding the Great British Sewing Bee

I have been taken to task by another blogger for being an "ungracious wretch," ageist and snotty and acidic. 
As in:

"Inkstain, you are an ungracious wretch!"

Well, I was a bit snotty about the moderator whose interruptions were annoying, but not the contestants.

Wow, did I touch a nerve out there in someone who misread me as dissing experience in favor of telegenics.

"Specifically, the author complained that the two people who were sent home were young and telegenic.."

Nope. Not guilty. Not true. Absolutely not true. That would be very weird, to complain that Tilly and Mark were telegenic or younger. They are, but misreading me says more about the critic's sensitivities than my post.

I observed that Tilly and Mark were eliminated on the basis of their inferior stitching skills along a narrow range of tasks and I decried the format that did that. They had other things to offer, sewing wise, quite irrespective of their age or looks. They offered fashion sense and variety.

I’m sorry my indignation at the "elimination" format was confused with ageism, when I’m closest in age to the older ladies than the younger ones myself, with 47 years of sewing behind me. I think Ann is wonderful. I think Sandra is wonderful. I admire their skills no end.

But my point was that a show that doesn’t place a little more emphasis on fashion and up-to-date style opportunities in balance to technical skills, risks conveying a lopsided message about the varying rewards and joys of sewing to younger viewers.
That would be a shame.

As a cliffhanger, the program fails to be exciting viewing, when the undoubted skillsets of Sandra and Ann are obvious (and well-earned.)

Also, it is my “ungracious wretch” humble opinion that a couple of the winning choices, the denim shirtdress and the ribbon in the broderie look by the two older contestants veered on the dowdy side. And to be fair to me, remember, even the judge Patrick chided Ann for being too conservative with her skirt pockets.

I'm not anti-age, I'm anti-staid. Ann's Burda blouse was very fashion forward, although retro at the same time. Burda called that particular feature, "forties style," I recall. Cool.

So, well then, who do I think should “win?” asks this blogger, declaring her "hackles raised." (Where are hackles, I always wonder, and do they pose a fitting problem when they rise? Is she doing a Full Hackle Adjustment thanks to my ungracious post? But I digress.)

My critic has missed, missed, missed the point I made, utterly.

Everyone. Everyone should win.

Thanks, Lisa Laree of Sew Random, for defending my point (so some people were reading more closely, thank God, and not obsessing over my reference to hair-sprayed aunts. btw. I'm a hairsprayed aunt and I sew ruffles myself. Remember the 'Aurora Quandry' post?)

I want everybody to be valued for the different things they bring to the party, and I don’t want any one person to win over the others. Is there a word like “counter-ageist” to describe a show that doesn’t give a few handicaps to the less experienced or differently skilled?

I cherish the Anns and Sandras, (amusing that my harsh critics don’t seem to realize I’m in that demographic) but my post was really about the programming format and its overall chances for success in promoting a hobby I love.

I find the elimination process vicariously cruel and inappropriate when it comes to sewing. I’d love to see Ann or Sandra helping Tilly finish that self-designed blouse. I’m sure they’d do it with great kindness and patience. That’s what sewing is about.

That was my point. Hackles down. Time's up.


  1. It would be easy to understand why you might want to quit blogging. A blogger I follow got criticized for her shoes, another for her fabric stash. Sheesh.

    I really enjoy reading various views. Gives me something to think about. Having said that, I read your blog pretty carefully and I would suggest that your antagonist did not.

  2. Thanks, Annie. Much appreciated!

  3. Well, you did make a good point in your other post, and you stated it here even better. The show would be more enjoyable if they did not have to send home the "losers" - that part is pretty awful.
    But, it was a little mean to call Ann's and Sandra's work dowdy or whatever it was you said. Style is personal. People who sew for themselves express exactly what they want to express.

    I still love the show. Its a great show that could be even better.
    Personally, I prefer that the show AVOID making value judgements on taste & style. Leave those opinions to the individual.

    1. I admired Ann's blouse, but yes, I thought the ribbon thing a little dull and safe. That's just my individual opinion, as you say.

      I just don't like this American Idol/Dancing with the Stars/Great British Bake-off/Donald Trump Apprentice-whatever programming style that has infected reality television.

      If we're talking "mean," I think the acceptance of this format which is inherently humiliating, artificial and mean needs to be resisted. It works for sports, but not for creative processes. Sure, we have contests for novels and the arts, but we don't expect the losers to grin on national broadcasts and say 'That's okay. I love being put down in public." There's a little touch of sadism in this that doesn't work for me. "Pretty awful"—you said it!

  4. I think we are all in violent agreement here. We all love the show. It is the only show in the English speaking world to focus on garment sewing. They throw us this bone, and we want it o be everything, the best.
    I don't think you meant to offend anyone.

    1. Never, Karin. The irony is that I'm being called an "ungracious ageist wretch" while arguing for a more inclusive, kinder, and longer-lasting competition. Maybe two teams could have battled it out, with the technically strong helping the other teammates. We'd all learn more from watching that, and there wouldn't be any individual "losers." It might be less predictable as well.
      A bone indeed. How well you put it. We had have teaching shows in previous generations, like those of Nancy and the Vogue how-to series some two decades ago, but there is nothing on the scale for us like they produce for the cooking folks or the weather afficionados.
      Could you imagine, "The Sewing Channel?"
      Thanks, K.

    2. well, try it look at it this way - you probably got a lot of hits on your blog, right? Try to let the harsh words roll right off (I know that is easier said than done). I like your blog and I will be back to read more.

  5. Inkstain I have not seen the show, we do not get it here in the Antipodes. I have noticed that in blog land the minute anyone gives an honest critique of anything people will get their knickers in a knot.

  6. Hi, Valerie, Both episodes are now up on YouTube so you can watch them while we're sleeping in Switzerland. We'd love to hear your take on this, too! XX

  7. "Where are hackles, I always wonder, and do they pose a fitting problem when they rise? Is she doing a Full Hackle Adjustment thanks to my ungracious post?"

    I'm rolling on the floor. I'm glad I found your blog and I appreciate your viewpoint!

  8. I always enjoy your viewpoint, too, and I was surprised that you were so pointedly criticized for voicing your opinion. I love the show, I wish we could have a US version, and I would love to have you design a more inclusive format for it. I thought it was great the way Sandra pointed out the split waistband for everyone else who might not have known. Like you, I think each contestant is wonderful and has something of value to offer. It is a shame to lose them. I can't watch American reality TV because it reminds me of the worst of junior high school--a phase that should be outgrown by age 14. I love the Sewing Bee, but I think it could be even better by getting rid of the last vestiges of the junior high mindset. Success doesn't have to be a zero-sum game where someone needs to lose to make someone else win.

  9. I think you have an interesting viewpoint but I don't mind the fact that someone is voted off each week. I object to the fact that contestants are making a garment under a time constraint. Sewing is all about the process and making something original and unique. It is not about completing a garment in 5 hours.