There’s no point denying it: television has dominated the headlines (and our lives) in 2017.
Over the past few months, we’ve spent hours discussing the real-life events that inspired The Handmaid’s Tale, that shock alternate ending to The Replacement, and this TV show’s startlingly realistic portrayal of an anxiety attack.
Then there’s the moment Doctor Foster rewrote the narrative on sexual assault, our one and only problem with the first female Doctor Who, and how Game of Thrones finally gave us the feminist sex scene we deserved. Above all else, we’ve been bowled over by the sheer number of incredible feminist TV shows on offer this year – and planned our schedules to fit each and every last one of them in, too.
But TV doesn’t necessarily always make news for the right reasons – and now the newly revealed ‘most shocking’ (read: the most complained about) moment of 2017 TV has inadvertently revealed a lot about our society's attitude to women.
To recap, news that has provoked reactions has included Piers Morgan sparking fury with his cavalier and dangerous approach to mental health. And his sexist comments about Meghan Markle. And his ageist twaddle about Janet Jackson. And… well, and everything else he’s ever said.
Elsewhere, La La Land was incorrectly announced as Best Picture winner over Moonlight at the 2017 Oscars, The Great British Bake Off almost sparked an Ofcom investigation when presenter Noel Fielding was unexpectedly shut up inside a fridge, Mary Berry horrified the nation with her controversial twist on the classic Bolognese, and Love Island came under fire for its smoking policies.
However, the most complained-about TV moment of 2017 is ludicrous in its blatant misogyny.
We’re talking about a dress Amanda Holden wore on Britain’s Got Talent.
The Julien Macdonald designed dress, which cost £11,250 sparked a whopping 663 calls, emails and other messages to OFCOM as the public descended into absolute panic over the “inappropriate” gown.
Why? Because the neckline plunged down to Holden’s belly button, and the concept of the female form is far too much for some people to handle.
Just because you can doesn't mean you should! Inappropriate! Distasteful! Family show?!!! @AmandaHolden— shona drewett (@shonakenne) June 1, 2017
Totally inappropriate dresses all week Amanda— Julie Black (@jueb000) June 1, 2017
You have managed to make a very classy and elegant dress @AmandaHolden extremely unclassy and distasteful. Wrong time, wrong place.— Jane Harms (@Janeharms74Jane) June 1, 2017
little kids do not want to see this....but she doesn't care about that....she just wants to outshine her classier younger co judge! Fail— sandra (@Angelabangelah) June 1, 2017
Really inappropriately designed dress for a family show....IMO! Very disappointed in @AmandaHolden ☹️— Sarah Butler (@srmjbut) June 1, 2017
It was the same old story: the public wanted her to cover up, to put a cardi on, to protect the innocent children from an onslaught of bare skin and mammary glands.
And a few, under the guise of protecting the planet from the terrors of a designer dress, even jumped aboard the bandwagon to hurl a few body-shaming comments in Holden’s direction, too.
Let’s put this into perspective, shall we? Holden’s dress has been deemed more inappropriate and more complaint-worthy than all of the following:
- Comic Relief 2017, which attracted 240 official complaints after Russell Brand used the phrase “f**king hell” before the watershed.
- An episode of Emmerdale, which saw 275 people complain after a character was seen being violently abused in a jail cell.
- Good Morning Britain, which received over 181 complaints after they aired a live interview with Tommy Robinson – and, essentially, offered a platform on daytime television to a far-right political activist and former leader of the controversial English Defence League.
- 137 complaints were lodged after Sherri Hewson’s character on ITV’s Benidorm described a man with a cleft lip as having “a voice like a 13-year-old girl and a face like a dropped pie”.
So, essentially, that’s inappropriate language, violent scenes, derogatory references about people with facial malformation, and irresponsible publicity for a contentious jackweed from the EDL.
And, yes, all of the above were deemed to be less inflammatory than a woman wearing a dress.
Frustratingly, it’s of course not the first time that a woman has sparked ire over her wardrobe choices – and we doubt she’ll be the last.
Earlier this year, Delta Goodrem was widely criticised for wearing a V-neck dress on The Voice, and Brie Larson – aka Captain Marvel herself – infuriated viewers of The One Show when she wore a low-cut top. Elsewhere, a famous fashion magazine boldly claimed that “the cleavage is over”, clearly under the assumption that women everywhere can pluck their breasts off and tuck them away under the bed until they’re fashionable again.
President Donald Trump, meanwhile, reportedly urged female staffers to “dress like a woman” – an incredibly sexist statement that sparked outcry on Twitter. And, as ever, men continue to go unscathed: remember when everyone tore into David Beckham for stripping down to his underwear? Of course you don’t: everybody thought that it was the perfect way to celebrate the male form.
Short of donning the shapeless, anonymous red robes worn by Elisabeth Moss’ Offred in The Handmaid’s Tale (it ain’t happening, guys), it seems as if misogynists everywhere will never be happy by what women choose to clothe their bodies in. So all we can do is rise above the noise and the ridiculous OFCOM complaints and continue to dress up however the bloody hell we want to.
Got a problem with that? You’re entitled to your own opinion, obviously, and we welcome any and all complaints. If you’d like to make one formally, then please do take your perpetual outrage, write it down, stick it in an envelope and shove it deep into the bodily orifice of your choosing.
Images: Channel 4