Have you been watching “The Voice”? The vocal talent show features judges Christina Aguilera, Cee Lo Green, Blake Shelton and Adam Levine coaching singers in a vocal competition. The twist? The judges choose the people on their teams based on voice alone. The idea is that the blind auditions will help select singers who might otherwise be deemed conventionally attractive or saleable — with the hopes of finding an unexpected diamond in the rough.
It’s a great idea, yes. And in its first two seasons, the show has stuck to its mission fairly explicitly. But in season three? Ugh. There is a contestant that’s destroyed the core idea of “The Voice” — and managed to reinforce tired beliefs about conventionally attractive people.
Meet Dez Duron. He’s a former Yale football player and current Voice favorite. He’s also my least favorite contestant. Because he’s really, really attractive.
I don’t dislike Dez because he’s really attractive. I don’t necessarily dislike Dez at all. And no, I don’t think Dez is really everything that’s wrong with America (that’s some hyperbole, y’all). What I do hate is the way he gets preferential treatment from the coaches — and fans — because he’s really, really hot. Dez isn’t in the top 12 of the show because he’s a super duper talented singer. He’s fine. He’s like, karaoke-bar-on-a-Sunday-night fine. But he’s not Trevin Hunte or Amanda Brown good. Dez is in the top 12 because he’s a seriously good looking dude. And that’s antithetical to what the original point of “The Voice” is, and just reinforces the same old status quo.
Of course, Dez is not the only dude that’s ever gotten preferential treatment because of his good looks. That kind of crap happens all the time, and studies confirm that the more attractive someone is, the more preferential treatment they receive. According to Dr. Gordon Patzer, dean of the College of Business Administration at Roosevelt University and an expert on physical attractiveness and perception, “A person’s physical attractiveness — the look that they’re basically born with — impacts every individual literally from birth to death. People are valued more who are higher in physical attractiveness. As distasteful at that might be, that’s the reality.”
Studies confirm what Patzer says. Conventionally attractive people are, according to studies, perceived to be more skilled, qualified and successful by potential employers. They’re also more likely to be recommended and hired for jobs. Studies have also consistently shown that attractive people get favorable treatment even before they’ve landed the job: attractive individuals are more likely to be recommended for a job, considered more qualified for a job, considered more likely to succeed at a job, and are more likely to be hired for a job. And that’s not all: they’re also more likely to be hired and less likely to be fired.
And it doesn’t end there. We want to give attractive people all of our money: Attractive real estate agents make higher sales than others. And we as a culture believe attractive people to be more intelligent, interesting, funny and desirable than Average Joes.
Which brings us back to Dez. On Tuesday, Dez sang a middling rendition of the country song “Wanted.” When he finished, Christina Aguilera, his coach, told him “you are the whole package.” The other coaches praised him for being a good looking guy.
But wait a second. Wasn’t this competition about who was the best, most artful singer? Shouldn’g I have no doubt that Dez will go all the way to the finals of this competition, but it won’t be based on merit. Even his fans on Twitter and Tumblr admit that he doesn’t have the strongest voice, but that won’t stop him — or any other conventionally attractive dude — from climbing to the top.