Bruce Jenner as a Woman Named Caitlyn
Bruce Jenner as a Woman
The world was formally introduced to Bruce Jenner as a woman with a woman's name in the cover story of Vanity Fair in June. After much lead-up publicity, the magazine hit the stands with cover girl Caitlyn, photographed by the world-renowned Annie Leibovitz.
Jenner was declared the world's greatest athlete in the 1976 Olympics, winning the men's decathlon for a stellar performance in ten track and field events, but seems to be a one-trick-pony as a woman. The only claim to fame in the female reincarnation as Caitlyn Jenner is the extreme makeover with the aid of plastic surgeons, hormone pharmacists and Hollywood makeup artists. At 65-years-old, however, publicity photos still require a lot of airbrushing.
Opposite the hippies of the Woodstock generation, Bruce Jenner was the all-American boy that conservatives wanted as a role model for their kids. He was Wonder Man and apple pie rolled into one. He was a hero in the Vietnam War era which sorely needed one. That was long before he met up with third wife Kris Kardashian, started his third family, and acquired a second identity as part of the Kardashian clan.
In planning the Vanity Fair cover story, where the transgendered name Caitlyn was revealed for the first time, Deputy Editor Dana Brown said,
"Bruce Jenner means two different things to two different groups of people. To some, he's an iconic Olympian, one of the most famous athletes in American history, the gold medal winner on the cover of the Wheaties box. To others, he's a Kardashian, a tabloid fixture."
Bruce Jenner and Caitlyn Jenner
In an interview with Buzz Bissinger, while writing his 22-page Vanity Fair article, the gold medal from the 1976 Olympics was on the coffee table. Jenner said that, in the present moment, life is quite different:
"It’s not about the fanfare, it’s not about people cheering in the stadium, it’s not about going down the street and everybody giving you 'that a boy, Bruce,' pat on the back, O.K. This is about your life and about who you are."
In Bissinger's article, Caitlyn speaks of Bruce almost as another person or a split personality of sorts, instead of the former first name of the same person. "Bruce always had to tell a lie, he was always living that lie, every day, he always had a secret from morning till night. Caitlyn doesn’t have any secrets", she said. She also claimed that Caitlyn is a better friend to people and that Bruce was a jerk. "What a jerk the guy was", Caitlyn said.
In the interview, Jenner's 89-year-old mother (who admittedly had some difficulty accepting Bruce as a woman) was recalled saying, “You know what, I think I can have a better relationship with Caitlyn than I can with Bruce.” Jenner's son Burt apparently agreed and recently commented, “To be honest with you, I think Caitlyn is a lot better person than Bruce.”
Eerily, Jenner also spoke of Caitlyn in the third person.
"I have been so, Caitlyn has been so comfortable with herself."
A psychiatrist might have a field day trying to uncover who is really doing the talking when Jenner speaks about Bruce and Caitlyn in the third person during the same conversation. Perhaps Cait was the first person narrator. Cait is Jenner's second new first name and the one used as star of her own reality series for E! Network, I Am Cait, which aired the premiere episode on July 26.
The spokesperson for E! gives its style guide for references to Jenner.
"With the release of her Vanity Fair cover, Caitlyn has chosen to publicly identify as a woman and E! News will refer to her using female pronouns. In stories published prior to this date, Caitlyn was referred to as Bruce and male pronouns were used."
But calling Bruce 'Caitlyn' is not always easy to remember. Khloé Kardashian says that she and her sisters still refer to Jenner as Bruce.
"We don't like to say that Bruce is gone, per se. We, my sisters and I, we will call Caitlyn 'Bruce,' and we've been told that's completely fine."
In fact, Khloé likes the name so much that she named her new pet bunny rabbit Bruce.
Jenner in 'I Am Cait' Reality TV Series
A spin-off of the Kardashian brand, Jenner must stand alone in I Am Cait and may not have the star status to attract a sizable fan base. Appearing as the father-figure on Keeping Up with The Kardashians, Jenner was little more than a background player, overwhelmed in a bevy of babes and supervised by ex-wife Kris Jenner as one of the show's executive producers. Once the sensation of the Bruce to Caitlyn gender transition winds down, viewers are stuck with the same personality which was never all that interesting in Jenner's first appearance on reality TV compared with the flamboyant Kardashians.
To launch the spin-off, the first episode featured Kardashians and Jenners, as well as an appearance by Kim's husband, rapper star Kanye West. A frustrated Caitlyn practices speaking with a woman's voice and is troubled that her voice still sounds like a man's. It's a wonder they didn't play that vintage song from the decade of Jenner's Olympic win in the background.
Well, I'm not dumb but I can't understand
Why she walk like a woman and talk like a man
Oh my Lola, lo lo lo lo Lola, lo lo lo lo Lola
(Lola, written by Ray Davies and sung by the Kinks.)
Caitlyn has trouble sleeping while adjusting to her new self.
"Am I going to do everything right? Am I going to say the right things? Do I project the right image? My mind's just spinning with thoughts."
The show continues with Caitlyn's insecurities experimenting with makeup, hair extensions and new dresses without the assistance of the professional staff which accompanied her to the photo shoot with Vanity Fair.
"I was always worried — you never wanted to look like a guy in drag, you never wanted to look like a guy in a dress, O.K."
But the carefully scripted show offered nothing new and the novelty of seeing Bruce Jenner as a woman has worn off. The majority of TV viewers for the first episode voted by remote controls not to tune in to Episode 2.
The I Am Cait series debuted with an audience of 2.7 million. By the second episode, the Nielsen ratings recorded a 53 percent plunge to 1.3 million viewers. That's a massive nosedive for a storyline with mega publicity for several months before airing, including receiving 17 million views for Jenner's coming-out interview with Diane Sawyer on April 24. (The ABC News 20/20 two-hour special, Bruce Jenner, I'm a Woman, was the last interview Jenner gave using the name Bruce and Sawyer used male pronouns throughout.)
Caitlyn may be a nicer person than Bruce, but being a nice person isn't enough to cut it with reality TV audiences. Seeing Bruce Jenner as a woman didn't seem to warrant a second look. It's rather like the enticing carnival spieler calling the audience to the freak show. When you've seen the phony two-headed baby in the jar of formaldehyde, you don't really need a second look. For most of the audience, once was enough after viewing Bruce Jenner as a woman in the series premiere.
A biology professor at the University of California at Berkeley shares her true story of transitioning to a woman.
People who did watch the second series episode saw Cait lose the familiar Kardashian group and strike out on her own, entertaining new transexual friends for a dinner party. Even reading the synopsis of the second episode would indicate that the storyline falls into the nobody-cares-department.
Episode 2, entitled "The Road Trip: Part 1" was a real yawn according to a New York Times review. It was also a full-course meal of confusion.
Cait confides that she is still uncomfortable with some aspects as a woman and that she is not ready to wear a bathing suit in public. She says nothing about why she still has the male parts under her pantyhose, which might actually be interesting to know. That omitted but significant detail seemed important when the discussion turned to dating a man. Jenner, still an avowed heterosexual at the time of the Diane Sawyer interview in April, again confirmed "I've never been with a guy."
Her companions were shocked to find out that Cait didn't seem to have a clue that most transgender women are attracted to men, were previous homosexuals and date men as transexuals.
Then Caitlyn admitted that she had never actually met a transexual until just a few months ago. It sounds like Jenner didn't exactly give careful thought to transitioning before popping the hormone pills. She is clearly confused and so is the audience.
The true story of super model Caroline ‘Tula’ Cossey's transition to a woman. Tula stared as a James Bond Girl and was the first trans model to appear in Playboy magazine. Written by Tula, her book is available for kindle or e-book download to your computer. Free look inside the book at this link.
Jenner received accolades for courage in making a very public transition to a new identity; in fact, Jenner hasn't had this much national attention since the Olympic win in 1976. As Caitlyn, she said that she wanted to parlay this refound fame to being a leader in the trans community. The group promptly put her in her place, explaining that she was naive about trans issues. When the girl talk shifted to sex work, it was clear that Caitlyn was truly out of her element.
Once the voyeurism of heterosexuals looking at the spectacle of Bruce Jenner as a woman named Caitlyn has worn off, the show may only have the attention of the transexual community, which (according to her new friends in Episode 2) is minuscule and is comprised of a great number of teenagers, the unemployed, those dependent upon public assistance welfare, and homeless people – many of whom probably are not cable TV subscribers. Gender dysphoria, which Jenner claims she suffered from, only affects about 0.005% to 0.014% of males and 0.002% to 0.003% of females.
"I'm afraid people will think it is all about makeup and hair. I want to get involved in the [transgender] community. I'm hoping the world is gonna want to follow along with me", Caitlyn said. She will soon know if the world will watch as the reality show continues.
Girls will be boys, and boys will be girls.
It's a mixed up, muddled up, shook up world,
Except for Lola. Lo lo lo lo Lola.
What do you think about Bruce Jenner as a woman? Will you want to watch this reality TV series? Chime in with your comments below.
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