The wonderful (“wonderful”) thing about television is that just as soon as you think it has finally reached its nadir - Celebrity Big Brother, Duck Dynasty, Outrageous Celebrity Lookalike Behaviour Caught On Tape 2 - it somehow manages to plumb even further depths.
With that in mind, a round of applause is due for Danish television impresario Thomas Blachman, whose new show - which he has titled, rather modestly, Blachman - is so profoundly depressing it may push even The Swan from the “TV’s most deadeningly sinister creation” pedestal, turning the male gaze from an ephemeral concept into something approaching a panopticon of leering.
Here, let Time’s Melissa Locker explain the show’s concept to you: ''A woman stands naked in a room under a harsh spotlight. She’s not allowed to speak, but must stand quietly while two men sit on the couch and assess her physical attributes as a camera zooms in and out on the body parts they are discussing.''
Blachman evidently devised the format as a way to get men ''discussing the aesthetics of a female body without allowing the conversation to become pornographic or politically correct''. Truly, he is doing God’s work.
Fortunately for your opinion of Denmark in general, the response was one of widespread disgust.
One local critic and blogger, Lotte Hansen, described Blachman as ''an unsuccessful attempt to intellectualise the Roskilde County Show – the only difference being that the young fillies on view in Roskilde have been replaced by naked women''.
Blachman seemed surprised by the national - and international - uproar when the show aired earlier in the month, because he seems to believe he is broadening the minds of the Danish viewing public: ''Ungratefulness is the only thing that can really wear down the few geniuses who reside in this country. Remember, I am giving you something that you have never seen before. Don’t bite the hand that feeds you.''
He’s right on one front there. I have certainly never seen a man say this on television before, evidently because genius is in short supply in Australia and America: ''Now, I’ve always been an ass man. Would you mind turning around for a moment? Very animated nipples. How does that pussy work for you?''
Perhaps the most depressing thing about the whole affair, however, is that the show was commissioned by a woman.
Sofia Fromberg, commissioning editor for the DR2 network that aired the show, is thrilled by its infamy, telling Britain’s Daily Telegraph: ''One young girl wrote to me to thank me for the show, saying it really helped her body confidence seeing a woman with cellulite.
''Women answered adverts in the paper to come on the show. And they are very happy to do it. They like their bodies and want to show the world them.
''We’ve had one school teacher who is a mum of two and past 40. It’s not controversial.''
Asked whether or not Blachman might be setting gender politics back a few centuries, Fromberg scoffed: ''We are not turning the clock back. All this gender talk has landed us in a place where the female body has become a taboo. This show is not objectifying women. It’s talking about it. Blachman came up with this program as an experiment. He wants to find out what the modern man wants.''
Ah, yes, what does the modern man want? If the volume of jeers, catcalls, whistles and general obscenities I receive when I dare to walk to the shops while wearing shorts is any indication, it seems the modern man wants to comment on women’s bodies at every given opportunity - so you could argue that Fromberg and Blachman are just formalising this situation. Yes, it’s very noble of them.
Fromberg seems to think Blachman is doing women a favour; Blachman himself certainly does.
And perhaps they’re right: if I’ve learned anything from daring to tell men who comment on my ''nice tits'' to get stuffed - that’s the family news site version - it’s that, really, they’re just complimenting me! (And also that I’m a f---ing bitch/uptight slut, but that’s beside the point.) Why can’t I just take a compliment? Why can’t we all take a compliment?