Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Style Channel: Craft Corner Deathmatch—Satire or Straight?


Did you ever watch something on TV and, after it was over, you still weren't sure if it was intended to be funny or serious? Craft Corner Deathmatch, Style Channel's new game show, is like that.
It's Martha Stewart Living meets Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome when amateur crafters compete against each other, against the clock—and against the imposing Craft Lady of Steel.
The first clue, of course, is the title, which makes it sound like a no-holds-barred brawl with scissors and glue-guns. You visualize a cage erected around the participants, who appear from opposite corners clad in tights and sequined capes.

Then there's the announcer (or "host"), Jason Jones, who seems to be channeling Adam Sandler as Little Nicky. He introduces the contestants: dowdy Dari and half-pint Heather, and gives us their credentials for the competition. Heather does "decoupage;" Dari does... well, I forget what Dari does, because now Jason's talking about the prize for the winner, a scrapbook cruise. Doesn't sound safe—you wonder if the boat is pieced together by artisans of Dari's and Heather's caliber.

Craft Lady of Steel Jocelyn Worrell
Style Channel's Craft Lady of Steel

Next, Jason introduces the judges, who have equally impressive credentials. Ereka Vetrini was on Apprentice (whoa!), Melanie Fallick is a knitting expert (awesome!), and Stacy Blume hosts No kidding, the judge sells her underwear online—and the needle's way over on the satire side of the gauge now.

So the contestants square off in the first battle, to build a trivet out of two sheets of glass and some trash from Spanish Harlem. The trash is provided by Amber, a seriously seedy assistant with ratted hair. (I expected some of the livestock for this "wild-life" themed composition to crawl out of her 'do.) The ladies have ten minutes to complete their trivets, after which they are judged Olympic-score-style by the three arbiters. Dari actually finishes her trivet, and she wins for style as well.

The second challenge is more interesting: the contestants must convert a man's wife-beater T-Shirt and and "tighty-whitey" briefs to ladies' lingerie. I have to admit that I cringed more than once as the gals attacked the Y of the briefs with scissors and stapler! (We also had Jones' gratuitous reference to Amber as the "dummy" on which they could try their creations.) In the end, Dari again completes her project just as the airhorn goes off, while Heather still seems to have a few issues left to staple down. (Ow!)

In this second contest, though, Heather edges out Dari's total by less than one point on style and them, so she goes on to the "bonus round" against the Craft Lady of Steel, Jocelyn Worrel. Her Steel Craftness stalks into the arena like her Harley is still running outside, so she can't waste any time. That's good, because this is a ten-second challenge, to build napkin rings from "Sculpey," a kind of adult Play-Doh. The theme is selected by having Heather and the Craft Lady each plunge their hands into Jones' pants pockets, as he leers and encourages them to "dig deeper."

Ten seconds later, it's all over, no surprise. The Lady of Steel wins, so Style Channel does not have to award a cruise on the papier-maché ship. Heather grins, Dari claims it's a triumph just to be invited to compete. And Jones tells us without any tongue in cheek, "Remember—it's cheaper and easier to just buy this stuff!"

You tell me. Is this real craft? or is it Spinal Tap?

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