Hopefully you have all already read the sneak peeks of the forthcoming “Critical Perspectives on “Snog, Marry, Avoid”” the forthcoming title from The Empty Page Radical Publishing House which is destined to rock western civilization to it’s very core. If not, what are you waiting for! Read the views of the top feminist, Marxist and post-modern thinkers on the BBC3 make-over show here. Now, we can reveal a new addition to to the volume. Real life historian of science Imogen Clarke has submitted to us a brilliant analysis of “Snog, Marry, Avoid” that places it in the context of key developments in the history of science. If you have your own take on “Snog, Marry, Avoid” or any other pop-cultural detritus please get in touch!
‘Snog, Marry, Avoid’ is both a remarkable contribution to the historiography of science and the inevitable conclusion of methodological developments underway for the past four decades. It is the past, the future, and possibly the end, of the discipline. Since the emergence of the Sociology of Scientific Knowledge, exploring the notion of scientific knowledge as a cultural construct, historians have been re-evaluating the practice of analysing scientific progress. They have moved beyond the Whiggish approach of judging past work on the basis of its accordance with modern ideas, instead considering the social, cultural and institutional context in which these ideas were formed, established and propagated. Historians of science have left behind their disciplinary heritage of the history of ideas, moving into wider territories.
At first glance, ‘Snog, Marry, Avoid’ appears to be the final stage in this process. Not only does the programme make no reference to current science, it avoids the topic of science entirely. Instead, we have a contribution which must be read on an entirely metaphorical level. Through the employment of ‘makeovers’, the producers have reconceptualised the old model of scientific revolution in entirely human terms, utilising the concept of a ‘POD’ to represent social, cultural, political and economic influence. In doing so, they have made a bold claim: they begin with wildly divergent human subjects, subject them to an identical process, and the result is always the same. ‘Snog, Marry, Avoid’ argues that history is inconsequential. The entire notion of studying it is thus rejected. This is an attack on the very discipline from which the show emerged.
There is, however, one glimmer of hope for historians of science: the goths. These contestants refuse to be subjected to the ‘makeover’ process. Their ‘history’ is too powerful to be altered. It would seem that ‘Snog, Marry Avoid’ is calling for a return to Whig history, proposing that some scientific theories, in their immunity to ‘POD’, are in fact inevitable. In light of the conclusions of this powerful television programme, historians of science are now faced with a choice: adapt or die. They must abandon their current conception of the discipline, rejecting all contributions made in the past forty years; or, they must put an end to their practice entirely. ‘Snog, Marry, Avoid’ has left them no choice.