The Women of Dr. Phil | Collaboration with Les Klassen | 2010 | DV | 1:22
The women that make up the audience of the Dr. Phil show. The music is a cover of the Carpenters’ “Close to You” by Les Mouches.
The Women of Dr. Phil stemmed out of a collaboration between Les Klassen and myself. While watching Dr. Phil we noticed the audience reaction shots were often more entertaining than the show itself. The women in the audience seemed almost entirely devoid of any real emotion and we observed that the reaction shots never featured men.
By employing a relatively simple structure we were hoping to address issues about spectatorship, media representation and the cinematic gaze. We are watching women who are in turn watching Dr. Phil. These are the women that the creators of the Dr. Phil show feel suburban housewives will relate to – a depressing thought.
“Apparently, the Stepford Wives are big Dr. Phil fans. Why so little emotion, ladies?” – Mike Everleth, Underground Film Journal
Phil’s Chicks: Just What the Doctor Ordered
Stephanie Mercier Voyer, “Phil’s Chicks: Just What The Doctor Ordered,” The Concordian (September 27th, 2011).
God knows just how much I love daytime television and how many countless hours I have spent watching the Dr. Phils and Oprahs of this world. They always managed to put a smile on my face during those lonely summer mornings when all I had were a bowl of All-Bran cereal and my newly-acquired television. How sad does that sound?
The Women of Dr. Phil, an installation by Clint Enns and Les Klassen which was presented at POP Quarters last week, presented shots of Dr. Phil’s female audience. In order to convey the emotions the artists wanted you to feel, the video was accompanied by Les Mouches’ melancholic cover of the Carpenters’ “Close to You.”
The setting for the installation was spot on. The video was playing on a small television, the kind your grandma had in her kitchen in ‘96, which was located in a quiet closet-sized room on the second floor of the building. The first time you would watch this 1:30 minute video, you would feel the urge to laugh at those women and at how pathetic they look. By the second time, the setting and the music start to have an effect on you. You are secluded and you feel excruciatingly lonely, as if you had woken up one day and realized you were married with two kids and your life revolved around Dr. Phil.
The idea behind the installation came from another video Enns and Klassen were working on together called Dr. Phil on Dr. Phil. “In that video, Dr. Phil interviews himself about sensational topics such as his prostitution habits and how he exploits his guests,” said Enns.
During the process of creating Dr. Phil on Dr. Phil, the two Manitobans noticed that all the audience shots the Dr. Phil producers would include in the show were of hypnotized, judgmental women, hence installation’s title.
Watching Dr. Phil, I had never realized how sad daytime television enthusiasts, including me, actually are. The show sucks you in and makes you become one of those women. The look on those lonely faces tells you that they relate to Dr. Phil’s guests and in addition, you relate to those women. Even Klassen admits that Dr. Phil is like a drug. “I get pulled into the whole spectacle, complete with crying on cue.”
November 3, 2013. Perfect Day, Trinity Square Video, Toronto, Ontario. Curated by John G. Hampton.
September 21 – 25, 2011. POP Montréal, L’École des beaux-arts de Montréal, Montréal, Québec. Curated by Kier-La Janisse.