Monday, August 25, 2008

OMG, There's Something Out There

There is a reason guilty pleasures are what they are - somewhere in the back of your mind, you know that you probably shouldn't be indulging in them but you still do. To each his own, I have always said, and I guess as long as your guilty pleasure doesn't include dead bodies or assless chaps, I say knock yourself out. Mine happens to be MTV's The Hills. I know, I know - so much can be said about the show's frivolity and staged reality and I have heard it all. I just can't help but be utterly amused by the shenanigans those crazy Hollywood mini-socialites pull, it's all so delightfully mind-numbing!

Or was. Today, MTV's programming choices convinced me that it was time for me to reexamine my interests and I finally snapped out of the JustinBobby-Audrina/Spencer-Heidi induced stupor. It was hard, but I lived to tell the tale. 

And I have Amanda to thank for my salvation. Remember Amanda? A familiar VJ voice asked me just after the credits rolled off this week's installment of The Hills, and as I tried to figure out if I did indeed remember this Amanda character, the last dregs of pleasure (that only flashes of LC's heavily lined eyes could elicit) clouding my memory, my dependable narrator filled me in. Amanda is a former star of the network's other show, My Super Sweet Sixteen (henceforth MSSS). The first inklings of horror began to replace those warm fuzzy feelings I had only so recently enjoyed. 

As some may remember, despite the repeated electro-shock treatments we endured in the hopes that our memories would be selectively erased, MSSS was a show about spoiled rich brats pitching tantrums and spending daddy's money to throw ridiculously extravagant birthday parties. I am guessing the show was popular cause the knuckleheads over at MTV (remember when they actually played music videos? I don't) have come up with a sequel type show where the aforementioned brats get Exiled! to the global south (I still can't get over the supposed morality we assume in constantly coming up with new ways of identifying and defining the rest of the world). 

Amanda is 18, I believe, and having forgotten to apply for college (yes, she unabashedly confirmed this) is now spending her days plying on layer upon layer of makeup (like omg I can't survive like without my bronzer, my foundation, my eyeliner and of course there's like blush and lip gloss!) and driving her $40,000 car. Her family stages an intervention of sorts and tells her that she is being sent to "some place bad" -  Kenya - where she will learn what it means to live in the "rest of the world."

First off, like omg MTV, I hope you are not paying for this travesty. I hope that this is like some evil plan by like some evil people hoping to achieve like some evil outcome. Maybe those crazy terrorists have hijacked America's source of knowledge and are indoctrinating us with their wacky ideas, psychological warfare with commercials... or something.

Not so much. Reality offers a far grimmer scenario. The show was actually developed by a former UN employee - yes, the "good guys" - and is "an informercial for activism." I could not make this shit up even in my wildest dreams! As if that wasn't enough, the show's efforts are double-pronged - not only does it "propel (super sixteeners) to learn more about water sanitation, malaria nets and child trafficking," but also offers them a chance to "redeem themselves," for their prior behavior. Those are some pretty lofty goals for one show, but it worked and was "kind of like a wake-up call" for poor Amanda. 

I just want to know why these advocates/producers cannot see how insulting all of this really is. Do they not understand how tired some of us are of seeing our cultures being simplified and exploited for the sake of rehabilitating some camera addicts? And inversely, as I have the privilege of living in the States and could very well be included in this coveted audience of Americans aged between 12 and 34, I feel that this concept is incredibly patronizing . 

Yes, all sharp objects have been safely stored and my left eye has stopped twitching but I hope more of us raise our objection to the show's idiocy.

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