Tuesday, April 28, 2009

So can we just talk about The Hills for a sec.

As you know The Hills is a spin off of Laguna Beach which is a variation on The Real World. I started watching Laguna Beach because I had never seen a reality show with LIGHTING that good. It was perfect in every scene -- warm glowing oranges, yellows, and browns. You could watch the entire show with the sound off and follow the story line and just marvel at the perfectly lit beautiful people in every scene.

Okay but here's where things get a little weird. In order to get these perfect scenes every time -- Laguna Beach and The Hills are scripted. But here's what's weird about that:

In a regular TV show, people are hired to play a fictional character.

In traditional reality TV, people are hired to play themselves.

In The Hills, real people play FICTIONAL versions of THEMSELVES.

Said differently, on The Hills, real people lease their identities to MTV in return for the right to play fictional versions of themselves on TV. It's like the ultimate form of meta-level self flattery I guess, "I'm so great that they want to create a fictional version of me and hire ME to play the version of me they created (even though I've never done anything worthy of creating a character other than allow myself to be turned into a character)."

But what would happen if Lauren ever wanted to go rogue and play herself -- rather than the character by the same name? I imagine she'd be fired (or killed for the sake of ratings) for not playing herself properly. So at some point then Lauren no longer owns herself (either exterior identity or any expression of an interior identity) -- or at least does not own herself until after her lease runs out and her character is discarded in favor of a newer lease-to-own model (like Whitney). At some point doesn't it go from a fascinating documentary form (the Real World) and become creepy Stepford Single Chicks?

The lighting sure looks great though.

Update #1: in the case of Heidi and Spencer they leased their identity to MTV and MTV turned them into evil super-villains -- that they appear to play with zeal (both on the show and in real life) never in on the fact that the joke is on them (of course the joke is really on us for watching the circus, okay, point taken).

Update #2: This week at least, The Republican Party has become the Heidi and Spencer of American politics -- fuckers that everybody hates but we can't take our eyes off of because they are such a train wreck.

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