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October 10, 2015

Reality celebrities and their unfortunate existence

by Annie Wu, posted Jul 9th 2008 6:00PM
The HillsIn the early days of reality TV as we know it, when the Real World was less of an alcoholic sex romp and more of a genuine social experiment, the "usual" way for talentless people become famous was to either be born into obscene wealth or fall down a well. Or both. Then, some time around the appearance of Survivor Season One, normal folks realized that they could capitalize on exaggerating their personalities on television. "Richard Hatch walks around naked? And he's gay? And painfully manipulative? Yes, I will sacrifice my time and attention to watch your crappy show."

This was okay for a while. If folks like me didn't like what was going on, turning off the TV was enough. Simple. But now, I can't even walk past the tabloid rack at the grocery store without getting a face full of The Hills' blonde poison or the Rock of Love girls getting new lip injections with Bret Michaels. How did these nobodies end up on our red carpets? our precious celeb trash rags? our non-reality airtime? I've never seen pictures of Puck buying peanut butter, is what I'm saying.

Currently, the majority of my disgust has been directed towards Spencer and Heidi of The Hills. Wait ... they're from The Hills, right? I mean, I don't actually remember them from the show or anything. I've managed to sit through only a few minutes of an episode before my brain, overwhelmed by it all, speedily atrophied and I had to be taken to the hospital. In case I haven't made it incredibly obvious, let me state this again: I am not a fan. I shouldn't know a single thing about Spencer Pratt and Heidi Montag. However, with absolutely no effort at all, I find myself unusually informed about what they have been doing. I know about Heidi Montag's boob job, I know that she loves John McCain (although I'm not entirely sure what good her endorsement will do, as the Hills' target demographic doesn't seem to care much for voting anyway), I know about Spencer's advice column, and I know Heidi has one electric blue handbag that she's particularly fond of toting around town. I even know what she and her boyfriend wore to the Kentucky Derby (how hideously trophy wife-tastic was that hat?)

And it doesn't end with MTV nonsense either. After all, even people who have never seen an episode of The Apprentice know about Omarosa. These "everyday folk", incredibly desperate for camera love, are strangely willing to turn themselves into increasingly hateful and unlikable caricatures, just for the attention. I constantly marvel at how the negativity doesn't seem to bother them. It's as if the lab rats under observation suddenly became self-aware and started wearing something a little more low-cut because they knew someone's watching (yes, that's the most appropriate comparison I could think of).

In some ways, I actually pity reality stars. After all, they are too well known to fully sink back into the shadows of normalcy after their fifteen minutes of fame, but they do not have the talent or star power to bump themselves into the B-list, let alone the A-list. It is, in a sense, celebrity purgatory (otherwise known as VH1). What do these people have to do but continue to pander to the paparazzi, make love in conveniently open hot tubs and take roles in Dragonball Z flicks? I suppose one other option is to ride a wave of popularity until it's embarrassingly past wave pool hours and do spin-off after spin-off after guest appearance. Yeah, I'm lookin' at you, anyone even slightly associated with Flavor of Love, Charm School, I Love New York, and company. Bless those reality stars that had a taste of the limelight and then carefully did their best to grab on to obscurity, for they have saved me those precious extra few seconds that it takes me for me to turn away from the tabloids in disgust.

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