A PECULIAR THING HAPPENED last Monday night that I still havenâ€™t quite recovered from.
I walked into my friendâ€™s living room to encounter four grown, educated adults screaming at the television set, booing and hissing at a bevy of beautiful and stupidly banal characters who seemed to do nothing more than eat out and talk badly about one another for the showâ€™s thirty-minute run.
Naturally, I was drawn in.
Iâ€™m sure many of you can guess that Iâ€™m referring to MTVâ€™s Ã¼ber-ridiculous â€œThe Hills,â€ quite possibly the most confounding brainchild the network has ever dreamed up.
For all three of you unaware of the premise, plucky Lauren moves to Los Angeles where she makes quick friends with really pretty people, gets into fights with really pretty people and wears really pretty things while out with really pretty people. The entire concept of the show has the depth and emotional gravity of an ashtray, and in spite of it, I found myself compelled to watch the train wreck unfold.
In fact, I became eager to know what the promise of next Mondayâ€™s episode carried. Then I found it necessary to pinch myself.
Had I lost my damned mind? I make a consistent effort (usually) to avoid the kind of inter-personal nasties that this show, and all 3.6 million people who tuned in for the season premiere two weeks ago, seems to be celebrating.
How can we collectively decry â€œdramaâ€ within our own lives, yet stay glued to that which plagues the lives of others? Why do I care about Audrinaâ€™s new boyfriend, and what relevance does it have to my own life? And why is Heidi still dating dirt-bag Spencer?
A series of like-minded rhetorical monsters continue to swirl around in my head during the most inopportune times, and the best rationale I can come up with is that in an effort to detach ourselves from our own lives, we latch on to this hyper-glossy alternative wherein we can tune in, and turn off conflict as needed.
Itâ€™s pure escapist fluff, and while I can appreciate the need for something to help us unwind at the end of the night, Iâ€™m still troubled by the pervasive nature of something so obviously scripted, rehearsed and orchestrated. MTVâ€™s opinion of its target audience must be scraping new lows if they expect you and I to believe this is reality.
In fact, the â€œrealityâ€ of the show only serves to perpetuate the notion that if you come from good breeding, can afford a stylist and have reservations and all of the du jour eateries in L.A., your life will be a bubble of glitter, sparkles and one-night flings.
Thankfully, MTV feels it necessary to highlight the cautionary and deceptive components within Laurenâ€™s bubble, â€œkeepinâ€™ it realâ€ in an effort to prove that attractive people have problems too.
And to think Iâ€™ve been mislead this entire time.
Mostly though, the show proves nothing more than a blow to feminism, and an insult to anyone with an IQ higher than negative six.
Yet Iâ€™m not going to sit here and tell you not to watch. Bad TV fulfills me in a way that little else does, and with the start and promise of a new, busier semester than ever, Iâ€™m forced to reconsider the need each of us has for a bit of silliness in our lives.
I have no problem admitting to laughing at Heidiâ€™s non sequiters if for no other reason than that they confirm my suspicion that some parents in the animal kingdom ought to eat their young. How she acquired a contractual gig for a major network blows my mind, but I stand firm in my resolve that she is a dummy, therefore making me feel better about myself.
My only reservation to advocating said programming is that there is a tendency on the part of viewers to assume a stance on the responsibilities and actions of the characters, to which I quickly remind you that we are being fed from a pop-cultural trough that substitutes actual sustenance for a cardboard cutout of the real thing.
None of â€œThe Hillsâ€ matters, nor will it ever.
It isnâ€™t groundbreaking, or particularly inventive. In fact, Iâ€™m positive it kills brain cells.
Like any vice, it should be taken recreationally, with the knowledge that what you are doing is harmful, but wonâ€™t kill you unless you overly indulge.
Andrew Corcostegui is a graduate student at Fresno State getting his masterâ€™s degree in literature.