Because I care about my readers so very very much, and because Alan went fishing last Friday and Kate was off doing something, and it was hot and I was at loose ends and had an hour to kill, I did something I normally wouldn’t do, even for you.
I watched Bristol Palin’s reality show via my on-demand service.
I wish I could tell you it was a fine bit of bad television, worthy of an extra beer and a bowl of popcorn. Alas, I cannot.
Part of the problem is reality TV. I had a colleague who was always promising that reality TV was done, done, dunzo, and soon we’d have no more of it. This was more than a decade ago. Not only is it not dunzo, it seems stronger than ever, even as every last trope is as tired and clichéd as a CPAC flag salute for the mama grizzlies. There’s the mission (Bristol is restless, and wants to “give back” to a charity in Los Angeles) the staged think-it-over scene (Mama Sarah Grizzly sings a little of the “Beverly Hillbillies” theme song, screwing up the lyrics), the packing, the move, the reveal of the ridiculous mansion (“owned by a friend of my mom’s”), etc.
Ostensibly, Bristol is working for a charity called Help the Children, and isn’t that a great name for a charity? Guess what their mission is? Helping children! They have branded polo shirts, and Bristol gamely puts hers on and goes for a driving tour of Skid Row. Not a lot of children-helping can be observed, mainly because we have to endure long confessional interviews with Bristol and her sister, Willow, dragged along to be a babysitter to little Tripp, her 2-year-old son with Levi Johnston. Willow’s not very enthusiastic about being there, and whines on the phone to a friend back in Alaska. Tripp, we’re told, is the very reason for this excursion, because Bristol “wants him to see there’s a whole world out there,” something anyone who’s ever taken care of a 2-year-old for long knows is not exactly at the top of their bucket list.
Even this synopsis is boring, isn’t it?
Anyway, it all leads up to the big money scene, where Bristol is out frolicking with friends and an angry gay man yells YOUR MOTHER’S A WHORE. There’s some shakycam of the two of them squabbling, then a big meltdown in which she has the nerve to say, “And there are cameras everywhere!” and we end the episode on some note of sadder-but-wiser.
I feel sorry for Bristol. I feel sorry for Willow (although I think she has a chance). I feel sorry for Tripp. And I am reminded of a conversation I had with a woman from People magazine, who was applying for a Knight Wallace Fellowship the year after mine. She wanted to spend her year working on a book about what happens to people when they become famous overnight, not for something they did, but for something that happened to them. They go a little crazy, she said, mentioning Elizabeth Smart, whom I believe had just asked to play herself in the TV movie about her abduction, rape and captivity.
And then, because my self-loathing apparently knows no bounds, I did something I haven’t done in five years. I listened to a Mitch Albom show, or part of it, on the way home from Lansing Monday. I last tuned in during the Terry Schiavo affair, on a similar boring drive, and I was left with the impression that of all his media personae, radio Mitch was the least offensive. Maybe because so much of talk radio is so deliberately offensive, his aw-shucks regular-guy act was almost likable.
I’ve really, really lost my taste for that sort of commercial radio. There’s allegedly a conversation going on between Mitch and his co-host, but the whole show’s on ADD, what with stock-market closing numbers, traffic on the fives, weather and all the rest of it. But at one point they briefly chatted about “The Newsroom,” the new Aaron Sorkin series on HBO. It’s not being kindly reviewed, and having watched one episode, I’m agreeing with the critics — it’s preachy and speechy and rat-a-tat-tatty, and it left me pretty cold.
The co-host/sidekick said, “It’s not getting good reviews.”
“That’s because people are jealous of Aaron Sorkin’s success,” Mitch said, airily. “That’s what we do in this country. If someone is successful, we have to tear them down.”
Scratch the regular guy. The monsterfication of Mitch is fully complete.
And now, I know we all want to talk about whatever the Supremes had to say today, so I turn it over to you. Only one bit of bloggage, via Dexter: A numismatic ORGY!!!!!
I’m writing this Wednesday night. I can only imagine what tomorrow will be like — 100 degrees here, and I have two interviews and a meeting, with out 150 miles to drive. Oh, joy.