playing with barbies

we were four. suburbs of new jersey, our best friend forever and her italian catholic family just one street over. one dinner in particular, her father readily recounts how he’d suggested a nose job for his now-wife prior to his proposal. the brood laughs. brasandranties lurches.

eleven, chicago. the bleachers of our junior high, an odd experience (for any) made all the more so by our company. strangely enrolled in a gifted school (our mascot was a seahorse) we’d been focused on our mind (less our looks) until our sister takes a layup and our father quips from behind: he’d missed it, brasandranties’ nose had been in the way.

seventeen, toronto. high school textbook sale. thumbing through that year’s yawn fest something compels us to look left. there we’re faced with it: our classmate, minus about 78% of the nose she’d had the year before. like, tori spelling styles. like, a nub. like a doll.

and so outlines our path from awareness to obsession to horror toward the notion of a nose job, despite the austere proportions with which we’ve been blessed. while we can often be found insisting that we’d for sure fall victim to plastic’s facelessness (jennifer grey, anyone) it’s really because we can’t handle the idea of something chiseling up our nostril. but whatever it takes.

most of you have already seen the transformation of heidi montag, the curious and the perverted already squinting at their screens, guessing at her change. her measures of insecurity. and yet it wasn’t a disgust reminiscent of the nub that had us clicking off the hills premier tuesday night. it wasn’t an itchy discomfort at the unveil of her new face (new boobs, new ass) that sent us reeling. nor was it empathy, to be honest. no sadness for how empty someone’s soul must be to want to look that fucked (we have our own shit to worry about). in fact it was simply repulsion: toward mtv and their mockery of the whole thing. of the lives of these girls. especially considering their hand in it.

these young things signed up for the mtv machine fresh, hopeful and naive about the promises. the doors and dreams that were to line their yellow brick roads. now they’re out the other end (this is the end, after all) a summary of our inventory: heidi (13+ plastic surgeries, marriage for marketing) kristin (90lbs with an obvious cocaine habit) stephanie (new face, jail twice, rehab twice, with an obvious cocaine habit) audrina (mental faculties questionable, also plastic). and then lo (what a wonder).

these girls (and their designed, inauthentic lives, conversations and friendships) are broken. and they were broken by our mtv. they’ve had their souls chopped up and fed back to them (and to us) in little bits; wrapped in shiny bows of materialism, of insecurity, of fucked up priorities. just as they want us. and rather than intervene throughout the obvious demise of these lab rat lives each season (ie shifting the entire hills ‘reality’ into an critically important message for young girls) mtv instead chose to flaunt their fucked-upedness. to dangle each damage like meat to the wild, unveiling each grimy piece shamelessly. mockingly.

truth is we’re disgusted that any organization can get away with it, most especially one with such a place within culture – within reality – as mtv. breaking youths into ruin while trying to convince us they’re not involved? it’s exploitative. it’s fucking monstrous. and it’s enough. we beg of you.

12 thoughts on “playing with barbies”

  1. xobolaji says:

    well put! i am so with you on this one. did you read the post on gawker? similar "rant" against mtv and their grotesque involvement in the exploitation of these 'pretty young things.' i actually sent jessi & dan [of the aftershow] a note asking them how them feel abt the whole thing and asked them what if anything they intend to do. i suggested that they use their platform to reach out to young women and adults who "follow" this nonsense believing in the "reality" of these young lives. i also posted a note on the mtvcanada blog abt how "sad" and tragic this event was. anyway, i can see that the "fall-out" has just begun. entertainment is one thing, voyeuristic manipulation in the guise of entertainment is quite another. [now don't get me started on daryn jones, his 'creep-factor' is off the charts.

  2. AOK says:

    very well put!

  3. Anonymous says:

    This is a blatant rip-off of the article posted on Gawker yesterday.

  4. Anonymous says:

    I've read the "defamer- gawker article" that is the one I was referring to – thank you.
    great minds???? hardly on the calibre of gawker writers.
    keep writing your original pieces though.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Well realistically speaking they didn't have any souls chopped up, because this is what they signed up for, and you're just getting sucked into the whole editing job of entertainment/reality television. Didn't anyone realize that reality TV is ALL about showing "fucked upness"? That is the point. Why so many viewers get sucked in week after week, reality show after reality show, gossip magazines, etc, because people like to see other people fucked. Duh. That's what sells.

    MTV isn't to blame how any of these individuals turned out-you should look to the parents who even LET them sign up for this shit in the first place. I'm sorry, but if any of these people on The Hills ever felt that way they would have left, because at the end of the day it's solely business. They got what they could and ran with it (ie. Lauren). A contract signed to film their "lives" in exchange for money. Jessi and Dan simply doing their job/doing as they're told (realize how the audience gets bigger and bigger each season???) in order to create some hype and controversy.

    Quite frankly, maybe you should question the people who decided to check their morals/values at the door when they signed up. And as cold as it sounds, they knew exactly what they were getting into (The Hills & Aftershow), or else they would never attend the tapings.

    And really at the end of the day, it's the parents jobs to promote a healthy outlook on a child despite the shit on television and promote a strong self worth so that when they go out into the real world they can stand on two feet. That's why MTV and other shows have disclaimers at the beginning of their shows.

  6. xobolaji says:

    This is rich. "Disclaimer" my ass. Is Anonymous implying that we should be “okay” with what happens on television because people signed agreements to let cameras follow them around, and therefore the producers of said reality TV programs are absolved from any culpability? Are we so far gone as a society to believe in the well-worn adage that when people get “fucked-up” it’s their own damn fault and they should be punished in the extreme because they made their own beds?

    I actually “refreshed” my post a few hours ago because I felt that I had something more to say on the topic. Here it is
    What is most troubling to me as a parent [of 2 young girls aged 5 and 2] and as an occasional television-watcher, is that we’ve seemed to have reached a new all-time low. We watch television as if we are passive bystanders without realizing how insidious and perverted these programs really are. No, I am not speaking for the so-called moral majority when I rant about the evils of television but I do worry about the nonchalant attitudes that some people have regarding its affect on the culture at large. Yes, there is an audience for this sexy crap because we, the audience asked for it. It’s all about desire, and an insatiable need for more of what we really can’t have. For nerdy girls it’s a chance to live vicariously through the hawt girls, for studious immigrant guys, it’s perhaps an opportunity to see how rich guys woo pretty girls. Pick your most offensive stereotype, it’s all there for the taking.

    I don’t think there is a perfect solution to this issue. It’s like asking fashion to take responsibility for anorexia, bulimia and 6” heels for short girls [ew]. Ain’t gonna happen. What I do think is that when something as awful as reality television is “allowed” to exploit and manipulate both the subject and object [that’s you and me and the “real” people on TV] and we do nothing about, we’re all victims. Not just the Moms and dads who should “know” better. But you the viewer, who participates willingly with a snicker on your superior face saying that this kinda shit would never happen to you. Don’t be so sure, and don’t be so smug.

  7. Anonymous says:

    No, I’m not saying we should be "okay" with what's on television because they agreed to it. I’m just simply acknowledging and pointing out the fact that they fully knew what they were getting into, just as anyone in the spotlight or entertainment industry does. And to sit and say that they had no idea is ignorant. Look at Lauren Conrad, Whitney Port, Heidi Montag, whom all get paid for showing up at clubs, doing charity work, have started fashion lines, etc, and they wouldn't have had as many opportunities to do so if they weren't on the show(s). Which is what I meant by saying they took what they could and ran with it, built it into something new, a business, a name, a brand – themselves. And based on interviews, all had wanted to get into the fashion/entertainment industry, so they all had a similiar agenda and just didn't go about it the typical Hollywood way by waitressing and auditioning. And no, I don't believe that producers should be freed from any type of guilt or blame for what they show on reality TV, but at the same time they know what they're creating because they want the audience to react and get hooked into the show more, it is entertainment…

    I agree and believe that television has hit an all new low, and believe it did when reality shows started cropping up everywhere and changed the entertainment industry. Which is why I don’t watch much television and refuse to, I can find other ways to entertain myself.

    I don’t agree with The After shows mocking of the those individuals or any individual for that sake by anyone by any means. But the real concern is obviously the influence the mocking will have on young children or even young adults on how to TREAT people throughout their life and on a day to day basis. That’s the problem I have. Unfortunately as you pointed out there is no perfect solution. And the only thing you can do as an individual is to turn off the television, walk away and decide that you won’t be “manipulated” by any source of television show or reality show and not believe everything you see or hear. You make the decision.

    And in regards to the disclaimer bit, I’m just simply saying they have their asses covered from a legal standpoint, no one’s getting sued, which is why the ratings system was invented, that’s all.

  8. xobolaji says:

    indeed, television is here to stay. we just have to figure out a way to "live" with it. there is a book by an activist named jerry mander. in 1977 he wrote a book called Four Arguments for the Elimination of TV. i was introduced to it in 1995. growing up, we did not watch much television at our house, my mother was totally against it. as a result my 2 sisters and i have the reputation of being "tv nazis" since we do not allow our children to watch much either. still, to each her own. i do still think that without engaging in a practice of censorship that there can be some middleground, but now that we have let vampires into the mainstream culture, i am not so sure.

  9. Anonymous says:

    To the post blaming parents–get your head out of your ass! Good parenting is important, no doubt but it is really naive to think that good parenting can be a shield to outside influences, especially the media. Instead of blaming parents I think it’s about time to be a bit more critical of our consumerist, objectivist, and misogynistic culture that warps naive minds, identities, and bodies.

    Good post B&R

  10. Anonymous says:

    I agree, it is naive to believe that good parenting can shield anyone against outside influences. I just simply believe you can or should influence your child to think for oneself, question what is being presented to them and not believe everything in the media, therefore hopefully not creating naive minds and lost identities. I just think that as a parent our role is to guide your child through life's ups and downs, and more importantly create a strong self-core. So that when they're out in the world and have media/entertainment/fashion blasted in their face, and we sure as hell hope not they're THAT easily influenced.

    And yes, we can be more critical of our culture/media and everything inbetween-but what has anyone ever done about it? It's gotten worse over the years. No one's come up with a solution for the beast. So why not prepare the warrior where you can and when you can, for the worst possible beast? I don't understand why some find this so difficult to comprehend, especially when it looks to me, that this beast isn't going anywhere, anytime soon. That's all.

  11. Anonymous says:

    spoken like people without children…enjoy it while it lasts kids.

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