15

No, You Are Not

***This post was one I was planning a few days ago but ended up going to sleep before posting. Here, it appears in its entirety. Now, back to your regularly scheduled blogging.***

I’ve posted about reality television before, and my love/hate relationship with it over time, but the current state of reality television is deplorable.

Reality TV used to be so cutting-edge, trendy. You had the community building shows of Survivor and The Real World.

And then, other things happened. I’d thought I’d seen the worst of it, from My Super Sweet 16 to The Anna Nicole Show to anything starring Paris Hilton, a Kardashian, or a Real Housewife.

But these were all just mile markers on the road to Hell. I’m not sure we’re quite there yet, but we’re getting close with MTV’s Are You The One? It’s a show where 20 young, pretty and serially single people (10 male, 10 female) are sent to a house in Hawaii. The prize money: one million dollars. The task: find their “true matches” among the group, decided by some combination of “personality tests, interviews with friends/family/exes, computer analyses, and matchmakers (and oh yeah, some producers).”

Normally, right about here and now I would post a picture of something pertaining to the show here, but I can’t even bear to look at it, so here’s Adam Levine with his thoughts on what I’m about to share with you:

Nearly everything about this show is wrong. Completely, categorically, ethically, morally, genuinely, physically, wrong.

Let’s not even start with the people; let’s just start with the concept and given circumstances.

The concept of the show is simple: it’s basically like Concentration, only with human beings instead of cards. There are potentially 1000 (don’t quote me) combinations of housemates. More on that later. But what is MTV trying to prove? There is absolutely no reference to any sort of independent verification that these “couples” are anything other than arbitrary – for all we know, they could be changing them every week just to screw them over and confuse them – no statisticians, no named advisers, no Pat from Ernst & Young with the results envelope. It’s as shady, opaque, and nonsensical as a television show concept can get. This concept might be meant to give viewers at home the impression that “hey, anyone can find love!” but it comes off more as “these attractive people can find love because we picked them to spend every waking moment together for the next few weeks during which they will pair off, sooner rather than later!” Like many other dating shows, it engages in what I’d like to term single-shaming. What I mean by that is that it gives off the message that 1) being single is not okay, 2) if you are single, there is something wrong with you, 3) everyone’s first priority should be to hook up with someone, 4) that someone is worth more if he/she is attractive, 5) hooking up is more important than getting to know someone and 6) if you are sexually promiscuous, you merit one million dollars.

As most MTV shows are, it’s a tropical location in Hawaii, in which most of us can’t even fathom living. And of course, there doesn’t seem to be any food in the house, but more alcohol than a frat party. The above two facts are pretty much staples, but what takes the cake is the bedroom situation. There is only one, gigantic bed for 20 people. Granted, there is a private room with a bed for two, but that’s clearly meant for something else, something that is probably going to happen in the other bed. It’s a tossup as to what MTV is glorifying more in this setup: a bordello or an orgy. Basically, MTV is begging these people to have sex with one another when the whole show is about finding one’s perfect match. If you knew your perfect match was there, would you want to know that he/she has done every other member of the opposite sex in the house? That’s just a setup for major disappointment, pretty much ensuring that none of these relationships will last.

Then, there’s the people.

To start with a positive note, there is plenty of diversity among the group, which is a good thing; only about half of the cast is white. The rest are a mix, however, in true MTV fashion, no Asian males are represented, and the only Asian female could just about pass for white. On the negative side, look at their bodies. All the women are shorter than the men, skinny, toned, and with long hair. All the white girls except one are blonde. All the men are built like athletes, and I believe that all but one or two has tattoos. Not one person on the show is overweight, underweight, has body hair, has any sort of physical disability, and aspires to be anything other than a model/actor/musician/DJ/dancer/singer. Nor are there any homosexuals, when statistically, there should be at least two. And none of them have an ounce of self-respect.

How they’re playing the game is completely wrong. What is more important, getting drunk and having sex on MTV’s dime (which will eventually go away, and soon) or trying to beat MTV at their own game and win the million dollars (which will last longer and have a much bigger impact on their lives, either as couples or as individuals? Obviously, the second, but nobody here is using their brains. They get several chances to discover who the couples are with the “truth booth” and the moonlight ceremony-thing, but it doesn’t seem to occur to anyone to get a pen and paper, make a chart, and plot their guesses rather than taking shots in the dark. Seriously, people? Prioritize.

The “competitions” are the height of lameness and laziness. The first competition did nothing but promote flaunting one’s body, by taking selfies of any part of their body (some of whom merit TV blurs); an activity that is rewarded here, but is seen as shameful in the outside world. Ogling over each other’s pictures and guessing which body part belongs to whom is an exercise in one thing: physical beauty is the only thing that matters.

There is not one iota of truth in any of the interactions or confessionals shown on TV. Usually, on shows like this, sometimes genuine emotions slip in, and sometimes the editors are smooth enough to fool the viewers. Here, nobody’s fooling anyone. Every single thing looks manufactured. One of the episode’s subplots involved two girls fighting over a bed, encountering drama at every turn and involving every single person in the house, regardless of where they were at the time and if they had a stake in – or even knowledge of – the actual problem. When another girl steps in to “help,” you can almost hear the producer whispering in her ear, “hey, go follow her, talk to her, and when she starts to talk, don’t stop and listen, just get louder, and if she won’t stop, just clap your hands at her.” Another subplot was the theft of one of the guys’ personal diaries. It seemed like everyone in the house except for the victim knew where the diary was and who took it. In fact, in one of the confessionals, a girl even says to the camera who did it, thereby killing any sort of suspense. Then, they switch over to the guy who did it, whose reason for doing it is so lame and rehearsed that even a first-grader could make up a better answer. Of course, the diary is found when the camera scrolls to the love seat in which it’s hidden, and the incident completely disappears from the rest of the episode. Oh, and then there’s the fact that the night vision cameras in the “private bedroom” have put things on TV that wouldn’t even appear on the Spice Channel…

I can’t even. I just can’t even. I can’t believe I actually watched this crap. It made me feel dead inside. Screw you, MTV, I want those two hours of my life back.

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4

Take Your Toddler Off the Table

One time, I was having a perfectly lovely dinner in Houston with my friend, and her friends, who are a young couple with an adorable baby girl who sat and cooed in her stroller the whole time. What happened after dinner absolutely grossed me out. It wasn’t at a particularly fancy place, but it was gross nonetheless.

They put their baby daughter on the table.

On. The. Table.

I don’t know what possessed them to do that, but they did it anyway. And not only did they put her on the table, they picked her up and put her on her feet on the table as if she was dancing. Dancing. In her shoes. Only slightly less gross than if she were in her socks, or barefoot.

I just don’t get it.

If I put my own feet on the table at any point during the meal, you’d be disgusted. Same goes for anyone putting their foot on any dining table while it is being used thusly. You don’t know what’s on the bottom of that person’s shoes, or if their shoes look nice but their feet are dust mops.

Speaking of complete slobs, I knew a girl in Amherst who was one. Well, at least on the outside. She looked like she never showered or brushed her hair, always wore grungy looking outfits which were usually baggy, monotone, and polyester, and had gigantic, oddly-shaped glasses. But appearances aren’t everything, personality is important too…and personality she had. Of a dirty dish towel. She wasn’t an awful human being, just a dull one. I tried to find something redeeming about her, so I tried to grasp at straws. She was usually barefoot, and her feet weren’t grotesque-looking at first glance, but then, I saw her sit down and put her feet up, and on the bottoms? Let’s just say that she possessed a pretty dark and disgusting sole, times two. That is the image I have in mind whenever anyone’s feet, including an adorable little girl’s, go anywhere near where I’m eating or have eaten. Then there’s the whole issue of parents thinking that everything their children do is cute, but that merits a whole different blog entry.

So don’t put your children on the table and especially his/her feet. Or your own feet for that matter. Ever.

Except if the meal is completely finished, and the table has an inset lazy Susan.

Then, it’s adorable, as seen by Figure A (just imagine the record player inset within the table):

1

What’s in the Box?

In my never ending pursuit of procrastination, so far today I have dropped off my parking space rental check, chatted with a friend at the department for an hour, gotten coffee at Memorial Union (where not only did I pick one wrong lid but after picking the right lid, I realized that THEY HAD ALREADY GIVEN ME A LID AND I HAD TAKEN IT OFF TO PUT IN SOME SUGAR AND SET IT RIGHT NEXT TO THE CUP), walked home and hung out with a friend, gone back out for Lao cuisine for dinner, ate (but in my defense, spent the whole time reading and came out with a paragraph), went to College Library to get a book (but in my defense, wrote two whole pages), then came home and talked to my dad for a while before watching Family Guy and doing today’s crossword puzzle.

So, obviously, it’s time for a story.

It was…well, I can’t tell you the year, as well as some other details in this story.

Wow, great start.

So this one time, I was working in the costume shop of one of the 43981058 universities that I have attended. I wasn’t on the payroll, just a volunteer, so I got kinda the random tasks, but I never minded because they were always fun. Out of nowhere, a bunch of boxes appeared. They were, apparently, “donations.” It wasn’t just one or two boxes; it was about five HUGE boxes full of stuff. My task was to sort through them and “put like things together.” All I was told was that it was the belongings of a recently deceased faculty member, donated by her son. I opened one box, and out came blouses and lots of t-shirts referencing Frankenstein. So apparently she was either an English professor, or had a weird obsession with the macabre. The next box had skirts and dresses, including a beautiful red chiffon cocktail dress that I immediately put on a mannequin so that everyone could see it in the morning. It ended up replacing a dress in the upcoming show (unfortunately not The Dress From Hell, aka a lightly stained baby-blue lace dishrag that was so old and decrepit but the director loved and insisted on putting on the tallest and prettiest girl in the cast, who looked amazing in it, but tore at least three holes from dancing in it every night, so that by the end of the run was more a collection of stitches than a garment) so that worked out great. I was having a good time.

The next box, I reached in, and pulled out…

A FISTFUL OF PANTIES. 

Yes. Panties.

Not only that, but pantyhose, leggings, bras, swimwear, and an ugly neon sweatsuit from the 80s.

But seriously, panties? Who in their mind would donate something to charity that you can’t even return to a store even with a receipt? Obviously, this lady’s son, or whoever packed and sealed the boxes. I sure hope they washed everything. Just typing that sentenced made me realize that…::gulp:: you know what, let’s just assume it was all clean.

The other three boxes were of no consequence.

Then, I found out who the clothing belonged to. I’m not going to reveal her identity, but she was a very well-known member of the faculty who was not only a professor in the English department, but at one point the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and one of the world’s leading experts on Mary Shelley and Frankenstein. And just for kicks, I googled her about thirty seconds ago, and…she even has a Wikipedia page. She’s a real person, as far as the world’s concerned.

And that’s how I got in the dean of my school’s underpants.