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So, what?

After looking at a Maxim not too long ago, I had an epiphany. Perched on the kitchen counter, the magazine boasted a boozy eyed Fergie “dressed” in a polka dot bikini and doing her best to look like an overgrown tween with a dark side. More importantly, I noticed her suspiciously wrinkle-free face, perfectly toned muscles, and a silhouette so narrow, I questioned her ability to digest food properly as she must be missing a few organs. Disturbed by clearly doctored image, I asked a male friend, “Do you find her attractive?” To which he replied enthusiastically, “Um, yeah!” “But, it’s so obviously fake. No one really looks like this, not even her,” I countered. I will never forget his response. “So, what?” Period.

First, the “so what” debate is a very hard argument to win in any situation. With so many different perspectives on life, it’s hard to convince someone your values, morals, and opinions matter, if they had to ask “so what” in the first place. In this case, I attempted to illuminate his mind with all the reasons that fantasizing about an unreal version of what ANY woman can really look like isn’t even fantasizing about a woman at that point. Weren’t we supposed to value reality over all else? When someone chooses to believe delusions over stark reality, we put them in mental institutions for not following along.

The standardized practice of digitally enhanced photos–not only fashion photography, but mainstream as well–makes me question the value of reality. For the sake of beauty, we alter a less appealing version to please our senses, but what do we lose? I would liken lusting after a digitally-enhanced Fergie to the childhood crushes boys develop on videogame characters like Lara Croft, who offer digestible, standardized versions of “woman.” Yes, her bust may inspire awe, but I’m sure sleeping next to a woman in a rubber suit would start to get uncomfortable.

In this “so what” world where Stacy Ferguson envies Fergie’s abs in Maxim,  our television networks have followed suit with their versions of life, love, and women in many “reality” tv shows. The Real Housewives series must be my Maxim: the women, the houses, and their lifestyles all defy expectation, seem bigger than life, and distorted in a way that makes you wonder if they function the same way as  normal people. I know the Fergie in Maxim couldn’t pass a steak through her body, and I’m 99% positive the women on Real Housewives of NJ are missing a couple essentials I take for granted: a conscience and clearly a television, since I haven’t heard of any suicide attempts yet.

new jersey bravo www.hometownhollywood.com real housewives

I watch the Real Housewives series. Yes, with a mix of incredulity, awe, and disdain, but I’ve been an avid viewer of all seasons. I don’t watch all Reality TV. In fact, I watch very few shows, but with great enthusiasm. My preferences are limited to a few favorites that offend both your intelligence and morals. I can’t explain my need to watch shows like Girls Next Door, Jon and Kate Plus 8, or Real Housewives, other than to say they simplify life in a way I find relaxing and reassuring. Even when Kelly Bensimone goes on an incoherent tangent, and the audience is supposed to simultaneously ridicule and envy her, I find solace in such escapist drama. Without these vicarious catfights, affairs, and temper tantrums, who knows onto whom I would unleash the beast within.

This season of Real Housewives features a cast from Franklin Lakes, NJ, a ritzy enclave of pampered wives, spoiled youth, and absent fathers. The women behave quite differently from the casts of Orange County, Atlanta, and New York. The children are younger, the wives don’t have jobs for the most part, and most of the women are family by blood or marriage. In many ways, this season more accurately resembles the actual Desperate Housewives. Murder and intrigue in an upper class, suburban neighborhood. Unlike NY, Atlanta, or OC, this is Jersey. When you take away mention of Colombian cartels, prostitution, and husband snatchers, what’s left?

Still, best cast and season goes to NY: Season 2, hands down. You can’t beat the intense fan reaction to big personalities blindly and vocally standing by their complete idiocy. Best moment ever: on the reunion episode, after listening to the other women bicker for 20 mins, Kelly interjects with disgust, “I can’t stand listening to this. You guys are always talking about authenticity, accountability… I’m bored!” “KADOOZ,” in the words of Ramona, TO THAT!

Needless to say, I’m looking forward to insanity with a political spin.

get real

jonkate

Recently, Jon and Kate, of Jon and Kate plus 8, have faced more scrutiny than their jolly TLC family show has ever seen before. Criticism has ranged from claims that the show exploits the children’s cuteness to tabloid ninjas throwing daggers at Kate for her nagging ways and portraying Jon as an unsatisfied, glorified frat boy forced to chug beer with college volleyball players.

I have to admit, this saddens me, but does not surprise me. Not only does Jon perpetually look like he’s thinking, “seriously? this is my life. seriously??” but Kate acts equally disgusted with his inability to keep up. Still, their banter made every squabbling couple go, “aww,” and think for a second that they too have that adorably annoying partner in life, that very special bond also known as, relations of convenience and resignation. Moral of the story: If God really told you to have 8 kids before you were 30 and sell your soul as well as those of your children to the devil known as reality tv, I hope He attached the # of a good shrink and a bottle of Xanax to that memo because that quicksand’s not letting go any time soon.

our consumer souls..

econsultancy.com

Today Google will announce new privacy measures to increase transparency and consumer trust in regard to behavioral marketing. You know, that eerie way Gmail knows that you just sent an email about how much you miss ‘NSync. And next thing you know there’s an ad about where you can pick up your copy of Best of 1998. My favorite part about the new settings is that you not only have the choice to opt out of receiving ads tailored to your “personality,” but you actually can pick and choose which ads better target you. For instance, if by chance I start seeing ads that paint me as nostalgic for the late 90s, leading me to places I can auction off my old bobbleheads and Britney Spears paraphanalia, I could determine that definition of me erroneous and deny, deny, deny. Instead, I could tell Google, “Hey, wait a minute. Just because it seems like I’m that lame, I’m really not. I really want the ads that invade my space every day to reflect my true self. Show me more about ways I can save the whales. Or puppies. Or trees. I really like trees.”

It’s an interesting idea that some of us believe that ads exist for our benefit, and if we can have a hand in making ourselves easier to sell to, then we’re really in control.

joaquin

chattahbox.com

People are strange. People do things that make you throw your head back, contort your face in ways that could only be described as ugly, and let out a big, fat ARGH. Don’t get me wrong (you will regret doing so), I don’t classify myself as an angst-ridden pessimist (anymore). In fact, I’d say my incredulity stems from an innate optimism and trust in the goodness of people and the reason in their minds that gets repeatedly beaten to shreds like poor Rihanna. In the same masochistic fashion, I too go back to my abuser again and look for some semblance of humanity.

Whether its Joaquin Phoenix deciding he’s a rapper or a woman on welfare having 14 kids through in-vitro, people behaving ridiculously never ceases to exist nor fails to amaze me. Thus, the reason I created this blog, a compilation of arghworthy stories for your entertainment, astonishment, and displeasure… Enjoy!