Posts Tagged ‘The Hills’

Monday Medley

What we read after withdrawing our names from consideration for Fed Chair…

The Speidi Breakup

Sometimes something can seem both inevitable and impossible. Like the first successful moon landing, or the election of America’s first black president, thus is the feeling when news broke yesterday that Spencer Pratt and Heidi Montag had broken up.

On the one hand, anyone who watched The Hills or did merely a cursory overview of tabloid coverage of this relationship had to know just how dysfunctional it was. Spencer tore Heidi away from her best friend, from her sister, from her parents, from her career, etc. Basically, describing Spencer as “controlling” is a drastic understatement.

And yet the two seemed to have a symbiotic hold on each other. Whereas the annoying habit of using portmanteau names to refer to celebrity relationships—Brangelina, Bennifer, etc.—is usually just another way that modern culture shits on the English language, with Speidi it seemed like an appropriate illustration of just how inseparable they were in the public eye. Neither of them would have been significantly famous without the other. Spencer was notorious for his manipulative, God-like hold over his wife, and Heidi was infamous for her docile acceptance of what seemingly everyone else in the world recognized as nefarious manipulation by her husband. Continue reading

Saying Goodbye to 24 and The Hills

News broke recently that both 24 and The Hills are now in the midst of their final seasons (24’s final season is currently airing, while MTV will debut the final season of The Hills on April 27th). On the surface, these two shows do not have much in common, but they each hold a soft spot in my heart—at various points in the past, I would have described each of them as “my favorite show on TV”—but I cannot deny that I am now happy to see them go.

Continue reading

Reality Hunger: I’m Full

Reality Hunger, a new book by David Shields, is an important book—of this much I am sure. If I had any doubts about this fact, the torrent of blurbs on the book jacket would clear any of those up. There is not an inch of space on the back or front cover that is not taken up by someone’s praise of the book, whether that praise is from fiction writer Jonathan Lethem, poet and “cultural critic” Wayne Koestenbaum, short story writer Amy Hempel, or nearly a dozen others. Some of the blurbs actually cover the title. It’s a bit much.

But then, Reality Hunger is all about breaking boundaries—boundaries of taboo, genre, expectation, artificiality, and so on. It also seems by design that a fair number of the blurbers are quoted in the actual book itself. Shields wants to force the reader to think about the relationship between different texts and different authors. Not much of Shields’ “manifesto,” you see, is actually written—or at least originally written—by Shields himself. What he has done instead is aggregate an impressive amount of text from other sources, ranging from Michael Moore to T.S. Eliot to Ralph Waldo Emerson, and organize them into several distinct categories.

This does not make Reality Hunger an inferior version of Bartlett’s, since the organization is the primary creative act. I cannot begin to imagine how well-read Shields must be for him to have cataloged such a diverse group of texts and remolded them into his own stream-of-consciousness treatise. It is also important to note that the vast majority of quotations are not presented as quotations. Their original sources are only listed in the appendix (and even then only out of legal obligation—Shields frankly admits he didn’t want to include them at all), and they are presented as regular text in numbered chunks, marked no differently from Shields’ own words. Indeed, it took me several dozen pages to realize that not everything in the book comes from Shields himself. The idea is that Shields is using other peoples’ words to express his own ideas. Continue reading

L.A. Candy: First It’s Sour, Then It’s… Sweet Little Lies

“Interesting,” said Madison, although really, it wasn’t interesting at all.—Sweet Little Lies

When we last left the loosely life-like literary creations of Lauren Conrad, they were deeply mired in controversy. Our heroine, Jane Roberts, had just slept with her boyfriend’s best friend and, once the tabloids had gotten hold of the photographic evidence of the affair, absconded to Mexico with her reality TV co-star, Madison Parker. Unbeknownst to Jane, however, it was Madison who had the photos taken and delivered to Gossip magazine in exchange for more publicity.

Does this sound interesting? Because really, it’s not interesting at all.

Any regular viewer of The Hills, the real-life inspiration for L.A, Candy and now Sweet Little Lies, knows that a surprising amount of the show consists of nothing happening.* People go to dinner, they go to clubs (usually Les Deux), and they go to work; and then they tell other people about what happened at dinner, at the clubs, and at work. The most interesting aspect of the show, really, is how the show itself affects the reality it captures. How does having your life put on TV affect that life? Continue reading

Aught Lang Syne: Quotes of the Decade

To accurately and sufficiently summarize the Aughts, we at NPI have compiled and organized what we believe to be the defining list of quotes from this decade. Some of these were soundbytes, some were entire news cycles, some were quoted ad nauseam, some are poignant, some are sad, and most are hilarious.

“Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists.”

–President George W. Bush, September 20th, 2001

 

“There’s an old saying in Tennessee — I know it’s in Texas, probably in Tennessee — that says: Fool me once, shame on… shame on you… You fool me we can’t get fooled again.”

–President Bush, 2002

“Our enemies never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we.”

–President Bush, August 2004

 

“I actually did vote for the $87 million before I voted against it.”

–Senator John Kerry, 2004

 

“Yes We Can!”

–Senator Barack Obama, Repeated Continue reading

The Return of The Hills

The Hills KristinThe appeal of The Hills has always been its delicate balance of a few very key contradictions: the show is “real life” but quite obviously staged, these characters are on a very successful and invasive TV show that they can never explicitly acknowledge, the people on the show constantly talk about how much is going on in their lives while nothing actually happens on the show, and they all have to lead very dramatic lives while simultaneously professing a deep aversion to said “drama.”

The introduction of Kristin Cavallari, though, threatens to throw this symbiosis all out of whack.

In last night’s season premiere (called “It’s On, Bitch,” except MTV didn’t punctuate it, so it read as if something was on top of “bitch”), Kristin was treated as if her reputation preceded her like Winston Wolf, except instead of solving problems, she steals boyfriends. And in short order she starts pursuing Audrina’s ex, Justin Bobby.

Except Kristin’s reputation is repeated so often by so many characters that they sound as if they were reading MTV Production Notes (particularly Stephanie, who says both “This is the girl that’s going to stab us all in the back!” and “How is it possible that one girl can turn all of our lives upside down?”). Also, the only reason Kristin is pursuing Justin, as she more or less admits, is to cause drama and upset Audrina, which A) violates the rule that all characters must profess a “no drama” ethos; and B) highlights how forced Kristin’s inclusion is. She’s not actually friends with anyone on the show, as both she and Lo make clear at various points during the episode, which makes any interaction she has with the rest of the cast seem manipulated and contrived (even more so than usual). Continue reading