Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Saturday, May 12, 2007

I HATE Spencer Pratt: Annoying Boy of the Week

brody jenner and spencer pratt pretend to be cool

Spencer Pratt is a PARISite...literally. First he shows up on The Hills wearing dog tags, destroying friendships, and telling lies, and now he is on FOX. FUCKING. NEWS. explaining to Geraldo why he started the "save Paris" petition. I. hate. this. guy.

I don't even know where to begin; truth be told, I've often thought of posting about this miscreant, but I just haven't had the stomach to think about him for the amount of time required to construct sentences. But here I am.

I didn't think it was possible for me to hate someone from the reality tv world more than I hate Slade Smiley, but I do. Spencer Pratt is similar to Slade Smiley in that he has a pathologically inflated sense of self-importance and is really good at emotionally abusing and isolating his significant other (the also-odious Heidi Montag), but he is even more infantile, boring, transparent, and ridiculous. He advised his client Brody Jenner to "get that bitch [nicole richie] to eat" for publicity purposes, and he and Jenner both seem to have made it their mission to suck as much exposure out of their connection to The Hills as possible. Here are some choices quotes from an interview with MTV Reality World:

My new plan to keep everything secret like a ninja. Too many ideas are taken from me. I wouldn’t even know where to start with that one. My hustle is just too crazy. I’m trying to take over the world.

and later, when asked about his depiction on The Hills:

Well, I want to start to have our side of the story come out. I want to get a blog so people can know what’s going on with Spencer on the daily. Lauren narrates The Hills. Spencer is going to narrate his blog. Imagine if Spencer narrated The Hills… It’s how you skew it. If I’m the narrator, wait to see how much people love Spencer.

One of the most sickening moments of TV this year is when Spencer, in the season finale of The Hills, holds up what he calls his "homeboy phone." This is in response to Jenner's questions about how he will transition from "playa" to Heidi's full-time domestic partner (for whom he keeps a "girlfriend" phone). You see, he coerced Heidi into moving in with him so he doesn't have to deal with her friends. It's a pretty textbook abuse tactic, really. As is his move to manage Heidi's "career." This is yet another thing Pratt has in common with Slade Smiley, who recently began managing the career of his ex-fiance, Jo. It isn't hard to see that these management moves are little more than a transparent attempt to control the lives (and bodies -- Heidi just had a boob and nose job, supposedly at Spencer's urging) of their significant others.

Sadly, this isn't the first time we've seen men abuse women on our favorite music channel, and I'm not even talking about the exploitation of women in music videos. Just about every dude on the past few seasons of the Real World is an abusive misogynist, and let's not forget the abusive antics of Laguna Beach and Hills alum Jason Wahler. This trend is horribly troubling, and I really do worry about how young viewers of these shows perceive these men.

The conflation of the "romantic" and "abusive" in storytelling isn't new, but I DO think it is different when it happens in a reality show. I'm still thinking through how and why that is, but the most obvious consequence is that we must wonder about Lauren and Heidi's (who are real people) health and safety. We must question the ethics of the show makers in a way that is different from how we evaluate a fiction writer's choices because real people could get hurt. MTV seems to be making a number of shows in which real women are put in danger for the sake of drama, and that ain't cool.

Related links:
How to tell if you are in an abusive relationship

Related Annoying Boys of the Week:
Wes from the Real World Austin
The Drooling Dunces of Laguna Beach
Annoying Boys of the Week 4.16.06

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Feminaissance and Wack

So I did get a little taste of Feminaissance on Saturday. It took us forever to leave the house so we only made the last panel, but it was a very interesting one. I wish that I had been less caffeine deprived...but this is what happens when you stay up until 4 am every night!

As I mentioned earlier, Eileen Myles is AMAZING. I'm still organizing my thoughts about the other presentations, but here are some of the notes I took during E.M.'s presentation from the "categories" panel:

- the world determines your gender before you do
- one can be caught in the midst of two [gendered] performances: one true and one false
- hormones are writing (!!!)
- gender is a public thought
- gender and "things." In inflected languages (i.e. Latin) nouns are given masculine or feminine endings. In English, some things are gendered. For example, ships are "she." Also discussed gender and hurricanes. After the panel I did some research. As it turns out, the gender of hurricanes alternates through the alphabet, which seems sort of conceptually elegant to me -- this idea of alternating gender as something controlled/contained by letters and "names." You can see this list of names here. Also, why don't we name earthquakes or volcanic eruptions? Does a hurricane seem somehow more "live"; or perhaps a storm seems more distinct from the planet itself?

We also made what felt like a very cursory tour of the WACK show, which is electric and dense and thrilling. The concentration of feminist art creates a very palpable sense of urgency and power. It also highlights a desire to "get out" of the museums, which is to say that it draws attention to/makes clear the limits of the museum. Forms are used and simultaneously undermined. Museum spaces are productive and necessary and often feel like sanctuaries, but the underlying imperative -- the quicksilver vein of the WACK show -- is that we must change the world outside the museum. This may seem like a banal point, but trust me -- it has a sharpened tip in the context of this exhibit.

Anyway, the MOCA is one of my favorite places in Los Angeles. Besides the WACK show, there are some very interesting pieces there. Among them are some texty pieces by Alexandra Grant, including a glinting silver wire mesh sphere which seemed like something out of one of my dreams. Another piece I *loved* was by chilean artist Livia Marin. This piece involved over 2k tubes of lipstick (!!!) aranged on a curved base; the tips of the lipstick were sculpted into all sorts of shapes and reminded me of chess pieces in drag. Thrilling.