“Wait, so I just say something vague about going to live ‘in Europe’ and that’s it? People will buy that?”
When I was about 10 years old, I began to accept that professional wrestling had more than a marginal element of artifice to it. Sure, those were really large men performing Herculean tasks of strength and skill and often taking heavy physical(and as I’d later find out, mental and emotional) punishment in the process. But I started to realize that Jake “The Snake” Roberts wasn’t REALLY bitten by a King Cobra. When the Ultimate Warrior was locked into a steel coffin, I was vaguely conscious that his life wasn’t REALLY in danger. So I can somewhat empathize with the legions of girls, err… grown women who truly believed that The Hills was a completely genuine experience. In case some of you managed to make it into your 20’s, 30’s and beyond without these other bombshells being dropped on you, prepare to have your world rocked: Santa Clause, The Tooth Fairy, The Easter Bunny, The Rape Goblin, The Keebler Elves, as well as George Clooney(too perfect) and God(probably) are all fake too.
Now I saw The Hills finale and, like everyone else, I was surprised- but, it seems, for a much different reason. Since the days of Laguna Beach, at least to me, it was all kinds of clear that this shit was fake. I used to bitch about this since AIM away messages were popular. I warned you “people” of this years ago. Glad to see you all listened. ALL reality television is fake to a degree. Or maybe I’m wrong. Does your life have a “Story Editor” or a “Script Supervisor” and a makeup crew? Maybe I’m the only asshole here left out on that. Who do I see about getting one? I feel my “mid 20’s arc” could use some tightening up. Anyway. I say this as someone who has an iota of understanding about how, you know, cameras and “other TV stuff” works. The photography on The Hills was gorgeous. I’m serious. It’s crisp, lovely, and completely professional. And not just the second unit shots that show a beautiful flyover of Los Angeles or something. Even the primary shots of, you know, the people on the show. You can’t set up a static wide shot of Lauren Conrad walking with a strong depth of field with the…whatever landmark…in the far background without an element of planning and blocking and scripting. So perhaps you, person whose world is blown by The Hills being fake, don’t understand how cameras work. I’ll let you slide on that one. Though, just think back to the last time you took a picture at a bar making a kissy face. You know how imperfect that looked and you had to do it over like 5 more times because you were self-conscious of how your eyebrows looked? Well The Hills constantly achieves a level of perfection IN MOTION. This requires repetition if not intense goddamn planning.
Chewbacca. Also fake????
How about the double-sided phone call intercuts? You know…when someone makes or receives a “surprise” phone call only to have shots intercut BETWEEN BOTH PEOPLE. You understand that there has to be a camera crew(and probably makeup) in place in both locations, in advance of that phone call. Like, understanding of film production aside, this is common fucking sense.
I’ve spent a good deal of time praising the production value in The Hills, because it is very good. But it’s not good television. Even by reality standards, it’s trash about vapid people with vapid concerns. The people speak in clichés and constantly have to “meet face to face” to convey mundane information to the audience. The way NO ONE does in real life. Here’s a breakdown:
A SCENE FROM THE HILLS:
AUDRINA sits alone. A vague air of awkwardness about her probably
LO BOSWORTH, Audrina’s friend, sits down-
Lo’s eyes light up-
Lo’s eyebrows raise devilishly. Audrina wipes her hair out
That stupid–BEWWW BEWWW BEW BEW BEW BEWWWWWWWWW-sound effect
EXT. CAFE PATIO – DAY
Audrina sits alone, texting someone because if she doesn’t
convey the air that someone wants to talk to her at all times, she’ll kill herself.
LO BOSWORTH, Audrina’s friend, frazzled, sits down-
(faking cheerfulness because girls really hate
So, oh my god, I saw Justin yesterday.
Lo’s expression doesn’t change-
That’s cool. Listen, I’m kind of
strapped for time. So what did you
need to meet for? Are you
pregnant or something?
What? No… I just wanted to tell
you I saw Justin yesterday.
Are you fucking kidding me? You
couldn’t have texted me that? It’s
3PM on a Wednesday and I have work!
Lo gets up with haste, throws some money on the table and
storms off, muttering under breath the entire time…
Audrina waits three seconds, then pretends to text someone.
I refuse to believe that even the cast of The Hills would say things like “It’s time to make some new memories.” with a straight face without some cynical fucking producer, thinking that’s what teenaged girls want to hear, telling her to say it in advance.
Of course, it’s not all fake. Like professional wrestling, there is an element of truth every time you see something captured on camera(even in Battlefield Earth). Apparently a handful of the girls are actually friends. Heidi really does look like a blonde Jessica Rabbit. Spencer really seems to have lost his mind. Beyond that, it’s probably anyone’s guess. The Hills ending the way it did, with the super-wide shot of the soundstage and cast and crew was, admittedly, provocative- at least as far as “reality television” is concerned. I’ve yet to see a reality show break down the fourth wall and expose itself like that. I mean, it didn’t have to do that. It could have ended with Kristin driving away, leaving all of the gullible girls(and grown women—for fuck’s sake—seriously???)-who thought they were watching a real-life fairy tale- happy and content and clueless as to how truly artificial much of what they saw was. So that ending took, dare I say it, balls. People don’t like it when their social reality is thrown off kilter in any significant way and it seems like The Hills’ ending somewhat tapped into this. I’m curious to see if this actually spurs any actual reflection in the people disappointed with it. If they thought The Hills was real, who knows what other infantile bullshit they still believe in? I realize I’m being harsh here. The moment when you realize the world isn’t a cozy magical place full of wonder where “everything happens for a reason(that always benefits me in the end despite the statistic impossibilities)” is a sad moment in every person’s development. Perhaps I’m just bitter at all the people who made it several decades into life before realizing that. So in that regard, I feel bad. But if they take a minute to think about it and let it wash over them, it may instill a much needed, apparently, sense of cynical curiosity. I’m not saying they have to piss and moan and hate everything the way I do. But maybe they’ll begin to start questioning other concepts and ideas they previously took for granted, like reality and fate and love and George Clooney. Imagine that! Seeing the world with new, ever questioning eyes based on how The Hills ended. It’ll be the one truly good thing MTV has given the world in decades. But who am I kidding? Everyone will just bitch about how “lame” it was and look for solace in the next scripted fairy tale they come across that pushes out a façade of “reality”. And I, the guy who continues to place a degree of faith in his fellow man/woman, will sit there face-in-palm for the foreseeable future, cursing myself for going against my better judgment.