24 April 2008


"You've Got to Want to Be a Star" by The Besnard Lakes which clocks in at 9:32

A real housewife of New York City lives in my neighborhood.

That one there in the picture, with the wind-blown hair and smug grin. She’s mugging like that because she thinks you might recognize her, and dammit she’s worked hard for that rewarding whiff of self-satisfaction. She may have failed in her attempts to become a serious actress (save for her role as “Lead Toothpick” in a music video) but real stars never say die. They keep hustling and persisting and persevering, because to be a star, you’ve got to want to be a star!

(How do I know that she played “Lead Toothpick”? Well, wanting to be a star means mastering the art of self-promotion, like running a web-page devoted to yourself , or even more exploitative, of your whole family. Icky)

And so it goes…she wanted to be a star so badly she opened up her neighborhood, her home, her entire LIFE – which includes two kids, a French au pair and a husband (whose own nefarious hunt for fame rivals hers) – to prying television cameras in order to gain a bit of recognition...

For those of you blessed with the purity of not knowing what I’m talking about, let me give some quick context. The show in which our star was born is The Real Housewives of New York City. It’s a reality show on Bravo that, as the title suggests, follows the lives of five housewives around the city as they spend money, boast about spending money, bitch and talk shit about one another, and make comical attempts at child-rearing, It’s actually a spin-off of yet another reality show – The Real Housewives of Orange County – which in itself bit off of the one-time mojo of The O.C. Blah.

So to recap, our neighborhood star has hustled her way onto a reality show that’s a spin-off of another reality show inspired by a teen soap opera. Bravo (pun intended?)! She wants recognition, she should have it! Forget for a moment how the show actually portrays these miserable women and in turn how mainstream media outlets have received them; the "Grey Lady" herself The New York Times offered up an analysis of the Prada posse, describing them as follows:

“The housewives are hungry for attention, and even a bit desperate, and their entwined vanity and vulnerability distinguishes these kinds of arriviste reality series from competitions like “Project Runway” or “Top Chef.” On those, viewers judge the contestants’ ability to make clothes or prepare a meal. On “Real Housewives” they measure the gap between the image the heroines hope to project and what they actually look like through the lens of a reality television camera.”

Still loving the camera's glare, neighbor? Conversely, on a grassroots level message boards have bleen ablaze with housewives-bashing, just one example:

These women actually make the Orange County housewives desireable (sic). Maybe this is a regional issue, but i cant stand these women...I cant find one single positive thing about the New York Housewives...So what do the rest of you think?

Yes, what do the rest of you think? For the unitiated, get a little taste of our star in action below:

God help us. Look, I know what I’m about to say has already been grist for the mill of every pop columnist out there, but it still begs addressing: what the hell happened to the concept of the “star”? The definition of the word – well okay the 8th definition once you get past all the scientific “celestial gaseous body” ones – is “ a person who is celebrated or distinguished in some art, profession, or other field.”

Let’s go back to the above video. Does she qualify for any of these star parameters? NO NO NO NO NO NO a million times no. But can you watch that and honestly tell me that she doesn’t believe she’s a star now from all the show's exposure, negative or positive (note: EF research has found positive exposure elusive thus far)?

You know the deal by now: reality television and viral videos have transformed everyone from our scarecrow housewife to sinister squirrels and a guy who spent two days trapped in an elevator into overnight celebrities, with Good Morning America appearances and book deals waiting in the wings.

But personally, perhaps the most distressing aspect of all of this is that I RECOGNIZE THIS HOUSEWIFE WHEN I SEE HER ON THE STREET. Which means the following: 1) I’ve seen an episode of The Real Housewives of New York City (but my girlfriend is entirely to blame for that), 2) when I do see the housewife on the street now I can’t help but have one of those kinds of double-takes people do upon seeing someone who looks familiar, which then results in 3) our star feeling validated that people are looking at her and recognizing her, meaning that 4) I’m feeding the machine!!!!

And perhaps I am to blame for all of this. I know who the housewives are, I know who Heidi Montag is, I know that she dates some manipulative elfin named Spencer, and I know that O.J’s attorney isn’t the only Kardashian in the headlines. Does this mean these people have succeeded in becoming stars? Well in a sense, maybe...

Look, at this point the Human Giant sketch where Rob Huebel mutilates his own genitals in order to become famous could be a self-fulfilling prophecy. At least whoever ends up doing that in reality will prove they realllllly want to be a star. And at the end of th...oh sorry, gotta go, Work Out is on!

Buy Volume 1 on Amazon/on iTunes.

EAR FARM's 8+ is a weekly feature that showcases songs longer than 8 minutes. In the recent past these songs were featured on EF's 8+:
M83 - "Couleurs"
David Byrne - "Happy Suicide"
Fleetwood Mac - "Oh Well"
Phish - "You Enjoy Myself"
Green Day - "Homecoming"
Billy Bragg - "Joe Hill"
Van Halen - "Year to the Day"
Kraftwerk - "The Telephone Call"

To see a full list of every song featured in EAR FARM's 8+ click HERE.


kdiggy said...

this is an awesome post. i have to say, i may have caught snippets of an epiode or two, when switching back and forth between Charlie Rose and Ovation of course, and i actually think alex may be one of the more tolerbale characters among the group. these women are horrifying, so sure, the standards are low.

Rachael said...

i'm not ashamed to admit that i looked forward to this show on a weekly basis. sure, it's equal parts ridiculous and forced, but it's definitely good TV. however, Alex was hands down the worst, if you saw the reunion this week she tried to convince everyone she isn't pretentious or a social climber. at least the others own up to who they are. what's worse than a reality tv star? a reality tv star who pretends that they didn't agree to have cameras follow their every move and wasn't aware that everything they'd say on tape would be televised. pul-eeze.

Anonymous said...

what a great post. awesome job mike.

Markus said...

Good Job! :)

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