Archive for the ‘Pop Culture’ Category
I had the misfortune of watching a bit of The Bachelor recently. My initial thought – as per every time I’ve ever seen even ten seconds of the show, was, “Why the f*ck is this even on tv?” My secondary thoughts were along the lines of “Why does Rafael Nadal’s retarded brother get a TV show?” And I think among my tertiary thoughts was “Why are people so shocked that there was some banging going on in this show – isn’t that really what it’s for, for some dude to have sample sex with a bunch of chicks that want to be on tv under the guise of seeking true love?”
I really can’t fathom why anyone would want to subject themselves to this type sh*t except for the opportunity to be on television. Thus, the genesis of this post appearing on here. The proposed (no pun intended, I think) subject matter prompted some internal debate as to whether anyone would participate in this type thing if it were not televised. I mean, couldn’t some rich dude in LA just offer up his house for 25 random hos to hang out in while he decides which one is The One over the course of a month? I bet that’s basically how this show even came to be, just a couple of guys spitballing ways to get some ass easily, then they had the genius idea to have it televised so that a network could foot the bill for the mansion AND they could become famous enough to get appearance fees at nightclubs and casinos for the next five years. Even more f*cking genius than Dorito Tacos (YUM: call me re: Fiery Habanero Doritos Tacos) – I have to hand it to whatever genius it was that came up with the pitch for The Bachelor, you are a credit to the male species.
Being the hard-hitting journalist that I am, I tried to decide whether other reality shows would exist without the cameras:
- Survivor? Sure, people pay for the privilege of participating in Tough Mudder runs, I’m sure if there was a contest where cash was pooled to see who could hang out in the woods deprived of luxuries the longest/best there would be no shortage of numbnut participants
- Jersey Shore? Hell, that train wreck started as, and still is, a home game. The money and fame was just a byproduct of the (unlikely) popularity of the show. (Note: I have seen a bit of this season, and, as difficult it may be to imagine, the crew seems to have devolved even further from anything recognizable as a human being. Now it’s almost entirely Neanderthal grunts of “me horny, me hungry” – and that’s just from the girls. Although calling Snooki and Deena “girls” is kind of an insult to everybody else with a pair of X chromosomes.)
- American Idol/So You Think You Can Dance? Absolutely, struggling artists will do anything so people can see hear/them. My mom and dad saw Carrie Underwood singing at the opening of a furniture store in Oklahoma like eight years ago.
- All those other crappy shows that are just rich “ladies” going about their day that somehow half of the country watches are allegedly what they would be doing without cameras around. And I think we can all agree that no reality show is scripted or even nudged in a narrative direction, it’s all just raw realness.
But with no cameras, does anyone play The Bachelor? (Part of the struggle with writing this is that I couldn’t decide if dudes would go for a home version of The Bachelorette. They might, because, the odds are usually pretty long trying to get some tail at the average bar (although if you drink enough those odds get much more promising, I’ve heard). So for the prospect of a free place to crash and a 1:25 shot at presumably a hot chick, that might happen. Also furrowing my brow is the fact that there is apparently a The Bachelor Wii game – who’s that for? How many copies of that did they sell? 8-9? I weep for future generations if there are legions of little girls creating avatars of themselves to be dissed by some polgyonal d-bag.) For so subjective a topic as “love” why put yourself on tv to reveal your insecurities and other emotional baggage/personality shortcomings for the world to see? I guess I just don’t understand how emotions are supposed to translate to a f*cking game show. Maybe I’ll pitch an idea for a show called The Funeral, where we put twenty people in a mansion where they all have to plan and attend the funeral of one of their recently-deceased parents. At the end of each day, the people that have shown enough poise and sadness will be given a carnation, while the eliminated will have to go back home and mourn in their sh*tty apartments. The winner gets a free mausoleum. Hmmm…this might have legs.
In summary, The Bachelor is stupid, I don’t understand why people either watch or participate in it, unless there is an underlying desire to be on television, or they are suffering from some kind of narcissistic mental illness (although that would likely tie back to the need to be on tv. F*ck, I don’t know).
CHILLY MULTIMEDIA EXPLOSION UPDATE: Given that I’m in Arkansas and rarely speak to humans in my age/IQ range (both mid-40s), I’ve been inspired to write more stuff down on my computer. ”Multimedia” is actually a poor choice of words, but since it’s already typed in bold, I can’t really erase it. But what I was trying to convey is that I’ll be posting stuff to both the Wasted Potentialz Facebook Page (shorter stuff that I don’t want to proofread/agonize over and links and stuff) and random thoughts and sh*t on Twitter (@chilly_17). I know most people read this site at work but don’t be shy about cruising over to the Facebook page or hollering at me on Twitter – it’s your big chance to get a response to a real live member of the 1% (according to Whoopi).
Many in attendance at the iPad 3 launch couldn’t help but ask: is that a baby bump on Tim Tebow, virgin? And could Jeremy Lin (Knicks), newly minted global symbol of perseverance and acceptance, not to mention subject of approximately 20 billion stupid puns, possibly be the father? While the prospects of a Lin Tebow gay romance seemed like a marketing dream, many observers felt such a pairing unlinkly and perhaps linpossible. SI covergirl Kate Upton felt otherwise after her brief meeting with the (allegedly) virginal Tebow and noting that he did not immediately make an effort to become “special friends” with her. Later, while discussing the Facebook IPO with Mitt Romney (Republican), Kate Upton – who is hot - realized that she was actually thinking of MTV’s Snooki, who actually did attempt to touch her in her bathing suit areas (which, judging from the cover of SI, required some precision). When asked if Snooki pregnant, awesome DJ Skrillex declared himself ready for the Ruffneck bass. It is unclear what that means. Weighing in on the Tim Tebow and Jeremy Lin matter, Sofia Vergara – naked except for jeans, presumably undergarments and a borrowed Kim Kardashian Reggie Bush jersey – confirmed that it was indeed Snooki pregnant.
I went to an engagement party.
That’s pretty much it.
I mean, I figured eventually the ladies of The View would be calling me out for something, but thought it would more likely be, for example, when my idea for a craps table with built-in urinals took off. I’m pretty good at leaning on stuff, and I’m really good at drinking, so I thought any televised leaning/drinking exploits would be looked at in a more positive light. Apparently, leaning/drinking and looking downward at a mass of people that have suddenly marched onto the street was an unnecessary flaunting of my privileged, son-of-a-truck-driver-with-poor-financial-acumen social status.
Let me revisit the sequence of events that led to that woman on Whoopi’s left likening this party to one of Marie Antoinette’s legendary soirees. A good friend recently got engaged, and in a shocking and extravagant manner, the newly betrothed couple decided to invite their friends and family to celebrate said engagement at a nice restaurant. (I did not know this practice was only customary for people who work on Wall Street, but judging from the shocked look on the hosts’ faces above – “OMG people in jackets and dresses smiling and drinking during the day!” -it must be.)
Being that 2011 is apparently the year of extreme weather in every season – with fall being no exception – many attendees (which, to my knowledge did not include the heads of any major investment banks or hedge funds) chose to enjoy their cocktails on the balcony. (There were appetizers as well, but given the moral outrage that the mere sight of people drinking on a balcony caused – I am hesitant to reveal any details of the food that was also available on a balcony.) At some point – I’m going to guess I was on drink number four – a bunch of protestors showed up on the street below the restaurant. I know it sounds irrational, but I – and some other “swells” – could not resist walking the three feet to the balcony’s ledge to see what was going on.
At this point, basically no one had heard of Occupy Wall Street. There were some interesting signs and a little bit of the 99% chant, if I recall correctly, as the group coalesced into a semi-organized mass, conveniently right below the restaurant. (I’m not really following the 99% thing, though. Is it supposed to mean that 1% of the people in the country control the economy and you’re pissed that it’s impacting you in such a manner? If it is, isn’t that more a political issue? I don’t think it’s based on taxes paid, either, which would make more sense to me, if it’s a financial issue. Anyway, I guess it’s catchy. I have some experience in activism myself – I got Gristedes to change the price of Arriba salsa storewide from an absurd $7.99 to a still-absurd-but-it’s-Gristedes-and-it’s-the-only-place-that-has-Arriba $5.99 with just a couple emails to corporate.) We waved at some people, checked out what was going on; I didn’t really get an animosity vibe from the crowd and i suspect they got only a curiosity vibe from we, the balcony people (although if they really only had peanut butter and sh*tty veggie pizza that first day, they probably should’ve revolted to get some of our food). I finished my drink, went inside for another (the true error in judgment was probably allowing me access to an open bar) and forgot all about the “encounter.”
Then the next day someone posted the video on youtube – as I said, I didn’t get any hostile vibe at all during the actual five minutes that I was “looking down on the crowd”, but whoo-boy were the youtube commenters a different story. “You should’ve firebombed the f*cking place!” and “Id have shot everyone in the throat and had sex with they’re corpse” and “that gray-haired f*cker has a big nose!” (Note: I’m all for making fun of people on the internet – hell, that’s one of my (money-losing) jobs – but I think suggesting the mass murder of a bunch of people you don’t know might signal a need for some internal reflection, or least a reduction in the amount of Red Bull consumed.) Frankly, it’s pretty amazing how quickly a few graphic death threats can tarnish the memory of a nice celebration.
I resisted the urge to comment on that youtube video and forgot about it again. Then I got an email from an Italian friend and somehow that image above (could have been the entire video, not sure from screen grab he sent) made it to the website of Italy’s biggest paper. I had to wonder if my unphotogenic nature was somehow giving this image legs, like that one of Katy Perry without makeup? Then I forgot about that, too, and have been in Arkansas helping with my dad for a couple of weeks, and then Saturday someone sent me this:
Whoopi: call me, happy to discuss as you suggested. I suspect you’ll be disappointed at the divergence from the presumed narrative, as my lofty status in life is largely due to the considerable points I’ve racked up on my Qdoba Rewards card. I won’t bore the seven regular readers of this site with a replay of my life story, but I’ve worked in a Tyson turkey processing factory with a bunch of Sling Blade types, spent some time sleeping in my car after failing out of college (Nissan 280ZX – surprisingly comfortable to sleep in, except for the fact that it somehow gets to be twenty degrees colder than the outside temperature), and toiled at the lowest ranks of the U.S. Navy. Poke around this site if you want more details – but I’m happy to play Costanza to any Andrea Dorea survivors who want to compare notes on background. Several of my friends literally laughed at loud at the idea of Chilly, child of privilege.
I did, obviously, catch many incredibly lucky breaks later on in life; I would love to say it was just intelligence, a winning personality and hard work that put me in the position to succeed. But a whole bunch of it was just good fortune and taking a modest chance here and there. After being laid off in late 2008 I’ve spent a lot of time having fun and trying my own ventures that have ranged from disappointing to wildly unsuccessful, so I’ll likely be working for the man again someday soon. It probably won’t be on Wall Street, as the Silver Fox look really only works for senior Managing Directors, not mid-level scrubs. (And if I were to become a victim of mob vengeance, I have to think the mob would be sorely disappointed in their selection after reviewing my bank statements. Likely epitaph: “They got the wrong guy. This motherf*cker’s broke.”)
But for clarity’s sake, at this particular party, there were certainly some financial types in attendance – think Associate level, not Jamie Dimon level – but also many people who work in IT, teaching, non-profits, etc. I’m not sure why anyone would begrudge a 27-28 year old their job on Wall Street; generally anyone in that position has made significant lifestyle compromises to get that position in the first place (worked hard in high school to get into good college, in college to get offer, and then once on the job the first 3-4 years are fairly brutal). And not everyone who works on the Street is out synthesizing CDOs or creating other crazy derivative bets – at each institution there were probably only a handful of folks responsible for the mortgage mess; I didn’t know any of them at my firm.
As I said, I’m happy to go on The View and discuss the party and any other issues you want to talk about, like how much money bankers really make (hint: you aren’t rolling around Scrooge McDuck style for a long time) versus how crappy the lifestyle is, which tie brands are acceptable for meetings and how many days per week the average banker has foie gras for breakfast. You have my info sent via email.
(P.S. I’m the dude in that picture above, just in case it wasn’t clear. I don’t know what’s up with that picture though, looks like I’m somehow parting my hair on both sides. I have no explanation, but am considering wearing a football helmet when outside from here on out.)
(Edited to add: I revised this post several times, and am still not too all that happy with how it turned out. Wanted to maintain my trademark* “I’m an asshole” style, but I am also somewhat sympathetic with the protesters; also didn’t want to sound apologetic, as I/we didn’t do anything worthy of an apology. I have, however, been saying for years that the ridiculous costs of going to even state schools are likely going to be a bigger problem than even the mortgage crisis going forward – the benefit is likely to come up well short of the investment – and the average OWS participant is pretty young. I field a decent number of questions about college/grad school decisions, and I almost always have the same response – you need to try and figure out what is a likely/realistic return on your investment and see if that return justifies such an investment. Eventually, undergraduate degrees aren’t even going to make sense for everyone, just too damn expensive if state schools are going to run you close to $100k in loans. Since most jobs end up being mostly sales gigs in the long run, what’s the huge benefit of a four year degree, as long as you understand your products?
My secondary point, which is hard to glean from the text above but becomes more apparent if you peruse some of my older posts, is that I likely have more in common with the typical Occupy Wall Street protester than the people they are protesting. Did I eventually have a pretty good job and make good money for a few years before getting canned? Yes. Did I pay a sh*t-ton of taxes (single, no dependents, owned nothing)? Yes. Did I give to charity? Yes (but Operation Smile – you are f*cking pushing it. I gave you money, I obviously know you exist: please quit mailing me four packets per week – and these days address labels aren’t all that helpful!) Did I waste (opinions vary – I still hold that spreading multiple awful bets across the craps table is more therapeutic than -EV and everybody needs to have a few drinks now and then) most of the modest excess money I made? Yes. No regrets, everybody needs to do what they need to do. But 23 years ago, I was in a pretty similar situation – few options, none of them particularly attractive. I ended up on the right end of a bunch of coin flips, things pretty much went my way. That doesn’t mean I don’t recall how sh*tty it was before things turned positive.
I applaud the OWS protesters for making a dent – people asked me about this non-stop at home, even those that didn’t know I used to work on Wall Street, so awareness is very high. But given the young age of the average protester, I would probably caution against putting all chips in on long-term change. Affecting political/policy change takes somewhere near forever, there is a danger of losing prime years in the shuffle – need to simultaneously try to make inroads under current systems. Despite the terrible economy, it has never been easier to try your own thing – f*ck, these days you can start your own gig with little more than a $10/month hosting fee, a good idea and some hard work. (I’m not a great example of this, but will keep trying. I did score over $5 last month!))
*also the trademark of everyone else on the internet