• [the above video is maybe NSFW for about 5 seconds, although that moment is nowhere near as disturbing as the rest of the video]
  • this latimes feature on heidi and spencer is one of the most intelligent responses to them i’ve read in the mainstream press. spencer and heidi aren’t really saying things that are all that different than what they’ve said before, re: their roles on the show, but for some reason the phrasing and the confidence level here are different. spencer in particular is on fire, every quote is a pull quote:

    • “Obviously we’re entertainers. We are trying to entertain in every aspect of our lives,” says Heidi Montag, with boyfriend Spencer Pratt.

    • “We’re always the juicier story,” Spencer said. Switching to the third person, he added, “And when Heidi and Spencer are gossip machines, it’s like, ‘What did Heidi and Spencer do?’ “

    • “Every hour,” he said. “Every different magazine, every blog texts, like, ‘We heard this, we heard this.’ Most of the time, people are just making things up, trying to get you to give a source quote. Or give one line just so they can build something. On every site, in every magazine, they need content. It’s the most competitive industry in the world, I would say, the pop culture media game.”

    • “We were all of a sudden in pages next to Brad and Angelina and TomKat.”

    • “Janice Min at Us Weekly is like a family member to us,” Spencer said. “We love her. If my mom and her are e-mailing me at the same time, I’m like, ‘Uh, Janice or my mom?’ “

  • the best quote is related to the nature of fauxreality performance. the writer, kate aurthur, notes that “the criticism of Paris Hilton was once that she was famous for doing nothing, which, though it was never actually true, had a certain sting. But what Heidi and Spencer do — and there are others with their kind of fame, such as E! celebutante Kim Kardashian — can’t possibly be called nothing…” then there is a spencer quote:

    • “No celebrity does anything, really,” Spencer said. “Unless you’re a famous athlete who actually physically does something, like, how much work is reading lines from a script? We’re improv TV personalities. That’s way harder.”

  • let’s avoid for now a discussion of the craft of acting and “how much work is reading lines from a script” and instead listen to what spencer’s arch-enemy, lauren conrad, said about whether she would want to date a celebrity. this is from an interview segment on “the hills: aftershow” a few weeks ago – the show’s host asks her, “if you could break up a celebrity couple and move in, who would it be?” ignoring the weird specificity of this question and the fact that it would make lauren, with all her trust and relationship issues, a homewrecker, the fact that it grounds what should be a silly fantasy in angst and moral tension, let’s listen to her response:

    • “i don’t really want to date a celebrity, though.”

    • [the host asks her if she has any celebrity crushes]

    • “not really, they’re always disappointing. it’s always such a let down, you know?”

    • [host: “when you meet them in (sic) real?”]

    • “yeah. everyone looks better when they’ve been color corrected and on camera and told to say the right things and done a million takes.”

  • one of the interesting things about this interview is that it’s operating under the assumption that lauren conrad is not a celebrity, which of course she is. this sort of “what celebrity would you date” question that we all ask ourselves takes on a whole other dimension because lauren is a celebrity and probably could date celebrities if she wanted to (and let’s note again that her ex, stephen colletti, did recently date a celebrity, hayden panettiere, which i continue to mention mostly because i think it’s fun to say the name hayden panettiere – it sounds like some kind of creme-filled pastry). the interview question is resting on this distinction between celebrities and “celebrities,” between a-list and b-list, between movie stars and everybody else. this distinction is, i feel, dated, and is disappearing and will continue to disappear. i am, of course, not the first person to say this, but i feel a need to keep repeating it because some people just don’t seem to fucking get it. kate aurthur puts it nicely with a play on the thomas friedman meme – she writes, “the tabloid world…is simultaneously bursting and flat.” she defines “flat” as the idea that,

    • “…every story seems just as important as every other, and the monster needs feeding. that’s what tabloid fame is now: weekly, and sometimes hourly, we must have stories; the lives of the chosen people must appear to move forward.”

  • warhol 15 minutes of fame blah blah blah

  • so, moving past that, lauren says, no, she doesn’t want to date celebrities because “they’re always disappointing.” she says they’re disappointing because they’re “color corrected” and “on camera” and “told to say the right things” and “done a million takes.” even though she either has done these things (been color corrected, been on camera) or has been accused of them (the show being scripted, doing multiple takes of a reality show), the line doesn’t seem ironic or self conscious at all, she seems to really feel th. the main reason that Celebrities, that movie and TV stars are disappointing to her is that in real life, they’re not the same as they are on the screen. they’re “such a letdown.”

  • thus, both lauren and spencer are making strong statements against the notion of traditional cinematic/televisual acting. yet though they share this view, which is of course in their self interest as the main avatars of the style, they see their roles in divergent ways. lauren has always and continues to affirm that the show is “real,” that this is her “real life,” that she is not performing. heidi and spencer have always and continue to assert that the show is performance, that editing has changed the meaning and made them look worse than they are, that the show is “not real.”

  • the most interesting part of the interview is when spencer and heidi’s relationship is discussed. i’m just going to block quote the whole thing because there’s too much:

    • “Indeed, Season 2 was when “The Hills” changed — because Spencer changed it. He and Heidi, who was Lauren’s television roommate and sidekick, had met off-camera after the first season and started dating. Sort of. First, they had to overcome that age-old obstacle of whether he was using her because she was on an MTV reality show. Spencer, after all, had a history that included his own unscripted ambitions as an executive producer and costar of Fox’s failed “Princes of Malibu” in 2005.”

      • so heidi and spencer met off camera while heidi was filming the first season and presumably during her difficulties with then boyfriend jordan eubanks (jordan eubanks, by the way, is making really weird youtube videos which feature cameos by jason wahler, talan torriero from laguna beach, and brian drolet, jordan’s best friend from “the hills” season 1 and someone i think they tried to hook up with audrina. it’s kind of scary, like this island of lost toys where all the exiled male cast members of “the hills” go to live.) anyway, apparently the tension early in their relationship was that heidi wasn’t sure if spencer was just dating her because he wanted to be on TV, a tension i have discussed constantly in the past.

    • “The Hills” needed some evil, Spencer figured. “I saw a clip of the show, and everyone was so nice,” he said mockingly. “Friendly,” he added with disgust. So yes, he wanted to “cause drama” and “get my own show.”

      • this is him acknowledging the fakeness, that he has constructed and is constructing dramatic situations (“cause drama”) not because he dislikes people in the real world but because he thought the TV show was boring and lacked drama and plot. not that he didn’t like someone’s (moral/social) character but that he didn’t like their (televisual) character. okay, and probably the most important thing spencer did WAS to create drama, to bring a larger, catchier, more powerful narrative to the show. it makes this usweekly cover a little more telling. the headline is “the plot to destroy lauren.” the implication is of course a sort of snidely whiplash plan to…i don’t know, make lauren look like a ho? but really, the plot to destroy lauren is plot – is narrative, is story. and it’s a plot to destroy lauren – it’s a story about destroying lauren, it’s not actually doing it. spencer can’t destroy lauren (whatever “destroy” means) because if he does, he and heidi are destroyed too. they are all in the “plot” together because they are all in the plot together.

    • “Viewers loved to hate him for it, as Min saw. What those people didn’t see in Season 2 and still don’t see as Season 3 closes, Spencer said, was him falling in love with Heidi. “I was — and am — so in love with Heidi, and that stuff stops mattering. Our real world is right here.” He gestured at the space between them.”

      • this last part just makes my brain explode it’s so awesome. the reason that people “didn’t see” and still “don’t see the real love” between heidi and spencer on the show is that heidi and spencer have been consciously staging fake relationship “drama” and pretending that they are not in love to make the television show more interesting and to raise their profile. so even if they’re abs. marvy behind the scenes, in the scenes, they are a couple at war. i love his reference to the real world, which i would need to hear the tone of his voice to know if it’s a conscious allusion to the show “the real world” or whether he’s so used to talking and thinking about these authenticity issues in his life that he can use the term “the real world” in an unloaded, reference-free way. then, the coup de grace is that kate aurthur used the word “space” to describe his gesture. because there is something kind of touching and beautiful about him sitting with heidi and pointing to this tiny space in between them and saying “our real world is right here” and this is juxtaposed with, on the show this season, heidi’s bizarre obsession with “space” with her belief in the seemingly mystical properties of “space” and her desire to put more and more “space” between herself and spencer.

  • so, great feature.

  • oh shit, i still have to talk about the TV show. ok, since i already just wrote like a lot i’m going to skip the second by second close reading and talk about three main subjects: heidi and spencer, audrina, and lo

  • first, heidi and spencer. so, amid all this revelation and insight into the “real” heidi and spencer, this week’s episode featured them at their absolute most fake, most staged, most absurd and ridiculous.

  • the heidi/bolthouse scenes seemed to exist not for plot purposes or character development but solely as a sort of commercial for sbe, or, moreover, for brent bolthouse’s ego, as represented by the private jet and the hired car at the end of the episode. b. bolthouse must be so happy he had the foresight to hook up with his sugar mama, miss montag. that old guy on the plane, sam nazarian, seems really authentically skeezy, in that wealthy middle aged businessman dead hooker in the trunk of the car sort of way.

  • i also liked how heidi described spencer – she didn’t say the relationship was over, she used a visual metaphor: he’s “out of the picture” (i.e. off frame).

  • other people have done much more with heidi’s ridiculous interview scene than i could. i have no real commentary, but i do find it interesting that i haven’t heard anyone connect her funniest line (“i would love to get my hands in there and make myself available to you”) to spencer’s radar advice column about anal sex (“My boxing coach Dirty Phi says, “If you stick your pinkie in there, and then another finger, and then another, and she responds happily, then it’s cool.”)

  • the scene with spencer that closes the episode is so ridiculous. it literally doesn’t make any sense. kicked out by stephanie, he goes to heidi’s apartment and when she’s not there, he seems to have a nervous breakdown and calls stephanie, demanding to know where heidi is. maybe…at work? having coffee? the gym? target?

  • on to, lo, my love, my life, my lust. dr. television has an interesting post about the transformation of lo (“the transformation of lo” – nabokov’s other unfinished manuscript). a relevant excerpt:

    • “The problem for The Hills these days is that Lauren and Heidi are seemingly splitsville forever–these two ain’t gonna be friends again and Lauren, at least, seems to have little interest in engaging with Heidi at all, even to accuse and argue. So where’s the new drama? It seems to be brewing between new roomies Lauren, Lo, and Audrina, as Lauren is placed in between her actual, for-real childhood pal Lo and her MTV-generated friendship with Audrina.

      Granted, this totally works as relatable drama. But. It is placing Lo in the position of villainess, and this I just can’t take. Lo is one of the few young women gracing the
      Laguna/Hills-averse that seems to have some smarts. She’s witty, clever, just seems to have thoughts going on behind her sparkly blues. (I really don’t mean to diss the others, especially not Lauren, who delivers some bon mots of her own from time to time.) In this latest friendship drama, Lo is being depicted as forcing Audrina out of Lauren’s life while Audrina is the sad victim of Lo’s actions. [Important aside: Isn’t Justinbobby’s transformation a-mazing?! Sobriety has made him actually really and truly attractive! He looks great, and is a sympathetic boyfriend/friend/whatever to Audrina!]

      The soap villainess is a crucial character, but in the daytime soap world her villainy comes from somewhere–usually insecurity or desperation or revenge–and her challenges to patriarchal strictures of femininity are a pleasure to love (or love to hate). But Lo is so not this character. No, the brainiest girl on The Hills is cast as the bitch, for no real reason other than to stir up drama. Disappointing, again.”

  • i will say that i am also dismayed by this change. lo seemed to exist in the past purely to be adorable and give people funny names and pronounce words in humorous, affected ways. my personal perception of lo in the past was as a sort of sorority “mom” figure, who makes plans and activities and decorates the spirit wall or whatever the hell else those girls do. she existed as that kind of stereotype, but i think we only saw the positive aspects of that kind of character, the fun stuff. i think she still exists as that kind of stereotype, but now we are seeing the negative aspects, too.

  • but beyond that, the problem i have is with her line that “the brainiest girl on “the hills” is cast as the bitch, for no real reason other than to stir up drama.” my issue is with the word “cast.” yes, this meanness could be a result of the producers trying to incite tension, to “start drama,” and then using editing to focus and hone that drama and, thus, “cast” lo as a bitch. but isn’t it equally possible that…lo can just be kind of a bitch? isn’t it equally possible that she can be kind of nastily territorial with regards to her oldest and closest friend, a thing i think most of us have experienced in our lives, from both smart and dumb people? isn’t it possible that she just really doesn’t like audrina very much and isn’t ashamed to show it? throughout the show, audrina has been a kind of whipping girl; lauren, lo, and even whitney (who is described in the rolling stone article as “neutral,” “like switzerland”) have made myriad subtle and not so subtle condescending remarks about audrina’s judgement and, perhaps more significantly, her poor fashion sense, which they all seem to see as tres gauche.

  • in the same paragraph, dr. television notes that isn’t justinbobby’s transformation amazing? and how he is “really and truly attractive”, that he is now “a sympathetic boyfriend/friend/whatever.” but how can we say that his change is more or less real or more or less constructed than lo’s? how can we say that she is being falsely represented as a bitch but he is genuinely changed when there is just as much of a chance that she is genuinely a bitch sometimes and he is pretending to be different, he is not sober and he is performing his way back into audrina’s heart and back on to our television screen to, i don’t know, support his modeling career. i’m not saying that either scenario is true, but what i am saying is that either of them (or any combination in between) could be and we don’t and can’t know. we have no objective evidence to check this against and we aren’t didactically “told” what’s “really” going on in the show (or, if we are, as in lauren’s monologue, we’re immediately called to be skeptical and not trust what the show “tells” or “gives” us) so a lot of things come down to just personal prejudice and how our subjectivity affects our notion of the show. like, dr. television’s post is ostensibly about how gender is represented on TV and while it is obvious she is outraged to see (someone she perceives as) an intelligent woman portrayed as a “bitch,” it seems more tangible that she is mad that lo, this person she really likes and has formed a bond with, can be kind of a bitch. she’s not angry about a whole gender, she’s angry about lo, specifically, one person. similarly, in zigzigger’s great post, “the hills is real, too,” he departs from his sort of “objective” critical voice to defend lauren’s much-criticized decision to take gavin to see a book about the show at barnes and noble (“I find it so touching to know that she is proud of her accomplishments, but whatevs.”) and to insult gavin with language that’s pretty strong and personal, (“And what’s so great about G? I think this sounds like the bitter disappointment of a guy who was rejected not only by a pretty girl he liked, a fantastic catch, but by a television show that could have made him famous. He sounds like a jilted whore.”). it’s obvious that the critical analysis he’s writing of this show is colored by the fact that he really likes lauren and that he thinks gavin is an asshole. i’m not criticizing them – far from it, i do this all the time and i think these kind of subjective personal judgements and attachments are incumbent to dealing with “the hills” on its own terms.

  • maybe what i’m trying to say is if we’re discussing completely fictional characters, it’s much easier to detach ourselves from them and think of them as things, objects, chess pieces. but since, as zigzigger says, the hills is real, too, since lo and lauren are real people playing themselves, real people with feelings and hopes and dreams, we have some kind of investment in them that we don’t have in, say, kaya (remember kaya?). when people talk about realist fictional dramas, one of the highest compliments that they can pay them is that they create characters that feel real, that feel “three-dimensional,” that could live in the real world. “the hills” doesn’t have to jump this uncanny valley because its characters already are real and three dimensional and live in the real world.

  • so maybe we suffer from the kind of documentarian’s stockholm syndrome, the way that many documentarians are, by the nature of the form, forced to spend lots and lots of time with their subjects, and that this time spent creates a relationship, of like or dislike or a more complex place in between, that colors and shades whatever document is ultimately produced. i don’t know, i’m just rambling now. whatever, errol morris needs to devote one of his times blogs to “the hills” instead of talking about old pictures of cannonballs and shit.

  • (OMG, imagine “the fog of war” but starring spencer instead of robert mcnamara.)

  • (also, thanks dr. television for teaching me that the dramatic pause at the end of soap opera scenes (the evolution of which is such a big part of the “laguna”/”hills” aesthetic) is called the “egg.” i always wondered, but the only description i had ever heard was joey tribbiani’s scatological description in that one episode of “friends.”)

  • speaking of smelling the fart, i’ve finally realized why i’ve never cared much about audrina. i’m gonna get really shallow here, so sorry, just bear with me. i used to think i didn’t like audrina because i didn’t find her as attractive as the other girls on the show. this is shallow, i know, sue me. i don’t mock people on the street for being unattractive, but i do hold people who are on television shows and movies to a different aesthetic standard and i don’t think that’s totally wrong. some people don’t like audrina because they think she’s stupid. i don’t know if she is or isn’t (or how you define that. a lot of people call heidi stupid, my mom called heidi stupid when i talked to her on the phone the other day, but heidi has created a life for herself where she can be paid fifty thousand dollars to sit in a club for two hours, so that sounds like a pretty smart kind of stupid to me) but i think this is as shallow as reason to dislike someone as for their looks. however, i think i’ve finally realized why i don’t care much about her and why i don’t think she’s that important to the show: she’s just not very good at expressing herself.

  • let’s go back to the fauxreality performance vs. dramatic acting thread from earlier. for all the bullshit most people spew about lauren and the gang being talentless, they’re, quite simply, not. they have a skill set, they have tools as performers that not everyone has – you couldn’t just drop anyone into this show and expect them to be interesting to watch and relatable and memorable. this is a skill, either physically or verbally, that audrina just doesn’t have. she really can’t do any of the facial gymnastics that lauren and heidi specialize in and she can’t manage the idiot savant free jazz ballet that whitney graces us with whenever she’s on screen. she’s not as fauxarticulate or quotable as lauren or spencer, she doesn’t say things in the quirky patois that lo and justinbobby and whitney manage, and her speech isn’t as idiosyncratically illogical and insane as a lot of heidi’s monologues are; she just talks kind of like a normal person who doesn’t have a lot of interesting things to say. this doesn’t make her stupid or vapid or ugly, it just means she’s not a very good performer. she’s not a bad or worthless person, she’s just not very good at entertaining us.

  • which makes all the secondary sources that are coming in about audrina right now all the more insane. because audrina, off camera, is becoming a performer in the most old school sense of the word for example, she was seen a few weeks ago in vegas, dancing on stage with the pussycat dolls. though she said this was a one time thing and that she would not be joining the pussycat dolls, she is dancing on a stage in a theater, straight vaudeville. at a bar that night, audrina (reportedly) said, “i’ll be more famous than lauren conrad one day.”

  • and now, according to usweekly, she’s going to be in a movie! like, the old fashioned kind, where people act and they play characters that are not themselves. and, shock, it turns out that audrina has always wanted to be an actress (“this is why i moved to l.a.”) and recently fired her agent because he wasn’t getting her enough jobs. audrina describes her role (“Patridge said she’ll play “the girlfriend of this cocky guy who think he’s the s–t … and I kind of have him wrapped around my fingers.” “It’s cool,” she added, “because on The Hills, I don’t have that.” – i.e. she enjoys the fictional role because she has agency that she doesn’t have in her real life) but won’t say what the title of the movie is (“I don’t know how much I’m allowed to say!” ).

  • this confidentiality is absolutely puzzling, since as a producer it seems as if the main reason you would put audrina in a movie is because she is semi-famous and you might get to be involved in a bliplet or listicle in usweekly or something and get a little buzz. but if that’s not the case, then…why? i guess we’ll see.

  • little things:

  • my favorite line in the episode was when lo said of the new dog, chloe, “her reactions are fantastic.” oh, the irony!

  • the scene with the alkaline trio – so ridiculous. why would epic show us a session for this shitty modern rock band instead of, i don’t know, a musical artist that the audience of “the hills” might actually want to listen to. because audrina has to be ROCK AND ROLL, i guess? getting your song on “the hills” is like the mainstream equivalent of getting a decent review in pitchfork. it’s for people like lo, who “don’t feel cool enough” – it’s a way for them to feel cool, hip, with it – tuned in to the cool teen girl pop zeitgeist, where they can listen to avril lavigne but also yelle and santogold. i am not saying that in a sarcastic hipstery way, i think anything that helps people feel cool is great, i’m just saying. i will admit again that 90% of my hits before the season started were based on viewers searching desperately for the name of a song they heard in a particular episode. the new MTV chyrons that pop up and announce what song is playing have killed a lot of that, but since the show plays completely different (read: crappier, cheaper) songs during the internet airings that some of us are forced to watch, i still get some traffic.

  • in other music news, i spent an inordinate amount of time on my crappy stolen wifi paging through 15 pages of this rolling stone listicle about “the best music moments on ‘the hills'” and they didn’t fucking list the scene with heidi painting the wall to that cat power song! yet they listed two songs by some band called “a fine frenzy”? TOTALLY ridiculous.

  • also, this week, my favorite video blog about “the hills” is skeptical about whether the girls actually live in their new house. they argue that the reason audrina is unfamiliar with the house and the reason they haven’t unpacked the living room yet were able to have a housewarming party is that the girls don’t actually live there and the house is really only a set. who knows, but interesting notion and one that would support the rumor of whitney and lauren moving into an apartment together.

i’ll put up a song later this weekend but until then i’ll leave you with the dulcet tones of jordan eubanks, brian drolet, and talan torriero. if you’re interested, you can hear more of talan’s music at his myspace page. the first two lines of his song “somewhere dead in hollywood” are “looking for a flying diamond starship / just another boy in southern california.” like, totally.

lauren eats a nice grapefruit

  • i’m so sad that lisa love and lauren didn’t have a final moment in lisa love’s office before lauren left teen vogue. it’s really a travesty. LL deserved some kind of speech (a chance to do it better than she did when whitney left, a real mentor-y “i’ve seen you grow so much” sort of speech) if only for coining and delivering with such power that whole “girl who didn’t go to paris” line which was such great shorthand for who lauren was for so long. where is our closure?

  • there’s not even a “packing up the desk” scene where lauren can look at the objects in the room with deep longing and attachment – it’s not in scene at all, it’s handled in lauren’s opening narration (“…and after helping whitney during fashion week, her new boss ended up giving me a job. now i was back working with my friend again!”). she says it and it is so.

  • of course maybe those rumors about teen vogue being fed up with the girls and pushing them out were true (although why you would put a cash cow out to pasture is beyond me) and LL just didn’t want anything to do with them anymore and wanted to fill the space with real interns that would do real work for her. i don’t buy it, though, she seemed to relish her scenes way too much.

  • i will never not be entertained by watching beautiful women fold expensive clothes and talking about their personal lives. if i am, just shoot me (or make me watch “just shoot me,” that other TV show about working at a fashion magazine)

  • notice how lauren characterizes audrina and heidi’s friendship when talking to whitney. first she says that audrina “keeps running into” heidi when she’s out at clubs. this is a lot of spin, since obviously audrina is actively making plans with heidi and i doubt that she’s lying to lauren about it (although maybe). then after whitney, totally out of the loop (but no, she and LC are great friends!), asks whether audrina and heidi are fighting, LC is like, “oh, no, they’re friendly,” and then when whitney seems surprised, LC clarifies it even further, to “they’re friends.” it’s as if it is such a big deal she can’t admit to herself all at once but has to do it in stages.

  • i also love love love when lauren goes into that sort of breathy, higher pitched “i am being so serious and rational but i am also about to cry” vocal register that she uses when talking about how the apartment belongs to both her and audrina and so she doesn’t want to tell audrina what to do but at the same time she REALLY wants to tell audrina what to do. she uses it a lot, more this season, like, it’s the same tone as when she was talking to stephanie about how bad she felt that spencer made her cry and how she should know that it’s not her fault and blah blah.

  • whitney, on her reunion with lauren: “i never thought we’d be together again.” lauren, goofy, knowing smile. producers, rolling on the floor laughing. audience member, annoyed at unnecessary bullshit.

  • i am so fucking tired of this theme song and i know it will never, ever change.

  • i always like the scenes where the girls are getting dressed to go out. maybe it is that when they are talking about clothes, not just in general but the clothes they are wearing and about to wear, there is that glimmer of the real that is so enticing when you can taste it. like the tiny moment when audrina suggests that lauren wear the dress audrina is wearing but in a different color and lauren says, “i’m not going to wear the same dress as you” and then, audrina’s back presumably turned, lauren looks at lo, shaking her head and rolling her eyes, like, “god, can you believe that stupid bitch?”

  • lo, on stephanie pratt coming out: “oh, that’s good, maybe she’ll bring heidi!” in the mouth of any other character, this would feel like a forced line, something whispered in an ear by a producer to trigger a dramatic reaction. but i totally believe it from lo. she’s been established as the plucky, spunky, say anything, make up annoying nicknames for people, make out with frankie in vegas, coke-snorting-sorority-big-sister ball of fun and excitement and i feel that, cameras or not, she would have made a smart ass remark like that in her high, chirpy voice.

  • also perfectly in character is lauren basically commanding the girls to praise her for doing well in school (“say good job, lauren!”). she also describes herself as “so scholarly.” L O L. of course the class discussed is her computer class, the only class we ever see her taking, which provides an oh-so-convenient segue into discussing stephanie pratt. ditto lo’s clarification of “stephanie…stephanie pratt,” just in case someone at home was too stupid to follow.

  • across town (whatever, i don’t know the geography of LA) stephanie and heidi are playing out, as if through the looking glass, exactly the same scene, the “getting dressed to go out and also let’s foreshadow important issues coming up in the episode” scene. it opens with heidi saying, “i don’t know what to wear,” echoing audrina’s comment in the previous scene. “all girls have fashion in common,” et cetera. heidi, again, wants to have “a girl’s night, a good night out.”

  • just like lauren revealing that audrina is friends with heidi, stephanie is trying to slowly break this news of lauren being at the club to heidi. she says “literally everyone goes to goa on thursdays.” which is so funny because it provokes heidi to deduce, sherlock holmes style, “you don’t think, um [quieter] that lauren would go with her?” and all i am imagining is a sort of abacus in heidi’s brain working out, well, if literally everybody is going to the club, and lauren is part of literally everybody, oh no that means lauren might be going to the club! then, instead of cutting back to stephanie, we stay on heidi and watch her react to stephanie saying solemnly, “she told me she is.”

  • stephanie looks kind of bad in the scene; maybe her ugly eye make-up is supposed to signify how troubled she is about the possibilities of this night?

  • the idea that lauren would suddenly be cool with heidi because spencer is out of the picture is so inane that it could only come from heidi. the issue is not that heidi moved in with spencer, it’s that she rejected lauren to move in with spencer. the issue is not that audrina is going out with justinbobby, it’s that she’s doing it even though lauren told her it’s a bad idea. the issue is not that audrina is friends with heidi, it’s that she’s doing it when lauren has made it clear she doesn’t want audrina to. it’s that cliche’ action movie trailer phrase, “it’s PERSONAL!” made real – it’s always personal, it’s never logical.

  • as usual, all heidi has are her cliche’s, her scriptlets (“it was so long ago,” etc.). she goes totally miss malaprop when she accidentally crams together two of them and says, “it’s old water under the bridge.” she and stephanie both laugh. this is funny for two reasons. one because OMG how stupid. two because it’s a clear allusion to the scene at lauren’s birthday party when stephanie, cementing her nascent friendship with lauren, says “water under the bridge…is that the expression, water under the bridge?” it shows that stephanie and heidi talked about that night in close enough detail heidi can later make a semi-knowing reference to an offhand remark of stephanie’s from some days before and they will both get the joke immediately.

  • (p.s. i was looking for a youtube clip of the “the crunge” (have you seen the bridge, etc.) to make some sort of pseudo-pun about “water under the bridge” but that’s too elliptical, this is “the hills,” it’s about direct adolescent emotion, so here is a video of a teenage girl’s first song which she wrote about some boyfriend who obviously things didn’t go well with and so she wrote a song about water under the bridge and it’s called “water under the bridge.” she’s canadian, she should totally be on “the hills: aftershow,” way better than ana marie digby.)

  • at the beginning of the club scene, stephanie and heidi’s remarks about justinbobby are obviously both dubbed and subtitled (and this dubbing is really bad). we see them at a distance, from an awkward angle, in the dark with a harsh little highlight to pick up their faces, with people in the foreground blocking them. then cut to lauren and audrina talking, where lauren is softly lit, in close-up, speaking without dubbing or subtitles. the visual hierarchy – who is important, who is not, who is in the inner circle and who is on the outside, scratching at the studio gates.

  • so lauren goes for another glass of champagne and heidi swoops in to drop her gossip about justinbobby. just like last week, even though this is a bad thing for her “friend” audrina, it’s a great thing for heidi, it’s an opportunity for bonding, for connection, for becoming “friends” and not just “friendly.” just like last week, she overplays things but to hilarious effect by asking audrina, “like, do you want me to make sure he doesn’t come in this room or anything?” like she is club security or something, like she is man police. it is also a subtle attempt to entrench herself into the area where lauren will be and where the good camera angles are. of course, audrina blows her pathetic overture off, saying, “it’s fine.”

  • god, i don’t even know how to parse the scene where lauren and lo come back with stephanie. ok, first of all, as lauren, lo, and stephanie approach, audrina is telling heidi about justinbobby’s stalkerish tendencies, how he wouldn’t leave her alone. this is of course exactly what heidi is doing to lauren in this scene; lauren has made it as clear as she can without a restraining order that she wants nothing to do with heidi and yet there is heidi, at her table, waiting for her. heidi responds, as usual, with a cliche metaphor about pain. “it’s like a wound, still, it’s not like it’s healed.” she is tacitly empathizing with audrina, about how spencer wouldn’t give her “space,” but really she’s talking about herself, about her relationship with lauren, about the pain she feels that lauren won’t interact with her.

  • again, this scene is visually really confusing. i’m having to write it down just to figure it out. okay, so heidi and audrina are sitting on the (camera) right side of the couch having their powwow. we find out from a cutaway later on that stephanie is actually sitting next to heidi while this conversation is going on, at the right edge of the couch.

  • lauren and lo at goa
  • lauren and audrina enter in a medium shot from stage left, lauren first, closer to heidi and the traitor. they are cloaked in shadow. lauren more tells than asks, “hey guys, can you make some room?”

  • heidi and audrina
  • then back to the close-up of heidi and audrina. neither want to give up the (literal) spotlight. heidi is staring at the space where lauren should be and smiling, audrina is looking off vacantly.

  • then a really brief medium shot of lauren from the right. this is not really heidi’s POV, but it stands for it and it has that effect. lauren stands there all chiaroscuro, lit from the right and underneath, but half in the darkness of the club. she holds her class of champagne in her jeweled hand and seems to look at heidi down her nose for an instant, then turns away to the left, into the darkness.

  • this is where it gets confusing. okay, the angle is of the right corner of the booth. we see lauren entering from the right side getting up into the elevated booth and carefully squeezing past audrina to get into her seat (audrina actually helps her through, briefly placing both hands around lauren’s waist, presumably so she doesn’t spill her champagne) heidi is absent during the shot, but we know where she is, she was sitting right beside audrina near the outside of the booth. thus lauren is literally climbing over heidi to get into the center of the booth. obviously, the meta-implications of this are strong (lauren climbing over heidi to reclaim the spotlight, the center of attention, her close-up, mr. deville) but also just imagine how uncomfortable that would be in real life, to climb past this person you hate and then have to sit at the same table as them.

  • then we have a short close-up of lauren settling in and smiling at the reclamation of her “space”, from the camera angle used during the audrina-heidi conversation earlier.

  • then, in an overhead angle, she immediately leans in to her left to talk to stephanie pratt. this at first seems like a crazy, disorienting continuity error, because two shots before (so, like two seconds before), this blond nobody with glasses was scooting over to give lauren more room. it seems as if this girl is by the magic of editing with stephanie pratt. after watching this about five times, i’ve figured out that the blond girl actually slips out of the booth and stephanie pratt is sitting to lauren’s left and quickly slides twoard her. lauren moves closer to the center of the booth, probably to put more “space” between heidi and herself. she whispers to stephanie, “i just didn’t really think that you’d bring heidi”

  • then a wide shot from the left. lauren, slightly obscured by some girl in the foreground, says, “it’s just really hard for me to be at a table with her.” as she and steph have this conversation in the light in the center of the frame, heidi is hard left, in the dark, watching their conversation intently behind audrina’s back.

  • then there is some wanking around with the focus on a new close-up of lauren and stephanie, from the right side. lauren says, “i’m sorry, that’s really awkward to say to you, i know.” the camera pans to the left to center around stephanie and lauren. lauren seems to be sitting on the edge of the chair, leaning to the left, as if she is trying to get as far away from heidi as she can without actually getting up. stephanie says, “no. i mean, i know, exactly what it is…”

  • stephanie’s subtitled voice (“i just kind of thought we could all get along”) continues over a cutaway of heidi and audrina talking.

  • back to the close-up of stephanie and lauren, stephanie making light of the situation, lauren trying to look pained but in a fun way.

  • rack focus onto an extreme close-up of audrina’s face. heidi, represented in the frame by some of her hair, says, “i think i’m gonna go soon. it’s pretty clear lauren doesn’t want me to be friends with you.” well thanks, captain obvious.

  • (one wonders here whether these rack focuses are meant as authenticity signifiers or to create some sort of visual drama or if they are just a necessity of shooting in a poorly lit nightclub)

  • then the most sort of composed, painterly shot in the scene. in the center is lauren, talking to stephanie on her left. on the right, audrina. at far right, heidi, in her black dress almost merging with the background. at far left, anonymous man in black, who has been sitting at the table the whole time, following the scene intently while saying absolutely nothing (obviously our audience stand-in). in the foreground, some carafes of girly drinks.

  • then a sort of telephoto extreme close-up of lauren looking pissed off but beautiful, obviously reacting to what heidi has just said. in the right edge of the frame, audrina, out of focus. heid, out of frame again, says, “oh my gosh, here comes justin.”

  • then a close-up of audrina and lauren. lauren is in the background, out of focus, drinking quietly. audrina does an awkward openmouthed smile at the right side of the frame.

  • now, here, the obvious choice in a movie would be to cut to a reverse of justin bobby to catch his reaction, from somewhere around where audrina and heidi are sitting. this is obviously impossible, because, like, audrina and heidi are sitting there. so instead we get a wide shot from the back of justinbobby looking like fucking hipster zorro, in all black and a stupid hat. heidi gets up and is all welcome-wagon and smiles. she’s excited because it’s someone else lauren hates, it’s someone on her “team,” it’s someone to absorb some of the hate rays lauren is sending from her powerful, expressive eyes.

  • then an out of focus overhead shot of justinbobby taking heidi’s seat. this is really weird because it doesn’t seem as if the club is two levels. is the cameraman standing on a ladder in the middle of the dance floor? is the camera hanging from the ceiling? where is it? heidi says again, “i think i’m gonna go.” she’s just waiting for someone to say, “no, don’t go,”

  • we cut back to the wide shot, where our view of heidi and audrina, and justin is blocked by people, and where, miraculously, audrina actually does say, “heidi, don’t leave, we’re having fun.” i am about 50/50 about whether this is a dubbed line, but the audio on mtv overdrive is not hifi enough for me to be able to tell.

  • either way, we come with a snap zoom back to the close-up of lauren from the right, reacting strongly to this. of course, if it was dubbed, she’s not actually reacting to it, but obviously audrina said something because she is reacting. she is facing left and looking left, but she is totally taking all this in out of the corner of her eye. we hear heidi say, giddy, “or i’m gonna stay!” and lauren looks up at the ceiling, beyond annoyed.

  • back to the wide shot where heidi sits down, beaming. she asks justinbobby how he’s doing.

  • back to stephanie and lauren. they are seemingly shocked and are uncomfortably laughing at, like, heidi’s audacity, or that justinbobby is sitting there. lauren looks like she’s about to explode.

  • then heidi and justinbobby are BFF! heidi talks about how “we should all hang out in a group sometime.” justinbobby says “i’m down, whenever. it’s up to this one, though.” and points at audrina. his greased lightning patois never ceases to dazzle. he doesn’t say “audrina” or “her,” he says, “this one.”

  • then a close-up of audrina clutching her giant right earring for dear life and looking all dreamy and moony and remembering the good times with JB.

  • heidi, total huckster, says, “luckily, i am talking to this woman.”

  • then, as we watch a close-up of lauren looking to the left, heidi goes even further and trots out her favorite sentence about audrina, “her and i were friends before her and lauren were friends.”

  • back to heidi and justinbobby. justinbobby says something incomprehensible. note here that he doesn’t get subtitles while everything heidi says is subtitled. zorro is mysterious, we don’t have to understand what he’s saying. or, men aren’t important, no one cares what they have to say.

  • laurie
  • back to the close-up of lauren with more heidi speech for her to react to. heidi says, “i told audrina it’s silly can’t be friends because you live with lauren. she’s like, ‘i know.'” lauren is agape.

  • jb and he
  • back to justinbobby and heidi and over them we hear lauren, finally reaching her breaking point, say, “oh my god.”

  • lauren breaks
  • back to lauren and stephanie, lauren says emphatically, “I need to leave the table, immediately,”

  • in the wide shot, lauren, consummate hostess, says, “you guys, have a great time” as she’s getting up. justinbobby and heidi, who have seemingly done their work and don’t have to talk to each other anymore but are content to just stare into space.

  • dress tug
  • in the overhead shot, we see lauren adjusting her dress and getting the hell out.

  • sad
  • lauren crosses the frame and exits stage right. stephanie scoots over next to audrina and whispers, dubbed, “i think lauren’s totally upset.” no fucking duh.

  • hair
  • whatever, i’m done with this shot for shot shit. lo and lauren meet up in the darkness of the floor and lauren, as she often does during emotional scenes running her hands through her hair, says, “i can’t pretend it’s normal that we’re all sitting together.” and that she wants to go home. because of the angle, we can see neither her face nor lo’s for the entirety of their exchange. it’s like they have merged into a unit. it also seems to me their lines are the live audio and not dubbed. lo goes to get her stuff to leave.

  • lauren stares off at the table, back at…

  • team heidi, in her base, in her light. back to…

  • try harder fail better
  • lauren, watching them and then turning away into the darkness of the mass in the club as the scene ends.

  • god that took a long time to do. what did we gain? anything? i hope. fail better.

  • morning after scene with steph and heidi is a snooze. heidi pronounces audrina differently than everyone. she says ah-drina while everybody else says aw-drina. is this because she was friends with her first?

  • the parallel lauren-lo afternoon after scene is much better, mostly because lo is wearing an absurd scarf and then in close-up unwinds it. but then they talk about getting a house and lo unloads another perky yet bitchy comment, this time about audrina. lo: “maybe she’ll bring heidi and justinbobby to the new house” and lauren gives this “egads!” kind of eyelook and then lo does a kind of pseudo-mock-serious “that’s not allowed” (kind of like her mock-chastizing of frankie for having a girlfriend a couple of weeks ago) and lauren picks up on this whiff of rigorous judgement of others actions and loves it and loves lo for it and this is why they are good friends from so long ago.

  • AUDRINA WEARS A BLACK LEATHER JACKET TO MEET JUSTIN BOBBY. HE SAYS, “LIKE YOUR LEATHERS.” HE IS WEARING A BLACK LEATHER JACKET, TOO, AND THAT STUPID HAT FROM THE CLUB. LIKE YOUR LEATHERS. ROCK AND ROLL. I AM GOING TO WRITE A SONG ABOUT AUDRINA AND IT IS GOING TO BE KIND OF STOOGE-Y AND I AM JUST GOING TO REPEAT THE WORDS “LEATHER JACKET…EYE MAKE-UP…ROCK AND ROLLLLLLLL” OVER AND OVER AGAIN OVER A REALLY HEAVY RIFF. HE SAYS, “LOOKS LIKE YOU MISSED THE BIKE, HUH?” and when she demurrs, he says in a fonz-y kind of syllabic elongation, “COME ONNNNN?” you can tell by audrina’s facial expressions that he has already won her over, that he won her over at the club, that she wants him back. he cleverly makes mention of how “no one’s been on the bike since you,” like I WONT CHEAT ON YOU BECAUSE YOU ARE IMPORTANT, BABY. “I’VE GOT A SOLO SEAT,” he says, “I HAVEN’T HAD ANYBODY ON IT” audrina continues to play obsessively with her earrrings as at goa earlier. JUSTINBOBBY SAYS, “needed to get my priorities straight,” and does a sort of eye pop, like, “get it, audrina?!?” he wins her over more by coming out as anti-gossip and commenting on “all the BS that’s gone on” and she notes “i’m over all this stuff and i’ve got my own stuff and i don’t need all this drama. TO SEAL THE DEAL, JUSTINBOBBY USES METAPHORICAL LANGUAGE LIKE FROM A BAD ROCK SONG: “it’s not nice when you FALL AWAY FROM PEOPLE, but when you, kind of, REGROUP AGAIN, it’s…” audrina, finishing his sentence, vibing, on his wavelength: “…good company.” justinbobby: “absolutely.” THEY ADMIT THEY MISSED EACH OTHER. JUSTINBOBBY ASKS WHAT AUDRINA IS DOING LATER AND SHE IS ALL COY AND “I DON’T KNOW” AND HE EYE POPS AND JAW TWISTS SUGGESTIVELY AND AUDRINA LOOKS AT HIM VACANTLY BUT WITH A HINT OF SEDUCTION AND THEY PROBABLY HAVE SCREAMING FEEDBACK FLAMING GUITAR ROCK AND ROLL SEX LATER.

  • spencer and stephanie split a sandwich last week. lauren and audrina split a grapefruit this week. aww, roomies. i also love how “he didn’t burp at all” is a major improvement for JB, on par with getting off drugs. i also love the way lauren eats her grapefruit, first randomly stabbing it with a knife and then at the end of the scene doing this weird sort of modern dance routine with her spoon.

  • when audrina says, “it’s like you and jason and stephen” and lauren has her big line we’ve heard so many times in previews and promos, “no, because i stopped going back to jason,” it’s totally undercut by the fact that in the preview for this week we see her…going back to stephen. L O L.

  • and spencer is, again, on the couch. it is just great characterization, to put him in this place over and over again, to define him by it. his manner is great (“can i help you?” as if a butler and not her pseudo-ex-boyfriend). his wounded, defensive thing (“you said you were here to see steph and now you’re pretending to talk to me?”) she starts to tell her story about going to a club, the exact thing she blew up at him for doing the previous week, and he totally shuts her down (“cool, did you have fun?”), denying her the right to relate her narrative. she keeps going, playing him for sympathy and connection by talking about lauren and how stephanie made her uncomfortable by talking to lauren. he shuts her down again from his reclined position (“i know you want to vent about this, but i really have no sympathy for you. i mean, who did you expect to find at goa?”) heidi tries some of her cliches on him and he blasts her by crushing the sort of fantasy that she probably has had about lauren (“what you think you guys are going to move back in together and everything’s gonna be hunky dory?”). she is stunned silent. he goes in for the kill, says again, “no offense, i really don’t want to talk about you out at clubs,” he raises his eyebrows so high in agression, and says, “maybe you should wait for my sister to come back,” i.e. this conversation is done. heidi says her “ok, i’ve gotta go” and this time there is no dumb audrina to beg her to stay. spencer says, quasi-sarcastically, never moving from his groove in the couch, “it was great seeing you, enjoy your space,” and heidi leaves and we see her leave. walking out the door in these absurd tight, white short shorts. this particularly male gaze objectifying camera angle is picked up on by spencer, who adds, genuinely, “you look great” which gets some wordless angst from heidi as she exits.

  • at the restaurant where lauren, lo, and audrina are eating, the banner outside says “authentic” mexican. ha ha ha ha, i’ll add that to my list. silly girls, don’t they know don antonio’s is life changing mexican food?

  • that is an ugly fucking hat lauren is wearing. did she borrow that from audrina’s closet? the scene is interesting at first because what lauren is tacitly trying to do is to convince lo that audrina should not live with them (by telling stories about JB). but of course, it’s been obvious from the inception of the idea that lo, as lauren’s oldest, dearest friend, doesn’t want audrina in the house and needs no such convincing. what lauren, in that UGLY PINK HAT is doing, is convincing herself that audrina should not live in the house, even as she’s about to invite audrina to live in the house (lauren just doesn’t want to be happy!). they pause talking shit about audrina’s dirty boys when audrina herself appears. she is stuck in the middle of them in her black garb with her dark hair, flanked by blondes in white clothes giving her the third degree about her morality and relationship choices.  she tells lo about going out with justinbobby and lo questions her with an authenticity thing, “really?” and audrina looks to lauren for help and lauren is just staring, silent, sipping her drink and playing with the straw. and honestly, i’ve never really liked audrina, but it’s pretty awful how they are ambushing her here, bumrushing her, and you know part of it is for the cameras, like they could be a lot more subtle and less “mean girls” but they are playing it up because they’ve seen “mean girls” and the editor and the producers are playing it up too. and god, all the awkward stares and drink sips and pregnant pauses, which are actually effective satirized by the remix on “the hills:aftershow” and the scene ends with lauren and lo just chewing their food awkwardly and not talking but poor audrina, ahdrina if you’re heidi and awdrina if you’re everybody else – she has no food to chew, she’s having soup, and it hasn’t even arrived yet. le pain quotidien, indeed.

my song this week is called “sadness” and it is about sadness. i watched that documentary about daniel johnston last weekend and really loved it and was moved by it. afterward i wrote this song in about 5 minutes and this is the first take i recorded. it’s no daniel johnston, but i was happy with it.

[splashcast WEPN8649WG WNHE8948HS]

they’re trying to do too much in one episode and it shows. the problem with having audrina as a third main character and having lauren and heidi not talking and therefore not ever sharing any scenes is that three seperate story arcs have to be played out in every episode and two of the story arcs can’t share scenes at all and the end result is that there’s so much to do that things get rushed. in season two, you had two main characters (lauren and heidi) who shared the majority of their scenes, the result being that scenes could play out longer and slower and with more subtlety. it’s a shame that such an incredible performer as whitney gets a one line mention by l.c., instead of an actual appearance in the episode. i really thought this season was her opportunity to break out and i think she would have been a much better choice than audrina, but it doesn’t look like that’s how things are going to turn out. i hope she will at least appear in the next episode.

the show only really opened up (i.e. spent any significant amount of time in one scene) at the end, at the barbecue. there was some quality interaction between lauren and brody jenner and lauren and audrina. lauren continues to make interesting choices, like when she carries the motorcycle helmet back to audrina and she holds it behind her back and then yanks it out instead of just having it at her side the whole time. she also did a lot of interesting things with the inflection of her voice. a lot of pretty actresses will play ugly women or women who don’t dress well in movies and there’s always such a big deal made of it, but not a lot of women make their voices sound ugly (charlize theron notwithstanding). for me the sound of a woman’s voice is very important. this episode was also audrina’s best performance as of yet. when she wore the blue hood, it made me think of the virgin mary in old paintings. i bet there is some contemporary christian movie on PAX right now where a version of the virgin mary is a teenage girl wearing a blue hoodie. there was also a scene where heidi is sitting in the passenger seat of the suv that made me think of maria schneider in “the passenger,” but that’s a pretty big stretch.

there’s nothing worse than to see someone cry in real life and there’s nothing better than to see someone cry on television. when you see someone cry in real life, it means something important has happened and that important thing probably affects you and it’s probably bad. when you see someone crying on television, it means something important has happened and that’s good because that’s probably the reason you’re watching television, to see something important happen. some of the best scenes of the hills have featured lauren or heidi crying. in this episode, lauren and audrina both cried. lauren was better at crying than audrina, although whether this is a function of performance or editing (lauren was given more time to cry, more angles of her crying, different music while she was crying) or both, i’m not sure.

justinbobby was very good in this episode. the shtick he was doing with his sunglasses as he sat with audrina at the edge of the waves, sticking the glasses in the lobes of his ears, hanging them and letting them sway in the breeze, it was all very authentic, very natural

the scenes in denver felt bizarre. it’s because the hills is such a location specific show; i mean, it’s right there in the title: the locale (and what that locale means in socioeconomic and cultural and aesthetic terms) is what defines the show. during the denver scenes, it was like the whole landscape was a big trompe l’oeil behind them, a matte painting of an alien planet, the fields of grass blowing in the wind a sort of synthetic ocean.

p.s. what is that bizarre squealing synthesizer thing that they always use as the show goes to the first commercial break? it’s this really weird synth noise that rises in pitch and is sort of vibrato-ed until the first commercial comes up. it doesn’t fit the show at all. i don’t get it. although i am so used to it now i wonder if the absence of it would bother me.

-

in the player is a song i wrote called “won’t you be in a cage with me.” it is about reality television. i wrote it actually for a post i am going to write about ethics and the show “big brother 8,” although it really applies to any reality show and so here it is. my biggest weakness as a songwriter and producer is my endless fascination with overdubbing my voice en masse, as happens in the outro of this song. if i could harmonize in an interesting way, like for example my current favorite song “Kanske Ar Jag Kar I Dig” by jens lekman, where this boyz II men style harmony gets looped and then overlayed with quasi-indie-funk production and these incredible lyrics (“i saw on tv ’bout this little kid, who had a pig for a pet. his mom had once been attacked by a dog, so a pig was the closest thing he could get”) then that would be fine, but mostly i just sing the root notes over acoustic guitar.

[splashcast SEHU7455VW SBMT7330VF]

so, this whole britney spears magazine thing. as reported in page six:

“As Page Six reported more than a month ago, Spears walked out of a shoot for the perfume’s ads before decent shots were taken. But that hasn’t stopped Elizabeth Arden’s marketing campaign for the scent.

“She looked amazing, but she left the shoot three times in a state of distress before driving away for good,” our source said. “They had decent shots of her face, but not her body, so the art director made the stylist – a cute girl name Kylie Cavaco – get in Britney’s clothes and pose.

“They are superimposing Britney’s head on Kylie’s body. Kylie has the body Brit used to have, not the one she has now.”

and what’s the big deal? in movies this happens all the time, you know, body doubles. that’s not some industry secret, that’s public knowledge. i’m sure everyone remembers that classic episode of “friends” where joey gets hired to be al pacino’s butt double in a shower scene but gets fired from the job. in a movie this an accepted thing, you don’t even notice it. so why is it important now? because instead of just retouching, it’s a different person grafted on? whatever, elizabeth arden had to fit britney into an image like fitting a too big ass into a too tight pair of designer jeans. they did what they had to do and i respect them for it. no one wants to see ugly in a magazine ad.

every week there’s some feminist blah blah attack on how magazines retouch photos and how it’s evil and how these are not real women, they are fake (i had a long argument with a girl at a party about this once and she just kept drunkenly repeating the phrase “girls in magazines are not real”, which has a sort of beautiful weirdness to it, like, they’re not real, are they robots or something?) and really, come on, what person does not know and get all this by now? who has not internalized this knowledge? like, six year olds, maybe? it’s the same reason i think we should plug all the money that gets blown on d.a.r.e. and anti-smoking campaigns and programs into something important, like say, cancer research, because there’s not people in this country anymore who don’t get that smoking is bad for you, it’s just a known fact, and all the faux-hip “truth” ad campaigns aren’t going to change their minds.

people buy glossy magazines because they want to look at glossy people. i’m sorry, the cover of a magazine should not ever have an ugly person on it, unless they like, cured cancer or stopped the war in iraq, and even then, make-up, hair, wardrobe, fix them up as much as you can and then retouch the hell out of them. i love women and the way they look and they don’t have to look like a magazine cover to get me all hot and bothered, because they are three dimensional people with depth and souls and personalities and women in magazines are two dimensional images. of course they’re not “real”; they’re not, they’re representations of reality, and if i learned anything in four years of art history and literary theory it’s that a representation can’t equal the thing represented, it’s always a distortion.

so, to get back on topic, if i was ever on in the first place, i think it’s perfectly acceptable for britney to have a body double for magazine photos, and i think any other celebrity (male or female) who doesn’t feel they’re looking up to snuff, maybe haven’t been hitting the gym lately, that they should get a double too. this is how we can employ all the poor starving actors in los angeles, by allowing them to become simulations of slightly more succesful actors. maybe through the act of their bodies’ performance, their minds will learn too.

the song above is one i wrote today about the magic wonder of photo retouching. it was inspired by the britney thing, in an attempt to be hip and topical like that spank rock “lindsay lohan” song, except not as clever or good or hip or anything. but it is summery and breezy and smooth as sea foam and has a spoken word philosophy section at the end.

  • “the hills” – raymond carver
  • “weeds” – lorrie moore
  • “big love” – jeffrey eugenides
  • “rock of love with bret michaels” – norman mailer
  • “californication” – bukowski (phillip roth if you want to be generous)
  • “big brother” – walter benjamin
  • “the sopranos” – don delillo (leaning heavily on ‘libra’ with a dash of ‘underworld’)
  • “the flavor of love” – percival everett (circa ‘erasure’)
  • “flight of the conchords” – aimee bender
  • “hey paula” – joan didion
  • “entourage” – john cheever
  • “the office” – nicholson baker
  • “lost” – thomas pynchon

tonight was the season three premiere of the hills and it was even better than i could have imagined. how liz gateley et al constantly manage to top themselves is incredible and inspiring.

in the new york times today, virginia heffernan wrote that “‘the hills’…is more convincing than “friends” and just about any other comedy about female relationships…” which i, though holding onto my testicles at this very instant, completely agree with. now, this is not the point she was making with that quote, but i read the review before i saw the episode and then there’s an early scene where lauren is drunk at a club and flirting with an english boy and it’s just like incredible deja-vu, like, the crip, the cush of deja-vu. it’s what they teach you in writing classes about how the more specific you get the closer you come to representing the universal. lauren in that scene is like a million drunk girls i have met and will never meet and want to meet, but she’s just one person, just lauren, standing for all of them. as the mtv marketing machine tags, “i know you can relate.”

heffernan writes that “women’s friendships are commonly burnt down along rigid moral lines” and i think that’s true of the show, but what’s interesting and what’s great about the show is the way those moral lines are not actually rigid, but only appear to be.

why laguna beach season three failed and became unwatchable (see the post about the season two premiere a couple posts down) was, among many other things, setting up a clear moral binary; there are the good girls who are nice and the bad girls who are bitches. it gave tessa, the main character who provided all the voice-over narration, complete moral superiority, which is boring and uninteresting. the hills is so genius because it sets up a false image of that binary; the good girls, lauren and audrina and whitney; the bad people, heidi, spencer, jen bunny, et cetera. at the end of the second episode, with her mother, lauren says “i know the difference between good people who do bad things and bad people who do bad things”. but the image is an illusion, as is obvious at the end of the second episode: there are no clear cut moral judgements, there is no “good” and “bad”. “good” lauren is incredibly judgemental and has serious issues with anyone being in a romantic relationship and, as the previews for the rest of the season seem to hint, is ready to do with jason the same thing she cut off heidi for. “bad” spencer seems completely and totally in love with heidi. no one is simple, nothing is black and white. if lauren is our main character, unlike tessa, she has no moral superiority; she’s an unreliable narrator and so the tension between what she says and what she does and who she is ripples with cracks and fissures.

the performances are spot on. lauren was really overshadowed last season by heidi and whitney, but now, with this new aspect to her character, the mistrust taken to an almost absurd level, she’s really shining. audrina isn’t the standout surprise that heidi was last season, but she holds her own. whitney, as usual, continues to dazzle with faux-awkward facial expressions and wide-mouthed stares, use of hands on face, and use of the frame. she is the queen of fake authentic reality performance. if dreyer was alive today and filming a youtube version of “the passion of joan of arc”, he would surely cast her in the title role.

a thing i find really interesting about the hills, with regards to its status as an erstwhile “reality” show, is the use of dubbing. you hear it in the first scene of the season, when whitney asks lauren if she’s “talked to heidi lately”. this is the thing that’s been bubbling under the entire scene and finally it’s let out, and when it is, it’s a dubbed line, it’s life being molded to fit the script.

an even more interesting use of dubbing is in the club scene when heidi and lauren have a confrontation. the most frequent use of dubbing on the hills is during club scenes. and here, during the first moment of contact between heidi and lauren, during the most important moment of the first episode of the third season, when heidi says “here lauren, i wrote you a letter” the line is dubbed, it’s not the real audio, it’s not from the moment.

now of course, in dramatic cinema and television dubbing is a accepted and necessary practice. but this is “reality” we’re watching here. of course it’s no big deal for an actress in a hollywood movie to rerecord her dialogue during an emotional scene weeks or months later; even if she was “in the moment” then, she was just acting, just playing a role, and presumably she can bring that moment back and tell the lie again. but for this crucial moment on the hills, how can heidi, who is of course not a professional actress, replicate all her pent-up feeling about not seeing her ex-best friend for months in a recording studio booth before a microphone weeks later. even if that’s not how the dubbing’s done, even if the audio’s recorded in the bathroom later that night under the guise of a script supervisor’s clipboard and stopwatch, even then, it’s still not the real audio, it’s not what was said in the moment. if these girls aren’t actors, fine, what does that say about performance? what counts for authenticity these days?

it’s easy to forget about dubbing, though, when the dialogue is so good. when the lauren-heidi thing finally blows up to a knock down-drag out screaming match, the repetition and variation are revelatory (“do you know why i’m mad you? you know why i’m mad at you. you know what you did. you know what you did” although that’s nowhere near as strong on the page as on the screen and just one scene of many) i’ve said it before, if raymond carver’s formal aesthetic (which is the important stuff, forget your dirty realism, that’s just blah blah content) could be used as the basis for a television show, this would be it. fuck “short cuts”; there were some entertaining bits, but carver isn’t theatre in that big showy altman kind of way, it’s personal, it’s private, it’s the coal of youtube polished, comma by comma, cut by cut, into a diamond.

the cinematography is as stunning as it’s ever been. there’s a short montage set to rhianna’s “umbrella” where lauren and audrina are drinking and dancing and having fun at a club. wong kar wai and kieslowski would marvel at the colors and lighting, the rich reds, the flickering oranges, the play of shadow. and the improvised takes, the strung together jump cuts of lauren dancing, playing with her hair, making faces; they could be vintage godard, as breathless as breathless. antonioni would have had a field day with these girls, who talk well enough but say so much more with their bodies, with their eyes, with the myriad transcendent ways that they take up space.

today i was watching “live with regis and kelly” because i am a housewife. enrique iglesias was the guest host and revealed that he doesn’t pick up his own dogshit. if you think about it, this makes sense and almost seems blatantly obvious, but it served for an entertaining extended comedic riff. i enjoyed enrique iglesias, he seemed unpretentious and affable, likely because he was wearing a baseball cap that matched his shirt.

lauren conrad from the hills was also on the show. she seemed stiff and awkward. it makes sense that she is a bad interview because while the dialogue on the hills is very good, the focus is on the pregnant pause that means more, the intricacies of face and eye acting, of poses and subtle performance. a better showcase for her talents on talk shows would be a silent two to three minute static shot close-up shot of her face as she lays on a nice sofa in soft, warm light.

enrique iglesias didn’t say anything during the entire interview – he just clapped when the show went to break

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a really interesting marketing gesture i think is the mtvthehills youtube group, which i came across looking for samples to use during the breakdown of my cover of the hills theme. it’s a viral marketing thing for the hills season two dvds which consists of “emoticlips”.

as you can see, these twenty to thirty second clips of the hills are framed by textual commentary which teases out the context of the scene and then generalizes it, in a sort of “oh, you know how it is, girlfriend” kind of way, with the ultimate tagline for all the emoticlips being “i know you can relate.” i think relate is interesting here, as during her kelly ripa interview, lauren conrad also mentioned a desire to be “relatable.” i think this is great because it really points at the constructedness of reality existence; aren’t human beings generally already “relatable” to other human beings? the term relatable is used to discuss fictions, to discuss forging the connection between a representation (the character, the aesthetic object) to the audience (real live human beings). and even if lauren conrad is a real live human being, LC is a representation, a character. and the tension between the two is, i think, one of the things that makes the show so compelling.

the mushroom lobbyists

August 8, 2007

Magic Mushrooms Face Ban in Netherlands

 

the mushroom lobbyists

 

in this sobering hour, where are the mushroom lobbyists? who are the mushroom lobbyists? do the mushroom lobbyists wear suits? do the mushroom lobbyists wear suits made of hemp? of vinyl? how many days a week do the mushroom lobbyists work? do the mushroom lobbyists have a generous pension plan?

where is the office of the mushroom lobbyists? is it in an office building? is it in a barn? is it a state of mind? what is the shape of the office of the mushroom lobbyists? is it tidy? are there finely varnished antique desks? are there rolodexes and bookshelves filled with handsome bound volumes of legal code? are there posters on the walls? are these posters depicting seventies rock bands and magic eye pictures composed of webs of blurry dots?

how do the mushroom lobbyists answer the phone in their office? are they timely or do they allow the phone to ring on, reveling in the tonalities? do they have good phone etiquette? do the mushroom lobbyists keep pictures of mushrooms in their office, the way that nature lobbyists keep pictures of yosemite and tobacco lobbyists keep posters of joe camel? do they keep pictures of people blissed out on mushrooms in their office, in the same way that nature lobbyists show young ethnically diverse children enjoying a hiking trail and tobacco lobbyists show adult males feeling rugged and manly and wearing cowboy hats and adult females looking thin and relaxed and thin?

do the mushroom lobbyists prefer paper clips or staples? what brand of pens do the mushroom lobbyists use?

do the mushroom lobbyists, on the weekends, spend time with the marijuana lobbyists, or are relations between the two offices a thing of necessity? are the mushroom lobbyists jealous of the marijuana lobbyists because of their fancier office and nicer suits and larger cars? do the mushroom lobbyists feel undercapitalized?

do the mushroom lobbyists go out to nice restaurants or do they prefer to cook at home with fine organic ingredients? do the mushroom lobbyists watch their weight? do they jog in the mornings before going to the office, do they ride bicycles, do they do pilates? do they sit at home and clean their endtables and do the crossword on sunday morning?

are the mushroom lobbyists ethical? do they try to bribe parliament members with free trips? are these free trips literal or metaphorical? do the mushroom lobbyists take the parliament members to nice golf courses and dose them with mushrooms in the lush but well-kept greenery? do the mushroom lobbyists dose themselves as well or remain sober? do the mushroom lobbyists doctor the score card, move balls, lie, to convince the high parliament members that they are playing the best golf of their lives? are the mushroom lobbyists good putters?

when the mushroom lobbyists find several doses of mushrooms inside a balled athletic sock in the top drawer of the bedroom of their son or daughter, how do they respond? do they ground the child? do they have, over hot chocolate, a serious discussion about the pros and cons of responsible drug use? or, do they grab the tiny plastic baggie and spirit it away into the secret pocket sewn into their jacket for later and, when their son or daughter return home, act none the wiser?

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