Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Our Culture's Inner Doll

It's a very old tactic to bemoan the decline of Western Civilization, and normally I think it's a cheap one. First, my view of human nature would dictate that there was plenty of cultural crap in the past, it just got filtered out over the years. Secondly, the explosion of both population and technology is key: there are more people with medicore-to-offensive ideas now, and far more ways they can express them. Thirdly, when many trot out a sign of decline, it's really a thinly veiled way to make a political point (think of the racism expressed in sweeping condemnations of all hip-hop. Yeah, lots of hip-hop sucks. So what? Lots of everything sucks.) But tonight, I unwittingly stumbled upon, and then became transfixed in the glow of, what might represent the undeniable low point of all human endeavor: the final five minutes of the final episode of the reality show designed to choose the next Pussycat Doll.

I know what you're thinking...how could they threaten to alter their fragile group chemistry by inviting in a newcomer?

If you're unfamiliar with the Dolls, in the wake of last year's Grammy nominations, I described them as "a handful of strippers hired by a record company to prance through videos for songs recorded inside empty garbage cans."

I've since realized that this description was far too kind.

The Dolls make NFL cheerleading squads look like award-winning ballet troupes; make strippers look like girls to take home to mom; make Christina Aguilera look like Billie Holiday.

I innocently chanced upon the proceedings just as the panel of judges was deliberating, while the three finalists -- Asia, Chelsea, and Melissa -- waited nervously off-stage. The panel consists of rapper Lil' Kim, record executive Ron Fair, and Robin Antin, the Dolls' founder and choreographer, who, horrifyingly, looks like Janice Dickinson would if you somehow invented a plastic-surgery procedure that hadn't been performed on her yet and then performed it on her. I'm not even sure "founder" is strong enough a term -- it looks as though the Dolls might have been carved out of her very flesh.

Suffice it to say, the exchange between the panelists was vapid to the point of obscenity. They kept repeating how one girl had "grown into something special, something unique," or how another had -- and this was my favorite -- "really found her inner Doll." The finalists then took the stage, and judging from their hot-pink feather boas and not-so-vaguely sadomasochistic attire, let me say that you probably don't want your daughter finding her inner Doll anytime soon. In fact, maybe go ahead and have her inner Doll euthanized.

You can see why, despite my disgust, I was fascinated by the convergence of awful elements here. This was like a mixmaster for cultural disasters, lowest-common-denominator sexuality merging with false drama merging with utter talentlessness. (No, I don't consider wearing a tiger-striped push-up bra a talent.) Here was a reality TV show (with basement-level production values) designed to choose a new "singer" for what is already a mind-blowingly prefabricated group, overseen by a panel of three judges who got choked up while telling the losers they would have to gyrate elsewhere, and featuring a grand finale in which Asia (who won, by the way) got to perform her first song with the actual Dolls. I'm a macro-optimistic person (on the micro level, I'm pretty damn pessimistic). Despite the continued horrific behavior of humanity on a daily basis, I think most of the larger trends throughout history have improved. If you disagree, perhaps you'd like to live in the 11th century for a while and report back? But purely on the level of conscious human creation, of what, in the broadest possible terms, could be called art, I can only hope we reached the nadir tonight. I mean, there has to be a bottom to this bucket, doesn't there? Is this some kind of magic bucket?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ah, the irony. I saw Asia being congratulated on TV last night by some broadcasters who acted as if she'd won the Nobel Prize (how proud her parents must be, etc.). I thought to myself, who the heck are the
Pussycat Dolls? Now I know, and I'm sorry I asked.

10:01 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

These are the real life version of those scary Bratz dolls they say are for children but really look like miniature sex toys.

I'm thinking they picked Asia because she had the weirdest sounding name. I can't believe it would be based on singing or dancing ability. I refuse to believe it.

4:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What worries me is that we might be looking at a bottomless bucket. Gauging from the doll apparel, that may be an apt analysis.

11:23 PM  
Blogger Tony said...

Be glad you only saw the last five minutes. My girlfriend made me sit through this last night and ... jeez.

At least on Top Model, they focus on what the girls can do, and what they're learning. In this show, they just focused on the drama.

I have never seen three people have more boring, pointless drama. It was worse when they tried to learn lessons. I swear they were reading their heartfelt confessions off of cue cards.

2:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

honestly, the reason there is no bottom to this so called "bucket," is because the negative conditions of our current culture are all that anyone focuses on anymore. Sure the pussycat dolls look and present themselves like strippers, but the few billionaires that created them knew one thing. SEX SELLS. For the record, I have been a vocalist my entire life. Many of the girls in the competition had better voices than many famous vocalists (many are also prefabricated, incase you didn't already know.) The pussycat dolls are entertainers. They sing and dance, and for all of you idiots who honestly say that they have no talent, you get up on a stage wearing practically nothing but stilletos, dance insync with one another like that, belt out a song at the top of your lungs, and attempt to look sexy while you do it. Atleast these girls are pursuing their dream of performing and have a career, and yes, I'm sure Asia's parents were very proud of her since she became an instant millionaire. All of you people who want to harp on those with abundance are probably fat, ugly, and alone. You're the people who secretly wish you could live a life of excitement. So shut the hell up and get over it.

9:55 PM  

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