August 1, 2008

LC

A Look At The HILLS and Why It Could, But Does NOT Inspire ME.

Okay, so, I do watch The Hills. No, I don't stay home specifically to see it, but if I have nothing to do with a half hour to kill, I broadband the hell out of it from mtv.ca. I'm also not one of those girls who believe it's all real - it's clearly contrived; however, I am CERTAIN it's not scripted, because if it is, all their writers should be fired for coming up with the most appalling dialogue in the history of the world. Case in point; LC ending her friendship with Heidie for good saying, "I want to forgive you and I want to forget you." The dialogue is beyond cheesey and cliche. It's not professional soap opera writing, but overpaid twenty-somethings trying to SOUND like soap opera writing....

Still, I don't want to get on the misogyny bandwagon and just woman-bash under the guise of bemoaning the state of North American culture, which I think many people do when they use terminology like "spoiled princess" or "dumb bitch" to refer to Lauren Conrad or her peers. Yes, you see LC and her gang of girls doing lots of stupid things but what twenty-something doesn't? And at least the girls have jobs and/or go to school - What the hell does Spencer Pratt do all day? The reason the show revolves around Conrad and not Pratt, is because she is LESS spoiled and therefore MORE interesting than any of the guys on the show. While I admit Lauren and her friends are far from articulate, lots of smart girls today splatter their sentences with "likes" and "totally's." This isn't how Lauren would speak to the president or the UN General Assembly and no one is claiming that it is - the show focuses on how she speaks to her friends! What's more, if she were as articulate as Gloria Steinem while drinking with the girls at Hyde, we would think Conrad was a total pretentious freak and the show would look even more contrived...
So, having a love-hate relationship with The Hills, I turned to Entertainment Weekly's new cover story on Conrad herself for more information. It's a savvy look at how The Hills is actually made into the show we know - story meetings exposed and all. The part that really struck me, however, was the interview where LC. Says the following of her image:

''It's about empowering girls,'' says Lauren, when asked to describe what she represents as a brand. ''You're gonna have bad boyfriends and best friends-turned-enemies. You need to be yourself, you need to work hard, and you'll get there.''

Lauren, I wouldn't say you DISEMPOWER girls, but do you actively EMPOWER them? I know Whitney was a Gender Studies major at university, but I only learned that from reading Wikipedia - it never comes up on the show. Justin Bobby belched in Audrina's face and played her for months before she finally ended things with him - only to get back together with him later. You passed up the opportunity of lifetime to go work in Paris for the summer to spend time with your drug addict high school boyfriend, and Spencer also treats Heidie like crap, resenting the fact that she has to get up in the morning and go to work like a normal person, which, if you ask me, is just find being theatened by her success.

These girls let boys walk all over them, but what's worse, is that this seems to be ALL they do if you watch the show. The show misrepresents the girls' reality, focusing on mistakes they have made catering to men and rarely showing their braver, more ambitious and independent moments. For example, Lauren has her own clothing line, but, instead of discussing her creative process or the trials and tribulations of getting a business off the ground, the show spends a disproportionate amount of time following her semi-romantic friendship with the seemingly unemployed but somehow wealthy Brody Jenner. While Lauren Conrad isn't necessarily a bad role-model, the show doesn't show girls they can do much beyond talk about boys. Even Conrad and Whitney Port's Teen Vogue internship seems mostly to revolve around the two of them sitting at desks while discussing their love-lives and those of their friends. Even when the girls fight with EACH OTHER, the fights usually centre around hating each other's boyfriends a la Lauren and Heidie's falling out over Spencer Pratt being an idtiot and an asshole. While the girls are the main characters, surprisingly little happens on the show that's explicityly about them and their relationships with each other or the world beyond their heterosexual dating lives.

So, no, I don't think The Hills is empowering. They wear really pretty clothes and always seem to have on the perfect lip gloss, but Lauren does not make me feel like a more powerful person. The sad part of the show is, however, that perhaps she could; it represents a missed opportunity. The coveted interships with Teen Vogue, the balancing work and post-secondary education, the bevy of close female friends - all this is a recipe for a show that shows how great it can be to be a woman if you work hard and get a little lucky, just like Conrad has. The Hills, with all its flawed dialogue, could, like, TOTALLY inspire me, but unfortunately, it does not.

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