the top reality TV whores of 2003.
What is a reality TV whore? Simply put, it’s someone who exchanges a part of their self, like their integrity or their image, for a moment of exposure or fame, however ephemeral or inconsequential. Considering the number of reality TV shows that aired this year, there were many reality TV whores who populated the street corners of prime time. Basically everyone who appeared on a reality TV show whored themselves to some degree. And many went way over the top.
Thus, this list of the outstanding examples among them was hard to compile. But these people all stand out; their behavior truly made us shudder and reconsider our reality TV promiscuity. By the way, being on this list isn’t necessarily a negative honor; hopefully some of the people on this list will disappear when the bell tolls 12 tonight, but some can redeem themselves, and at least one already has.
Learn from these examples. Do not become one of them. And have a happy new year. Andy Dehnart.
the top X reality TV whores of 2003.
- Trista Rehn and Ryan Sutter, The Bachelorette. The Bachelorette brought ABC’s dating franchise back with a vengeance, and also resulted in a rare lasting relationship. Unfortunately, Trista and Ryan couldn’t stay the hell away, and showed up everywhere, like on Miss America and on the cover of every single magazine sold in grocery store checkout lines. Then they really decided to literally whore themselves: They sold their wedding to ABC for $1 million, even after Trista initially rejected the idea. It’s nearly impossible to top this sort of behavior. And even though the backlash has begun–a majority of people surveyed said they were “least likely to purchase a product endorsed by” Trista–the couple is continuing to shove their faces in ours. Tomorrow, they’ll be on a float during the Rose Parade. Let’s just hope that they decide not to breed, or at least keep that whole process out of prime-time.
- Colin Mortensen, The Real World. First of all, if you’re still watching The Real World, you’re either in college, are looking forward to being in college, or are still clinging to your college years. The show is completely over. The cast went to Paris and couldn’t even make being ugly Americans in a country locked in a freedom fry struggle with the U.S. seem remotely interesting. It was the same old nothingness episode after episode. If Bunim-Murray would get their heads out of their other projects and pay attention to the show that made them rich, they’d cast people who actually have lives. But I digress. Colin Mortensen showed up four years ago on The Real World Hawaii and then disappeared. I’ll admit it: I hated him on that show. In a recap of an episode, I wrote, “Not that someone who uses the phrase ‘anybody with a twig and berries’ to refer to men deserves any serious consideration, but this is classic, ’50s-era patriarchy manifested through a beefy, ’90s teen idol wannabe. Which is rather sad, especially since Colin probably has and will forever have his pick of the desperate, weak women who will throw themselves at his studly feet.” Well, I apologize, as my prediction was wrong. His behavior sucked, but between then and now, Colin transformed. And, shockingly, he made us aware of this transformation by being a huge whore: He hawked a book, went on tour, participated in MTV’s Battle of the Sexes Challenge, and wrote about the show on his web site. As it turned out, his weekly commentary was the best thing about the Battle of the Sexes. It was witty, honest, revealing, and, most importantly, self-critical. And although I haven’t read his book, A New Ladies’ Man, if it’s anything like his discussions of “a new masculinity”, he’s actively trying to turn obnoxious boys like he was into upstanding men like he is.
- Jon Dalton, Survivor Pearl Islands. Hate him, despise him, whatever: Jon deserves credit. Primarily, he made the series fun to watch. But he also showed the most media savvy of maybe any contestant we’ve ever seen on the show. That’s because he planned for his fame before the game even started, constructing a lie and making plans for it to be used to his advantage. Deciding to lie about your grandmother’s death before the game even starts, and also working actively to be despised by the other players (and, of course, by the viewing public), earns you a place in the reality TV whore hall of fame. Throw in the fact that he’s a wannabe wrestler with an alter-ego that he referred to constantly (never mind that stupid thing he did with his hands at every tribal council that made us want to break his fingers), and Jon certainly seemed to know what he was doing. Even if he is a prick.
- Paris Hilton, The Simple Life. Okay, so this is an obvious choice. Embarrassingly, at the beginning of 2003, I knew who Paris Hilton was but didn’t really care, having previously rolled my eyes at mentions of an unimportant nobody. This year, Paris showed me why I should care. She’s our most amorphous reality TV whore, obvious in her actions even though she still seems to stumble into everything accidentally, from the sex tape thing to, like, her whole life. She popped up everywhere and still managed to be entertaining most all of the time. And it wasn’t even the videotape that did it; that was just icing. The overexposure she received is going to be hard to overcome, but if anyone can do it, Paris can.
- The producers of American Idol. The producers of American Idol 2 perfected the art of making product placement completely, outrageously obvious and obnoxious. Next to them, Jeff Probst seems like the god of product placement subtlety. The first season of Idol was like a puke puddle of products, but during the second season the stench came into our living rooms and became overbearing. The show’s “integrated marketing” plan added Coke-Behind-the-Scenes segments and a Ford Focus room to the original Coke Red Room, and also featured lame-ass pseudomercials and product placement from Clairol Herbal Essences and Old Navy. To top it off, the producers dumped Frenchie Davis, the most talented and most popular singer, on her ass in the middle of the show, just because she’d modeled for an adult web site. Clearly, they had their priorities straight. If they keep this up, American Idol 3 will be a string of commercials interrupted occasionally by four 30-second songs.
- Julie Chen, Big Brother. This year, it was finally revealed that she of absolutely no talent is dating CBS president Les Moonves. Enough said; the punch line is just too obvious.