Thursday, March 22, 2007

American Pussy(cat)


More and more Americans are watching TV while they exercise and more and more reality contest shows are cropping up to entertain them while they climb fake stairs and run on treadmills. This is TV sports for the non-sporting. You can even bet, call in, comment, pick your ‘horse’, get a ringtone, email, vote, blog, complain that the whole thing is fixed, slam the judges, whatever. Much like sports, and unlike our pathetic pedestrian lives, there is a winner. And like our own lives, aside from the one lucky duck, the rest of us are losers.

The latest of these is the Pussycat Dolls contest. The Pussycat Dolls, who in another time would have been a Las Vegas act (wasn’t this the name of the blue-collar strip joint in every town in America?), are sort of a cross between singing Rockettes and a Victoria’s Secret show. I have to admit, that Loosen up your Buttons video was not only synchronicitous but airbrushed-supermodel-stunning. And, above all, sexy. Like they inserted the ‘cat’ in the name just to make it PG.

So this is not just America’s Next Supermodel, because all these girls are at least as great-looking as any Tyra Banks season finalists, but they actually have talent—or enough of the new television-ready version of talent to sing and dance their perfect leggy bodies into an airbrush-perfect supergroup member, with just enough variation to be distinguishable from Posh or Maya or whoever the other personas are. They are the new movable Barbies.

For the musically inclined, and to give Idol a bit of competition, at least there is more focus on rehearsing and preparation than the bitchy in-house repartee which all America except extremely stoned 13 year old girls are sick to death of.
On nights when the Anna Nicole Saga and the NCAA are all the reality that’s offered, a good portion of the TV audience is picking their girl, not to mention those men who can legitimize getting a pretty good hour’s worth of girls parading in their high-heels and underwear, and doing it with their wives. It’s not that I’m a prude, although I can’t imagine my Mother bragging to her friends that her daughter went to 4 years of college and is now a Pussycat Doll. Some of us actually find it hard to say ‘Pussy’ without a smirk. But that woman who created them and who is banking 8 figures, 6 of which she spends on botox and stylists—it slips right off her tongue with no problem.

It’s not the girls—they are eye-candy enough, even if the material is old and tired and the routines and butt-shaking gets monotonous unless you are an incredibly lonely guy. I object to the ‘judging’. The panel. The Pussycat mother, the Tyra-figure who is focused and nurturing and straightforward and not too bitchy—okay, I even find her attractive—maternal. But I detest the revolting Geffen Records guy who is everything everyone ever detested about the music business and less, because he is a pathetic throwback to the 70’s and we all know, besides HipHop and its untouchable machinations, the record companies are clinging onto the inflatable liferafts of these shows to spread the declining Pussycat Gospel. I was once in a grunge band signed to Geffen, where they took this grubby but talented Kurt Cobain guy and forced him to do a Playgirl cover like some kind of rock Fabio which not only sentenced the band to rock and roll doom but caused the guy to have a complete breakdown. It was like refinishing a vintage 1955 Les Paul goldtop with pink metallic enamel. Next.
So not only do we have to watch this guy who undoubtedly has 2 or 3 whiny ex-wives and a couple of kids with nose jobs, but we have to listen to him criticize these girls. GIRLS—small-town, some of them-- who are away from home, being scrutinized by all of America including a fairly good-sized population of lecherous men, have absolutely no viable guidance except some coach showing them a strip-joint dance routine and a vocal arranger—telling them they are not up to par, or are growling their vocals, or have pitch issues…when we all know it is basically a strut your T & A goods while putting up a reasonable pageant-worthy musical pretext.

But the real irony is this week--- the guest-judge—is none-other than jailbird Lil’ Kim, whose mouth and undoubtedly other body orifices, like the midtown tunnel, has welcomed just about anything—on the way in and on the way out. True role-model material. Nice to be judged by a convicted criminal whose contribution to female power is making major personal trash and self-humiliation courtroom-newsworthy. Is she an example of the new black pride? Is this a version of 'penance', having to debut post-conviction on American TV, like Naomi Campbell giving the New York Sanitation Department a high-fashion photo-op when someone should be sweeping out her mouth?

This after the poor eliminated Pussycat Contestant from the week before was let go because her audition as a go-go girl seemed a little too professional, a little too ‘unwholesome’. Not to mention that on this episode, Lil’ Kim remarked to one of the taller dolls something like –‘Girl….You Rocked that Pole!’ As much as I try to catch the subtlety, I am obviously missing some crucial criteria here.

Back to my brackets.

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