November 15, 2007

The Democratic Debate/"Project Runway."

I haven't been watching much TV lately, and I don't following any show as it airs. I bought the season of "Survivor: China" to download and watch it on my iPhone when I'm traveling. I love "Curb Your Enthusiasm," but I catch up with it on HBO on Demand when I'm back in Madison. And I like the TV pastime. I want to watch maybe an hour or 2 of television in the evening. I don't get around to it here in NYC, mostly because the TV is small and un-flat. (How did the bulge of a picture tube become so distractingly unaesthetic that I'd prefer not to watch at all?)

But now, tonight, we've got another Democratic Debate, and it looks like a hot one (unless Wolf Blitzer makes it cold). Simultaneously, "Project Runway" is back. Robin Givhan reviews:
Most problematic... is that by the first episode, too many of the competitors have settled into well-worn archetypes. Were these 15 men and women chosen because they have such instantly familiar personalities? When the cameras are off, does Siriano really embody every single fashion cliche? Or do these players adjust their personalities to fit a preconceived ideal? In short, who exactly is having a crisis of authenticity: the show's producers or the cast?...

Siriano will be playing the role of the effete and sarcastic wunderkind. Webber stars as the overly confident fashion victim who thinks her experience as a model will serve as her secret weapon for winning the competition. Ricky Lizalde promises to be the contestant most prone to spontaneous weeping. And within the first 15 minutes, Elisa Jimenez, who makes giant marionettes, establishes herself as the avant-garde head case who describes her clothes as "mythical" and, for the first challenge, grinds grass stains into silk chiffon to "imbue it with a natural element."
Reality TV is a subtle mix of real and fiction. The players are themselves and they create themselves. That's part of what is so fascinating. Are we seeing what really happened or what was edited into existence? Endless layers of complexity to gaze into. Deep and frivolous.
Tim Gunn is back as the design-room mentor. And so are judges Michael Kors and Nina Garcia.
Plus Heidi. How perfect! But the first challenge is horrifically unfair, as Givhan describes in a spoiler I won't copy. That's just one more thing to talk about.

Life is unfair, fashion contests are unfair.

But it's the debate that I've got to make time for tonight. It's a long ordeal, and I'm going to preserve my stamina today so I can live-blog it — energetically, I hope. Last time, I fell asleep, and I missed the whole driver's license interchange. I didn't come away with an opinion about whether "the boys" — as Bill Clinton called them — ganged up on Hillary and whether Hillary showed her vulnerability. So it will be interesting — I've got to find it interesting — to see if Wolf is tame — did they get to him? — and whether Obama can take advantage of any cracks in Hillary's once-impervious facade.

Life is unfair, fashion contests are unfair, debates are unfair.

ADDED: I now realize I could have watched "Project Runway" last night. I adore the show, but not enough to keep track of when it's on.


KCFleming said...

The same challenge given on Project Runway should be raised in the Democratic debate: create a single sentence that best defines who they are as leaders in America.

But I wouldn't make them run for it across the White House lawn. That would be silly.

Hazy Dave said...

The way the convex surface of an "un-flat" TV screen reflects every light in the room can be a pain, all right. OTOH, any excuse to not watch TV is a good one, in my book.

rhhardin said...

There must be a way to use people's minds constructively, like keeping them busy factoring large numbers or something, rather than TV dreck.

With 300 million people doing long divisions at once, you'd be able to factor anything very quickly.

There could be prizes .

Women! Earn a quick $200,000 at home! You can buy that gown and matching handbag!

john marzan said...

nip/tuck season 5 is off to a good start.

Ruth Anne Adams said...

(How did the bulge of a picture tube become so distractingly unaesthetic that I'd prefer not to watch at all?)

Distractingly unaesthetic bulges?


Richard Dolan said...

I didn't see either the debate or the Runway show. But this comment by Ann was interesting: "Reality TV is a subtle mix of real and fiction. The players are themselves and they create themselves. That's part of what is so fascinating. Are we seeing what really happened or what was edited into existence?"

That observation applies to more than just "reality TV," but the notion that it's a "mix of real and fiction" isn't quite right. "Fiction" here means, basically, "self-consciously created," and is meant to stand in contrast to the "real" (not-self-consciously created) personality.

What's right about that idea of a "mix of real and fiction" is that acting always involves an element of pretending. What isn't quite right is that, as self conscious actors, all of us are constantly inventing ourselves, within the constraints that life hands us, and the result isn't necessarily "fiction." But one's self is never fixed or "real" in a way that allows anyone to draw a sharp line between the "real" and the "self consciously created" persona. "Edited into existence" isn't completely divorced from what "really happened." You see that play out not just on reality TV, but in every situation where people are interacting. I see it in every trial I'm involved with, and no doubt Ann sees it in every classroom. You see it here, too, what with all the performance art going on. It's the truth behind the insight that "all the world's a stage" and we but actors on it. That's not an indictment aimed preternaturally at the Mad Men (or bloggers), but just an observation about who we are.

Reality TV takes that phenomenon from the relative obscurity of a small event for a few people and blows it up into a mass event. But other than scale, it's the same phenomenon (at least when it's done right). As with anything, a "reality TV" show can cross over into the obviously fake. But, if so, it will be boring and then no one will watch, just as no one wants to sit through a badly acted play (good acting is never fake that way). Just as no one wants to vote for a robo-candidate.

Anonymous said...

In truth, Democrats foster running away from our real problems because they are all female...dead-end do-dos. Women could -and always do- change the world. But today, with feminism, women are holding the world back from all significant advance.
As an example of women's fecundicity in producing world-wide change -which could be for the better but which decidedly is not today- I re-post this brief post from yesterday:
Women love conversation...words even more than actual sex, many times. Men are the opposite...that orgasm is the key. Appropos of that, I re-post a previous post:

"breast-beating hysteria" ? I love all womens breasts -and,of course,vaginas, for that is where the real pleasure/elevation to "God" lies. But I am, unavoidably, first attracted to big natural breasts (and I can tell the difference with near unerring accuracy...especially when I see them swing -or not- when she bends over...). But all women's breasts always have something fascinating about them...even the little ones.
9:45 PM
tc said... I got so excited thinking about women's breasts, I forgot to post this:
jewsyonkersislam # 440 Address on Yonkers schools to Yonkers Board of Education and supporting newspaper documentation (see

knox said...

that PR was pretty boring. An extremmely easy challenge that produced nothing remarkable--good or bad.