Sunday, April 9, 2017

"Amazing" Reality TV Superstars

The Real Housewives of Toronto Episode Five

The portrayal of women on The Real Housewives of Toronto as self-absorbed ditzes whose main concerns in life are shopping, parties and abusing the word "amazing" until it no longer means "amazing" is pure mental agony. 

In episode five, I lost count of how many times Joan in particular, but all the wives do it, used the word "amazing" to describe everything from Grego trying on lingerie, to a grown ass woman's birthday party, to the commercialized New Age cult-of-self banality these people are peddling.

Joan has an "amazing" way with words. This is her verbatim describing three separate situations: "Wow, it looks amazing on you". "Wow, this is amazing". "Wow, this place is amazing".

The only wife I can tolerate at this point is the born again Christian, Kara, which may seem surprising considering my initial opinion of her. However, I've always been skeptical of first impressions, particularly when those impressions are based on dialogue taken out of context, contrived scenarios and a manipulative editing technique known in the business as "frankenbiting". 

Frakenbite: A method used by reality TV editors to manipulate viewer perception and manufacture story lines by extracting the salient elements of a lengthy, nuanced interview or exchange into a seemingly blunt, revealing confession or argument. Source.

Nevertheless, despite the trickery of The Real Housewives of Toronto, with an eye for detail, a sense of the absurd, a basic awareness of idiosyncratic behavior, cultural norms and stereotypes, as well as an interest in human nature, one can still entertain herself watching a program like this and in the process extrapolate some possibly useful, even truthful information. Why would a person be compelled to do that in the first place, you may ask? One name: Donald Trump.

It would seem reality TV and the celebrities it creates have a horrifying influence on society. Scoffing at or dismissing this influence as beneath you, as John Doyle does in the Globe and Mail, doesn't make the influence go away, any more than ignoring blood in a man's semen makes his prostate carcinoma go away. 

In the meantime, as the malignant symptoms of cultural and global destruction are trivialized, little Donald Trumps, such as Canada's own Kevin O'Leary (see here), are popping up everywhere, taking advantage of an eroding civilization. They are busy spreading lies and expressing idiotic opinions that serve their personal and corporate agendas.  These are men in power positions with conflicts of interest and celebrity status, who possess not just financial clout but enormous social influence. This is a power they then wield not to make the world a better, more humane place, but to enrich themselves, model despicable behavior and express cruel ideologies that spread throughout the population like a contagion. And this nonsense is emboldening not only the lowest common denominator of populist sentiment, it's also emboldening OTHER reality TV personalities to jump on the bandwagon and express their self-serving, questionable beliefs as well. 

Do we really need, for example, another asshole with reality TV cred, who got rich off dirty oil, toxic tailings ponds, poisoned drinking water and CO2 emissions to give a lecture on critical thinking (source) and how we should all be mistrustful of science? But only as it relates to global warming, climate change and the same greenhouse gases that made him stupidly greedy? 

Make no mistake, these "brilliant" investors who make their gazillions leeching off the natural resources they had nothing to do with creating, as well as other people's sweat, tears and ideas, like parasites who cannot conjure up a single unique thought on their own, are complicit in the environmental decimation caused by Alberta's tar sands. On behalf of humanity's future descendants (if anyone's left after the crazies who have made the world an asylum are done): FUCK YOU.

O'Leary's co-conspirator and former Dragon Dens' reprobate, Brett Wilson, doesn't mind science if it's used to develop techniques to extract bitumen from his sacred tar sands, get an engineering degree, build a commercial spacecraft so he can vacation in orbit and hopefully never return, or find a cure for his own cancer, but climate science? THAT is where this paragon of critical thought draws the line. Here's another sleazy venture capitalist who gets his "facts" off Fox News, has great admiration for other skeezy old men like Richard Branson, Gene Simmons and it's fair to assume Harvey Weinstein.  Wilson, a man who makes his employees read his books for him and brags about it, yet claims he wrote a book all by himself. Sorry, but philistines who don't read and brag about it cannot write books.

Maybe I'm extraneously going off on a Brett Wilson tangent here, but these reality TV types are all connected and all take advantage of the platform reality TV provides them in order to promote both themselves and their "friends". My tangent therefore isn't completely irrelevant to the topic at hand. Besides, I'm sure in my past cyber-travels I've seen a picture of him with Jana Webb on what presumably was a date at some sporting event. Suspiciously, though, I can no longer find said picture and admittedly sometimes when I'm "sure" about something I've either been duped or I've been terribly, horribly wrong. So I guess I'll just have to live with this suspicion, too. Add it to the list.

But even if I'm totally off-base and this clown, who has dabbled in reality TV on more than one occasion and has a penchant for bimbos with dumb ideas, has nothing to do with Jana Webb (which he does – in addition to the now scrubbed picture, "coincidentally" both have fitness-related interests in Kelowna), I find Brett Wilson's pomposity as irritating as I do Roxy Earle's very existence, and he deserves some shade, too. I've disliked him with an irrational intensity (although nothing like Gracie here) ever since he was brought into my purview on The Real Housewives of Vancouver. 

There, he made a cameo appearance hawking his poorly written, incredibly dull, uninformative, self-aggrandizing, name-dropping piece of crap book while on a "blind" date with Mary Zilba. It was one of the most embarrassingly obvious exploitative setups I've ever seen on a reality show. However, Wilson's failed attempt at branching out on his own in "Risky Business" is a close second. These Donald Trump types are so accustomed to their largely unchallenged male privilege, they simply cannot get embarrassed, no matter how embarrassing they are.

This is what a dopey capitalist spewing a steady stream of unregulated, redundant bullshit looks like.
Close your mouth, shut up and listen to something other than your own voice, relic.

The poor thing of eccentric dress and zero self-awareness tries so hard, but doesn't quite hit the mark. He simply does not have the mental capacity. Whenever he's interviewed, does a talk or writes something, he uses the same three tired anecdotes, references the same book, the same movie, the same deranged actress, the same dickhead, Richard Branson or the same weird fascination he has with Justin Bieber to illustrate his points. For someone who boasts about all the things he's accomplished, the places he's been and the contacts he has, you'd think he'd be able to dredge up a few new anecdotes from the ancient ruins of his Babylonian mind. 

I mean think of poor Gracie. It must get tedious for her, the "Goddess", who like Joan has an aversion to clothing, to have to hear the same thing over and over again as she follows Brett Wilson around the internet like a topi antelope in heat. Somewhere in the chaos of her jumbled thoughts she probably marvels at what dark force must have put a hex on her that she would be so obsessed with such an idiot. 

Digression complete. Oh wait, one more thing:

*UPDATE: May 10, 2017: As suspected, Brett Wilson is INDEED involved in this stupid show. Here is a screen shot of the sleazebag from the season finale, episode ten. 

Brett Wilson and his morbidly obese ego just CANNOT stay away from the lure of reality TV, even though he is terrible at it, an utter "failure". The Real Housewives of Toronto, yet another "mistake". He's "redefined" success into...failure. Stop trying to "redefine" reality, doofus, and stick with Uber and weed like the rest of the rape apologists and dopeheads. I'd love to know how (as if I don't know) he weaseled that picture of him and Jana off the internet. It's ridiculous how this self-appointed "mentor" and his proteges get away with their "branding" schemes and no one says boo. I'd like to "brand" at least one of them with a hot iron. It's feeble, fine, but impoverished words are all I have, so fuck them.

He is at Joan and Don Walkers' condo-warming party. Don and his "wandering eye", also one of my early suspicions, is busy eyeing up some woman straddling his motorcycle with her fake tits hanging out, but more on that in my finale blog. For now, feast your eyes on two "privileged" douchebags.

This screen shot doesn't quite do justice to the fleeting, intimate "gaze" that passed between Don and this woman (Wonder who it is. At first I thought it was Laura Coones with enormous cheek fillers and hollowed out eyes like something from a horror movie but I guess not). "Intuition" tells me there are some garter belts that don't belong to Joan in Don's closet. He fits the profile of a philander. The only one I'd possibly believe is faithful is Graham. The rest have the stench of "Ashley Madison" all over them. 

Updated digression complete.

As for the characters on The Real Housewives of Toronto, they are no less shameless in their self-promotion and twisting of reality than Wilson or any of the other players on The Real Housewives of Vancouver were. Granted, some of the promotion is for charity and that's fair enough, but the rest of what these people do is worthy of little more than exposure and ridicule.

The ridicule in episode five of The Real Housewives of Toronto begins not with Kara, which clearly is what the "unscript editors" were going for, but with Grego and Joan modelling some skin as they lingerie-shop for Grego's 10-year wedding anniversary. Joan gushes how "amazing" Grego looks, using the word "amazing" more than once, and thinks Pierre's eyes will fall out of his head when he sees her. Now, that would be something "amazing" to witness. My interest is unexpectedly piqued. Maybe it's foreshadowing?

Goofy Pierre squinting in an attempt to keep his eyeballs from falling out of their sockets.

But no. Pierre's eyes do not fall out of his head and instead we're treated to this cringy platitude regarding his over-botoxed wife: "I would describe Grego as a flower that keeps blossoming". 
Aw, what a precious flower Grego is. Just watch her eyebrows rise to her hairline and blossom into an extra head. What the hell do they put in those injections, anyway? These women look like they're transitioning into some kind of mutant hybrid after a science experiment has gone dreadfully awry.

The question is did he come up with that line all by himself or was he repeating what he was told to say? I'm going to guess that a man who marries a cocktail waitress he picked up from the nightclub he manages isn't exactly a deep thinker. I'm sure he's happy to deliver his romantic cliches and lame gestures no matter how they come to him, so long as his easily-impressed trophy-wife is conveniently placated. I wonder if Grego is as ditzy in real life as she's being portrayed on this show...hmmm.

Joan comes across as no less ditzy. I'm curious who her ventriloquist is because he needs some fresh material. Stop telling us what a strain it is to host a party, "relax", be "silly", get wasted, take off your clothes and respond to every situation with the adjective "amazing".

Long-necked trophy-giraffe, Joan, is permanently amazed, although it's hard to tell with her facial muscles so numbed out. God-forbid she lets a wrinkle express itself.

Joan is such a line-fed dummy you can practically see her lips moving as if she's reading from a prompter and taking direction from someone off-camera. She appears hyper-conscious of being filmed too, which makes her seem stiff and robotic. She moves her head like she's a car show model with rudimentary artificial intelligence.

I do not care for trophy-giraffe Joan.

Roxy and her husband, Spaghetti Sauce, I also do not care for and I don't think her inane birthday party was "amazing" at all. 

A face you can put on a jar.

The only thing "amazing" is the way the "fabulously" wealthy blow money when there is so much need and suffering taking place in their own backyard. Apparently it isn't so sexy and hip for privileged Canadians to help those in desperate need if that need happens to be languishing in cold, remote northern locations where camera crews are loathe to go.

Look at Spaghetti Sauce's face. Even he can't stand Roxy. Did she blackmail him into marrying her or something? Raghu:"It's very difficult to keep things from Roxy. She'll ask a million questions. She's very perceptive, so it's difficult to keep things from her."

Africa isn't the only place with abject poverty and unsafe drinking water, Joan. There is plenty of misery going on right under your perfectly symmetrical nose here in Canada, the same place responsible for all that wealth that enables you and your friends to throw lavish parties on a whim and shop for frivolous fiberglass dogs at $1000 a pop for some spoiled Delta Burke clone you hardly know.

Roxy pretending to be surprised about this ridiculous birthday party: 
"WOW! You girls! This is SO amazing! I'm so special!" OH MY GOD. Stab me with a fork, kill me with a spoon.

Not that Ann is too bothered by the struggles of her fellow citizens, either. She's more concerned about getting a cheap deal on an artisan's hard work, thereby depriving a struggling artist trying to eke out a living at a measly 10% selling his wares on consignment at buddy Christopher's boutique. This woman is cheap in more ways than one.

When detective Frankenstein-Ann questions Kara about her injured ribs, in an attempt to convey how painful it is, Kara asks, "Have you ever been punched in the boob? That's the only thing I can equate it to". Ann is utterly confused by this question and says no. But is it any wonder? I mean, at this point does she even have any sensation at all in those things?

I suppose every penny counts when you rely on cosmetic procedures to get you through to the next extravaganza of greed, excess and vanity. Narcissism is expensive.

The only one I can tolerate, as I've said, is Kara, not because I necessarily believe this broken rib business is legitimate, but because she's the only one so far with some halfway decent quips. They've gone totally overboard with the whole "vindictive bitch/out for revenge" angle too. 

Ann thinks she's being clever, sticking it to Kara with a custom-made sling to aid with the rib injury she thinks Kara is lying about. But Kara takes the dig in stride and with good humour. 
Kara laughs, "What's the cup for, Ann?" Ann is all saccharine and serpentine, replying, "People feel sorry for people when they're injured." Then to emphasize her point, Ann puts a coin in the cup to get Kara started. Kara laughs again, but she's on to Ann and as they part and Ann says, "So, we'll see you on Saturday," without skipping a beat Kara quips, "You'll see me outside the restaurant". Haha! Good one, Kara!

I don't know about anyone else, but I for one don't appreciate being played for a fool. The deceptive editing is so blatant, it's not even deceptive. If Lark Productions and their misogynistic executives want to passively-aggressively insult the viewer's intelligence and get away with it, they're going to have to be a smidge more subtle than this, or at minimum be dramatic and entertaining enough that we don't mind the farce. Some of us will humor you only so much, just so the grand "monster maker" of Lark Productions, Grant Greschuk, is made aware for the next time. You're welcome. I'm here to teach.

That said, I think I've done enough "teaching" with this particular episode. It's too bad, though, because it would have been fun to get into some of the other absurdities of episode five, such as this "sound therapy" nonsense, or the inanity of "super-sleuths" Ann Kaplan and Jana Webb. They and their dummy-crew of "Sherlock Holmes" filler-injected founder hounders deserve a little mockery too, with their pathetic attempts to uncover the great "rib conspiracy" masterminded by the ever cunning Kara Alloway. 

Stay sly, Kara.

Real Housewives of Toronto, Episode 1: Plastic, Pretty, Petty
Real Housewives of Toronto, Episode 2: Boring Housewives and Ugly Husbands
Real Housewives of Toronto, Episode 3: All Scrubbed Clean and Lacquered Pretty
Real Housewives of Toronto, Episode 4: The Slut Shame
Real Housewives of Toronto, Episode 5: Amazing Reality TV Stars
Real Housewives of Toronto, Episode 6: Infomercials and Friends in High Places
Real Housewives of Toronto, Episode 7: Social Suicide: Game of Thrones to the Rescue
Real Housewives of Toronto, Episode 8: Curious incuriosity
Real Housewives of Toronto, Episode 9: The Real Denials of Toronto Housewives
Real Housewives of Toronto, Episode 10, Season Finale: Final Absurdities

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