Time!: The Triumph of the Intellectually Bankrupt
By Geoff Slates
Television talk shows about out of control teens have long relied
on the "scared straight" experience. A 13-year-old terror
always ends up being yelled at by a former bodybuilder, ex-professional
wrestler or drill sergeant and, after a commercial break, is magically
moved to tears, loves her mother, God and America. No more sex, drugs
or videotaping her single parent's illegal/illicit activities and uploading
them to YouTube; nope, it's all smooth sailing thanks to someone’s
Slammer Time! is the latest idea, mercifully still as yet
unsold, that attempts to put that tough love into action, although it
too feels scripted, unbelievable and unlikely. Billed as a "reality
show," it stars Kim Kardashian who, according to paparazzi reports,
is not a real person. In Slammer Time!, Kardashian has been
assigned as a prison guard at a juvenile detention facility--you know,
one of those celebrity guards that only works a couple of hours between
taping their other reality shows and leaking sex tapes. It is Kardashian
that is expected to offer either homespun wisdom or brutal, butt-kicking
discipline. She does neither, instead offering tips for more effective
partying. This is rehabilitation? I assume that this casting choice
had more to do with someone watching too many women's prison movies
in the '70s and nothing to do with Kardashian's emotional presence.
And it is that sexploitation tradition that we definitely have a reason
to repeat. With an economy in shambles, gas shortages in the southern
U.S., ineffective leadership: what is really so different? Is not some
of this backlash against the real strong women shown on the
news? Does this have more to do with Hillary Clinton and Cindy McCain?
The parallels between McCain and Kardashian are striking: both are heiresses
who surround themselves in luxury while Rome burns. The modern Nero
wouldn't fiddle, he'd buy a plane, some Louis Vuitton luggage and throw
the most kickass party in every time zone.
But yet the smart chicks are the bitches, the ones viewed suspect,
the boring and unsexy. They're the ones mocked for wearing pantsuits
that cost less than the average American house. Sarah Palin gets adored
when she doodles her name, but Katie Couric is a meanie for "harping"
on her to figure out what newspapers the woman reads. In Slammer
Time!, when a "smartass" drug dealer asks Kardashian
what she's looking at, she answers, "The only magazines
I ever read--the ones with me on the cover." What’s pathetic
is that’s a clearer and better answer than Palin gave Couric.
Kardashian is not the bitch she’s supposed to be, and that’s
part of the problem here. Instead she’s dumb, but sexy in that
FHM and Maxim way.
Slammer Time! makes everyone feel a little alienated from
American culture, which, if that's what American culture is, isn't necessarily
a bad thing. The out of control teens often bond with Kardashian, whose
catchphrase is “Is that all you did? That’s nothing!”
She typically offers to get them better lawyers and then take them to
some really wild parties. Slammer Time! does more
than any other reality show to demonstrate the difference between the
haves and have nots and for that alone it must be commended. It need
not be actually watched by the have nots (you may choose whether you
use McCain's or Obama's definition of rich here). We have nots (myself
included, by either measure) know all this already.
The dumb women have got us all, hormonal teens and all, captive this
year. John McCain more than anyone else probably is recognizing this--perhaps