attack_laurel (attack_laurel) wrote,

What Kind of Fame do You Want?

So I watched American Idol last night (in between watching Criminal Minds), and boo.  I was unimpressed.

But aside from that (and it's not like Adam doesn't have a career in Vegas waiting for him any time he wants it), the one thing I managed to catch most of was the infamous Tatiana dashing up on stage, grabbing the mic from Ryan and embarrassing herself again in front of millions, like a ten-year old that can't tell the difference between negative and positive attention.

I don't know.  I think we're harsher as a society on women who promote themselves and are pushy, but I can't get away from the trainwreck-ish aspects of this woman.  Of course, it was all gold for the producers (and I fully expect to catch clips of that on The Soup this weekend), so they let it continue (i.e., security didn't work particularly hard to stop her from jumping up on stage), but this isn't a good way to get people to admire her.  The show (and, by extension, all of us watching) only wanted to mock her - that was made pretty obvious by the clips they chose to show of her - and letting her make a spectacle of herself makes for good (if not exactly wholesome) television.

What I am saddened by is how little Tatiana herself seems to realize how she's being used for entertainment without benefitting from the exposure.  Singing career?  Not a serious one  - though she might manage that kind of twilight fame that William Hung achieved.  I'm not entirely sure she'd know (or appreciate) the difference.

I feel for her, and am disgusted by her at the same time, because I know what it's like to be her.  She's a needy hot mess.  Cute, but not cute enough for that world.  Not thin enough.  Not (God help us) stable enough.  Too diva without enough talent (she's talented, but again, not enough to make up for her deficits) to get away with it.

Heck, Beyonce is almost too diva for her talent, and it's a toss-up as to which is more ugly - her attitude (only sometimes - the rest of the time, I quite like her, and I like a number of her songs very much), or the smackdown the public gives her every time they think she's overstepped her limits.

(I'm going with the public.  That's some ugly, ugly reaction to a confident woman, there.  Diddy is 100 times more arrogant, but no-one seems to have a problem with his behaviour.  God forbid a woman be strong and confident.)

But I digress - Tatiana is neither confident nor self-aware enough to know how to play the card she's been dealt, and naked neediness is oddly repulsive to watch (even when played out for laughs).  And it makes me squirm, because I dislike her for things she can't help, and I dislike her for thinking she's being admired when she's only being ridiculed.  I dislike her for being too open, and too needy, and too blind.

And I've been all of those things, and this is why I hate what she stands for.  She reminds me of being so needy that I would do anything - anything! - to make people like me.  People think I'm reserved and cold, but that's because I've been burned too hard and too deep to trust anyone I don't know.  I've been publicly humiliated, and not realized it until later - though thankfully, my humiliation was not captured on digital media and preserved so that people can laugh at me for years to come.  I was unable to see I was colluding in my own abasement, and so deep in my own little world that what was happening around me might as well have been happening on Mars.

The truth about oneself hurts.  But learning it is terribly important if one is to grow and succeed.

And this blindness is not her fault, just like I wasn't to blame for mine, but it doesn't make her any more palatable.  It does make the public reaction to her more heartless, in that this isn't an overconfident brat who deserves a reality check, but a woman - girl, really - who wears all her nerves and feelings open and bloody on her skin, for all to see and abuse, and that kind of cruelty isn't healthy. 

In fact, it's rare to see someone that unconscious of themselves on television, as even the people chosen for "reality" shows are carefully vetted to be as vain and self-obsessed as possible.  Reality TV stars are always playing to the camera, always thinking of how they are going to look, and I think many of them live their lives as if they're on TV every moment.  Tatiana is the opposite - completely unaware of how she comes off - to the point that when the first part of the AI season aired, she was suddenly very subdued and embarrassed, as if realizing for the first time how her behaviour looked to other people.

So, though I dislike her, I feel very sorry for her, since people like that were never meant for fame, even if they think  they want it.  The other kids on the show - many of them were used to the stage, or were at least aware of how they were supposed to appear, even if they couldn't wholly manage it - very carefully played to the audience, putting forward certain parts of themselves, and keeping others under wraps.  Tatiana seemed incapable of such self-control - when she was up, she was floating off the walls, and when she was down, her wails could be heard three rooms away.  And the TV viewing public doesn't actually want that kind of reality - one of the guilty pleasures of reality TV is watching and hoping for people to fail, but to enjoy that, you need to be able to tell yourself that failure doesn't really hurt these people.  Sure, they're embarrassed, but they're vain and self-centered, and they'll just pick themselves up and go on, parlaying one season on I Love Money into a "career" of appearances and guest spots on basic cable shows.

Tatiana was too real for people to handle, so she was voted off.  And when she was brought back by the judges (with, I imagine, some hefty prodding from the producers, as she made for riveting TV with her antics), the viewers wasted absolutely no time in voting her off again.  They (we) don't want things to be that real - it's too ugly, too raw.

And I keep telling myself it's not her fault.  But I'm beginning to wonder.  Part of me keeps screaming "what the hell did she think was going to happen?!", and that's the problem - she didn't think.  Doesn't think.  She lives in a bubble, albeit one with such delicate walls that the slightest setback pops it, and we're treated to another round of wailing and a complete inability to be a gracious loser (a very undervalued part of societal mores).  It seems, though, that she can create a new bubble almost immediately, and that, in the end, is why I can't take her. 

...Or take her pain completely seriously, as guilty as that makes me feel.  The girl that dodged security and hopped up on stage, snatched her "award" and the mic from Ryan, then proceeded to sing even when Ryan was asking her to stop, is someone who hasn't learned a single thing from her time on television, or even a thing about appropriate behaviour.  When confronted with the truth of their mockery, she rejected it, and tried to steal the spotlight from people who had worked much harder than her to be on that stage.  If Alison had done the same thing, I'd have laughed, but honestly, all of the other kids would have had too much pride (and maybe, class) to do such a thing.  Tatiana, however, could be counted on to do something we could all laugh at and tut disapprovingly over (because, admit it, people love it when women make fools of themselves on TV - it's the not-so-subtle streak of misogyny that runs through most of reality TV, from Wife Swap to Rock of Love Bus).  Tatiana wasn't even in the final ten; she had no place on that stage, but she didn't care.  It's not that I think of these things as unacceptable behaviour because of her gender - if one of the guys had done the same thing, I'd be just as appalled - but that this kind of thing is the equivalent of jumping up and blowing out the candles on someone else's birthday cake.  It's childish, self-centered, and rude to try and horn in on someone else's big moment.

...Even if it was staged.  She should have refused - and I don't think the singing was staged, or at the very least, Ryan was not in on the plan.

And maybe that means that there is a career for her on reality TV after all.  I Love A Hot Mess, maybe.

Damn it.

EDIT:  Re-reading this, I am victim-blaming too much, I think.  Tatiana is someone who is naive and socially awkward, yes, but it's not her fault at all that our society gets sick kicks from watching people strip themselves emotionally bare on stage, and then gets to feel all superior because they've put her down.  She is perhaps the purest distillation of the idea that fame is all that matters that I have ever seen, but this doesn't make her a bad person.  A lot of my discomfort with my reaction to her is based on how much I resemble her, and the guilt I feel at my disgust over her antics.

Who has bought more into the idea of how women should behave?  She's being true to herself, and I am judging her for it.  I don't like what this makes me, and have struggled with it since I first saw her on this show.  I still don't like how she's behaved, but I dislike the manipulation, mockery, and snide talk from a show that has shamelessly used her for ratings and publicity much, much more.  My hands are not clean, and I am not morally superior.
Tags: being a grownup, blah blah blah, deep thoughts, drama, navel gazing, rant, silly, tv

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