Friday, March 24, 2017

Scrubbed and Varnished: The Real Housewives of Toronto

The Real Housewives of Toronto is so scrubbed and polished of the messy realities, genuine reactions and complexities that make human beings intriguing subject matter that one has to grasp at straws just to maintain interest.

A squawking girl squad of migraine-inducing proportions.
In episode three, the fakery opens with Roxy and a bleating trio of food-fearful girlfriends all gussied up for their big television debuts. Now we are treated to not one, but four adult women speaking in that intolerable Kardashian way – it's all "like" this and "super" that and "oh my gosh!". I can't stand it. This style of speech should be banned past the age of 14. Listening to them talk is like having a fork rammed into my eyeball.

But I'm a masochist so I shall persist.

If you want boobs, you've come to the right place.
Other than sounding identical and strategically showing ample boob, Roxy looks out of place with her anorexic girl squad. 

This is a calculated move on the part of the script editors and producers.

A few years back, Lark went gung-ho with the bully angle on the Real Housewives of Vancouver and got a backlash for it, which isn't necessarily a bad thing for a sensationalized reality TV show (the "there's no such thing as bad publicity" adage). 

However, the show was canceled and it turns out bad publicity can in fact ruin a career, destroy a life, or bring down an empire, so perhaps this time around with the "body shaming" angle Lark is attempting a less obvious approach.

You can take that fork and stick it right in my tasty eyeball, Roxy. You'd like that wouldn't you? So mean.

That said, I don't know how successful they actually are at not being obvious. The scene begins with Roxy gushing how excited she is that she's about to eat. This admission is put in the context of having lunch with her comparatively stick-thin friends, who clearly DO NOT like to eat. Subtle. 

I could go off on a tangent here regarding the ignorance of viewing obesity as a character flaw as well as an excuse to be cruel. But I'll let that sleeping dog lie, and instead leave you with the experience-based insights of one Dr. Peter Attia: Stop moralizing and Question the Science of Weight.

Putting that touchy topic aside, we move onto Grego, who is shown staged with her children, packing for the big dramatic highlight of the episode: A weekend partying like college students on spring break in Muskoka. 

With stimulating dialogue like this, who could ever rip themselves away? Grego:
"I used to be an over-packer, but now I'm more careful with packing". Fascinating.

Watching these women use their professionally made up children like props is reminiscent of beauty pageant mothers. I guess when you're an opportunist everything and everyone is a potential publicity stunt and money-making opportunity, even exposing your own children to the possibility of public scorn, or, I don't know, taking advantage of the near choking-death of your 10-year-old daughter with special needs. 

Granted, thus far no one is exploiting a child's medical difficulties in this series. But these children are being exploited every time they appear on screen, no matter how adorable the kids are, or in the case of Ann's daughter, Molly, how funny. (Despite the implied criticism, Molly, with the kind of laconic replies and teenage sarcasm I enjoy, has gotten a few "laugh out loud" chuckles from me).

Moving on now, we come to more barely concealed Frankenstein boobage in the form of a preening, narcissistic Joan. She thrusts, prances and jumps about, showing off not just skin, but her Muskoka property, and welcoming her literally ridiculously well-heeled, suggestively-clad guests. 

Just a hint of what an "outstanding CEO of the year" named Donald can
buy with his millions and billions and gazillions.

When does the orgy begin? I can't wait to see Graham without a shirt. I wonder if another virtual Adonis who amuses me (one of several on my watch list of male buffoonery and intellectual curiosity) and happens to also own a "cottage" on a lake in Muskoka, Kevin O'Leary, will make an appearance...hmm.

Curiosity is the lust of the mind ~ Hobbes
But first things first: Maca mixed with strawberry-rhubarb...or as Kara so eloquently puts it: "boner smoothie". She hands this trendy twist on Spanish Fly and oysters, heavily marketed to make you believe it's an aphrodisiac that does wonders for the libido, to Jana. 

Jana, with her "roster" of Mister Right Nows, immediately knows what Maca is, and the miracles it's purported to perform, and confides she "takes it every morning". The double dose might have been too much for her, though, because later in the episode she's lost any hint of inhibition and can't stop herself from spontaneously hiking up her dress and showing off her unmentionables to a surprised group of onlookers. 

Of course it could be all the booze. She does love to drink and admits she doesn't trust people who don't drink, which is weird. In my experience, while alcoholics are some of my favorite kinds of entertainment, you certainly cannot fucking trust them.

The Real Alcoholics of Toronto
With regards to Jana's lack of inhibition, Maca, oysters and Spanish Fly have nothing on good old fashioned alcohol for obliterating self-restraint and enhancing libido...that, or MDMA (Ecstasy). But the scene ends before we actually see the drugs or the orgy (which is only "insinuated", but the powerful, rich and beautiful are notorious swingers so it's a fair deduction).

In any event, whatever goes on after hours, by the end of episode three, Jana has gone ahead and taken it all off, along with Joan and Grego, and the three of them, all sloppy drunk, have jumped into the lake naked. However, this is a "classy" depiction of Canadian opulence and the viewer is spared the drowning sex show (excessive ethanol retards breathing). We are also spared the sight of Graham without a shirt and sadly Mr. Wonderful is nowhere to be seen. Oh well. It was a long shot anyway.

As for the fully-clothed Graham, when he and Kara catch wind of Joan's plans for a skinny dip and who knows what else later on, the couple graciously excuse themselves from the party and go home early.

Unlike Roxy, who sneers that their departure is because they're "no fun", I commend Graham and Kara for behaving in a manner befitting of their age and what should be their maturity level. It's fine to be young at heart, playful and curious until the day you die, but there is also nothing wrong with acting in accordance with the natural order of things. There is nothing wrong with growing old gracefully and retiring from the silliness and impetuousness of youth, while savoring its memory and moving forward to develop mind, character and soul.

There is nothing wrong with embracing the pleasures and facing the challenges unique to each new season of one's life. There is nothing wrong with surrendering to the inevitable flow and progression of time and accepting mortality before passing on, being put to rest or called home (depending on your belief system). Basically there is nothing wrong with humility. Our wisest philosophers and saints would even say it's an essential trait of the divine. 

You can lose sight of this basic truth if you spend too much time focusing on the outward appearances, successes, indulgences, excesses and sins of the material world. Displays of humility, however, are the last thing you can expect to see on a television program like The Real Housewives of Toronto. 

Joan certainly doesn't exhibit any humility, other than feigned humility, as she drones on about private islands, compounds and "the help". It's important to hire well so the stress is taken off her, Joan informs us, "because at the end of the day, it's kinda all about me". She's "joking" of course, but it's a disingenuous "joke" in the same vein as her humble-bragging.

"We bought an island just because it was available," says the "great" humanitarian Joan Kelley-Walker.
"God has given you one face and you make yourself another,"
replies the Great William Shakespeare.
You also are not going to see much in the way of aging gracefully on a series like this. Ann has achieved great heights in her life, but there's an artificial veneer to her that no mortal human being can keep up forever. 

Plastic Surgery Queen, Ann Kaplan Mulholland, on the importance of being properly prepared in life:"In Muskoka, you have to be ready for anything...private dinners, cocktail never know who's going to see you on a jet ski!" 

Either your body will crumple or your mind under the weight of such phoniness. And sure enough, after all her fillers, Botox, silicone, gel, dyes, potions, lotions and magical spells have had too much time simmering under the hot sun, Ann feels faint and has to lie down. Plastic faints melts in direct heat.

Not only is it impossible to avoid the ravages of time no matter how skilled your cosmetic surgeon, it is also impossible to get away indefinitely with putting on airs, exaggerating your achievements, embellishing your strengths and pretending you are something you are not. Other people see through that bullshit. Kara elevating her role as volunteer worker in Ecuador to white saviour and triage nurse is a prime example of this. 

"It's so funny! The people in South America are sooo respectful," Kara giggles (wealth inequality is so cute!). Later when asked what kind of training she had to undergo to become a triage nurse in Ecuador, Kara in hypomanic mode, turbo-babbles: "Well, it was the BEST training, my husband took me to the store and 'said dress for the job you want!" So she picks out scrubs, a stethoscope and "a blood pressure" and that was her training. "I might not have medical training," she giggles, "but I had the right outfit!". 

Even Joan sees through Kara's nonsense...although, easy there, Joan, you aren't fooling anyone with your pretensions, either. I realize this probably has more to do with my own hangups, but as far as I'm concerned, Joan looks like an idiotic middle aged woman desperately trying to be the young woman she is not, as she stiffly bounces up and down crammed in on the dance floor. At least we didn't have to be subjected to Donald doing this. 

Jana and Grego, although they are also hard for me personally to watch without cringing, still look like they can pull off the frat party vibe without coming across as totally desperate. However, the timer is ticking for these ladies as well. Tick tock. The grim reaper waits for no one and Mother Nature is not mocked.

Real Housewives of Toronto, Episode 1: Dumb, Plastic and Sleazy
Real Housewives of Toronto, Episode 2: Boring Housewives and Ugly Husbands
Real Housewives of Toronto, Episode 3: The Polished Real Housewives of Toronto
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

Saturday, March 18, 2017

The Boring Housewives of Toronto and Ugly Men

Updated April 27, 2017

The Real Housewives of Toronto, although it's only been two episodes, is proving rather dull. The women are not as glamorous as those from the long canceled Real Housewives of Vancouver, there isn't much in the way of titillating human drama, and the personal exposure/branding agenda is blatant. They don't even attempt to hide it.

Both Ann and Jana (especially Jana) openly admit contracting with the Real Housewives franchise is a business opportunity they intend to exploit. As such, we are unlikely to witness much genuine honesty or "real life" theatre in this series. 

Just in case this quote is misconstrued too, and because the kind of people who are triggered to outrage when their reality TV "idols" are anything but praised also don't seem to read much, Chuck Palahniuk is the author of of a short book, Fight Club. I highly recommend it. However, if you can't manage the attention span even for that, it was also made into a movie worth watching. Anything with Brad Pitt is worth watching.
As business people, these women and their grubby-handed husbands lurking in the periphery, will be guarded and selective about sharing the true extent of their lies lives, whitewashing the ugly parts and magnifying the flattering bits.

Nonetheless, despite the dullness and obvious bullshit of the Real Housewives of Toronto, because of my disdain for the rich and privileged and how they take advantage of public trust and celebrity culture for private gain and profit, I shall persist with my critiques.

In episode two, that critique begins with a curious eye trained on Jana. Why all the secrecy regarding her ex-husband? They evidently have no problem exposing their 9-year-old son, Will, to the scrutiny of strangers, but the cheating father is off limits?

Mind you, the cheating part is more heavily implied than said straight out, and occurs during the final few minutes of the episode. It's an unexpected moment of raw emotion after 40 minutes of contrived "reality", prompted by Ann after she confides she was screwed around on by her last scuzzy husband. They're all dirty dogs, ladies. The sooner you realize this, the better off you'll be.

Stripper Roses. If your man gives you one of these, BE SUSPICIOUS. Good god, women! Stop being so gullible! TRUST NO ONE. Also, if you have trouble recognizing your enemy (because you're a nice girl and didn't even realize you had one until it revealed itself to you), check out Richard Cooper, Torontonian Entrepreneur. He is your training dummy. If you keep getting used, abused and harassed by men and you want to understand why, study this Neanderthal and the hate propaganda he and YouTube "heroes" just like him spread to the awestruck hyenas that follow their every word. The takeaway? Men hate women (perhaps not every single man, but there's enough of them that they are a contagious threat to everyone). Pay particular attention to the hate speech found in the pit of misogyny that is Richard Cooper's Entrepreneurs in Cars YouTube commentary section. Just to give you a taste, one fine young cannibal advises (with 88 likes so he's by no means an anomaly) how to differentiate between a "good" woman and a "bad one: "If she can power through a chloroform towel then she's a keeper". This is met with much "laughter" and "good cheer".  BE OFFENDED. Sometimes you let something slide, other times you do not. Be wise. Learn the art of discernment!

It would seem Ann's former "knight in shining armor" had a repertoire of romantic gestures that included bringing home different colored roses suspiciously characteristic of those found in the strip joints it turned out he frequented. Eventually Ann saw through his deceptions and left the marriage. 

Today, many years later and happily remarried to little Stephen, a doctor who specializes in "face hickeys", Ann can look back at her failed nuptials with pragmatism and a sense of humor. This, however, is not yet the case with Jana, who is brought to tears after confessing a similar scenario befell her doomed marriage. But that's as far as she's willing to confess. 

When asked how long she was married, the evasive Jana would only at first joke "just long enough"; although, when pressed, she adds, "I guess legally I was married for 10 years". She "guesses"? Who is this asshole who broke her heart?

Emotionally distraught Jana Webb, Joga founder, and the mystery X-husband who broke her heart...after possibly bankrolling her venture. Intrigue, athletics, yoga, zen, superficiality and greed all rolled into one lucrative enterprise. 

I can't even find his name, never mind a single line of text about him or a blurred out, pixelated image of him. Apparently if you have the right connections and enough money, you can scrub the internet of any non-advantageous dirt related to you. Or at least bury it so deeply that only state-funded, tech-savvy Russians motivated more by trollish boredom than pure greed can unearth it. 

But whatever is going on here with the ex-husband, it's pretty fishy. He must be a real piece of work to leave Jana so emotionally distraught. For one thing, it's hard to find something to dislike about Jana from what I can make of her so far, both on the show and from what I can find of her via social media and basic google searching. 

She comes across as funny and upbeat, as well as down-to-earth, yet driven. She did a Tedx Talk in which she is articulate and sounds intelligent enough, bordering at times on philosophical, and of course she's a pretty girl (if you're happy calling a woman in her 40s a "girl"). Not that anyone who fits her description necessarily impresses someone like me, but the fact that she does not appear to have caved to the pull of the nefarious breast implant speaks volumes. She gets my reluctant, albeit capricious, respect for that detail alone.

UPDATE, APRIL 15, 2017: I actually could find his name: Dave Webb. It turns out it wasn't a big mystery after all (my original intent was caricature and hyperbole anyway, though, so literal accuracy was never and still isn't my intention). It would seem this Dave Webb is a teacher, so not someone "rolling in dough" exactly, although he appears to have a replacement trophy-looking wife, so he must have something going for him. Women who design themselves to look like a bleached blonde Haley don't normally go after financially insecure teachers, unless of course she's EXTRA stupid. That's always a possibility; however, although stereotypes are useful, not everyone fits neatly into them, so who knows. Besides, it's an irrelevant point to the matter at hand. The true question now is, if it wasn't her destitute ex-husband, who is the sugar daddy type that financed Jana's Joga venture? Hmm...the hunt is on...back to the drawing board, Watson!

Dave Webb, the douchebag who broke Jana Webb's heart and pushed her into a wanton life of multiple "Mister Right Nows". Be safe, Jana. The rate of STD has risen DRAMATICALLY over recent years. 

Trophy wives holding trophies, laughing at their "good fortune".  Not everyone agrees this trade-off, where human dignity and autonomy is swapped for degradation and security, is something to celebrate:
"Taught from infancy that beauty is woman's sceptre, the mind shapes itself to the body, and roaming round its gilt cage, only seeks to adorn its prison"
~ Mary Wollstonecraft

Moving along to Roxy, who in no way gets my respect because I cannot stand the sound of her Kardashian voice. It's an act of self-flagellation just listening to her. To make matters worse, in addition to the "allure" of her nauseating vocal fry, she comes across as petty, jealous, vain, obnoxious, bossy and lazy, apparently thinking an elitist smoothie she splurges a small fortune on is a magical panacea that will give her eternal youth and beauty, as well as other mysterious "super powers". 

The only physical effort Roxy has to put into this veritable elixir of immortality is that which involves puckering up her lips and sucking through a straw. She cannot be bothered to know what is in the smoothie exactly, only that her over-priced nutritionist told her to drink it every morning, so she reasons it must be "really good" for her. 

Roxy, happy as a Lark (Productions), comes charging into the scene like an elephant on a wrecking ball,
thrilled for the opportunity to let the rest of us know how "fabulous" she thinks she is.
She babbles this nonsense to an assistant named Elise, who seems to be at a bit of a loss as to how to deal with Roxy. Roxy is like a gleefully deluded and spoiled elephant, who has taken a shining to a frightened mouse and believes they are close friends. 

Scrawny as a mouse, Elise, puts on a brave face
and pretends to listen to Roxy's egomanical babble.
The frightened mouse is Elise, who puts on a brave face and plays along with the elephant's "friendship" because, well, she's being paid to and there's a chance she'll get on TV. 

Speaking of big game, if Roxy's totem animal is an elephant – choice prey of the well-to-do trophy hunter – then gangly, nightgown-wearing Joan, with her freakishly long neck, "white savior complex" and philanthropic interest in Africa must be another gamy trophy, prized by the predatory rich: The giraffe.

Granted, being called a "trophy giraffe" may be a lame insult, but it has been harder than I assumed it would be to totally despise Joan. It's easy enough to dismiss her as just another conceited, vapid socialite consumed with status and material trinkets if judged strictly through the lens of reality TV. 

Joan Kelley Walker, former model, current trophy giraffe, hanging out with her buddies, looking down at the humans native to the African landscape. She wonders if "they" know about bubble baths. Potable water used for drinking is so passĂ©. 

However, after reading a few of her Huffington Post articles, realizing she comes from a small prairie town in Saskatchewan, home to the Scandinavian settlers of my own ancestry, and noting her involvement with World Vision, it's not so easy to completely write her off. 

That said, she is still someone who won the genetic lottery on the attractiveness scale which unfortunately (for the equality movement anyway) continues to be a meal ticket for women; particularly ones with dizzy, outgoing personalities and a willingness to conform to the lusty desires of the male gaze, even if that means having her already near perfect body surgically mutilated and exposed to botulism. 

Joan is furthermore married to an obscenely over-compensated CEO, making them one of the wealthiest families in Canada in a system that is rigged in their favour  where corruption isn't corrupt because it's legalized corruption. Welcome to the corporate kleptocracy

Any admiration for their philanthropy, therefore, is tempered by the knowledge that not only does it cause them no hardship whatsoever, it actually benefits them in terms of taxation, business and financial interests, social currency, platform, prestige and marketing, as well as self-esteem and personal satisfaction. 

Still, I suppose self-serving philanthropy is better than no philanthropy at all. I'm sure those (putting aside the systemic imbalances that create poverty and dependency in the first place) who rely on the charities the Walkers support are grateful, regardless of their benefactors' motives.

Speaking of motives, one has to wonder what Graham Alloway was thinking when he willingly signed up for this frivolous show with his child-sized wife. He looks utterly ridiculous sitting there all slobbed out opposite Kara, awkwardly clasping her hands across the table as he listens with raised paternal brow to her gibberish. 

Kara sounds like a 13-year-old girl jabbering on about how mean the other girls are and could daddy make it all better? Graham gently admonishes her for her gossiping, which effectively shuts her up. 

UPDATE, April 15, 2017: I originally left the above scene with an unsettled feeling regarding the seeming father/daughter dynamic of Graham and Kara's relationship. However, on further reflection, who am I to comment on the mechanics of a committed, long-term, what appears to be happy marriage between two people who seem to actually like and respect each other and who have produced three lovely sons as a result? It's refreshing to see fully intact families on TV who aren't riddled with dysfunction due to problems with ex's, confused half-siblings, embittered stepbrothers, envious stepsisters, betrayal and soul-crushing affairs. 

Karma: Do not be deceived: I cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.

See Brett Wilson? The fruits of Christianity ain't all bad. Also, fuck you again. I see Karma, as with the more vile of your former Real Housewives of Vancouver cohorts, has been keeping tabs on you. Perhaps you should reconsider referring to yourself as a "graduate" of prostate cancer? Karma does not seem to approve of your entitled arrogance in this regard and three time's a charm. Back to remedial school for you!

I apologize for the updates and digressions.

But this is it now! I am NOT backtracking on anything else! I'm not deleting every single blog I write this time around just because someone can't take a fucking joke or is too dense to grasp simple satire. I'm also not going to be pushed into a bizarre, life-altering existential crisis because some hypersensitive, clueless, over-indulged, entitled, hideously wealthy but only because she "married well", alcoholic bitch's feelings were hurt. Fuck you, too, Ronnie Negus. I see karma has treated you justly as well.

I'm glad to get that off my chest  to exorcise that particular "demon" from my mind. Thank you for your patience.

Now back to my final and original digression: Why can there never be any attractive men to look at on these shows? Graham, for example, resembles Mr. Mole and Grego's husband, Pierre Jutras, looks like he's started down the same path as Mickey Rourke

Donald Walker of Magna International tops the list of Canada’s highest paid working CEOs. Thirty years ago these guys "managed to scrape by on 40x what the average person is paid, and now, it's 193x....nobody's worth that much's absurd" ~ Hugh Mackenzie, economic consultant, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA)

Joan's old man, Don Walker, bears similarities to a lanky Johnny Fiama Muppet morphed with a sneering Mr. Rogers, and Dr. Mulholland looks like a munchkin who yo-yo diets and maintains a slicked back mullet. Roxy's financial backer, I mean husband, is just plain creepy and looks like he would be at home in a seedy bar with a flashing neon sign.

Graham Alloway's doppelganger, Mr. Mole

The husbands and dating interests of the Real Housewives are all men involved with women who spend about as much time and thought on their physical appearance as normal people do on their full-time jobs, yet these guys can barely muster the attention it would require to notice their pants are falling down (looking at you Graham). Some of them cannot bother to put a comb through their hair (if they even have hair) let alone get a haircut or trim an unruly beard. 

But I guess they figure they make so much money, it doesn't matter how ugly they are, or how their non-aroused women are faking it. This lack of self-awareness (other than the hyper-awareness of their own arousal, that is) is why the average man cannot satisfy most women in the bedroom. It doesn't even occur to them that women might have "needs" of their own beyond serving the wants of men.

The irony of an unkempt plastic surgeon capitalizing on the body dysmorphic disorders and culturally manufactured panic of already beautiful women desperate to stay "sexy" is duly noted.  

Then they (i.e. self-gratifying men) are angry and confused over why their secretly repulsed wives avoid sex with them (the unsightly Salman Rushdie and his now former, much younger model wife, Padma Lakshmi, come to mind). 

There's something viscerally repugnant and unnatural
about seeing old, jowly grandfather-aged men
married to young, vibrant, granddaughter-aged women.
Melania, grimacing at the thought of what she's going to have to do
with this geriatric patient later on when they get back to the tower.
No amount of money is worth this
Melania. NONE.
But instead of checking out a mirror or educating themselves on the art of seduction and technique, they shrug their shoulders, blame all womankind for being "difficult" and buy themselves a little something on the side. It's easier on the ego, more exciting for the penis when it only has to think of itself, and less hassle to pay for an illusion and indulge in a fetish. As for the wives, they are happy and relieved to turn a blind eye because they don't want their grotesque husbands' molesting paws messing up their perfectly-coiffed manes anyway.

This then brings us to our final husband and housewife duo, Pierre and Grego. Grego is cute and charming enough, if you enjoy the sort of shallow party-girl personality she embodies, but she is otherwise so uninteresting that she barely deserves a mention. 

She barely deserves a mention except to say that she's even more out of touch with the harsh realities of this world than she appears if she thinks that just because her lounge-lizard husband, Pierre, isn't bringing home clear signs of cheating, such as "flowers from a strip club" or an STD, this automatically means he's faithful. All his other stats would in fact imply the opposite. Oh sweet, sweet denial.

Markers of a Decaying Culture:
Edward Gibson, historian
  • Concern with displaying affluence instead of building wealth.
  • Obsession with sex and perversions of sex.
  • Art becomes freakish and sensationalistic instead of creative and original.
  • Widening disparity between very rich and very poor.
In conclusion, I don't know how women like this do it, live these showcase lives like the window prostitutes of Amsterdam's Red Light District. But, hey, they seem to want to do it (putting aside concepts of internalized oppression because let's not get carried away here, it's still a stupid TV show), there's a monetary, "branding" and social payoff for them, and they do have a larger purpose to serve. That purpose is appealing to the perverse and voyeuristic tastes of the average reality TV consumer and contributing to the overall decline of civilization. Good work, ladies.

Here's to the decline of civilization. Well done.

Real Housewives of Toronto, Episode 1: Dumb, Plastic and Sleazy
Real Housewives of Toronto, Episode 2: Boring Housewives and Ugly Husbands
Real Housewives of Toronto, Episode 3: The Polished Real Housewives of Toronto
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

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Real Housewives of Toronto: Dumb, Plastic and Sleazy

The dumbing-down influence of self-serving reality TV personalities on North American culture continues this week with a new series, The Real Housewives of Toronto. 

Starting from the left we have Grego, Kara, Roxy, Joan, Ann and Jana

It's another crop of silicone balls on stilettos, teetering around like circus clowns on stilts, which is a tired cliche, but so too are these women a tired cliche. Their husbands lurking in the periphery are a little more interesting, but they don't interest me in the way they might interest, Jana Webb, for example. 

An unrelated picture of a trophy wife and the men who lurk about her in ejaculatory anticipation.

Jana, an opportunist (a.k.a entrepreneur), who long ago left the stench of rotting decapitated chickens in the dust of her Albertan farm town upbringing, says she'd never mess around with another woman's husband, but she's obviously lying. 

She freely admits married women are wary of her, and that she's a "single blonde" with an entire "roster" of sexual partners. Presumably she keeps a discerning eye open for new recruits. The problem is that most men are not much of a challenge for the libidinous appetites of female predators who look like Jana. It is only a matter of time before easy prey becomes an unarousing annoyance and bore. 

Married men, on the other hand, while still not much of a challenge, can nevertheless be a tad more enticing to Barbie doll types on the prowl, who enjoy the game of a strategic hunt even more than the kill itself. For the huntress, there's something exquisitely satisfying about stalking and conquering another woman's territory.

As for me, I'm more a curious observer of human behaviour than a predator, and like Kurt Cobain "my will is good". My interest in the hideous husbands of plastic women, therefore, revolves more around the generally understood notion that wherever there is a filthy rich man, whether married or not, there's almost always a slimy trail of corruption and debauchery.

These men, however, or at least the reputation management (there's an Orwellian euphemism for ya) people they employ, are quite adept at covering their tracks. So unless you're a shrewd investigative journalist with insider contacts, hacking skills and a bone to pick, or perhaps someone driven by the inner fire of a personal vendetta, you will probably have to resign yourself to speculation and suspicion.

My own suspicious nature directs my scrutiny towards Magna CEO, Donald J. Walker, and his desperate-to-stop-the-aging-process-former-model-Stepford-wife, Joan Kelley-Walker. 

While motorcycle-riding Don, who incidentally is the ex-husband of heiress and tabloid fodder, Belinda Stronach (which curiously no one mentions) is up to his shady proclivities, whatever those may be, ole Joan is mindlessly popping brain cells in these totally out of control bubble baths she's constantly having. 

Joan Kelley Walker doing what she does best.
Either that, or she's burning what remains of said brain cells racing on a treadmill going nowhere. She's manically trying to keep Donald and his millions "happy", like a crazed botoxed hamster spinning her heels on a wheel. She deludes herself that by staying "trophy wife fighting fit" no one will notice she's reaching the half-century mark, Don will never stray, and she can continue with the conceited humble-bragging.

Speaking of fading beauties who love to brag and are long in the tooth, next we come to an odd duck named Kara Alloway and her portly lawyer husband, Graham Alloway. Kara insists (to Jana, of all people, an expert in the fitness world) that tubby Graham "loves yoga", is "the teacher's pet" and "is REALLY in touch with his body". 

But this is merely one of her delusions. 

More will come and some may see her flakiness as charming, which seems to be the case with her husband. He speaks to her in that indulgent yet paternalistic way privileged, confident men of reasonably good humor speak to the ditzy women they "keep" or marry, as if these women are not self-aware human beings at all, but beloved, ridiculously pampered poodles. 

For Kara's part, she's adapted to the poodle role well and sounds like a yappy fluff ball, babbling idiot or the "born again Christian" she claims to be (which in some circles all mean the same thing). 

She holds some bizarre ideas regarding Jesus Christ as well, believing he was nailed to a cross, died a barbaric death and descended into the torments of hell before being resurrected, not to save lost souls, but so that 2000 years later she, Kara Alloway, could be "fabulous", "party" and "want for nothing". 

Even more moronic than that, Kara purportedly thinks that most Christians are misguided, not because they deviate into sin, but because they have "hairy armpits and wear long skirts and Birkenstocks". This, according to her peculiar interpretation of scripture, goes against God's will that "Jesus freaks" wear high heels, "the higher the heel, the higher to God". 

It should go without saying, then, that there's something exceedingly stupid about the way Kara is being presented on the Real Housewives of Toronto. McGill's reputation is done NO FAVOURS by having their institution named as her source of higher education when she's being portrayed this way. They ALREADY had Jordan B. Petersonbigot extraordinaire and pronoun-Nazi determined to prevent the English language from progressing, as well as past experimentation with psychological torture to sully their reputation. They really did not need another one of their own being made a spectacle of on TV to further dirty the waters.

But putting that aside for the time being, let us now look at our next housewife, the voluptuous Roxy Earle. I don't know where she was educated, but she too sounds pretty stupid, as she prattles on in her vocal fry voice about spending the equivalent of a small mortgage on her fucking dog. She cannot think of ANYTHING else to do with all that money she has access to, even though she lives in a city with an epidemic of homelessness, poverty and other social ills a few bucks could help alleviate.

Otherwise, besides being clueless regarding the underclass and how they suffer, Roxy is bubbly and likable the way giggly extroverts are. But as is often the case with this mold of person, there's not much substance beneath the adipose tissue and mammary ducts. She's the second wife of Raghu, a wealthy investment banker, who is comparatively slight in build, has an affinity for loud paisley and is 17 years her senior. Is this marriage the result of "true love" or a business arrangement? Either way, the sleaze factor should be apparent with those few details alone.

And the sleaze does not stop there. Next we have another vacuous piece of ass named Grego Minot. She is married to Pierre Jutras, nightclub/restaurant mogul and president of The Spoke Club, which is open to private members only. That's the way Sleazy with a capital S works - shrouded in mystery like a secret Masonic lodge dance ritual involving young, scantily clad granddaughter-aged girls entertaining geriatric men (essentially making these "men" no better than pedophiles as far as I'm concerned), with white hair and sunk in faces, who drool as they clutch Cialis in their tremulous hands in a haze of demented horny confusion.

With regards to Pierre, he might not be classified as geriatric quite yet, but he looks even more cosmetically tampered with than his pretty "yahooing", life-of-the-party wife, another woman sorely lacking in substance.

This finally brings us to Ann Kaplan-Mulholland, whom I sort of liked, but think she should reconsider letting her well-respected plastic surgeon husband, Dr. Stephen Muholland, touch her with a scalpel because she's looking rather Michael Jackson-esque. 

Maybe munchkin Stephen with his slicked back hair and noble crusade to improve the already improved lives of vain socialites desperate to stay young would do a better job than whomever Ann is currently seeing. 

But maybe not. 

With a bout of hepatosplenomegaly and Ann swearing off booze for the sake of her dear, two-tiered health care promoting hubby, perhaps he has a little drinking problem. Alcoholics tend to shake, although watching Stevie in action performing an "instant rhinoplasty" at the "procedure party" they just "happened" to throw together, he appears to have the steady hand of a well, I might add, as the clear conscience and steely resolve of a reincarnated Dr. Mengele.

So there you go. More reality TV exploiters and hustlers for us common folk to keep a watchful eye on, either for escapist amusement or for some other felonious motive one can only assume...

~ Comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable ~

Real Housewives of Toronto, Episode 1: Dumb, Plastic and Sleazy
Real Housewives of Toronto, Episode 2: Boring Housewives and Ugly Husbands
Real Housewives of Toronto, Episode 3: The Polished Real Housewives of Toronto
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

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

The Brave New World of Pajama People

I walk into the office to find Belinda at the window with Marge and Henrietta. They are staring at what appears to be an entire family wearing pajamas in public. “This pajama wearing is out of control,” Belinda says shaking her head. It’s an ongoing conversation we’ve been having for the past year or two, but these Pajama People sightings seem to be multiplying as of late. 

The social order is disintegrating before our very eyes. Anything goes. People wear pajamas to work and shoes to bed. Ridiculous reality TV personalities who were only supposed to amuse us and THAT IS IT have become viable political leaders, like battery-operated laughing Elmos suddenly given free will, world power and a menacing brow. 

No one's laughing now. Elmo's in charge.
Meanwhile, as newly sentient puppets and demonically possessed clowns take over the planet, turning fiction into reality and reality into fiction, and as millions suffer and starve under oppression, corruption and the indifference of those who could help but don't, some guy with too much money spends $100,000 on a Cheeto and doesn't even eat it.

Demonically possessed reality TV clown...and leader of the "free world".
We've officially transitioned into Bizarro Land where the absurd is reasonable and the reasonable absurd.

But the above absurdities aside, at the moment we're focusing specifically on the Pajama People outside our window.

“Look!” Belinda exclaims, “we have a mother, father AND their kid in pajamas! And look over there!” 

She gestures further up the street where two young women are strolling in terrycloth bottoms, one covered in hearts and rainbows, the other in Playboy bunnies. 

The one covered in bunnies does not appear to have brushed her hair. 

"And here!" We look and there's an oddly attired man and woman approaching the building. The woman is wearing a horned Viking bicycle helmet adorned with two long braids made out of yellow yarn, completing her ensemble with a pair of lightening bolt fleece. 

The man isn't wearing pajamas, but he is wearing oil-stained grey sweats that sag, but are too short for him and ride up his legs to reveal the mismatched orange and purple striped socks he's wearing. They're both carrying steaming Tim Horton's cups so it's not like they were in a panic to get here, which would have been a reasonable explanation for neither of them bothering to get dressed properly.

I stand beside Belinda, Henrietta and Marge, glad that others are just as perplexed as me by this strange phenomenon. How hard is it to put on a pair of pants? 

The other day I saw a grown man walking his dog in the middle of a subzero afternoon. He was wearing a one piece Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle number in flannel, as if he was a toddler who had just escaped nap time and was making a run for it with the family pet. 

Marge pipes in that she has been noticing a trio of Tigger, Pokeman and a purple dinosaur who stinks like weed all over town. She sees them in various unexpected locations like the courthouse, the library and wandering aimlessly around the waterfront. 
The conventions of civilized society are bullshit when you're a dinosaur. 
She thinks the dinosaur is permanently stoned, not just because of the stench, but because his eyes are always bloodshot and he seems to trip on his tail a lot. 

"And the dinosaur's pajamas are in terrible condition," Marge confides in the hushed, conspiratorial tone she normally uses when gossiping about coworkers, "all dirty and tattered around the cuffs and neck. I had to fight the urge to go up to him and ask 'what's wrong with you, do you need help'?"

Marge's unkempt dinosaur reminds Henrietta of a recent experience using public transit. There was a shifty-eyed guy on the bus wearing a Kermit the Frog onesie that looked like it had never been washed. He kept casting agitated glances towards another female passenger, who happened to be wearing a scarf covering her head and was sitting quietly staring out the window. 

It would seem Kermit had taken offense to the scarf, evidently deciding it meant the woman MUST be a religious nut whose very existence on the bus was infringing on HIS freedom of he freely ranted with spit, crazy eyes and raised fist at the stunned woman minding her own business in a public space.

Henrietta watched this scene with a mixture of growing concern, adrenaline and dare I say excitement (ever since she caught wind of the "safety pin campaign" she'd been prominently wearing an over-sized safety pin on the lapel of her jacket wherever she went. She had dreams of one day being someone's hero. Every once in a while we'd ask her if she'd had any luck with the pin, but she never did and was so disheartened over it that she didn't notice we were making fun of her. Really, until Kermit came along, the only attention she got for the pin was harassment...the very thing the pin was supposed to prevent).

When Henrietta realized Kermit and the fellow human being he was victimizing were not noticing the safety pin, she stood up from her seat and went to sit by the woman as a show of solidarity. This did nothing to deter Kermit, who had worked himself up to the point of TEARS (bigotry is emotionally draining), and Henrietta had to yell at the bus driver for assistance. But Kermit wouldn't listen and the bus driver had to kick him off the bus  beat it Kermit! 

No one was hurt, but the woman was visibly shaken and Kermit should probably see a clinical psychologist, preferably one who does not have tenure at the University of Toronto, but that's another, completely unrelated issue. Besides, Toronto is a long way away and considering Kermit's mental state, I don't know if we should be putting him on a Greyhound going anywhere without meds and supervision.

As for Henrietta, she has never been an associate professor in the Psychology Department of Harvard and her name isn't Jordan Peterson, but she does have a heart and a soul, so she was able to comfort the harassed woman without any formal training or a prescription pad. She's fairly proud of how the whole thing went down  safety pin vindication! – but does admit she's a little wary of frogs now.

Goodbye, Henrietta. Godspeed with the pin.
"But why are people doing this?" Henrietta asks, again bringing our focus back to the subject of public pajama-wearing. She's relatively new to the conversation and has not yet heard our various theories. She actually had never noticed the Pajama People before standing with us at the window and having them pointed out to her.

Belinda didn't notice them at first either, until she'd had enough of my constant grumbling about social entropy and how if you want proof it's happening, look outside at all the infantile adults walking around in pajamas with coloring books in their Hello Kitty backpacks. Out of exasperation and to hopefully shut me up, she grabbed Marge as a witness and finally did take a look and now she too, as well as Marge and Henrietta, cannot stop noticing pajama people everywhere they go.

In answer to Henrietta's question regarding why people are doing this, I tell her that I thought for a while we could chalk it up to another consequence of the welfare state mentality. You know, low-functioning citizens, proud of their ignorance and lack of employment. They never finished high school, barely made it out of elementary school and weren't raised to know any better. They've been left without any job skills and are either apathetic or angry, or a combination of both, in addition to being dumbed down and emotionally crippled from generations of abuse, addiction, poverty, bigotry and the ever widening wealth gap. They can't conjure up the effort it would take to get dressed because what's the point?

Instead, they sleep until noon in dank rooms, with frayed flags and wolf-themed throw-blankets covering nicotine-caked windows that haven't seen Windex in years. They smoke rolled up cigarettes, argue about whose turn it is to go to the bottle depot, and drink cheap beer instead of buying milk for the brood of children they started having at 13 years old. 

They proclaim 'no one's gonna tell ME what to do or how to dress!' It's the only area in life where they have any authority so you can't really blame them. Then they say 'fuck it', slip their feet into a pair of ratty slippers, throw the baby in a plastic covered stroller and head to the liquor store in their pajamas.

After listening to me rattle on, I sense Henrietta, who does volunteer work with marginalized people, becoming righteously offended by my insensitive stereotyping. 

I put my hands up before she can get mad at me, "Take it easy. I know not everyone who struggles in life fits the "welfare" stereotype or that even if they do it's necessarily their fault. Not everyone can claw their way out of the shitty circumstances they've been born into or escape the monsters that pursue them". 

For some unfortunate souls, the only thing that makes the wait until death bearable is a drug habit, even in spite of the guaranteed troubles that come with addiction (which isn't an endorsement of drug abuse, just an understanding of why it happens). However, none of that is what I'm talking about here.

"All I'm trying to say", I tell Henrietta before she writes me off altogether, "is that I realized the other day my assumption about Pajama People might be inaccurate. I realized this when I noticed a couple of upper-middle class Stepford wife types walking into Whole Foods sporting pajama bottoms, diamond studs and Hermes handbags. So it would seem this pajama wearing might actually be a trend like neck tattoos, cartoonish lip injections or this latest thing where young women with healthy eyes are using glaucoma drops to grow their lashes freakishly long".

My explanation seems to appease Henrietta and instead of storming out of the room she ponders, "But where did the trend originate? Is it possible it started from the bottom of the social hierarchy among the poor and working classes and made its way up to the well-to-do, like ripped jeans and distressed leather? A kind of class appropriation?"

Marge disagrees with Henrietta and suggests Hugh Hefner as the obvious culprit.

"But people are not all dolled up in silk and black lace with complicated ties and bows," I argue. "They are slobbed out in easy to pull up polyester with elastic waists or full body jammies zipped up to the chin."

Belinda thinks it's the $3 pajama bottoms she saw at Walmart that's doing this. "Everyone's broke in this shit town. A pair of pants for three bucks is appealing when you don't have any money," she opines.

I wonder if it has something to do with school pajama days running amok and spreading to the community at large like a zombie virus.

Regardless of the reason, however, whether apathy, the disintegration of social norms and graces, conforming to a rogue fashion trend, class appropriation, a symptom of hard economic times, or social contagion, the Pajama People are proliferating at an alarming rate and frankly they all seem pretty mindless no matter what strata of society they spring from. 

And this mindlessness is making things less safe for the rest of us. If some careless driver enters through the exit, you can be rest assured it's a Pajama Person. Someone runs out into traffic without looking? It's a Pajama Person. An argument breaks out in the express lane at the grocery store over item limits? A Pajama Person is involved.

Last week a Pajama Person, unable to make ends meet because jobs are impossible when methamphetamine rules you, was caught on camera robbing a local liquor store. Once the pictures went public, she was immediately identified by her skull and bones pajama pants. This balaclava-masked mastermind of stealth and cunning went to great lengths to disguise her femaleness under plaid, denim and padding, but then failed to change out of her pajamas, the most identifiable thing about her.

So that's it. We are officially transitioning through the looking glass. Adults are over-stimulated children in PJs hyped up on propaganda and porn. Children are sober-minded adults attempting to calmly and rationally explain how the financial system works and is ultimately corrupt, how climate science is sound and yes the world should be concerned, and finally how infinitely more meaning, satisfaction and purpose can be found in a life that is lived in wonder and the pursuit of knowledge and wisdom, rather than one lived solely in the egotistic pursuit of power, status and material trinkets, whether fleshy trophies, fast-driving CO2 emitters, or gaudy, gargantuan playhouses.

Putin and Trump screwing the world in matching pajamas, discussing the practicality of enforcing mandatory bedtimes. 
It's a Bizarro World where reality TV has become reality and reality "fake news". At this rate, soon our world dictators will be showing up at state-sanctioned press conferences in sleepwear. They already cater to whatever hedonistic compulsion strikes them. In this brave new world, public displays of Vladimir Putin, Kim Jong-un and the Sultan of Brunei in classic men's pajamas only seems the next logical step. I haven't looked into it, but you can probably find Donald Trump butt flap onesies online with a high demand for the color orange.

It's not a smoking jacket, but baby steps.  First, pink PJ bottoms and the
Conservative leadership race. And then...a silk kimono and eviscerating Trudeau with a
spatula. And then...Prime Minister of Canada in a pair of Spongebob Squarepants slippers. And then...the world! He'll be so invincible by this point, he'll have the guts to tell homophobic Putin to go fuck himself and they all can come out of the closet together, holding hands in frilly, see-through numbers with plunging necklines.
What's next? Kevin O'Leary becomes Prime Minister of Canada, addressing the nation in a vintage smoking jacket robe via Skype from his home in Boston? Maybe we can get the Real Housewives of Toronto or Vancouver established as provincial and territorial Premiers? They can bobble around the country giving strip-tease speeches in lingerie and heeled slippers.

"Now you're just being silly!" Henrietta shrieks at me, this time storming out in a fury, much to Belinda and Marge's bewilderment.  It turns out Henrietta is a closet Real Housewives fan and I had offended her yet again. I didn't realize I was musing aloud. But, seriously, who could predict that of all the things I say that piss Henrietta off, mocking reality TV personalities would be the one thing, the final straw, that she would NOT tolerate.

What can be said? People are strange and humanity is a confusing place. It's not even mid-morning and already I cannot wait to get home and get into my pajamas. I suspect, though, that as a member of this confusing humanity myself, it's only a matter of time before I too find that I'm stepping out into public, perhaps in front of a moving vehicle, wearing an Elmo-colored housecoat and not realizing what I'm doing until it's too late.