hey pretty

Ceci n'est pas une "dating blog."

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Role Models in Strange Places

Kristin Cavalleri has bleached blond hair, a perfect figure, a perfect tan and plenty of attitude. Naturally, she's a born reality-TV star, and what better place to show case her talents for flirting with boys, backstabbing her frienemies, and perfecting the over-the-shoulder-longingly-wistful-gaze than on MTV's Laguna Beach. I do admit that I have grown a little addicted to this show, probably because it's so different from my own high school experience. Unlike the kids on Laguna, I grew up in woodsy, hippy Amherst, Massachusetts. It snowed a lot there and we never once held a bonfire and hanging out in our parents' hot tubs was the exception, not the norm. Not once was I involved in a stormy love triangle with another girl over a cute surfer boy. I wasn't an outcast nor was a terribly popular. I tended to stay out of the way of those who I sensed would make my life more difficult than it needed to be. My objective was to study hard, get into a good college, and get the hell out of there, a goal that I met successfully. Most of the drama I have experienced has taken place in the ages of 19-28, as part of a stormy extended adolescence. The world of Laguna is not one that I have ever really encountered, so it for this reason that it becomes the perfect Monday evening escape.

This season, Ms. Kristin has done little to win my affections as a viewer. Her voice makes my ears want to bleed and her snotty sense of self-entitlement makes me want to throw things at my television set. It seems unfair that her self-absorbed, Queen Bee behavior should be rewarded with its own show, so I tend to watch Laguna to cheer for the girls who Kristin tries to cut down--the Laurens and Taylors of the world who seem slightly nicer and more sensitive, more attuned to how their behaviors may negatively affect those around them. But Salon.com writer Suzy Hansen has a different take on the matter, one way more generous and thoughtfull. In this article, Hansen applauds Kristin's cynical detachment from her actions and those around her, her unwillingness to conform to the stereotypical girl behavior of brooding over and analyzing her relationships with her hook-ups du jour. As Hansen points out, "It wasn't that she became a more palatable character but rather that she seemed to possess knowledge that her peers did not, namely that: Ten years from now I will probably forget this piddling crap ever happened, and yet if I make a fool of myself, it will be on tape forever. It became fun to watch her savvy: She wasn't just one-up on the boys, she was one-up on the cameras." It seems slightly problematic to applaud such a prematurely developed sense of cynicism in one so young, but kids are experiencing the complexities of adulthood at younger and younger of an age these days and maybe a hard shell is just what they need to survive their teenage years unscathed. What Ms. Kristin can teach young girls is that relationship and hookup drama with boys is par for the course and although it may seem like each little encounter may be worth taking seriously, it rarely is and your own self interests are way more important than anything else. Teenage boys, and indeed most of the 20-something aren't going to be wasting good emotional energy analyzing a fleeting romance so neither should we. Having fun with your girlfriends is way more important.


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