Sunday, February 15, 2009

Punctuation Face

The Hills, and its new spin off The City, are generally shows I avoid. They fall under the category of show that I might watch if I'm cleaning my apartment or home sick. I'm not much of a tv snob but basically nothing ever happens to the girls of The Hills. If something does happen it takes 4 episodes to happen and there are so many awkward silences and dull sighs that it feels like nothing is happening. Occasionally I get really annoyed thinking about how my life would have made a much better tv show when I was 20. Maybe there were no plastic surgery scandals but parties at art school were definitely better than the backyard BBQs on The Hills.
I spend a lot of time thinking about language and tone and the nonexistent substance of communication on The Hills. I remember reading in Jane Fonda's biography that women come into their own voices when they mature in to a comfortable confident understanding of themselves. Jane talks about going back and watching her old movies to realize that her voice was much higher and wispier in her most unsure phases. I've also read studies that show that men and women both talk differently when in the presence of their own gender or the opposite gender. Men talk deeper around women(especially unfamiliar ones) and women talk in a higher octave around men. The thing that amuses me with The Hills is that they almost seem unable to communicate at all. No one ever launches into a long opinion on something. No one goes out of a wispy flirty tone. No one is very funny. (Well except for Heidi's boss Kelly Cutrone.)
I suppose living under constant televised conditions would instill awkward non conversations. The girls of The Hills have had a sort of second puberty (or social criticism and false identities) at the time when they should be coming into their own as adults. So I suppose its no surprise that they resort to what I've come to think of as punctuation face. They communicate through a ridiculous plethora of facial expressions.....mostly the expected 'surprised face' and 'I understand face'. During the writers strike last year the punctuation face got really out of control. Heidi feigns excitement and Lauren either cries or looks bored. Audrina is sort of like a set of parenthesis with nothing in between. You keep expecting her to be pissed off or sad but she exists in some sort of premature botoxed state. They remind me of Cindy Sherman's "Untitled Film Stills".

Is this Cindy Sherman in The City?

I hope that at some point these girls return with loud opinions and excited tirades but until they find their voices vast amounts of MTV viewers will cling to the pages of punctuation their "reality tv" writers must be feeding them.

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