Sunday, April 03, 2005

COLUMN: Ashlee Simpson

They call television "the idiot box." That's ridiculous. Television itself can be quite intelligent; it's me who's the idiot.

I'll prove it. As I write this, it's Easter afternoon. A quick look through TV Week tells me that, right this minute, I could be watching West Side Story... or a special on how religion impacted our early Presidents... or a documentary on the problems facing Chinese commerce. C-Span is currently showing a "Q&A Session with Paul Weyrich." I'm certain this session could prove both informative and insightful, and might even answer important questions, such as "Who is Paul Weyrich?"

The point is, there are hundreds of channels providing a diverse array of culturally and politically stimulating content. I, meanwhile, have been watching an all-day marathon of the Ashlee Simpson Show on MTV. Idiot, thy name is Shane.

Unless you've been living under a rock, you already know about Ashlee Simpson. She's the spunky but reasonably talentless younger sister of pop culture phenom Jessica Simpson. Ashlee's MTV's show chronicles her successful attempt to make a name for herself as a singer. The problem is, she made a name for herself as a singer by getting busted lip-synching on Saturday Night Live, causing every major media outlet around the globe to, for once, stop talking about Paris Hilton for a few fleeting seconds.

In all honesty, though, I feel bad for Ashlee. Does anyone out there truly feel personally let down that Ashlee lip-synched on SNL? If so, PLEASE contact me; I'd like to meet someone lamer than myself, I really would. We live in a country where we recognize varying degrees of murder (murder in the first degree, second degree, etc.) The same rules should apply to scandal. Michael Jackson giving Jesus Juice to a cancer kid? That's Scandal in the First Degree if I've ever heard it. Ashlee Simpson caught lip-synching? That's Scandal in, oh, the 11th Degree or so.

No one should be out there gasping that Ashlee's compromised her artistic integrity. If you thought Ashlee Simpson had artistic integrity in the first place, you're missing the whole plot. Ashlee Simpson is simply a pop star, and pop stars have no "art." They're there to look cute, sound cute, and make you want to get off the couch and do the Awkward Shimmy around your apartment (or is that just MY dance?) And for what it's worth, Ashlee does all that pretty effectively.

None of this, however, is an excuse for me to watch six solid hours of her inane TV show. Yet it's strangely hypnotizing and engaging. I've learned much. Primarily, I've learned that no matter what Ashlee does, she's REALLY EXCITED about it. Her chirpy voiceovers are always like, "Today I have to go meet 800 of my screaming pre-teen fans... and I'm really excited about it!" Or, "today I get to go do 18 radio interviews where they'll ask me the same questions over and over again... and I'm really excited about it!" "Now I'm going to go use the restroom... and I'm really excited about it!"

There should be an Ashlee Simpson drinking game, where you have to take a shot every time she gets "really excited" about something. I'm pretty sure you'd die from alcohol poisoning by the third commercial break. On the plus side, though, you wouldn't have to watch any more episodes of this tripe.

How I let myself get roped into liking this schlock is beyond me. But a couple hours into it, I realize that Ashlee's getting her hair cut and I'M really excited about it! WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME? I fear I may have an addiction to bad TV. But then it hits me: if a reasonably normal human being like me can get sucked into this abyss, the simple answer for me to succeed in this world... is to HAVE MY OWN REALITY SHOW and suck all of you people into it! They could just film me sitting around on my couch, watching other reality shows and making snarky comments. It'd be genius. And I can assure you that I, for one, would be really excited about it.

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