Thursday, 7 April 2011

The Riches of Embarrassment...

Originally posted February 18, 2011...

Hello Friends.

Have you guys seen that video of that woman reporting at the Grammy’s and having some kind of stroke on the air? She’s all peppy and lively when the anchors throw it to her and says, “We’ve had a very, very heavy birtation tonight ders flavin” and it goes on like that. Or the video where the girl is texting while walking through a mall, isn’t watching where she’s going, and falls headfirst into a fountain? That second one kills me because of the aftermath. You can’t see the woman in the texting/walking video at all, her face is obscured by her phone and the footage is grainy and shot from a fair distance. So then the walking/texting girl decides to identify herself to the media to say how upset she is and how she plans to sue the mall! What the balls? She’s mad that no one came to her aid and said, “What if this were a senior citizen falling into the fountain? Would it be funny then?” First of all, you can’t blame anyone but yourself for not watching where you were going. Secondly, anyone rushing to your aid would only compound your embarrassment, trust me. If you’re walking outside and you slip on a patch of ice, for example, you hope to God no one sees you. If anyone rushes to your side asking if you’re okay, the illusion that no one witnessed your blunder is shattered, and the embarrassment you feel far outweighs the benefit of having someone help you up. And lastly, if a senior citizen fell into a fountain, it would be fucking hilarious. I watch these videos and laugh and laugh, but a niggling thought keeps from truly enjoying them. I always watch or read about these things and think, “There but for the grace of God go I.”

Dream: Avoid public humiliation on a grand scale.

Goal: Not achievable. I trip, slip, stumble, fall, say the wrong thing, run like a girl, get easily startled, and laugh so hard that I fart on so many occasions that odds are somebody with a camera is bound to catch this stuff, post it, and make me a laughingstock. It’s really only a matter of time.

Plan: As best I can, avoid circumstances conducive to public humiliation, such as:

Videotaping my sexual escapades. I don’t understand that trend at all. And how is that not going to end up on the internet? I’m sure that’s seldom the original intention of the sex-tapers. “This is just for us,” they’ll promise, before ravaging each other in front of their iPhones. But what purpose does even that serve? If it’s just for the two of you, why have it on video when you can just do it live? You never say, “Ah, I’m so tired tonight, can’t we just watch ourselves do it?” But eventually promises are broken, couples split up, and a vengeful ex will post this tape on the internet, for all to see, which is really skeezy. I’d love to help wreck this trend. I think I’m going to post videos on those amateur sites with titles like, “Sasha takes it hard!!!” But then the video will be me speaking to a girl named Sasha and telling her that her grandfather has died. She’s bound to take that hard. Also, can we please never forget that a sex tape is the only reason Kim Kardashain is famous? Sure, she’s parlayed that fame into reality shows, television appearances, fragrance and modelling contracts, but her initial claim to fame was a spirited romp with a delightful gentleman called Ray-J. I’ve seen parts of the tape (purely for research purposes for this blog) and she doesn’t seem the least bit self-conscious about being videotaped. She’s all coy and come-hithery, and despite engaging in very lewd and graphic behaviour, she never takes her bra off. I found that curious until I realized she probably kept her bra on because she’s classy.

Never witness a murder. I really hope I don’t, for obvious reasons. To watch someone die would be kind of a drag, but then my role in a highly-publicized murder trial would surely make me fodder for the media. I’m a dramatic person at the best of times, so I can only imagine how flowery and self-aware I would become if called upon to testify. I remember once, Jon and I drove by two kids fist-fighting in a parking lot. I thought it was more serious than Jon did and insisted on calling the police. Breathlessly, I recounted what I saw and described the kids as “Young in age. Definitely young in age!” and the officer said, “So…young?” Young of age. I probably said they were blond of hair and stocky of build, too. You can’t help but get caught up in it all. The most famous example of this is probably Kato Kaelin, a witness in the O.J. Simpson murder trial. Originally called as a witness for the prosecution, Kaelin’s testimony became so rambling, nonsensical, and inconsistent, that his participation was ultimately a boon to the defense. Kaelin became a dumb surfer punchline, and insisted on milking his fifteen minutes of the fame to the fullest, appearing on many game shows and reality shows over the years. Incidentally, if Kaelin’s testimony really did help the defense team make their case, he’s at least in part responsible for another disturbing phenomenon. One of the defense lawyers was a businessman named Robert who hadn’t practised law in nearly twenty years when he was approached to defend his friend, O.J. O.J.’s acquittal ensured Robert had a lucrative practice and business for the rest of his life and he died of esophageal cancer in 2003 a very rich man, leaving his piles of money to his wife and children, among them Kourtney, Khloe, and Kim Kardashian.

Don’t attempt to salvage your vanity. There are these teens that I’m scared of who go to the same Tim Horton’s I do. They go to the Catholic junior high nearby and they buy Ice Capps on their lunchbreak and I desperately want them to think I’m cool. I’m scared of them because they’re big and hulking and loud and travel in groups and are boisterous. If I’m behind them in line, I bear witness to their horseplay and I might as well be back in grade nine. Anyway, I want them to see me, in my disgusting clothes and my messy hair and deduce (correctly) that I just rolled out of bed, even though they’ve already been in school for hours. I want them to think, “Man! That guy goes to Tim Horton’s whenever he wants! He’s playing by his own rules! If he were also a teen, he’d be the leader in our group!” The other day, I went to the grocery store and bought only eggs and bread, and went to Tim’s for my coffee afterwards. The teens were there. My coffee in hand, I tried to turn my iPod back on as I turned the corner (“He listens to music too!” they would say) and I slipped and fell. A classic James wipeout. And of course, I dropped the coffee from one hand and landed on the eggs and bread, effectively destroying both. My heart broke as I heard the teens laughing. One called to me, but I only heard part of what he said. It sounded like, “*mumble* fail!” Thinking on my feet (though flat on my ass), I responded in what I hoped was a hip way: “EPIC Fail!” The teen paused for a minute, then said, “The fuck? I just said that!” and he and his friends laughed even harder. By the way, how cool is “the fuck?” as a replacement for “What the fuck?” Those teens truly play by their own rules. And by the other way, another dude whose vanity got the better of him when he tried to appear hip was Bruce Jenner. Bruce Jenner was an Olympic athlete who won a gold medal in 1976. Since then, like Kato Kaelin et al., he tried to parlay this fame into movie and t.v. appearances and the like. He is older now, and has had a series of completely unflattering facelifts. Google that shit, he looks like a monster. All because of his vanity. Unfortunately for us, we can see that monster face anytime we like on television, all because his third and current wife is a woman named Kris, the mother of Kim Kardashian.

Lastly, I suppose, I could hope and pray that there wasn’t a camera around. Back when I actually was a teen, although closer to pre-tween (possibly bween), I spent a lot of time at my best friend Ryan’s house. Thankfully, unlike those stupid bweens today who videotape their backyard trampoline accidents (FYI, don’t ever search “trampoline” on YouTube, all you’ll get is children badly hurting themselves), we didn’t record our activities. One time we were heading downstairs to do something. It must have been an exciting something because I took the stairs two at a time behind Ryan and when I reached the second to last stair, I leapt into the air so I could hit the ground running. Instead what I hit was the smoke detector with my face. The ceiling above me was much lower than I anticipated (as basement ceilings often are), the smoke detector clocked me in the face and I fell backwards onto the stairs. In that instant Ryan laughed so hard that he snotted all over himself. Imagine if that had been videotaped; the whole thing took less than three seconds. Leap, Slam, Crash, Snot! It’s one of my funniest memories though, as I recall, I was badly hurt. My bruised back healed up, but my pride would have never recovered had this happened today and somebody filmed it. It’s a good thing nobody had a camera on Brandy. Remember Brandy? She was this teen pop singer in the 90′s who faded into relative obscurity, then was a judge on America’s Got Talent, then she crashed her car into another car, and the driver of the other car died. She died! Nobody witnessed the accident, though, and the only evidence available is photos of the wreckage taken by paparazzi, who (of course) showed up after the accident. Brandy was charged with vehicular manslaughter, but no witnesses meant a weak case, which she settled out of court for an undisclosed sum of money. If her finances took a hit at this time, she could always turn to her brother Ray-J, flush with cash after the sale of his sex tape with Kim Kardashian.

What worries me is that the possible fame connected to public humiliation on a grand scale outweighs the humiliation itself for some people. The most overwhelming evidence to suggest this is true is reality television. Any night of the week, you can watch bad singers be purposefully bad just for a chance to be creamed on tv by a famous person, or watch a bevy of whores compete to marry another whore. I don’t much care for reality television, but I am in the minority, I suspect. The Emmy Awards, which honour dramatic, comedic, musical/variety, miniseries and movies made for television, had to add a sixth category recently, to award Reality Television. When introducing the category at this year’s Emmy telecast, host Jimmy Fallon sang, “They don’t have writers and they don’t have plots…” and a buxom lady in the audience stood up and sang in response, “But it’s the only thing in television people still watch: Reality!” You get one guess as to who that buxom lady was.

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