New lessons from the homophobe, the slut, and more. Josh Wolk scolds the ''Real World'' producers for trying to edit each storyline into a neat little moral
Advertisement
The Real World
Credit: The Real World: Rudy Archuleta

New lessons from the homophobe and the slut

If you’re one of the people who take their morality cues from MTV’s ”Real World” — and this is a very bad idea indeed — you probably got a nice breeze at the end of the Nov. 19 episode as your ethical compass spun like a ceiling fan.

First, there was Alton’s reemerging homophobia. Gays do to Alton what Iraq does to President Bush: just makes him crazy. About Steven’s visiting gay friend, John, he said, ”I thought John was cool, but when he said he was gay, I was like, ‘Whoa!’ But he SEEMED cool.” He also feared that John, a bigger man, would rush him into the bathroom. For a long time Alton couldn’t use public bathrooms, he revealed, for fear he would be rushed. Alton’s fears seem very lavatory-centric. Does he wake up from nightmares that the don’t-squeeze-the-Charmin toilet paper guy is squeezing his ass?

As Irulan and Steven tried to convince Alton that he — a black man — should be especially wary of stereotypes and discrimination, it seemed like we were heading to the usual ”Real World” ending where an enlightened Alton ends up dancing at a Gay Pride rally with a rainbow wig on his head and Charles Nelson Reilly on his shoulders. But then he told Brynn (whose dad is gay, but let’s not get distracted here) another salient point: When he was six, an old man grabbed him, held him on the ground, and tried to pull his pants off. Then throw in the fact that his brother was, as Alton alluded last week, sexually abused before he was killed. Suddenly it’s a little more complicated than just learning that we’re all brothers under the sun.

Brynn made a good point: You don’t blame all people for the actions of a few, much as after she herself was raped by someone of ”a different background,” she didn’t hate all those of that same background. (Once again, we must table discussing all shocking Brynn revelations for a different episode, or we’ll be here all day.) But Alton has entrenched issues that a simple speed-read of ”Heather Has Two Mommies” isn’t going to eradicate. And some guy squeezing Alton’s crotch at a club certainly didn’t hasten the healing process.

Yet ”The Real World” doesn’t have time to explore such psychological complexities: The producers need resolution, dammit! So to cobble together a healing message, they had to make do with Alton announcing that in Vegas he’s learning to be around types of people he’s not used to, and his deciding not to punch aforementioned groin-grabber. So in summation: He’s getting accustomed to a tourist city that’s the biggest and brightest anomaly in the country (is he learning to respect prostitutes, too?), and he didn’t punch a homosexual. Hooray?

Then came the sticky (literally) situation between Steven and Trishelle. Steven seemed to have mixed feelings about their pawfests. First he toasted her, saying, ”You’re saving me from being a bad, bad guy while I’m out here” (he doesn’t hook up with more women because he has a ”hot-ass girl at home” — namely, Trishelle). So in the Steven morality playbook, a bad person has many one-night stands, but a good person fools around with the same woman every night while telling her she means nothing to him. Why nick the feelings of many women when you can totally devastate just one? Steven has built an ethical house of cards that a faint breeze could knock over. Then again, an even fainter breeze arouses him, so screw the damn cards. Which he would probably do if there were no women around.

After Trishelle interrupted him while he was hitting on a sorority girl, he decided they needed to stop hooking up. In a truly condescending voice (he stood while she sat, so he could physically AND figuratively talk down to her), he told her, ”You’re a wonderful girl, the sweetest girl in the house, and you’re a cutie,” and at that moment I thought jokingly that the only way he could be more patronizing was if he patted her on the head. And at that moment, he actually tweaked her nose. I stood corrected.

But the platonic plan didn’t last long: Soon they were back in bed (with footage of Steven clearly diving under the blanket for a little orality: When is MTV just going to give up all pretense of coyness and show full frontal?), and they agreed to be exclusive. Again, this coda seemed intended to show true love surviving? except for the fact that Steven is still clearly using the self-esteem-free Trishelle, not to mention the fact that they refuse to use condoms.

The episode concluded with Trishelle telling Brynn that if she got pregnant, she would just get an abortion without telling Steven, and yet seemed no closer to realizing that one solution could be to start using a freaking condom. Closure my ass: Even using a dental dam won’t keep the bad taste out of your mouth watching this ”relationship.”

The Real World
type
  • TV Show
seasons
  • 33
rating
genre
network

Comments