This past week was the most soul-crushing week of Elimidate yet. Normally, I think of Elimidate as the dating version of the Stanford Prison Experiment. There is one person, the chooser, who might not be so smart, attractive, or herpes-free, but because s/he has been anointed by the producers as the "guard" of the date, s/he is imbued with automatic authority. This means that the possible choosees, those four candidates vying for the attentions of the guard, automatically become the prisoners. Perhaps in an unmediated world, the prisoners would take one look at the guard and say, "Hell to the no," but in the alternate reality world of Elimidate, the prisoners adopt beer goggles (that compensate not only for looks, but also for personality and charisma) before they even start chugging beer in round two.
Then, just as the guards in the Stanford experiment lost track of time and place and began exercising their diabolical power, the Elimidate guard, discombobulated by the show, similarly starts the torture. If it is a female guard, then she gets her prisoners to start behaving like seals in a circus, barking and clapping for her approval. If it is a male guard, then he starts brow-beating his female prisoners into making out with him, often using the line, "I just feel like you haven't been open on this date," if a prisoner withholds tongue. The female prisoners know the consequence of refusal-- elimination on a nationally syndicated show-- so they end up swapping spit with some of the most questionably oily characters ever to grace the small screen.
But back to this past week. It was "Blast From The Past" week on Elimidate, which meant that the producers rounded up a posse of Z-list celebrities to play guard. These "celebrities" included the guy who used to host Dance Fever, the guy who used to say "Dy-no-mite!", the girl who used to sing "Let's Hear It For The Boy," the guy who used to live in rehab (Leif Garrett), and some fat guy/former child actor from a TV show that was on a really long time ago whose name currently escapes me.
What made this week so tragic was a gaping lack of self-awareness. At least the pleb guards usually recognize that their authority is somewhat akin to a magic pumpkin carriage, and that it will dissipate as soon as the cameras leave. (This has become more blatant than ever, now that Elimidate has instituted the new "After The First Date" segment. After the final couple spends the night drunkenly sucking face and sometimes getting dangerously close to making a baby, Elimidate follows up a few weeks later. And about 99% of the time, the couple just looks at each other like, "Huh?" There's some gelato eating. Some awkward conversation. And then one of them will finally just cave and say, "It was good to see you again, but let's not see each other again.") During these dates, the doofy, beefy guys, having become Prince Charmings for a night, will confess in a corner, "I can't believe all these chicks are after my jock!" They always know that they have to exploit the situation while they can.
But the "celebrities" on this past week's run of shows didn't seem to understand that their suitors might have had ulterior motives. Instead, they were just like, "All right, come and get me, you lucky retail workers!" (with the notable exception of Leif Garrett, who seemed so deflated by years of car accidents and sobriety that he ended up picking the woman who most behaved like a new agey rehab counselor, as if he knew it wasn't a lover than he needed, but a gentle watchdog.) The girl who sang "Let's Hear It For The Boy" actually said to her men, "I'm not sure if you realize how difficult it is to date a celebrity," and I sincerely hope she was talking about the difficulty of dealing with ego and delusion, and not the difficulty of coping with her "fame." Because maybe homegirl has to make appearances at Footloose Fan Conventions once a year, but I don't think she's dodging the US Weekly photogs hiding in her bushes.
The guy who hosted Dance Fever led his dates in an embarrassing re-enaction of a former number from his glory days, as he was under the belief that those women were still as stuck back at the height of his career as he is. But luckily for the guards, Elimidate supplied them with pre-crippled prisoners, so that they could experience a somewhat normalized Elimidate show instead of a, "You seriously want me to re-enact the kissing scene from "Romeo & Juliet" with you, you old perv?" (this was the fat guy/former child actor's date) fiasco. Thus, for Leif the producers found a woman who met him once twenty billion years ago in passing and had been waiting to remind him of this encounter for almost her entire adult life (he didn't remember her). For "Let's Hear It For The Boy" woman they found a guy even lower on the music industry totem pole than her, so he was genuinely awed by her success. For "Dy-no-mite!" they found what I can only describe as an internet stalker, a woman who had done so much research on J.J. that E! should hire her to single-handedly write the Good Times: True Hollywood Story episode. Weirdly, Jimmie J.J. Walker kept bringing up how glad he was that he didn't have to pay for the date and how he wished all his dates could be subsidized, which made me think the years haven't been financially kind.
As the prisoners kept describing their "celebrity" guards as "so charming" and in possession of "such a beautiful smile!" I watched the Elimidate universe almost collapse upon itself, what with the layers and layers of illusory gauze being thrown upon the show's stratosphere. It was almost as if the prisoners had been brainwashed pre-date, so that whenever they looked at the aging, lonely, performer before them, all they could see was a heyday head-shot. Surrounded by four prisoners who saw only the best in them, the guards ended up having some of the self-professed best days of their lives-- the type of best day, of course, which crushed my soul under the knowledge that in the near future, all of those facades were probably coming down. But hey, back to the non-professional doofs this week!