Hollywood Walk Of Shame

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Jacob Clifton: B- | Grade It Now!
Lesson Three: Finite & Infinite Games

"Thank you, too," he says, and offers that he would like to leave her with these words of wisdom: "This is a major opportunity. This is a major lifetime event for you." He explains that in the years he's been doing the show, only one other person has quit. He admits to being amazed that there's only been one, but in such a way that it still somehow speaks highly of him, more than anything. He admits that the game show is tough: this means that he is tough. That the show is somehow isometric to a real job interview for a real company has always been a major tenet of the show, because if any of them ever admitted for one second that the whole thing is a joke, it would fall down in a pile. That's why the best people on this show (all of them, really) treat it like a total farce but never say that aloud. If you say it out loud, the show will punish you, because in the context of the game show, that's total hubris.

Rhetorical Quiz: You're sitting at a red light. It's 0300 hours, in an abandoned outskirt, with full visibility in all directions. You've been sitting at this red light for subjectively thirty years. You haven't been drinking, your lights are all working, registration and emissions are fine, your seat belt is fastened. You're doing nothing wrong and there's no reason to pull you over. Nobody can see you. Nobody in the entire world is going to see what you do next, but you really have to pee. How long is it going to take you to remember that the red light itself is not the boss of you?

"I think, looking back, you will not be proud." That's his first point. His second point is that, in all his speeches on success and motivation, he always tries to beat it into people that you never quit. You never give up. That's true, and a good point to make about reality. This isn't reality. "You can never be successful if you quit. You can dress it up any way you want." He says she came into the process knowing it was going to be hard. "If I were you, I'd rather be fired." She nods her understanding of this. "I hate this concept," he says. "Me, I don't care: you make my job easier. But the fact is that I hate what you're doing." He tells her she's going to be living with this mistake for a long time, and then I'm like 89% sure he calls her "Sarah."

She thanks him for his candor, and acknowledges that she knew this was coming. "You know, it's sort of like a boxer. I have more respect for a boxer that's in big trouble, and he goes out and gives it everything, and he sometimes get knocked out, than I do for a boxer that quits in his corner. I hate seeing that." Almost as much as you hate your little fiefdom getting called out for what it is: a tacky celebration of everything that doesn't count. "I'm quitting in my corner because I also know that there was so much more I could have done on that task, and I'm just thinking that there's just something that's going on with my spirit, that it isn't being the typical resilient person that I came into this being." Suddenly Michelle's crazy talk is starting to make sense to me finally. The accidental artistry of this episode is circumstantial: the juxtaposition of Trump/Frank/Nicole's false and grievous ideas about the meaning of "success" as a false and finite game with what Michelle's doing now. That is thematically satisfying. DJ yells about how much could she have possibly learned about herself, if what she learned is that she's a quitter and a loser. "Like Mr. Trump said -- and I appreciate the question -- I can coat this any way that I want. So for me, it doesn't feel like I'm quitting anything. It feels like I'm actually staying true to my integrity, [by not] staying true to a process that doesn't work for me naturally." They yell at her about how it's not a game show, it's not a game show, it's not a game show, it's real, it's a real-life process that has meaning, it's so close to the real world it might well be real. These are lies. In fact, the candidates are as important to this show as they are on any TV show, from American Idol to Survivor, which is to say they're as important to the show as they are to you and me, which is to say: not that important. I spend the same amount of time thinking about what happened to Joey Potter after the show ended as I do Clay Aiken, which is to say: none at all. There's some other group of kids rocking out on TV right now that are more important.

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