Real World
The Genesis Of Conflict

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The Genesis Of Conflict

Reverent, awe-struck props topped with nuts and a maraschino cherry to Sars, for skipping an entire day's worth of watching The Powerpuff Girls, or whatever the hell is usually broadcast for the middle eleven hours of a typical Saturday afternoon, and instead "running the Boston Marathon" in its excruciating entirety.

The first three minutes of this episode didn't exactly make it onto the videotape, so I will have to utilize my vast knowledge of this season's generically contrived story arc (er, I mean "natural and organic developments in the lives of real people with credible back stories") and the visual style of the show's other seasons to fill in some early blanks. Creative writing fun times ahoy: The "seven strangers" intro ends with the words The Real World shown floating in a bowl of clam chowder perched atop a regal statue of Paul Revere set against a backdrop of the snowy, snowy banks of the Charles River. The privilege of announcing that this is The Real World: Boston has been delegated to Syrus, due to his impassioned and ultimately convincing argument that "a woman's place is in the kitchen, not in the opening credits" he so doubtlessly broached during the arduous audition process. Cut to a long aerial tracking shot of a giant Texas Longhorn graphic depiction of some kind and a license plate on the back of an enormous pick-up truck reading "Texas: The Lone Star State," followed by a shot of a water tower in the shape of a giant ten-gallon hat across which is written in twenty-foot-high letters in that woe-be-it-to-our-inability-to-subvert-our-own-cultural-stereotypes kind of way, "Everything is Bigger in Texas." I would now proceed to weep bitter tears for the shamelessly reductive generalizations MTV sees fit to formulate about every place in the world that isn't Times Square, but this emoting would be rendered futile as it would be drowned out by the blaring instrumental vamp of "Semi-Charmed Life," which I am all too sure would be aurally accompanying this montage as it unfolds. Or so I imagine it might have happened.

Okay, this part really happened. Inside of a moving automobile, we meet an "Elka's dad," who asks the car's passenger we must have already learned is Elka, "Who's going to put the stuff on there?" Elka and her father have just chosen a Christmas tree for the house, and the predominant conversation about the decorating of said tree contains two or three thousand references to her mom's "illness" last year. Amidst a collection of gratuitous "big men carry tree" shots that feature Elka standing pointlessly off to the side in that damn-maybe-I-should-be-baking-a-pie-or-something kind of way, we learn from an intercut confessional that "my mother's death is affecting me, but I'm not letting it get in the way of my normal life." Cut to what MTV dictates is "normal life" in Elka's house, where the doorbell rings and a postal worker of some kind announces a delivery and hands Elka a box. As her two friends quite self-consciously avoid looking directly into the camera and maintain their "yeah, but how many more takes of this until we get to meet Kurt Loder" half-smiles, Elka cracks open the box and reads the enclosed letter, "Dear Elka, On behalf of Bunim-Murray Productions, I would like to say congratulations," before breaking into a jubilant scream and hugging her too-conveniently-present best friends. So wow, then. I guess this Elka character has been chosen to be one of the inhabitants of the house on this, the sixth Real World season on MTV. How amazing for her. I guess part of this celebration must come from the dawning relief Elka must feel at figuring out just why the hell black-clad cameramen toting suitcases of equipment embossed with stickers reading "Property of MTV" had been following her around for the better part of the past three or four days, ready to record this moment of unbridled excitement, spontaneous and unexpected as it may have been.

Cut to a bustling urban street corner, which even under an equalizing blanket of snow I instantly identify is New York and most certainly not Montana, as the writing on the screen would have me believe. In counterpoint to the Daddy's Little Girl stock character we just met in the Elka sequence, this new character embodies the tough-talking city-gal myth of barking at taxi cabs and hurling sarcastic barbs at a world who can't take the time to listen to her manifold needs. But considering MTV's need to reach a certain teen and twentysomething demographic, I find it a boldly liberal development that they would accept the application of a washed-out, forty year old alcoholic for participation on the show. Look at those tired, tired eyes. Speaking of which, nice bangs. Cut to a skyline shot of New York City, labeled correctly this time as "New York City." Oh. I guess it's her name that's Montana, then. Oops. I'm dumb, a little. Yeah, well it's a stupid name anyway.

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