Saturday, May 22, 2010

Missing From How To Make It In America: Skills

I'm on the fence with all the "Lifestyle Porn" programming. (y'know, Sex & The City was like "Blondes", Entourage was like "Babes" or "Celebrities", How to Make it in America is "Interracial") Like porn, there's a whiff of something cheap and pungent about it. Then again, it's porn. Anyone you interact with has probably just finished using some within the last 48 hours (too soon?).

Like porn, these shows offer an aesthetic of something we all want, know, love. And like porn, the shows lack depth. Specifically the psychology of sex that attracts us to porn in the first place. Sex is intoxicating for five minutes to a half hour *cough*, but the best version of it is between two people less enamored with the "porn" of sex, but the "sex" of sex. By that I mean the discipline of sex. Two people who want to go at going at it. Sex feels good, sure, but that's easy, most of us want, even more, to be good at sex. To build skills.
I recently caught up with How To Make It In America (henceforth: HTMIIA), and the sex was cool. But I found the conversation after to be a little lacking. It felt like I was drunk the previous night and I met HTMIIA out and was all, "oooh, you're so nyc sophisticated and multiculti. What's that? Oh, you design t-shirts? oooh ... cool. I'm a writer. books and raps. let's get drunk and fuck! creatively!
And so we did. But the fucking ended up being like missionary, doggy, some of the off-the-side-of-the-bed business, which you know, is fairly standard, at least for downtown New York. Or so I hear. I wouldn't expect to see pictures on Last Night's Party. And even if it isn't standard, it's nothing to talk about. The porn part of sex is not that interesting to talk about. You're either limber and willing, or not.
So fast forward a little and I'm asking her why she wants to be a designer. Cause, y'know, the way you go from porn to sex is to know and care about the characters.But she didn't seem to have any coherent reasons. She told me about how she met some other dude randomly at Uniqlo, and how he knew about a pile of t-shirts in The Bronx, and she went up there -- she made sure this registered, can you believe it! The Bronx! -- and they ended up frolicking in a pile of tees ina warehouse, and making more porn and it was all so cool! I think she mentioned pictures.
So I was like, huh. Cool. Sounds like fun. Then she got a call from Kid Cudi about a party and I just bounced, didn't think too much more about it.
Except then I started getting a little angry, cause she was talking about NYC a lot, and I'm from NYC, and live here, and I'm thinking, to live in NYC is to be a fucking genius. And you show and prove that shit everyday, just to get through the day. New York snacks on genius like bon-bons. you think a break-up and a lost t-shirt is tough? come harder. that mindset is not going to pay the bills on a hot dog stand in downtown new york. I think some other NYC peeps felt the same. Maybe your one t-shirt idea and some immigration papers might play in Arizona, but your landlord and boss at Barney's are not impressed. That part feels real.
The reason these shows are like fake rappers is because success is not a lifestyle that is glamorous. We never saw Carrie Bradshaw pace her apartment drinking until she found that deep-seeded relationship truth she was searching for. Porn is glamorous (or at least marketed that way), but the discipline of success is sweaty and nasty and like most things not all that fun to look at with normal people involved. Those who do get to dabble in this lifestyle are seldom seen, not because they're aloof but because they're tired.
So I don't know, like porn, I don't have a problem with the show, per se. I guess I just want a Public Service Announcement to come up: THIS WILL NOT CUT IT, FOLKS. DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME IF YOUR HOME IS IN NEW YORK. YOU WILL BE LIVING ELSEWHERE BEFORE YOU EVEN DISCOVER FOURSQUARE AND FREE HAPPY HOURS.
You need skills to make it here. No doubt the hustle-and-chatter game is one, of many. But you need a full tool-kit in NYC. If they were showing someone so shallow in their ambition in my line of work I might have had to Norman Mailer someone for hurting my sense of intellectual pollution.


  1. merilee5/25/2010

    its american propaganda.
    it falls flat because its not expressing any human truth, or societal truth. all it is selling is this american dream bullshit

  2. Brilliant analysis, and corollary, of HTMIIA.


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