02 April 2008

They Read It On TV

Today's post will not be about worms. I don't hate them, but I'm certainly not going to limit myself to writing about them.

But I was thinking of literary dealbreakers on Monday night when I was watching "The Hills," MTV's guilty pleasurama "reality" show about entry-level glamour workers in Los Angeles. I blog about the show, but I would watch it even if I didn't, because I really enjoy shouting at the television. On the latest episode, the bad-idea-to-begin-with couple Heidi and Spencer were separating their possessions so Spencer could move out of the apartment they shared. While they were having a discussion about who should get the 42" TV and who the 50", I was looking at the bookshelves in the corner of the screen. Here's what Heidi or Spencer have been reading recently:
  • LEGACY OF ASHES: THE HISTORY OF THE CIA by Tim Weiner
  • WOODEN by John Wooden (UCLA coach)
  • THE MOVIE BUSINESS: THE DEFINITIVE GUIDE TO THE LEGAL AND FINANCIAL SECRETS OF GETTING YOUR MOVIE MADE by Kelly Crabb
  • EMPIRES OF THE SAND: THE STRUGGLE FOR MASTERY IN THE MIDDLE EAST, 1789-1923, Efraim Karsh and Inari Karsh
  • EXECUTIVE SECRETS: COVERT ACTION AND THE PRESIDENCY by William J. Daugherty and Mark Bowden.
I'm not ruling out that they were placed there by a set dresser to make it seem like their living room had more than two TVs in it, but even so, what peculiar choices! Now, Spencer may be evil or he may just be edited that way; still, those are some pretty solid titles (he struck me as the kind of guy whose favorite book would be THE GAME). On the other hand, they weren't packed away, which suggests it's Heidi who is trying to make her movie about a basketball coach turned CIA operative in Pakistan. Hopefully, that's coming up in a future episode.

ETA: The blog Songs about Buildings and Food, which covers "The Hills" like no one else, also spotted THE WORLD IS FLAT and LIPSTICK JUNGLE in the Spencer and Heidi library. The blogger writes, "I will not judge them for their choices but simply commend them for reading more than any other television characters this side of Rory Gilmore."

3 comments:

Marjorie said...

That's weirdly hilarious. Wouldn't it be cheaper as well as more realistic to stock the shelves with paperback novels?

Justin said...

i rule out set dresser just because, as much as i would like to read the "lipstick jungle" as a wry in-joke, i think the producers could care less if heidi and spencer are perceived as smart. whether or not they've actually read the books i don't know but i know they actively chose them. i remember seeing spencer read multiple times on the show (which is weird; how often do you see an adult person reading on television?) and one of the money quotes in heidi's maxim interview was about how she was reading "the bible and a book about the mob in chicago." again, whether this is an affectation or not, i don't know, but even if it is an affectation, i think it's a sort of quaint and fascinating thing to affect.

Ellen said...

Marjorie - it would be cheaper but I don't know about more realistic; everyone I know has at least a few hardcovers, even the basically nomadic ones.

Justin - that's a good point; I believe I read an interview with a reality show contestant (Project Runway maybe?) who said the producers didn't allow them to have any books on set. At first I thought "That's terrible! How dull!" but of course, people reading make for dull reality shows. I just wish I had been paying attention more closely to what Spencer was reading.