I'm worried about our city. Not because of the crime rate or the poverty figures or the Grizzlies' lineup for next year. No, I'm worried because I've seen what we're exporting.
Chip. Trenyce. Robin.
Who, you ask? Memphis' cast of reality-show ejects. (Okay, to be fair, at press time, Robin hasn't been kicked off America's Next Top Model, and for all I know, she may win the whole thing. For her sake, I hope she does.)
The point is, these people are part of the "reality" face of Memphis.
First there was Chip from Germantown on Survivor Africa. He eventually parlayed his talents into a walk-on gig with Whoopi Goldberg at the Academy Awards, but before that, he lazed around northern Kenya.
Trenyce has a beautiful voice, but the revelations about her five-finger discount discounted her. It's true she wasn't the only American Idol to meet a scandal. But there have been plenty who haven't.
Then there's Robin on UPN's America's Next Top Model. She is lazy; she is loud; she is always late. You'd think that if you were 26, full-figured, and had a shot at a lucrative Revlon contract, you'd at least try to make a good impression on the judges. But no. Even Tyra Banks told her she needed to lose the diva (with-a-capital-DEEEEV) attitude.
This is what Memphis has to offer? Is our city an entire community of lazy, loudmouthed thieves? Actually, now that I think about our elected officials ...
I know, no one really ever comes off well on reality shows. There's too much editing for drama, sexual content, intrigue. And it's not like anyone's going to remember that all these people are from Memphis (take a random sampling of 18- to 24-year-olds, however, and I bet you could find out where Reuben is from), but geez, it's really affecting my civic pride.
I like to root for the hometown hero as much as the next gal. Give me Pau Gasol and Shane Battier any day. I loved it when Tajuan Stout-Mitchell introduced a City Council resolution making every Tuesday Trenyce Day. When I was in college, I sat next to Janet from The Real World: Seattle in one of my classes. I didn't really know her, but I liked her, and when she was on the show, I was proud of her.
But I find it hard to get behind Memphis' offerings, especially Robin. And I'm not the only one. It seems there's a few of us (we can't talk about it much, because to do so would be admitting watching America's Next Top Model) who get irked by Robin.
On last week's episode, one of the models wanted to bring her girlfriend to the penthouse. Robin told the show she found this offensive (she doesn't believe in "lezbean and gay" relationships), but that everyone has to be judged for their own sins.
But that's not all Robin has complained about. She complained about having to get a bikini wax, about getting her hair dyed, having to work-out (and she wants to be a model!), doing a photo shoot with a snake, and so on.
Perhaps Robin is being shown to dramatic disadvantage to make her the show's antagonist (maybe she's really nice in real life), but doesn't she realize everything she says and does is being taped? To be shown on national TV?
I just want to be able to stand behind one contestant proudly and say, "She's from Memphis."
Maybe next season.
Mary Cashiola is a Flyer staff writer.