MIL­LEN­NIAL DI­ARY

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - - People - CIARA O’CON­NOR

FOR those of us who have spent the last year in an in­tense love/ hate re­la­tion­ship with the In­sta­gram ac­count of Vogue Wil­liams, last Mon­day marked a cathar­tic true start to the new year with the air­ing of her new re­al­ity TV show.

Vogue spent 2018 per­fect­ing the art of bread-crumb­ing her fol­low­ers tan­ta­lis­ing snip­pets of in­for­ma­tion, string­ing us along and leav­ing us beg­ging for more.

The show was orig­i­nally set to be called Spencer and

Vogue: Adult(ish), re­veal­ing its square aim for the mil­len­nial view­ing pub­lic, for whom ‘adult’ is a (very stress­ful) verb. The jar­ringly ironic tone and look of it is trans­par­ently de­signed to ap­peal to a gen­er­a­tion who believe sar­casm to be a stand-in for per­son­al­ity.

The show seems to be at­tempt­ing to sub­vert the ‘low-bud­get re­al­ity show cap­i­tal­is­ing on the life changes of re­al­ity TV vet­er­ans’ genre even as it oc­cu­pies it. The post­mod­ern mas­ter­piece opens with re­al­ity TV star Spencer look­ing at cam­era and say­ing: “I hate re­al­ity TV.”

As clips of mun­dane ac­tiv­i­ties in Vogue and Spencer’s life flash up on screen, Spencer looks into the cam­era, looks right through it — at us, sit­ting on the couch, eat­ing ce­real out of the box.

It was at this mo­ment that I re­alised we were watch­ing a Brechtian tri­umph; an in­ci­sive and un­flinch­ing mir­ror was be­ing held up to modern cul­ture, by the star of 2012’s se­ries of The Bach­e­lor. Wel­come to 2019, where even re­al­ity TV judges you for watch­ing re­al­ity TV; Ban­der­snatch has noth­ing on Spencer Matthews. As I found my­self forced against my will to imag­ine Vogue Wil­liams’s cervix as a Chee­rio and then a bagel, I won­dered whether I had be­come part of the per­for­mance art too.

Af­ter Mon­day’s episode screened, view­ers took to Twit­ter to gush about how fan­tas­tic Spencer is; how funny, how sweet, how at­ten­tive. I con­fess, at one point, drunk on the sight of a top­less man do­ing skin-on-skin with a new­born, I too found my­self think­ing, “Isn’t he great?”.

But then my higher self re­minded me that I was sub­scrib­ing to a cul­ture in which medi­ocrity in men is re­warded, and they are cel­e­brated for do­ing the bare min­i­mum (be­ing nice to their spouse, lov­ing their chil­dren).

Vogue re­veals her­self to be fun­nier, faster and (yes) taller than her per­fectly ac­cept­able hus­band. Some­one give this woman her own TV show! No, wait.

The Pen­du­lum Sum­mit, which ran in Dublin last week, ap­pears to be the brain­child of a bot or an al­go­rithm that is fed con­tem­po­rary buzz­words: “a busi­ness-themed mo­ti­va­tional con­fer­ence or­gan­ised by for­mer Mun­ster rugby star Frankie Shea­han”. Busi­ness! Mo­ti­va­tion! Rugby!!!

It was all about un­lock­ing po­ten­tial and reach­ing goals and “shar­ing its rip­ple of pos­i­tiv­ity through­out the globe” and other things that you’re likely to find on the iri­des­cent cov­ers of note­books for #Gir­lBosses and #24/7hus­tlers.

Fea­tured speak­ers were as di­verse as Kar­ren Brady (the first GirlBoss in his­tory), Boris John­son, Ruby Wax and our very own Colin Far­rell. Colin was in­ter­viewed by Miriam O’Cal­laghan, an in­cred­i­ble Ir­ish-squared set-up pre­sum­ably to jus­tify the sum­mit’s pres­ence in the coun­try.

There he was, with one of those tiny mi­cro­phones at­tached to his face, the kind of mic used ex­clu­sively by in­spi­ra­tional speak­ers, shar­ing his hard-won life les­sons:

“I am try­ing to look at the neg­a­tive less. If a tree falls in a for­est and there’s no­body around to hear it, does it make a sound?”

Al­ready, ‘quote art’ can be found on­line of Colin’s key take­aways: ‘“Life is meant to be lived, not mas­tered” in modern wa­ter­colour cal­lig­ra­phy, over­laid on a pic­ture of his for­mi­da­bly sculpted eye­brows. Is Colin Far­rell the new Emma Wat­son? Is Colin Far­rell the Headspace-sub­scrib­ing snowflake voice of rad­i­cal vul­ner­a­bil­ity that Ire­land has been wait­ing for? Does Colin iden­tify as a mil­len­nial now?

He’s very wel­come, we need all the sup­port we can get; if a celebrity bares their soul at a mo­ti­va­tional con­fer­ence and the whole in­ter­net is around to hear it, were they ever re­ally born in the 1970s at all?

Of all the gold-stan­dard Kar­dashian-Jen­ner con­tent gen­er­ated in re­cent days, (Kim buy­ing Louis Vuit­ton hand­bags for all the girl-ba­bies in the fam­ily, Lind­say Lo­han’s as­sur­ances that she is friends with ‘the whole fam­ily’ af­ter an In­sta­gram feud) it is young Ken­dall who wins this week’s edi­tion of ‘what in the name of Meryl Streep are you talk­ing about?’

The in­ter­net was teased with the prom­ise of a big an­nounce­ment from Ken­dall Jen­ner; Mo­mager Kris had tweeted about how proud she was of her daugh­ter, “for be­ing so brave and vul­ner­a­ble” in shar­ing “her most raw story to make a pos­i­tive im­pact for so many peo­ple”.

She warned us to pre­pare to be moved.

Of course, the an­nounce­ment turned out to be a spon­sor­ship deal with skin­care brand which Ken­dall is now cred­it­ing with clear­ing up her acne. Ken­dall shared her ex­pe­ri­ence of grow­ing up with bad skin with her older Kar­dashian sis­ters,

Acne can be de­bil­i­tat­ing, and I don’t doubt that Ken­dall felt bad about it. But her tears dried quickly with the help of celebrity der­ma­tol­o­gist Christie Kidd, who treated her with the kind of serums and lasers that the vast ma­jor­ity of acne suf­fer­ers can only dream of. And it is this ma­jor­ity that Ken­dall is tar­get­ing with her gush­ing en­dorse­ment of a brand she has never men­tioned be­fore in her many posts and in­ter­views about skin­care.

But this is the X-fac­tori­sa­tion of cul­ture, where sob sto­ries are cur­rency and re­al­ity is ir­rel­e­vant. Not only are we be­ing sold stuff, but in this late-cap­i­tal­ist night­mare, we’re be­ing guilted into sym­pa­this­ing with a mil­lion­aire su­per­model as we hand over our money.

I’m done with 2019 al­ready.

Vogue Wil­liams

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