media stereotypes

What Will Happen When You Go On a Daytime Talk Show*

I somehow understand this now.

*Per a bunch of legal blahblahs, the name of the show is being withheld until said show airs.

You will have your own dressing room. There will be 27 bottles of water in the fridge. Sunchips, granola bars and Flaming Hot Cheetos will be piled up on an end table. The lamp on that table will not light up. At first, this room will feel warm and inviting. A wrangler will put you in the room and tell you someone will be with you “soon.” Half an hour later when no one has come for you, this room will feel more like a cozy little jail cell. You will hear doors opening and closing in the hallway and you will worry that at some point on the show your first love or long lost relative will show up, or that you’re being set up for an Intervention. You will freak out about this and will take no comfort in the knowledge that you do not have a substance abuse problem.

There will be a knock on your door and wardrobe will come in and bring you clothes that are fancier than what you normally buy at Forever 21. They’ll use fancy jargon like “pencil skirt,” “color blocking” and “stop crying, everyone has to wear Spanx.

Next, the makeup department will break your heart by making you look more beautiful than you ever have. In fact, you pretty much look like a different person…a person who you have begun to envy for her grace, poise and ability to understand eye shadow. You wonder if there’s a place you can go out to that night to take advantage of the fact that you look like a dream. You imagine meeting a wonderful and handsome stranger. You will have a lovely bottle of wine with this stranger and then you will tell him that you can never see him again because you are an angel or a ghost or are scheduled to be executed at dawn—anything to keep him from trying to contact you and finding out that in real life you look like a hobo.

I'm sorry, I'm only on earth a short while.

You will wonder if the term hobo is offensive.

You will think you will be able to replicate this look when you get home. You will not. You will start thinking of ways to steal the Spanx, because, gosh darnit, you really do look a lot better with them on.

If you step out of your room cell without a handler, someone will admonish you to return to your room. This will not ease the feeling that someone is going to haul you off to rehab for an as yet undiagnosed addiction.

Wardrobe will ask you if you have any jewelry, then will bring you a bracelet, earrings and a necklace that all match and you will marvel at their ability to make you look like a girl. You will then realize how highly constructed the beauty standard is wonder if it’s bad that you feel so fucking pretty right now.

You will listen to show tunes to simultaneously calm yourself down and “ramp up your energy!!!” as the show runners have asked you to do. You will wonder if the big smiles they’ve been giving you are fake or if they actually like you. Their continued enthusiasm will not abate the still-gnawing concern that someone’s going to a produce a heroin pipe with your fingerprints inexplicably on it.

Don't worry, Officer, it's just cocain-- I mean baking soda. BAKING SODA!!

You suddenly remember that your mother said she was taking a totally random trip to “North Carolina” this week. You wonder if she’s going to show up on set and tell you that she’s really your father.

You will really wish that the room was bigger or that there was one other living thing inside of it.

Someone will come in and say that they’re turning on the TV in the room so that you can see a live feed of the show you’re about to be on. The TV will at first be set to the wrong channel so Jerry Springer will come on and you will shit your Spanx a little bit.

Soon, you will be taken out of your holding cell and for half an hour, you will stand in line in your platform shoes that are sexy as all hell, but half a size too small.

The show will break for commercial and a person who’s presumably the charmingest person in the crew will awkwardly talk to the audience and pump them for anecdotes that will definitely not be used at any time during the rest of the show.

A handler will walk you out on stage where four other guests have been chatting for a while. You will remember that the clips of the show you did see seemed a bit more Springer-esque than you were hoping for, but you feel confident that you will be able to have a great conversation with the Celebrity Host. After all, you spent a week talking to producers, telling them who you are and sharing your POV with them. Surely they couldn’t have been lying to you when they said they loved what you had to say.

The Celebrity Host will announce your presence and then roll footage that you prepared for them. However, they will re-edit the footage so that you appear to be a mean, deluded villain. The audience will boo. You will roll your eyes, but you will remain composed. You will then tell the audience that while your work is mostly satire and sarcasm, there are a few truths you’d like to talk about. You will tell two jokes and the whole room will laugh and you will feel good because you did not allow the villain tag to stick.

Not me.

The Celebrity Host will not like this.

A guy in the audience will support your sentiment and begin to add his own thoughtful commentary.

The Celebrity Host will ignore what the guy is saying and instead ask you if you want to go out with that guy on a date. That night.

You will say no because that person is a stranger and considering all you really know about him is that he agreed to be in the audience of a daytime talk show, it might be best to have him vetted just a bit.

The Celebrity Host will get another man on stage to join him in demanding that you go out with the stranger. That night. You will hold your ground and say no. The two men will get a little louder and encourage the audience to pressure you into letting this stranger spend the evening with you as well. The audience will comply and you will unfairly compare yourself to a victim in the Coliseum or a character in The Hunger Games. And because you have finally found the boundaries that have eluded you your entire life, you will say no a final time.

The Celebrity Host will say you are too hard to please and that this is why you will never be able to put a ring on it.

It is at this point that you realize that they did not want you to come on the show because you were bright and had interesting things to say. You will remain poised, but will mentally check out while the other four people on stage conform to race and gender stereotypes. You will feel sad. But you will applaud at the right times as indicated by the tired looking woman who is standing by Camera B.

While you wonder exactly how much longer you can keep your legs crossed so tightly so that the front row doesn’t see right up your Spanx, you will be super glad that your friend happened to get a gig on set that day. Because you can tell by the way he smiles at you from behind the audience that he knows what you’re thinking. And that he empathizes.

The show will end and the Celebrity Host will not look you in the eye when they shake your hand. They will, however, laugh it up with the women who spent the whole show acting like they had just stepped out of a Tyler Perry movie and were on their way to a Stephnfetchit: The Musical audition. Other members of the crew will ask those ladies to stick around for further interviews. You will be excused.

As you walk by them, those ladies will drop their sassy ghetto accents, and in voices that sound exactly like yours admit that they were just playing. They will not understand the shock in your eyes as you mull over the fact that their little games for a few minutes of media attention ultimately make life harder for all three of you.

You will return to your cell and change out of your show clothes and back into your regular hobo gear. You will be paid for your time and humiliation in cash. It will feel dirty.

You will be half way back to work before you realize how upset you are that two grown ass men made fun of you for no reason and wasted quite a bit of time just to make you look bad because you value actual conversation. You will begin crying and all your pretty mascara will run away down your cheeks. You will be happy to that the first meeting you have to attend upon getting back to your office is in a dark room.

After the meeting your boss will look at you like he wants to ask what’s up. But he’s very polite, so he will not. You will eat a hot dog because you deserve some comfort food and you will hope that no one notices that your eyes are wet for the rest of the day.

You will wonder why someone the nation touts as an expert person who cares about people could be such a shithead. You wonder if the home audience is really incapable of having a conversation about race, class and feminism that doesn’t descend into name-calling, head-popping and people ranting about their baby mamas. You will remember that you thought that bullying ended in high school and you will feel extra depressed that the nation will see you dismissed as a valid human because you had the gall to be a layered human.

You will wonder if maybe because you lost the attention of the Celebrity Host and the viewing audience if you indeed have lost value. Celebrity Host is the expert, after all. You will wonder if maybe you should just be less fucking uptight about the representation of people in the media. If maybe you should just throw boundaries to the wind and agree to maybe get date raped for a television network’s profit margin. You wonder if you do not loosen up, will it mean that you will not make it in this industry and thus the last third of your life a naive waste.

Then your boss will finally come around and ask you what’s wrong. And when you say you’re not ready to talk about it, he will look at you with empathy and say that you did good work that day. Your friend will tell you over facebook chat to just blow it off. And when you explain to him that you are truly hurting over this, he will continue to listen and be nice to you and check in with you to see if you’re okay. Your friend from the set will text you and tell you that you did a good job and that while you didn’t get to say much, your composure spoke volumes. Your therapist will tell you that your anger is justified and that you may have an issue with impulse control, so maybe don’t go drink tonight. Your roommate will let you rant and rave and she will understand why you are so hurt. You will appreciate all of it immensely and you will wish you weren’t so phobic about hugs.

First stop, hug. Next stop, cuddle party.

You will eat two Lemongrass Chicken Stix and find them to be too pungent. You will remove the lingering taste with 6 mini s’mores from Trader Joes. You will have a glass of wine. Yes, just the one. And you will curl up with your cats and do some writing before you go to bed.

You will think about two things that make you feel better. The first thing is that the rest of your afternoon was full of more value and love than 15 minutes in front of a camera will ever bring and so if all you have for the rest of your career are afternoons like this one, that will be just fine. You will want to tell those ladies that but you didn’t get their numbers and you don’t know their names.

You will also feel better knowing that while you did give the sexy sexy platform shoes back to wardrobe, you totally stole their fucking Spanx.

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