Saturday, June 30, 2012

What does the slow start for 'Life's a Tripp' mean for Bristol's career prospects? Can she and Willow become the Klondike Kardashians? And why did Sarah bring up my research on air?

My day job is working as a professor of mass communications and journalism; in that role, I teach students, for example, how the TV/cable business works. So I am professionally interested in Bristol's new reality show, "Life's a Trip," on the Lifetime cable network.

I can see why the decision-makers at Lifetime liked the idea of this show. The production costs of any reality show are low compared to a scripted show; and the costs of this particular reality show must be low compared to, say, "Jersey Shore," which has a much larger cast. So for a relatively small investment, the producers could test the waters and see if America's fascination with the Palin family was strong enough to keep a reality show like Bristol's afloat.

Also, I think the producers were wondering if Bristol, along her sister Willow, who seems to be a regular on the show, might replicate the success of the Kardashian girls – Kim, Kourtney, and Khloé – who have achieved great success in the reality show "Keeping up with the Kardasians."

Alas, Bristol's show has gotten off to a slow start. Its initial rating were so weak that it was quickly bumped out of its prime-time slot. The reality of Bristol's life as depicted in the show thus far has not been riveting, according to reviewers, although the mechanical-bull-riding scene and subsequent confrontation with a rude heckler sounded like pretty entertaining stuff.

Confession time: I almost never watch TV, except snippets via YouTube or Hulu. But someone sent me a link to Bristol's last show, because Bristol was shown talking to Sarah via a cell phone, and Sarah was talking about me: she told Bristol that a "professor" had placed ads in Alaska newspapers trying to get to the truth about Trig's birth – the point being to suggest disbelief that anyone could think Trig's birth was faked. It's true that I placed such ads early in the year, but they produced no results.

Sarah clearly wanted to use her daughter's show to suggest my research is nuts, and that's par for the course: I'm trying to expose her birth hoax, and she's trying to keep the truth from coming out. I'm not surprised she did that.

But what did surprise me was that I found her daughters, as least as revealed in their on-screen personas, to be quite likable. They're smart, engaging and pretty, and they seem like they might be fun to be around. That did not make me want to watch the show at any great length, but it does make me think Bristol and Willow just might be able to become the Klondike Kardashians.

This reality show of Bristol's may not last long. But I think she has achieved a critical mass of fame, plus has the drive and the shrewdness (presumably from her mother), to keep opportunities coming her way. Willow does not have much of a track record yet, but she is arguably even prettier than Bristol, and I suspect she'll be able to ride Bristol's coattails to success, just as Kim has been able to pull Kourtney and Khloé along in her wake of celebrity.

Celebrity is a curious thing in our culture. At some point you become famous mainly for being famous, like the Kardashians, and that fame alone can sustain a career if you have some modest attributes such as likability and physical attractiveness. 

And something else Bristol has going for her is that she presumably appeals to a conservative viewing demographic that yearns for stars outside of the usual liberal Hollywood orbit. In that regard, Bristol might be viewed as the anti-Kardashian, and as such she may be capable of filling a need for some entertainment providers.

I think Bristol has reached the point where she will continue to find opportunities for years as an anti-Kardashian avatar. And she may help not just Willow but eventually Piper (if this is what she wants) achieve some modest success in the fame machine that feeds our media and entertainment industries. 

And if that happens, far be in from me to criticize the Palin girls for taking advantage of the opportunity Sarah’s crazily careening career has afforded them.


  1. Brad,
    What you're saying about Bristol and Willow in the last two paragraphs here, is stunningly off base. A critical mass of fame? Coattails? Please! There is nothing resembling a critical mass of anything around Bristol except maybe sad dislike. Seriously. And not even a hint of coattails anywhere. I do applaud you for the time and energy you put into researching the SP pregnancy hoax. Thank you for that!

  2. Brad, I agree with Veracity Mama who said is so much better than I.

    I had read the original post before the changes were made and was wondering if you had a change of heart regarding the Palins.

    Thanks for making the changes. It reads much better now. :-)

  3. And another voice in agreement. Bristol and Willow have no charm, beauty or wit. They're going nowhere.

  4. As I said, I don't watch much TV, so I'm not a great judge of the norms of TV talent. But an implicit point I was making is that the standards for being a celebrity who finds steady work do not strike me as terribly high.

    I've never been of the view that Sarah has no talent. Despite her tendency to mangle words, she can come across as charismatic and powerful. Her daughters may learn from her.

    1. This bit about, "she can come across as charismatic and powerful." This reminds me of the movie star who, when asked how to make it big in the movies, answered, "Sincerity. If you can fake that, you can do anything."

      She may look charismatic and powerful, but I doubt she is- if she had been, she wouldn't have quit the governorship, she wouldn't have run away from Joe McGinniss, she wouldn't have insisted on that ridiculous fence project- look through her history and it's rife with examples of her cowardice. Heck, she can't fly somewhere alone- she has to take a kid. Any 'em, all of 'em.

      I think Sarah has serious emotional issues, and that she's actually a very cowardly person. She builds a wall of security around her, and it's not always a literal fence. It's someone with her so she doesn't have to try to cope with stuff. It's constant emotional support from whatever family member is around at the time, even if that family member is a very small kid.

  5. Re: your positive appraisal of Bristol and Willow as reality show stars ... THANKS FOR THE WARNING.

    However, as a former TV producer with experience in the genre of "reality television" (which, I maintain, is the greatest oxymoron of the 20th century and, so far, the 21st), I strongly disagree.

    What the vast majority of reality show TV viewers fail to comprehend is that the bizarre onscreen antics they cheer are closely directed, coordinated and even created by a phalanx of offscreen producers and network executives.

    The Kardashians are "stars" of a sub-set of reality show performers: those who propel the narrative with their outrageously selfish behavior. Though a good deal of it comes from those off-camera supervisors (whose sole motivation is profit), the Kardashians must take whichever suggestions are agreeable to them and make them seem natural and "organic" -- as if THEY'D just thought of them -- without ever crossing the fine line between outrageous and revolting behavior.

    This is far harder than it may seem. Few Kardashian-wannabes possess this instinct for satisfying viewers' wish fulfillment without going too far, and it's painfully obvious that Bristol and Willow are not among them.

    What I find incomprehensible is that they're devoted to appearing SO vindictive, self-centered, amoral, caustic -- in short, so UNLIKEABLE. Where Sarah Palin has spent her life concealing her many character flaws while wooing the unsuspecting, her offspring seem intent on parading the fact that they're perfectly DREADFUL people.

    I believe the reason these leaves fell so far from their increasingly gnarled tree lies in the difference between their upbringing and their mother's. The "mama grizzly" managed to suppress her avarice while teaching herself the secrets of "media seduction" -- by enhancing and displaying her beauty, projecting her not inconsiderable charisma, mouthing specific political viewpoints, and even, it's been said, altering her accent to sound more homespun. Only after mastering this fakery did she feel confident enough to unleash her staggering greed and hunger for power.

    Bristol and Willow, however, had to learn how to achieve their goals in the reverse order. Raised that vindictiveness, selfishness and amorality were the acceptable norm, they've struggled to create even the thinnest veneer of attractiveness.

    That the Palin daughters more resemble their two-dimensional father in terms of charisma doesn't exactly keep me up night. What I find worrisome is that it appears they've inherited their mother's impenetrable self-denial.

    If Bristol's dismally-attended book tour was a wake-up call she failed to hear, the fact that "Life's a Tripp" has been an INSTANTANEOUS ratings disaster is an air raid siren. Can she ignore it as well ? My money's on Brissy.

    But if I'm wrong and someday, somehow, Bristol Palin finally DOES realize that no amount of plastic surgery, false piety or childishly-fake cries of victimization can disguise her complete detestability, I wonder if there will be any reality show cameras on hand to capture her devastating pain ? So long as she gets paid, it seems likely.

    The real tragedy is that so few will care enough to watch.

    1. BP: Great comment -- unless you object, I'm going to use your comment along with Ivyfree's for my next post.

    2. I was just ranting out of frustration over this latest example of the Palins' audacious fraud.

      I mean, the only thing more obscenely hypocritical than Bristol Palin whining about the vicissitudes of being a single mother is if she were to bemoan the discrimination she's faced on account of her distant Yup'ik heritage ...

      It'd be an honor if my ramblings can provide you with ANYthing that may help expose any of the Palins' many misdeeds.

      Thank you for your hard work and persistence !

  6. Bristolly Pine, I agree with you. I tend to watch competitive reality shows instead of candid reality shows, but I don't think either of the girls have the capability of being successful at it.

    I've watched a few reality programs, and judging from the ones I've seen, the characters have to have SOMETHING interesting about them. It may not be positive- think Teresa of Real Housewives of New Jersey and the table-flipping- but there is something about them that interests and attracts. And that is why I think neither Bristol nor Willow will be successful at reality programming. From what I've read (and I freely acknowledge I have not watched Life's a Tripp) neither of the girls is inherently interesting. They're not doing anything interesting. Well, Bristol drove a forklift but I'm betting that's because the show didn't want to pay anybody to be seen on air with her. You have to have permission before you put somebody in a reality program, and if you're doing it, you're gettting paid for it.

    Willow, I gather, just wants to be entertained. And Bristol whines about her ex. That's what I've gathered. And that is not the stuff of intriguing candid reality shows. EVERYBODY knows someone who whines about her ex. EVERYBODY knows teenagers who don't want to do anything. None of this is unique, and neither of the girls seem to have attractive personalities. At some point, a reality program is going to require more than lying to your child about his father and setting up a "meeting" that you know perfectly well won't be a meeting.

    Bristol's trying desperately to attract viewers, but she just isn't that interesting. Nor is Willow. Deep down, they still seem to be the girls who get foul-mouthed on Facebook and want to give America the middle finger. Yes, they could get past this if they wanted... but they don't look like they want it.

    The Kardashians aren't the most talented of people but neither are they vicious. They're extremely attractive, they dress well, they follow the script they're given by their producers. I doubt Bristol would, even if she had the opportunity.

  7. Ivy: BP: Great comment -- unless you object, I'm going to use your comment along with BP's for my next post.

  8. It took me a while to make a comment here, although I read your post shortly after you put it up. I just couldn't think of anything to say, because I was so gobsmacked that you could seriously think of Bristol and Willow as smart, engaging, and likable. That is a highly original opinion. So now, I've finally figured out the appropriate response.

    Professor Scharlott, I accuse you of being a nice person. Don't try to argue with me. I can tell. You're probably one of those people who go around trying to be all courteous and professional and stuff.

    1. Guilty! Also, I had a seriously weird and difficult childhood, so I empathize with children who likewise have had to overcome great odds in growing up.

    2. Who had to overcome great odds, other than you who just said you did?

    3. I would argue that being raised by a pimp and a lying attention whore, as the Palin kids have been, represent great odds. The problem is that at this point, none of the kids- and I include Track- seem to have overcome them.

      All we know about Track is that he keeps quiet- which may mean he's overcome odds, or may mean that he's figured out how to keep his mouth shut. We don't know. People are free to think the best of him, though. I don't.

  9. Yes, I was gobsmacked as well by this post. I actually couldn't believe you wrote it! But, you have the PHD and teach mass communications, I don't. I am surprised that you don't watch much TV given you teach mass communications. Anyway, there isn't must good on TV anyway, I thought you would watch for research.
    I haven't watched Bristol's show and have no desire to do so. There is nothing interesting about two short normal looking uneducated girls from a hick town to hold my interest (well, normal until Bristol surgerized herself). I don't agree that they would appeal to the fundies as a fundy reality show. They do not walk the walk enough for the real fundies. Rednecks, maybe.
    What's new in babygate research land? My friend who was doing travelling nursing in Anchorage, who had the perfect opportunity to snoop around, emailed me that no one CARES if Sarah faked it. Ain't that nice? No one cares to call her on it.

    1. Obviously no one cares about her "pregnancy." People have lives.

    2. We ALL have lives. Some of us with lives care that a psychopath faked a pregnancy for political and monetary gain.

  10. Like comeonpeople, I'm interested in whatever is new in babygate land. I'm having trouble understanding why all the babygate blogs are interested in SP's family: the Levi stuff, the Johnston's. these two overweight daughters and their associates in this failed TV show, etc. They don't seem to me to matter at all in our effort to expose the babygate issues.

    If people in AK don't care that SP faked the pregnancy (which I can understand), and if we see that the same is true among our own friends (as I do), then why would more info or speculating about the family members be of interest? Clearly it is not. I know I am out of step here. But I don't understand it. How does this help us uncover the baby hoax cover-up?

    The idea of caring about the baby hoax per se is one thing. Perhaps some of us cared about that at the outset. The idea of such a blatant lie begs someone pointing out that it's not true. Or at least it did. On the other hand, if some other politician had faked a pregnancy but had kept the baby protected and out of sight, and had not used it as her brand, I would say "Who cares? Let sleeping dogs lie."

    But now we see that it is the connections to McCain, Schmidt, the fundies, the GOP VIPs, and to the media blackout about this matter that are of pretty vital interest. The hoax's symbolism re family values or even just basic ethics: who knew what, and when, and chose to conceal it? Esp as we come closer to more dirty tricks preceding the upcoming election.

    Because as Rachel Maddow and others have pointed out so compellingly, blatant lying is an integral part of the Romney campaign. In an effort to make voters more sensitive to that for THIS election, exposing the covered-up baby hoax would be the one contribution we could make to this election. We can't affect the Citizens United big-bucks effect; we can't do much about voter suppression and voter fraud. But we could do this one thing: expose this particular dirty trick as a cautionary tale re what we are up against in the Nov election.

    Of course I don't know how. I guess none of us does. And it may be impossible for us bloggers to thwart the best interests of big money and big power. But I hope we can keep trying.

    IM made the very interesting point, again, about the circumstances of SP's resignation as governor. That there were several probable reasons, which I am guessing are known to a few, although sources to document anything dried up following the resignation. Brad, I wish you would tell us why you lit into G re the two babies -- you said you had a reason. For me, whether it's one or more babies, whether the ears are the same or different, and many other details seem to be of no interest to anyone but us, and will surely not be the keys that get the MSM to report the cover-up. I wish you and G and PG would do a conference call and figure out how you could cooperate, support each other, and really solve this. Somehow get any remaining babygate secrets out (in the form of the IM/Fred babygate book?) Arguing divisively over the arrangement of the deck chairs is not going to help the Titanic prevail against the iceberg.

    comeonepeople: did your traveling nurse friend have any sense of whether the Dar Miller fire is viewed as arson? I know, it's just another detail. Sigh.

    1. Great comments Amy. It is important to expose babygate. I still think it "seems" so easy to break this from a medical standards of care issue, yet there is JUST NO ONE (who can get attention) willing to ask the tough questions . Rachel Maddow asking CBJ to explain herself. Any doctor on the new sshows questioning the wild ride and tight abs. AGGHHH. It is so frut trating to me.
      My travel nurse friend did not talk about Dar Miller. She was sooooo completely shut down by any person ahe spoke with, they just don't care to expose it. They all beleive it was faked, but hey, who cares. This girl is very smart and maybe when her assignment is over this month she will tell more of her experience. She said Alaska is a beautiful but very weird place.

  11. "why would more info or speculating about the family members be of interest"

    There's zero rationality behind stalking anyone, public figure or not. The people who stalk and speculate about strangers either have no life inside them, they're secretly, jealous, or they see themselves in the subject and are offended by lies told about them

    " I wish you would tell us why you lit into G re the two babies"
    Probably because the two babies theory is stupid and without actual evidence. Trig Palin is one little boy who's always and will always be a member of his beloved family.

    1. Oh please, you must be a Heath/Palin or a Wasillian. Do yourself a favor and take a trip, explore the world alittle, take some college classes. You will see that "normal" people do not fake a pregnacy and hoax a nation and coninue to profit from it.
      Look up srtalking in the dictionary. Watching someone who is on TV and critically examing their written and spoken words is not stalking.
      Those of us who want to expose babygate are not jeaolous of the Palins. Far from it. As a medical professional, I see it as my duty to expose the story as it defies every known standard of care as well as human physiology.
      No one questions that Tri-G is a part of the Palin family or not. Sarah is stuck with him. Her gamble did not pay off. She is his mother. However, he did not come from her uterus on April 08 or EVER. That is the issue. It may be hard for people with a small world view and little intelligence to understand, but THAT is the issue.

  12. palinevents: perhaps YOU could be the one to explain the Mar 14 photo of a flat-profile SP.

    And this rough comparison? How is it possible SP gave birth 5 weeks later? Medical miracle? or hoax?

    I assume you do not think the Palin Baby Hoax is real? That everything was as stated. Am I correct?

    I don't think it's called stalking when a public figure has deceived us (hoaxed us! for political gain), and we try to present the real story. It's called accountability.

  13. Amy, the problem I have isn't that Sarah lied- although she's a stupid woman and it was a stupid lie- the problem is McCain, who brought her onto the national scene and still claims he's proud of her. Well, no matter how he plays it, he looks stupid. If he admits he knew at the time she was a moron, then not only does he look stupid, he demonstrates how willing he is to sacrifice his country.

    We know Republicans lie. Many of their lies have been exposed. The problem is they're still lying. That's why babygate is important- this idiotic woman came up with a moronic lie and was supported by the entire Repug party AND the baggers. They have a record of dishonesty that deserves to be revealed.

  14. Well put, Ivyfree. McCain's dilemma is just like that of Pakistan re whether the gov't knew Bin Laden was hiding there just a few hundred feet from their star military academy: If they say they knew, it shows them to be duplicitous; if they say they did not know, it shows them to be inept and stupid.

    I agree 100% -- it's not about SP, it's about those who knew and condoned her hoax, and are doing so still.

    1. I wish the IRS would audit her, I do. We know she's a tax cheat: she cheated on property taxes in Alaska when she was governor. Well, you put this woman in a situation where people sent her money. How likely is it that she'll make sure every penny is appropriately accounted for and reported?

      Not that I wish her any harm- not at all. A nice warm orange jumpsuit and a safe, cozy prison cell- that'll be just fine.

    2. No IRS audit, no MSM coverage of the hoax or the other PalinGates, no attn to the prostitution link: makes it seem likely that SP is being protected by people powerful enough to manipulate such entities. As we have noted before.

      It's just like with the Edwards case, only in reverse: Who pulled the levers that determined that Edwards would be indicted? It's clear now that that there was no real "aggrieved party" re the spending of the money, and that the law on the use of that money was not clear or strong enough to support the indictment. But it got done anyway. For what purpose? For all the press coverage, to ruin him. That's actually okay with me.

      The opposite is true with Palin: so many illegal/unethical things that SHOULD be addressed, but they are not. But it's a manipulation of the system in both cases IMO. Edwards' disgrace did not bring down a cascade of other VIPs, making it easy to beat him up. SP's many disgraces would bring down or at least involve the GOP VIPs who enabled her (McCain, Schmidt, fundie VIPs), so they have a reason to protect her. Plus she is still so good at "energizing the base" to help the evil Southern Strategy work (getting out the Hate Vote, re Blacks, women, elitists with a good education, etc.)

      I know I am a broken record on this. The cover-up needs to be addressed, and it probably won't be. Very disappointing.

  15. Fear of retribution is a mighty powerful incentive for silence.

  16. Brad, I have to say that I am with the others who were greatly surprised that the Palin sisters managed to charm you. I find neither of them charming, although I do think Willow has a bit of spunk. Bristol, however, is just a spoiled, whiny brat. If I were a struggling single mother, I would probably become physically ill listening to the wealthy Bristol constantly complain about the trials and tribulations of raising a child alone. Perhaps Bristol is remembering when she became a single mother in 2007 or early 2008. Back then, before the Palins were world famous and filthy rich, she might have had a much harder time as the teen mother of a special needs baby.


    1. Well, I only watched about 5 minutes of the show -- a woefully inadequate sample. I did want to say something positive about the girls. But you and the others have convinced me my comments were ill-considered.

  17. Brad, in this article you said: "I'm trying to expose her birth hoax", present tense. Please say you aren't still chasing this fantasy?

    1. Are you serious? Please read: