September 14, 1999
Manipulation for Fun and Profit
You can relax now, everyone. After all that back-breaking toil they've endured in that hell-hole of a tropical isle, the kids finally get their well-earned vacation. Since they have the good fortune to be touring the golden land of spices, roaming cattle, and extravagant monuments, everything should be just hunky-dory, right? We should get a 27-minute travelogue starring 7 goofy, mixed-up post-teens with no gritty residue.
Wrong-o, mes amis! I don't know if you ever watch bad horror movies, but they're one of my particular weaknesses. During these schlock-fests, I often find myself gripping the velour armrests of my recliner and yelling, "Don't go in the basement! Don't go up to the dead guy!", knowing full well that the numbskulls on the other side of the screen will not take my sage advice. During this episode, I found myself gasping, "Don't listen to Justin! Keep away from Justin!" And, believe me, it wasn't because I cared about Colin and Amaya's foolish fling or their feelings. It was because I was staring into the bleached-blond visage of evil, and I knew I was in over my poor little curler-laden head.
Like most chilling tales, this episode starts out pleasantly enough. The Real Worlders arrive in India and receive a royal welcome- garlands, face dots (Kaia probably got in line twice for those!), and friendly greetings for all. The plan is to take a train for seven days; they will sight-see during the day and speed across India by night in the "Palace on Wheels". Colin and Amaya, in particular, seem to be enjoying themselves in India; they share a train compartment and see the sights together. The only downside for Colin is the scary shower, the scary elephant ride, and other scary stuff.
The first clue that Justin is experiencing an excess of spleen occurs as he watches Amaya distribute Blow Pops to the local kids. Amaya, silly but well-meaning, just wanted "to share her most favorite treat" with all the kids. Justin condemns her "suburban, liberal thinking" to Kaia, and then snorts, "You're that lame, and it's not even interesting." Okay, I thought to myself, is this mere cattiness? Is this weary exasperation? Or, is this the beginning of something else? The answer, my duckies? Something else. Something mean.
But, the trip isn't ruined quite yet. Teck "really feels at home" in India and is so anxious to see the sights and to hang out with the locals, he's willing to get up at the crack of dawn. Oh, okay, he's willing to get up by 8 am. He certainly goofs around just like at home, though, dancing around and yelling, "Peace Out!" The people of India willingly accept him into the fold, showing what a tolerant and inclusive place this is.
Justin makes a point of distancing himself from those pesky little peons who have the gall to live with him. Not content with that, he distances himself form the monkeys,too, and they're hard to avoid! In the evenings, however, mere distance is not enough for Tintin, I mean Justin. He's "feeling playful" with other people's emotions, like a cobra "feels playful" with its venom. He confides to Kaia, "There's ways to have fun, being cruel." Merci beaucoup, Mr. de Sade. I had given up on any action from Justin's corner this season, to tell you the truth, but this abrupt transformation can only be attributed to 1) a magical potion 2) an evil twin 3) Justin has had his vacation, and now he wants shake things up before he ditches the show.
Upon learning Justin's penchant for manipulation, Kaia says, "You're suggesting open fire in every way," but she doesn't seem overly upset about it, like she will claim to be later. Instead, she is eager to join in the mad scientist laughter. Like surreptitious readers of a junior-high slambook, we learn Justin's true feelings about the other cast members. Amaya is "pitiable and pathetic", Colin is "inconsequential", Kaia exhibits "intense self-centeredness", and Teck's "schtick is so tired, it's comatose." Well, I can't say that this is news, but it certainly is intriguing to watch a cast member lash out in so many directions at once. That takes some doing, you know.
Out of pure spite, Justin holds a little Star Chamber-esque meeting with Colin to try to break up his "honeymoon" with Amaya. Kaia, holding her peace (for once!), witnesses the confrontation. At first, the scornful Justin comes on a bit strong with statements like, "Amaya is f***ed in the head. You know this." By the end of the little tete a tete, however, he's convinced Colin that his closeness to Amaya is only making her even more dependent, and he should back out of the relationship now.
Has Justin mastered the ancient art of hypnotism? Is Colin as empty-headed as all that? The results are laughably immediate. Colin puts plenty of India between himself and Amaya. Amaya tries to enjoy the exotic sights, sounds, and smells, but she notices Colin's standoffishness right away. When they make some feeble attempt to discuss the situation, Colin lets it slip that some person helped him to "process his thoughts," because obviously his neurons are firing at a rather leisurely pace. Amaya tries to figure out who this mystery Machiavelli is but is not successful.
So, Colin rides camels with the guys. Amaya admires the sunset, but soon falls prey to some vague health complaint. Interestingly, this illness seems to include whining, rolling her eyes, shrugging, and even throwing Colin's stuff. At the Taj Mahal, which has been associated with passionate lovers for centuries, Amaya strolls alone, while Colin horseplays with Teck and Matt. Anyone feeling a particularly romantic vibe yet?
When Amaya confides her troubles to Justin, I wanted to yell, "Get out of the basement, girlie! Don't talk to that strange mutant with the axe!" I was amazed that he could keep a straight face. "He's been acting funny toward you? Suddenly?" Butter wouldn't melt in his mean little mouth. Amaya doesn't even seem to notice that Justin hates her guts. Amaya does tell Justin, however, that her feelings for Colin have changed completely. So, if Justin wanted to stop the smooching, he succeeded. I guess I could thank him for that much. Of course, I shouldn't speak too soon.
So, what did the kids gain from this? Kaia learned about machinations and hurt feelings and Justin's dark side. Amaya gained a face dot of her own and some solitude. Justin realized that he wants to escape these Real World ruffians and return to the refined aerie of his normal existence; he can't even wait another seven weeks. The question is, my sweetie-pies, can we?
Who's Shirtless This Week? When all other attempts at nudity fail, we can rely on Colin for at least one scene.
Real World Casting Tip of the Week: The deadline has been extended to September 30, gang! Send videos to Real World Casting, Bunim/Murray Productions, 6007 Sepulveda Blvd, Van Nuys, CA 91411
Real World Survey Tip of the Week: Even if you can't get on the show, you can be a star in my book. Just fill out my Extra Special Real World Survey, coming soon to the Big Empire!
Most Annoying Character? Annoying isn't really the right word for it, but... Shame, shame on you, Justin!
Next Week: Justin's in trouble!
©1999 by Randy Shandis Enterprises. All rights reserved.