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Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Put a cork in it, Zane!

Posted By on Wed, Dec 6, 2006 at 12:35 PM

Justin Timberlake is on a catwalk in the center of the Kodak Theatre, mugging to the vocal of “Sexyback” as the track booms from everywhere. Gisele Bundchen appears in panties and saffron gargoyle wings. And V-E-R-Y S-E-X-Y is spelled out in letters three stories high.

But, you know, it isn’t.

Really — and this is just an aside, but it’s true — the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show shouldn’t be anywhere near CBS. CBS is about Angela Lansbury, and Promised Land, and Touched by an Angel; it dresses Jennifer Love Hewitt in chasubles and turtlenecks. But in general the VSFS just doesn’t succeed at being tantalizing, or titillating, or whatever it’s supposed to be. It doesn’t even seem like a good way to sell underwear, since it’s more about feathers than bare essentials. Instead the whole thing is like the “fashion show” sequence from a hundred films, with the close-ups for dialog and plotting removed. I expected last night's broadcast to climax with the revelation that Gary Busey had planted a time bomb in the rafters.

There’s the sweeping crane shot, with plenty of gold lighting and pizzazz. Welcome to where you aren’t, flyover bitches! That’s followed by a zippy Steadicam shot of Justin and Gisele, only they’re never shown side by side because my girl’d likely dwarf JT, and his people aren’t having that. In the background there’s a hot pink obelisk, or a puppy who belches neon steam, or something; if Mugatu was back there screaming I wouldn’t be surprised. Then the models start walking out, and each woman gets three successively closer shots to work her magic on NASCAR dads everywhere, the ones still hemming and hawing about having to get their wives a gift that doesn’t say Kasey Kahne on it. Interspersed are quick glimpses of the fabulous chaos backstage, accompanied by the harried commands of a stage manager. “Adriana with wings! You’re up! Left! Now!” You’ve seen and heard all of this before, right down to the occasional scan of the front few rows of starpower. It’s how you’d film the VSFS, too. There’s that dude who plays Kevin on Entourage, looking exactly like Kevin from Entourage. There’s Robbie Williams, and he makes a goofy face like “Zowie.” There’s Jeter, taking notes.

Just like the Billboard Music Awards, broadcast last Monday on Fox, the Victoria’s Secret show unfolds like so much fancy cardboard. This isn’t a revelation; I’m not writing anything that you haven’t figured out already. But that’s it — we have figured it out. And still, shows like this go on. It’s paid programming fueled by “zowie!” reaction shots and gold-plated podiums, content to drive the next day’s Web searches, because the Internet’s empty blocks of time to fill are even bigger than those of cable TV. (I’m doing my part with this blog post. Look at me helping out.)

As the Internet starts to become aware (if it is our SkyNet, it’s happening about ten years after the movies technically said it would, but still), maybe we won’t have to watch these crappy boffo entertainment shows just so we can talk about them the next day. Maybe the Internet will watch them for us, and download all the photos, soundbites, video clips, and scandalous actions right into our inboxes, making it much easier to simply read a good book on weeknights.


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