The Real World, Vanity-style.
“Are we allowed to answer these?” Naomi Defensor asks of castmate Nany Gonzalez, in response to one of our questions
“Well, we don’t have to answer them,” Gonzalez says warily.
If you could boil down the 45 minutes or so we spent with the cast of the new season of The Real World to one question and answer, that would be it.
The new series gets going March 9 on MTV, and Saturday will see the cast come back to their stamping ground at Vanity for a premiere party. It’s the second time around for RW in Vegas — the first was in ’02. Maybe those kids nine years ago were as media-savvy and cognizant of the reality TV landscape as this group, but we doubt it.
In Sex, Drugs and Coca Puffs, Chuck Klosterman deconstructed the RW phenomenon to argue that the personality archetypes cast members adopt have become the personality archetypes that everyone started adopting.
As interesting an argument as that is, it’s completely blown out of the water by talking to this cast. Sure, some of the cast members are still trying to play to a role — Adam Royer is shamelessly playing himself as the house “bad boy” — but even that little bit of freedom other casters may have had to define themselves is completely subsumed by MTV’s need for them to stay on-message.
We asked every cast member what they thought of Jersey Shore. Every one of them answered with a variant of “Their show is great, but our show is more of a learning experience.” Did they watch a lot of Real World before coming on? They’d all “seen a couple of seasons but didn’t watch regularly.” How long did it take them to get used to the cameras? Every single one of them said it just took a day.
Were they worried about how the show would edit them? They all stayed on-message with that, too. Like Royer said:
“You might get upset about it, but there’s no way they can portray you differently than you are. If you fucked five chicks, and they show you fucking you five chicks, you can’t be like ‘Wow, they showed me like a slut.’ It’s like no, you fucked them. If you called some chick a bitch, then there’s no way going around that you’re an asshole. … You might not be happy with it, but if you did it and they show it then you can’t complain.”
Or, as Gonzalez put it:
“I was nervous coming in here I would say things and do things they would take out of context. At the end of the day I realized that everything I do, I did it for a reason. I did it because I wanted to. How the portray it is how everyone on the outside would see it.”
Some, like Michael Ross and Royer gave off a vibe like they had the game already figured out. That they were trying to manipulate the media to fit their agenda — after all, that’s what The Real World is about, isn’t it? They did it, though, smugly. Like they didn’t think anyone was on to them.
Some, like Leroy Garrett were more low-key. Even he, though, said he wants to become an actor. So does Defensor. Heather Cooke wants to work in television. Hell, Royer said outright that he was fascinating enough to warrant his own spin-off show. He wants the Jersey Shore dough. Gonzalez just wants to move to Vegas and get out of Jamestown, N.Y. Well, if there’s one place reality kids can parlay middling fame into easy money, she certainly picked out the right spot.
Jason Scavone is the editor of DailyFiasco.com.