In my opinion, one of the most influential women just became Audrina Patridge, of MTV's highest ever rated show, The Hills. For the past 10 episodes or so, Audrina has been dating this faux-rocker pro-burping mean son of a bitch named Justin Bobby. They spend a lot of time together doing tequila shots at bars made to look like hole-in-the-walls but that actually charge more than American Apparel does for that shitty grey cardigan I broke down and bought today. ($40 for a piece of cotton!)
Anyway, according to Audrina, when they're alone together, things are "perfect." But when they're out in a crowd, Justin Bobby does really obnoxious things like swaddle his head in a blanket at Opera Club or talk rudely to L.C. or desert her at Brody's Malibu mansion. Oh, and he also makes out with fugly redheads right in front of her.
He denied this impromptu make-out sesh, of course, as all men are prone to do. But a shitload of people saw it go down, not to mention it was caught on tape. And I have to say, when Justin Bobby was hugging Audrina in that brokedown Hollywood parking lot filled to the brim with Range Rovers and Mercedes (oh, romance!), I thought that she was going to forgive him. I even said to my boyfriend, who was kind enough to watch this addictive mind-numbing crap with me: "If Audrina gets back together with Justin Bobby she will do a disservice to girls everywhere."
And it's true. As much as most of us hate to admit it, The Hills has had a profound impact on popular culture. It affects our vernacular ("dunzo" or "Lo's Britney," anyone?), it redefines reality t.v., and most importantly, this show defines social norms for a number of girls covering a gigantic age range. I am 20 and I watch this show. My mother is 40 and she watches this show. My sister is 15 and she watches this show. The reach is awesome, which means the impact is that much, well, awesomer.
So many of the girls who watch The Hills are tricked into believing that this is how young adult life really is. The truth is that the lives of these poor little rich kids function on a whole 'nother stratesphere from "normal life;" but the way L.C., Whitney, Heidi and Audrina treat men and allow men to treat them can end up having a hugely significant impact on the way the teenage viewers also interact with men.
So this brings us back to Audrina with her dumb, droopy eyelashes and blindingly white teeth: by ultimately and finally rejecting Justin Bobby in all his asshole glory, she has subconsciously instilled self-worth into every female viewer. (That is, the self-worth that Heidi takes away every time she allows Spencer to open his mouth) This doesn't mean that girls in physically or mentally abusive relationships will immediately dispose of their boyfriends (Heidi is still with Spencer): it simply means that the show is helping us to realize that we as women deserve to be treated in a certain way, even if it's as seemingly-obvious as refusing to date boys who hook up with ugly girls with bad dye jobs right in front of us.
The one sad thing is that it took Audrina so long to make this bold move. After seeing Justin Bobby get his mack on, Audrina and L.C. retreat to the parking lot where L.C. is overheard saying, "You knew he did that to you." Audrina then replies, "I just didn't realize he would do it right in front of me."
Is this some kind of post-post-modern feminism: being a strong enough woman to allow your boyfriend to cheat on you, as long as you don't have to see it with your own eyes? Or is it simply that, for Audrina, anything that isn't caught on camera never actually happened? Regardless, I know from experience how difficult it is to kick bad-habit-boys, so despite the delay and the back and forth she and Justin Bobby have engaged in all this season (we do love our drama), I really am proud of her for breaking up with him. I mean, he's hot, but brotha needs to take a page out of the Book of Brody (who I actually really, really like, despite the supposed plethora of girls named "Amber" in his cell, as showed in the previews for next week's ep) and learn how to treat a lady, whether he's sneeringly inebriated or not.