JUMP CUT
A REVIEW OF CONTEMPORARY MEDIA

 

 

Notes

I owe many thanks to Teresa Howell, my graduate research assistant in the Fall of 2007, for her help in gathering research for this article.

1. During the final weeks of Season 3, The Hills was also ranked as the top cable “time-shifted” show; The Hills was most frequently recorded by a digital video recorder, like TiVo (Gorman).[return to page 1 of essay]

2. For a discussion of the links between the restaurants and clubs that appear in the series and MTV’s corporate partnerships, see Elizabeth Affuso’s article in JC 50 (2009).

3. These parameters shift depending on the text being consulted. Yabroff’s Newsweek article defined members of Generation Y as anyone born after 1982 and an article in International Journal of Consumer Studies dates the generation to those born between1977 and 1994. Still others define this generation as anyone born after 1970.

4. See, for example, Gina Bellafante’s “Career Climbing, With Claws Bared” and Karina Logworth’s “5 Ways In Which The Hills is JUST LIKE An Antonioni Film.”

5. Seinfeld was famously described as a show about “nothing.” However, each episode did, in fact, center around defined (albeit silly) character goals, and plots were structured through cause and effect relationships.

6. See Ken Lee’s “Jail Time for Jason Wahler of The Hills” in People magazine.

7. Elana Levine defines the egg as

“the shot at the end of many daytime soap scenes in which an actor holds an expression for several beats until the scene fades out. The egg is an effective technique in soaps because viewers spend so much time with the characters that they learn to read into their faces…”

8. Levine has described this phenomenon as “meaning-without-meaning”:

“We get [for example] that Lauren is unsure about getting back together with Jason, her philandering ex-boyfriend, because the music and her smile-free face communicate it. But we understand this not so much because we understand who Lauren is but because we’ve seen enough music videos and soap-like scripted drama to read the codes.”

9. While the story was not covered by mainstream news sources, it was a fixture on gossip sites like Perez Hilton, US Magazine, The Superficial and Gawker throughout the summer of 2007.

10. In the finale of Season Two, Heidi moved out of Lauren’s apartment to move in with Spencer. However, the women are still friends when the episode concludes.

11. In another interview with Entertainment Weekly just one year later Avi Di Santo recognizes that his creations are now out of his control and worries that soon there will be very little “reality” left for his cameras to film:

“We have a hard line because we really enjoy the world of The Hills we’ve created…[but] as they get more and more famous, their non-fame lives get smaller and smaller” (qtd. in Stack 31).

12. In 2008 MTV’s film crew had to strike up an alliance with lurking paparazzi in order to shoot footage for Season 4. Lauren Conrad explains “We’ll be filming at a restaurant and it will be us at a table, three cameras, and then a row of photographers behind the cameras” (qtd. in Stack 31). [return to page 2]

12a. In the weeks following Spencer and Heidi’s elopement, it was revealed that their Mexican wedding ceremony was merely “symbolic” since the couple never went through the procedures necessary to make their Mexican wedding ceremony legally binding. As a result, the couple was able to further milk this storyline on The Hills as audiences wondered whether they would go through with a legal marriage ceremony in California.

13. For example, after Us Weekly published a cover story on Lauren Conrad, with the headline “How I Was Stabbed in the Back” (one of the few salacious stories about Lauren to appear in the media), she fired back with a post on her MySpace page explaining her side of the story:

“Hey! I just wanted to take a moment to clear something up. I recently did an interview to talk about the show coming back on and what everyone had to look forward to. Unfortunately it was turned into yet another ‘poor me’ story. The article itself is a nice one but it follows headlines that, in no way, represent my words or feelings. I do not feel betrayed by Audrina or Brody. I love them both and said nothing to contradict this. I understand that headlines sell magazines, but I value my friendships above magazine sales any day.”

14. Jason Gay also notes the similarities between Lauren and television’s other “career women”: “Like with Mary Tyler Moore or Carrie Bradshaw, viewers relate to Lauren because she’s a searcher — for true love, the perfect job and friends that never let her down.” (46).

15. Indeed, in Episode 4.18 “Dream Boy, Dream Job” Whitney is informed by her new boss, Kelly Cutrone, that she will be interviewing for a job with designer Diane von Furstenberg in New York City. Once again, she is awarded this position despite a lackluster interview. This particular job opportunity is arranged so that Whitney can star in her own Hills spin off, The City.

16. See Episode 3.19 “Paris Changes Everything.”

16b. This approach to the depiction of the work place shifts somewhat in the fifth and final season of The Hills, which premiered in April 2009. In the episode entitled “Crazy in Love,” Lauren arranges for Stephanie Pratt to have an internship at The People’s Revolution. Stephanie, however, proves to be an inept intern, incurring the wrath of boss Kelly Cutrone on several occasions. After Stephanie makes a mistake counting inventory, Lauren starts to explain the importance of professionalism. But Stephanie begins doodling mid-lecture:

“I think maybe, when you come here, its important just to kind of...focus. I think it’s just balancing that...Are you listening to me? Why are you, like, doodling? Stop.”

I believe that the show is increasingly invested in displaying Lauren’s professionalism since, once The Hills is over, she will be expanding her “brand” to writing young adult books and producing, among other ventures.

17. When Lauren was featured on the August 8, 2008 cover of Entertainment Weekly she admitted “Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night and I think I’m being filmed” (qtd. in Stack 31).

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