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In Defense of Trishelleby Phil Kural -- 02/25/2004
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Normally, for the most part, I feel that I am a very unique person. Now, when I say that, I donít just mean in ďreal life,Ē but here on the RNO staff as well. At 22 years old, I am the youngest writer for the site, and feel that I see things in a different way, at least according to some of the other writers here. That is the way it is most of the time, and that is why I feel I need to come to the aid of Trishelle Canatella, the vixen of MTVís The Real World: Las Vegas, several MTV challenge shows, and most recently, The Surreal Life 2. I saw some things that went on this past Sunday on The Surreal Lifeís finale that I didnít quite agree with, and I think itís time that I speak out on behalf of most people my age.
First, I have to say that I admire Trishelle. No, that is not because she is a good looking girl, and you canít take that away from her. I admire her because she is who she is. Trishelle doesnít act like she is someone she isnít, and she is exactly what every show that has cast her wants Ė a real person. She has made mistakes, but I would be a total hypocrite if I were to hold any of them against her. I am in no way perfect, nor have I ever claimed to be. In fact, if I ever did claim to be perfect, it would probably mean some kind of apocalypse because Iíve already had too many ups and downs in my life to count. That is why I admire Trishelle. She has had the same thing Ė ups and downs Ė and never seems to let them get her down. What I donít appreciate though, is what went on during this finale.
Let me set the stage. The cast members of the show are sent shopping to get gifts for one another. When they return to the house, they find that their living room has been transformed into a talk show stage, with Sally Jesse Raphael as the host. Now, I have always considered myself a Sally Jesse fan, simply for the fact that I love the shows that she would do, like when she would send little 8-year-olds out on the street to spend the night with a prostitute to show them that it was what they were going to be if they continued to treat their parents with disrespect. Give me a break. Anyway, Sally shows a montage of clips that include Trishelle, on several occasions, getting drunk and doing things that, according to Sally, are not ďladylike.Ē Iím sorry, but I donít understand who gave Sally Jesse Raphael the right to decide exactly what ďladylikeĒ is. What makes this even worse is that Sally digs into Trishelle, saying that she most likely has an alcohol problem, basically labeling her as an alcoholic in front of the other cast members, the audience, and America, and then asking her if she thinks she would like to seek help. Oh, but she doesnít stop there. Sally then goes on to say that Trishelle acts like a slut, and itís her own fault. You know what, Sally, this is why your show was cancelled.
Iím going to lay this out there, and Iím sure some people arenít going to like it, and label it as an excuse, but guess what Ė itís true: We are young, college kids. We do stupid things all the time. We understand that they are stupid, and most of the time, regret them. However, it doesnít mean that we are bad people, or that anyone has the right to label us. Itís not fun to be labeled as an alcoholic, and I understand why Trishelle was so upset by that comment. That term is very strong, and not something that should be thrown around so lightly, the way Sally did. She knows nothing about Trishelle, Iím sure. However, she decided that from the clips she saw, Trishelle was obviously an alcoholic, and not only that, but a slut as well. This whole thing was ridiculous. Apparently, she has no idea what an alcoholic is, which finds me questioning how the heck she was able to host her own show for as long as she did. Maybe it was the red glasses, I donít know.
As far as calling Trishelle a slut goes, Sally was out of line yet again. In my opinion, there was nothing Trishelle did that would even remotely make me want to call her that. She did nothing that I havenít seen hundreds of college girls do. She drank, she flirted, and she kissed boys. Whatís the big deal? Am I missing something here? If anyone who hasnít had the pleasure of living on a college campus just lived on one for a week and saw some of the things that go on Ė just on a Friday or Saturday Ė they would think that what Trishelle does is basically nothing. If anything, it is much less than what the norm is. Simply put, she is in no way a slut, and Miss Sally really needs to check the facts or at least know what is going on not just in colleges, but with young people age in general. The woman is out of touch with Generation X. People who are my and Trishelleís age like to have fun. We enjoy going out, drinking with our friends, kissing boys and girls, and waking up the next morning just to laugh about it. Everyone was young once, and just because they were perfect (as apparently Sally was), doesnít mean they have to come down on people who arenít. Oh, and there is nothing wrong with not being perfect, I can vouch for that myself.
Getting back to the alcoholic thing, let me say something: Iíve had someone tell me that I was an alcoholic because I went out to a bar every day in a row for probably two weeks. Granted, I had just turned 21, it was summer, and I wanted to have the best summer ever. When someone tells you that, it doesnít exactly make you feel like you are on top of the world. I knew I didnít have a problem, but for someone to say that to me, especially someone who only vaguely knew me, made me feel like just because I was having fun, I was being judged. Thatís not fair. I can understand exactly how Trishelle felt when Sally said that to her, and that is why I sympathize. She took it in stride though, and Iím glad she ended up finishing her time on the show.
Do I expect everyone to agree with everything I have just written? Not a chance. However, I do expect people to understand that when people are young, we like to have fun. Yes, we do stupid things Ė everyone does. The only difference is that Trishelle does it on camera and doesnít care if everyone sees it. I commend that. If they picked me for a reality TV show, I wouldnít change either Ė and if I wanted to go to the bar every night, I just might. Trishelle didnít change for anyone, and she has been on several reality shows. She is in no way a role model, and I think she realizes that. However, sheís not a bad person, and itís wrong for someone to judge her simply for what they see on TV. If people could realize that, maybe some reality stars wouldnít have such a horrible time assimilating back into everyday life, simply because the editors made them out to be someone they are not.
Phil Kural is a senior at Temple University, and can be reached at email@example.com.
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