Sunday, January 24, 2010
THE HAIR FLUFFER
Television is such a tightly controlled medium, it’s become more and more difficult for viewers to actually encounter anything real.
Even so-called “reality television” is edited for maximum entertainment value, and it’s often difficult to watch these shows, whether it was “Survivor” or “Jersey Shore” or whatever, without half your brain wondering what was edited out and what the reality of each situation really was.
I think many people are really starving for something REAL to show up on television, something that’s not scripted and edited to death.
That’s why Conan O’Brien’s final “Tonight Show” ratings went through the roof; viewers thought they may actually see something real and honest and unpredictable.
That’s also why my favorite TV moment of last year occurred during the 2009 “New Year’s Rockin’ Eve” live special.
As the countdown was being eagerly anticipated, uber-host Ryan Seacrest was on stage in Times Square along with Jennifer Lopez and some other entertainers whose names escape me. Could have been John Mayer or Lady Gaga or Ke$hsa or someone of equally awesome talent.
Anyway, my favorite moment came when these folks were on camera one minute, and then another camera cut away to the Times Square crowd. When they abruptly cut back to Seacrest, J-Lo, et al, an unidentified man was busily fluffing J-Lo’s hair. J-Lo suddenly noticed she was back on camera, and shooed away her hair fluffer, while giving an embarrassed look that said, “Oh, why is that silly guy fluffing my hair again? Well, what are you gonna do?” And the fluffer scurried off the screen.
Obviously, the hair fluffer was supposed to do this while she was off camera, and got caught because it was live TV and the camera can sometimes cut back and forth unpredictably.
Why was this my favorite moment? Several reasons:
• We actually saw something on TV that we weren’t supposed to see. How often does that happen?
• I loved J-Lo’s fake exasperated look, as if she is just a regular gal (you know, “Jenny from the Block”) and hasn’t had her hair fluffed a billion times before, whenever a spare second allows. How can you not love when hypocrisy is exposed? And God forbid she doesn’t look absolutely perfect at all times.
• Her hair looked great, and didn’t need fluffing, but the guy fluffed it anyway. Why?
But the main reason I loved this moment was because it made me think: This must be the most pathetic job in the world—stepping in at every spare moment to fluff up someone’s hair.
OK, maybe “pathetic” is the wrong word. Maybe it’s the most meaningless, vacuous, lame, superficial, sycophantic job in the world. It contributes nothing to society, doesn’t make the world a better place, or make any kind of difference in anyone’s life.
Is it possible that being a hair fluffer is the worst job in the world?
I know there are plenty of terrible jobs out there. All you have to do is watch “Dirty Jobs” for two seconds to realize that. But in reality, plenty of low-paid and blue-collar jobs provide valuable services that improve people’s lives or at least make someone’s day a little more enjoyable.
But as far as white-collar jobs go, stepping in to fluff someone’s hair must be one of the worst.
So next time you are dissatisfied with your occupation, and feel it’s insignificant and ineffectual, just say to yourself: “Well, at least I’m not a hair fluffer.”