I Like to Watch

It's official: Dating virgins makes you insane! Plus: Jessica Simpson stomps all over Willie Nelson, and "Entourage" proves success sucks if you have to bring along your jackass friends.

Published May 30, 2005 9:37PM (EDT)

Cruise control
Speaking out for the first time over recent behavior by Tom Cruise, President Bush labeled the actor's outspoken swooning over actress Katie Holmes on Oprah "divisive" and "a serious threat to national security." In response, Tom Cruise pulled back from the brink of confrontation, pledging to swoon "more quietly," thereby delaying the chances of being referred to the U.N. Security Council for possible sanctions in the wake of statements and gesticulations credited with destabilizing most of the Western Hemisphere.

In talks in Geneva involving senior publicists, managers, agents and a stylist Cruise refers to as his "boy," a two-month breathing space was agreed to, meaning that Tom could continue to stay up late sexing up his teen dream, then ordering in fantastic pizza and "fudge pots" to their luxury hotel suite, but U.S. officials have obtained a "cease and desist" that aims to put a halt to open smooching and jumping up and down on Oprah's custom-made butter-yellow leather couch.

Cruise is also forbidden from making any and all gestures originating from his film "Risky Business" to demonstrate his overwhelming love for Holmes, including but not limited to the Jacknife Fall, the Rapid Couch High-Step, and the Kneeling, Fist-Clenching "Yes!" Similar sanctions were imposed against Holmes, who's expressly forbidden from winking, grinning widely while her face is within 2 inches of Cruise's, and/or mouthing the words "I love you" on national television.

The agreement -- if it sticks, and according to Western diplomats Cruise is a notoriously tricky negotiator, regularly "reinterpreting" what had been agreed to and doing exactly what his little heart desires instead -- means that Cruise should be referred to the Security Council when Cruise and Holmes are next spotted groping each other or whispering about "fudge pots" in public.

"Falling in love is the best!" said Homeland Security advisor Harlan Nitsnickner in a prepared statement. "But when Tom Cruise goes on national television and does the Kneeling, Fist-Clenching 'Yes!'? Our diplomatic relations with several countries are so fragile at this time that such blatant, unseemly flaunting constitutes a serious setback in security efforts."

However, panicked administration officials have been somewhat soothed by recent reports suggesting that Cruise is getting about as much play behind closed doors as he does in front of the cameras, explaining the manic edge to his demeanor, which has shaken the Western world at its very core. As one administration insider so succinctly put it, "He just needs to get laid."

Duty calls!
Just to remind you of where this game of diplomatic brinkmanship inevitably ends, take a gander at Nick and Jessica (see also: the couple formerly known as the Happiest Most Sexually Satisfied Newlyweds on the Planet), who were rumored to have filed for divorce the day after their mind-bendingly insipid but aptly titled special "Nick and Jessica: Tour of Duty" aired on ABC. (E! later retracted the story.)

It's a testament to the state of my finale-soaked psyche that I even care, but I feel that celebrities who boast about their brilliant relationships really do the unwashed masses a disservice by creating the impression that they don't bicker and chide and twist the knife just as much as the rest of us. While it's nice to be airbrushed and stupid-sexy and filthy rich, true love doesn't discriminate against the hairy and the toadlike, and you can still jump up and down on your couch over how much you love your girl, even when she's got tree-trunk ankles and her mama grows milkweed.

You see, that was my favorite "your mama"-themed insult when I was about 6: "Your mama grows milkweed!" And if I were at Nick and Jessica's concert in Iraq, I would've stood right up front and yelled it at them until someone dragged me out of there.

Now, I don't need to tell you, tuna tartare tartlets, that Nick and Jessica's concert not only sucked, but was hideously ill-considered and deeply depraved. From the footage of Jessica shooting an automatic weapon ("I don't know why it makes me laugh!") to Nick bringing a bunch of military women onstage to sing a noxious ballad to them like some modern-day Donnie Osmond, the creepiness and patriotic pandering knew no bounds. And just imagine how the troops felt. To demonstrate our support, we sent them Nick and Jessica? That's like a care package full of belly-button lint.

There was almost a moment of sweetness, though, when they reunited a nice military lady with her husband who was stationed in Korea, and sweet music played and the couple kissed each other softly, but then Jessica broke the mood by bellowing into her mike, "She's gonna get her some tonight!" Real classy move, lady love.

And then, when they dragged Willie Nelson onstage with a guitar, and there he was, an American legend, playing "These Boots Were Made for Walkin'" while Jessica sang along in her baby voice and shook her ass and giggled? Look, even the assembled red-blooded American males weren't into it. Willie friggin' Nelson! Jessica barely even looked in his direction, so entranced was she by making a freakish spectacle of herself. What kind of a deranged moron dreamt this up? It was like putting Frank Sinatra onstage with Carmen Electra, and having him hum while Electra pole-dances.

When Willie walked onstage again about an hour later, I breathed a big sigh of relief. What would he play? "You Are Always on My Mind" as an ode to the folks back home? Maybe something off one of his recent, brilliant albums? No. He sang the theme song to "The Dukes of Hazzard." Jessica's starring in the remake, remember?

When you really sit and ponder the minds that put this excruciatingly idiotic show together, it's enough to make you lose all faith in humankind. Don't do that, though. Instead, buy Willie Nelson's "Teatro" right now, and together, we'll restore a little order to a deeply imbalanced universe. No, I don't get a cut. Buy it from your local record store, for all I care. Just buy it. It'll be one of the best CDs in your collection, I personally guarantee it -- but not in any legally binding way, of course.

Boxed out
More proof of universal imbalance: the finale of "The Contender," which packed more punch than the finales of "The Apprentice," "Survivor" and "American Idol" combined, drew mediocre ratings, perhaps for the last time. Let me just remind those of you unfamiliar with "The Contender" that, in this finale, people don't vote or get fired by Donald Trump or sing horrible Disney-style songs. They hit each other in the face.

Wouldn't it be nice if, instead of staging complicated promotional events, the sanctimonious yuppies of "The Apprentice" just stepped into a ring and beat the living daylights out of each other? Wouldn't it be refreshing to see Fireman Tom and the Great Manipulator Katie duke it out for the million-dollar prize on "Survivor"? Wouldn't we prefer that Carrie Underwood scratch Bo Bice's eyes out, instead of conjuring a teary-eyed mix of Judy Garland and Shania Twain?

Luckily, I've been rooting for winner Sergio Mora ("the Latin Snake"!) all season, mostly because he's smart, funny, genuine, and kept saying all season that he wanted to win so his poor Mommy would never have to work again. Aww! He's read lots of good books and writes in a journal and although he seemed to be boxing mostly for the promise of taking care of his family, he also looked the fastest and the smartest in the ring. The Latin Snake was a dodgy one! Plus, he never stirred up trouble in the house, and he was always nice to Alfonso Gomez, my other favorite.

Alfonso Gomez! What a great guy. He's little and everyone underestimated him, but he asked to box Peter Manfredo, who everyone considered the best boxer, and he won against him in the first round of fights. Sadly, though, he made it to the final four and then lost. When his dad kissed him on the shoulder after his fight to reassure him that everything would be OK, I burst out crying. (OK, like I said, my psyche has been irretrievably weakened by all these finales, but trust me, it was a really touching moment.)

Then, in the finale, Alfonso won against the other final-four loser, which meant he won $200,000 and a truck! Hurray for Alfonso and Sergio!

It's sort of sad that "The Contender" got such crappy ratings. The show probably belongs on ESPN instead. With a post-SportsCenter crowd and maybe a half-hour format, it's tough to imagine it not becoming a favorite among boxing fans. I'm not a huge boxing fan, so I don't know. Boxing fans? Thoughts?

Our tang
Hey guys, wouldn't it be great if you were rich and famous and could get all the girls you ever wanted, or at least knew someone who was? That way, you wouldn't have to sit around all day, staring at your 50-inch television and dreaming up new ways to get laid!

Then again, if "Entourage" (season premiere June 5 at 9 p.m. on HBO) is at all accurate, even when you're rich and famous, you'll still waste most of your time obsessing about where your next piece of ass is going to come from. "Living from ass to mouth" is, I believe, what they call this way of life, common among those gourmands so addicted to fresh meat they can't think of anything else.

Now, during the first eight half-hour episodes of "Entourage," Vince the movie star and his friends talked about nothing but hot girls, plus the occasional script, but it was easy to assume that the second season would build on the first, with Vince's career in full swing and the boys growing at least occasionally weary of harpooning fresh poon all day long.

Not so. Instead, we get all the same stories as the first season, all over again: Vince is hesitant to do a blockbuster, Eric is whipped by his lame girlfriend, Johnny Drama wants a part in pretty much anything, and Turtle is as horny, whiny and charmless as ever.

The only scenes really worth watching are those with Ari the Agent in them, since Jeremy Piven is hilarious and hits the Hollywood bullshitter note perfectly every time. But take out Ari, and all you've got is "The Mind of the Unmarried Man," except with slightly prettier extras. And look, this isn't about busting taboos: Most women are smart enough to know that men are dirty, bad dogs who want to hump any hound with four legs and an intriguing scent. But if you're going to get a pack of dogs together, you've really got to make sure that they're not just whining and sniffing each other's butts the whole time.

What you forget when you watch "Entourage" is that packs of men can be extremely entertaining. Remember "Swingers"? Vince Vaughn was a dog, but he was a clever, charming, hilarious, sometimes openly pathetic dog. We won't begrudge a clever dog, ever. But a flatly uninteresting, foul-looking pussy hound like Turtle (Jerry Ferrara)? Booo! We've met that guy, and he bugged the crap out of us, and we met him again, and he bugged the crap out of us again, and we met him again ... That guy is everywhere. He's the guy who thinks his dumb comments about tricking women into bed are hysterical. He's the E.B. Farnum of the modern world, a totally unenviable jackass. Do we really want to see that guy get laid by hot girls? No. We'd like to see him getting a major wedgy from his sadistic boss at Carl's Jr. for not dropping fries in a timely manner.

And don't get me wrong, the voyeuristic aspects of the show are great -- of course we should go to great parties and buy expensive stuff and film idiotic blockbusters. We want to do those things. But please, a little more depth, a few original turns on the "Look, a party filled with hot girls!" theme, a little more darkness, a few moments of disillusionment or -- most likely of all -- boredom with the inane banter and endless brown-nosing. But most important, give at least one of those four guys a personality. Kevin Dillon's has-been Johnny at least has a shtick, and Vince (Adrian Grenier) is, I guess, appropriately self-serving. But look at Eric (Kevin Connolly), the supposedly smart guy, who never, ever, ever says anything remotely original or clever. I mean, if you can't even count on the Smart One to say something insightful or witty, how screwed are you?

Idiot guys can be fun to watch: Remember those scenes in "Swingers" where Vince Vaughn and his friend are playing a video game at home, and they end up wrestling on the floor? It's absurdly silly and funny. Unfortunately, all Eric and Turtle and company do is stand around in their big kitchen, exchanging the same lines:

Vince: Eric, I'm the boss of you.

Eric: Yeah, I know. Ari better call me back soon!

Drama: You think there's a part in that film for me, too, buddy?

Turtle: Aww, shuddup, guys. Let's go get laid!

The writers of this show set the bar way too low. They've got a great premise, a world of possibilities from dramatic to dark to absurd, plotwise, and an endless number of fun settings. So why are the characters about as interesting as those guys in the corner at the party making bad jokes about jerking off? Is it so hard for a room full of writers to come up with a good joke about jerking off?

In summary
Winners of the week: Willie Nelson, Jeremy Piven, the Latin Snake, Oprah, the fudge pot, Vince Vaughn, good wanking jokes.

Losers of the week: Tom Cruise, the Kneeling Fist-Clenching "Yes!," saving oneself for marriage, automatic rifles, baby voices, boots that were made for walkin', Turtle the Intolerable Jackass, lame writers who set the bar too low.

You know what, though? Whether we can think of a good joke about jerking off or not, whether we trample Oprah's butter-yellow couch or enjoy our fudge pot all alone in front of a 50-inch screen, we're all the same in God's eyes: worthless, feeble and pathetic.

Next week: If you could be a character from "Six Feet Under," which one would you be? [And just FYI, it's perfectly reasonable to pick Nate's brother-in-law, just so you can kill Lisa.]

By Heather Havrilesky

Heather Havrilesky is a regular contributor to the New York Times Magazine, The Awl and Bookforum, and is the author of the memoir "Disaster Preparedness." You can also follow her on Twitter at @hhavrilesky.

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