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(Pre)Hating on H8R

September 11th, 2011 | Jonathan Gray

Of the many new shows beginning in the next few weeks on American network television, some look promising, some okay, and quite a few bad, but I hope to watch the first episode of them all. The only one for which I foresee needing a barf bucket next to me while watching is The CW’s H8R.

The premise appears simple – find someone who “hates on” a celebrity, send Mario Lopez to get the celebrity, then let the celeb confront the “hater” and win them over. See below for a clip, though if you have some of yesterday’s dinner in your mouth when you’re done, don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Why my hate about H8R? Well, I thought the show was harmlessly stupid enough till I got to the part of this clip where Kim Kardashian explains that she went to New Orleans and helped people. Just in case Star magazine’s latest fifteen page photo essay on Kardashian getting a latte from Starbucks convinced you that she really is just like us, you’re wrong. Apparently, she’s better than us. She’s a saint. I’m so utterly happy that there is now another television show to let me know such things, because I really don’t think I could forgive myself if I knew that a poor multi-millionaire was out there facing the slings and arrows of a random member of the public unfairly. How could we be so mean when they’re just struggling to get a fifth sports car like the rest of us? Mario Lopez is like the Sister Mary Prejean of The CW, bless him.

By comparison, let’s consider the somewhat similar CBS’s Undercover Boss (the one in which a CEO spends a few days in the life of some of their workers, then plays Santa Claus and gives the 3 or so staff members lucky enough to be featured a raise or money for college or so forth, while their colleagues get little more than a televised promise that things are gonna change ‘round here). In a time of layoffs and corporate evil run rampant, it’s galling that CBS feels the need to have a show whose closing moral is usually that CEOs are actually supremely awesome, caring, brilliant humans who really, really want to do what’s best for each and every one of their BFF workers. It’s not that I want continuous messages to the contrary, with cackling, maniacal Al-Pacino-in-The-Devil’s-Advocate caricatures, but does CBS really need to recuperate the images of CEOs, and is that the best way it can service the public? Apparently so. And yet, to be fair to the show and network, before we get to the moral in Undercover Boss, at least we need to wade through images of unfair work practices and tough working conditions that might encourage us to give a damn about labor. Might. And at least the workers’ complaints and concerns are usually taken seriously, or even accompanied with sad music to boot.

With H8R, The CW is similarly setting its sights on the important tasks of the day, ensuring that no celebrity’s inner awesomeness goes unseen. ‘Cause if one of them has their trip to a private island just off Turks and Caicos ruined because Random Dude in Connecticut thinks they’re lame, wouldn’t we all just feel mortified? What’s different from Undercover Boss, and what’s altogether worse, however, is that H8R seems driven by the need to make the regular people wrong, and to dismiss them as “haters.” Its basic impulse, therefore, appears to be one of berating a regular schmo – and by extension, the rest of us “haters” out here. It’s akin to what I’d expect if Scott Walker took over Undercover Boss and took to telling government workers that they’re whining little turds.

The title’s highly relevant here, too, as “hater” is most commonly used to dismiss people who jealously criticize instead of do. “Haters gonna hate,” goes the phrase, implying that this is all haters do when they fall flat of the mark themselves. The title suggests, in other words, that the celebs are the doers, and we’re the sniveling, whining, annoying do-nothing losers who should just shut the fuck up. I wonder if the producers were debating between this title and calling it You Suck (which would at least be a little more playful).

Don’t get me wrong – I have no inner hatred of celebrities as a whole that leads me to wish for a show that gives them public lashings. But do they really need yet another site that aims to stroke their egos? Isn’t it time … wait, I hear a knocking on my door …

Mario Lopez: Hi Jonathan, I hear that you don’t like my new show.

Me: It looks more painful than sitting in an iron maiden with a full stomach, Mario.

Mario: But you haven’t even seen it. You’re saying this based on a trailer alone. I think you’re a H8R.

Me: Yes, my hate is to the power of eight. I will watch an episode, I think, but I fully expect that I will never have felt as much like watching television was a job, and something I had to do, rather than something I like doing as well, as when I watch it.

Mario: Well, we’d like to give you more than an hour. We’d like to send you to Warner Bros Amusement Park with a new DVD player with all the episodes we’ve filmed so that you can get to know it better. Did you know, for instance, that this show has promised to donate 100% of its profits to orphanages for Shaker children?

Me: Wait, they don’t ex…

Mario: … and that we honored the victims of Hurrican Irene in Vermont by putting maple syrup on our waffles on the catering cart? We’re also selling this show to Israel, Sudan, China, and British Columbia with full confidence that it will pattern better behaviors and solve international crises. Now that you know this, do you still hate us?

Yes, I do still hate the show. Because I’m betting that the “h8rs” always need quotation marks around them not just because it’s a silly spelling, but because you’re going to keep the kiddie gloves on all the time. Find me a highly intelligent hater who you will give adequate time to really set out the case against not only the celeb, but also their promoters and network backers, introduce some political economy, and have substance behind the dislike – not just “she thinks this is what a butt looks like. I’ll show her what a real butt looks like” or “she’s not really Italian” – and maybe we’ll talk. Take anti-fandom seriously, in other words, and take the exclusions, alienations, and legitimate political complaints behind some forms of anti-fandom seriously, and we’ll talk.

Or you can just do an episode about someone who thinks Rihanna is “soooo last year” and work up to the exciting revelation that Rihanna once gave a homeless guy one. whole. dollar. note. ‘Cause the latter sounds like great television.

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  1. Curtis
    September 12th, 2011 at 17:06 | #1

    Couldnt agree more I see most h8ers turning into lovers by the end of there celeb interaction I hope ths show fails…

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