The Oral Tradition Of MTV Cribs
So I watched a rerun of MTV Cribs I regret that I deleted, since due to the ephemeral nature of shows like MTV Cribs the greatest stories about them are only preserved in the oral tradition by stand up comedians like Todd Barry and media studies bloggers.
It’s kind of weird knowing that MTV’s reality shows are better enjoyed retold like some modern day perversion of Beowulf, but it’s true. MTV reality shows are just funnier when retold like an epic poem where the original context is lost in the sands of time so far the Prince Of Persia can’t even save it from oblivion.
I recorded the show, pressed play on my Foxtel IQ, the grand operatic scale of Soulja Boy’s obscene gloating over his wealth would begin, and he started by pointing to the cardboard cutout of himself that guarded the door, “You need to look him in the eye to see if you’re cool enough to get in!” jests Soulja, inviting the viewer into his den of crass commercialism.
He proceeds to boast of his various awards, depicted in close up. He picked up his Dirty Award like a Game Of Thrones goblet and decided to carry it around like a totem of his arrogance, because he thought it was cool. In frame was the obligatory Scarface poster in the background shot, for what is an episode of MTV Cribs without its own Scarface hero worship based on the 1980s Palma gangster ballad of old? I would have been disappointed if this tradition wasn’t continued in the program we know and love to hate.
Yet the best comedy gold was yet to come, my regret of recording this apology for opulence slipped away as the core tenets of Soulja Boy’s aesthetics and moral code was revealed.
"This is my Gucci pillows, I love curling up to $100,000 at night, keeps me warm!" he brags, inviting as much hatred as he did pity, like Frodo pitied Gollum’s addiction to the corrupting power of the One Ring. The brand name bragging wasn’t over, "This is my Louis Vuitton rug, I love moonwalking on $4000, feels like I’m Michael!". The desperate attempt to salvage Soulja Boy’s inability to pull off any of Michael Jackson’s dancing talent was a wonder to behold, a more beautiful gem than any embedded in his gaudy bling bling. A slow mo fade, mixed with a choppy, lazy jump cut, there was no hiding Soulja Boy’s desecration of Michael’s moves.
The showing off of his bling, it was expected, the unnecessarily costly $40,000 dollar diamond encrusted watch that could double as a Damien Hirst masterpiece, the bracelet and pinky ring of equal diamond studded decadence and of course, the Soulja Boy bling chain, “So many diamonds, makes you feel sick!” he laughs, somehow unaware his lifestyle may involve blood diamonds, or arms dealing in Africa… in either case Soulja hides his treasure trove in a briefcase with a false bottom, and considering he’d reportedly been robbed by masked men before - so I hear, I would imagine such a precaution would be made by a rich man who clings to his overpriced fashion designer pillow to sleep easy at night, having known the terror of what it’s like to rob him.
The centerpiece of this crass display of capitalist waste wasn’t his pimped out sports car this time, I was expecting such a ride for a rapper of his balling bracket. No, the next display of utter wastefulness caught me so off guard I questioned the core reasons why I would be offended by a program like MTV Cribs in the first place since most people on the show seemed intelligent enough to make the most of the King’s bounty their career earned them.
But this, Soulja Boy’s shameful excuse for a kitchen… I had never hated on this man quite as much before or since then. The chains, the fast cars and rap industry awards, it can all be forgiven in contrast to the sheet ignorance this young man blurted out.
"I got this stove, but I never use it. Ha! I’ll turn these knobs to see if it works… No flame, huh, I guess we’ll never know. I don’t need no stove, no chef, all I need is my fridge full of Gatorade, bottled water, soda, Kool Aid… and my freezer full of Hot Pockets! Who needs a kitchen to cook when you got Hot Pockets? They shoulda just given me a microwave in here."
The… the stones on this man… to admit to being such an ignorant motherfucker on cable TV… It blew my mind after I was raised to know a life where I knew what a stove was and how to turn it off, even if I never used it directly. The nutritional value of those Hot Pockets… made me fear for Soulja Boy’s life expectancy. Never mind his rap career longevity, I express concern about his general health knowing the fool doesn’t understand that while he may have hold chains and Hot Pockets to microwave, neither have nutritional value.
There were lighthearted moments, like where Soulja Boy’s home slice who was dubbed “Commander” of his crew and seemed to exist only to go “Yeeeaaah!” in excitement over the big screen TV, Xbox and gaming chairs placed too close to the TV to be safe for their poor eyes. The Commander seemed to be an alright guy. He clearly had an agenda of living life to the fullest. Yet we weren’t getting his story. We were being treated to another verse in the epic poem that is SouljaBoyTellEm.
And as a result of the personality of the featured celebrities on MTV Cribs, I dare argue that MTV Cribs is no longer the advertising based aspirational television it once was. It ceased to be a program celebrating the mighty homes of the rich we the proles were meant to look up to, but now all this program does is have the opposite effect of making us cling to our frugal lifestyles like a koala as our shock and fear of what these lifestyles do to people’s brains make us mock and jeer at the rappers MTV tried to sell to us as role models.
MTV Cribs is propaganda for crass commercialism that fails to corrupt the mind because the fallen idols of hip hop depicted are already so corrupted, we want nothing to do with what they stand for in a GFC age of frugality and restraint.