Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Yes, But Is It Art?

Possums, it's no secret that contestant Ryan Humphrey baffles us.

We've had many moments where we've asked ourselves, "He can't be for real, can he?" That is, when we're not chortling over some unintentionally gay remark.

To hear him play the word "pink" like a xylophone, or watch his twitchy-browed declaration that he has a "boy aesthetic," shortly before showing up in a jacket covered with fuchsia blossoms--well, those have been some of the most amusing moments in a show that sorely needs them.

Thus far, a Unified Theory of Ryan had escaped us.

Is he an adenoidal, quirky gay along the lines of occasionally-too-precious-for-words David Sedaris?

He certainly bears an uncanny resemblance to Sedaris, albeit with better, rosier skin, and a voice that isn't quite as nasal.

Or is he an adenoidal, quirky straight guy along the lines of occasionally-too-weird-for-words David Paymer?

He certainly bears an uncanny resemblance to Paymer, albeit with better, rosier skin, and a voice that isn't quite as nasal.

And then we came across this bit from The Cleveland Plain Dealer, and everything was clear:

Artist Ryan Humphrey thinks interior design is worthless.

"It's one of the most unnecessary things I can think of," Humphrey said. So why sign on for Bravo's new reality show "Top Design," which is all about interior design?

Humphrey, who is originally from Ashtabula, said he wanted to reach middle America with his ideas about the evils of consumerism, labeling and branding.

The audacity, the sheer genius, the noble futility, of the enterprise took our breath away. Well, we tried to come up with some appropriate variant of “taking coals to Newcastle,” but decided he’s more like a preacher trying to save souls in a whorehouse.

Bravo, the Painted Whore of Babylon when it comes to product placement, has welcomed little Ryan into its great, gaping maw. We are watching not only a morality play--Consumerist Pilgrim's Progress--but also a work of performance art. If you take everything Ryan says as a post-modernist put-on, the show becomes very entertaining indeed, sort of what we imagine it must be like if you watch it while stoned.

And now we are caught in the suspense of the perennial struggle--will Preacher Man Ryan change the heart and mind of America's "Gucci'd-out self," or will he end up Sinner Man Ryan, the Vuitton logo shaved into his head a la Kanye West? Watch what happens!


Of course, Miss XaXa had to ask, "Aren't you giving Ryan and Bravo a little too much credit?"

We admitted that it was possible, but insisted that recasting the show as a post-modern romp by way of Bunyan was just about the only way it could be made bearable. And, we reminded her, it's certainly not as tricky a mental contortion as David Gest had to perform in order to kiss Liza Minnelli, or John Travolta to procreate with Kelly Preston.