Illustration by Sarah Good
Reality television shows such as “The Hills”, “Newport Harbor”, “Laguna Beach” and the incredibly popular hit series “The O.C.” have often been the subject of harsh criticism from many who take pleasure in scrutinizing the glamorous lives portrayed in these shows. And while viewers find these reality TV shows so entertaining as they sit glued to their television sets, things may be a little different for those who actually live in Orange County- like myself.
First day of college, trying desperately to make friends, you go around and introduce yourself, tell an out-of-state student that you’re from the OC, and suddenly they’re dying to be your best friend.
“What’s it like?”
“Does everyone really drive a Mercedes?”
“Are the girls all plastic?”
It’s the same story every time. No. My life is nothing like what you’ve seen on “The O.C.” Okay, so maybe there are a few parallels but not everyone that lives in Orange County is tall, skinny and blonde with a fake tan and a bad attitude. Stereotypes will forever remain stereotypes.
Here at the University of California Santa Barbara, where the only things that matter are how you yourself look and how the person on your arm makes you look, it’s almost impossible to ignore the obvious. Round up a group of students and I can easily point out who belongs to the “upper middle class” and who falls below the bar.
The fact of the matter is some students here at UCSB have more money than others and vice versa. But what I tend to see and hear is a sort of hatred and spite for those with more money. Now, some may argue that this is natural and even observable in society but on a college campus, circumstances prove otherwise. Unless I tell you how much my parents are paying for me to study here, most of you will just make assumptions. The same is true for each and every student on our campus.
When it comes to students complaining about the injustices that they must face while other, wealthier students simply carry on with their lavish lives, the basis for any argument of this sort is merely assumption. I can’t even begin to recall the number of times I’ve struck up a conversation with someone only to get around to hometowns, upon which their discovery of my residence evokes a devilish glare and rash judgment. And on what basis? What they’ve seen on TV? Right, because Kristin Cavallari and Heidi Montag are shining examples of the typical Orange County girl.
Remind me again what is so wrong with having money and enjoying a comfortable lifestyle. Many people will be stunned to know that both of my parents were immigrants to this country just over 20 years ago. They came here with nothing, started at the bottom of the social pyramid and worked their way up to success. Today, my mother is a self-employed businesswoman and my father is a medical doctor and has taught as a professor at some of the top universities on the East Coast.
So please, tell me why it is so wrong of me to reap the benefits of my parents’ hard work that they dedicated to provide a good life for me. If I want to “waste” my money on overpriced, expensive things, why should that bother you? Why do you care if I spend too much of MY money that my parents EARNED?
Yes, reality TV does a great job of portraying Orange County residents in the most materialistic and shallow manner possible but keep in mind that it’s reality television- aka not real. Not everyone chooses to live their life in that fashion and I for one particularly despise “The O.C.” for displaying a false image of our so called “glamorous” life.
So to all of you whining and complaining about “rich people” being ungrateful and spoiled and wasteful and whatever other stereotype you may have concocted, I challenge you to this: Remember that old saying we all heard as kids? Don’t judge a book by its cover? Well apply the same concept here. Who knows? You might make a friend with a sweet ride in the process.