Teen Mom 2 star Jenelle Evans, 21, is the poor man's Kim Kardashian.
Strip away Kim's mansion, the fancy clothes, the celebrity friends, and you start to see the similarities: for both, their fame is rooted in a sexual indiscretion (an unplanned pregnancy for Evans and a sex tape for Kardashian), they battle family drama, bad exes, sudden marriages, and most interestingly, both reality TV stars are watchers — and engineers — of their own publicity.
Now, like Kardashian, the Teen Mom star is making headlines for a surprise pregnancy. And I just can't shake the feeling that it all feels so manufactured.
Don't get me wrong: it's not much of a leap to believe that Evans could have "missed a few birth control pills," as she told MTV Act. The mom of 3-year-old son Jace has clearly made that mistake before. But this is a girl who's lived the past few years doing anything — and everything — to extend her 15 minutes. And like the boy who cried wolf, her cumulative fakeness is starting to catch up with her.
Maybe my skepticism comes from the very public way she broke the news. Evans' husband (and apparent grammar genius) Courtland Rogers first spilled the beans to Star magazine: "Me and Jenelle are so happy that she's pregnant".
Then on Wednesday afternoon, she confirmed the news to MTV. "I missed a few birth control pills, and found out I was pregnant at a doctor’s appointment," she claimed. "I was really surprised. This wasn’t planned, but it happened, so we’re taking it as we go. Courtland and I are happy and excited now. We know having a child can be difficult, but we’re going to do our best."
The story quickly hit the national stage, even becoming a trending topic on Google News. This, just days after Evans' latest nude photo scandal hit the web. And just three episodes into the show's new season. Curious timing?
THE NEW ERA OF REALITY STARS
In this age of "scripted" reality shows and media-manipulating celebrities like the Kardashians, the new generation of reality stars have become quick studies. Instead of emulating film or real TV actors, they're students of the Heidi Montag and Spencer Pratt School of Acting. (Thank the former Hills stars, who became infamous for their increasingly ridiculous set-up paparazzi shoots, for setting the stage for the Courtney Stoddens, OctoMoms and Teen Moms of the world.)
Reality Star Lesson No. 1 in the Montag/Pratt School? The show must go on, even after the cameras stop rolling.
Like the obsessed magicians in the 2006 Christopher Nolan film The Prestige, who lived an elaborate lie 24/7 just to experience the isolated moments of public adoration on stage, the new reality star is determined, deliberate and often desperate to keep the spotlight shining, long after it should have dimmed.
Evans, who got her first real taste of widespread fame in 2011 after a brutal, bloody fistfight spread on YouTube (see below), became Teen Mom 2's breakout star for her wild temper and unending stream of drama. Viewers loved the crazy. And she seemed happy to oblige.
Even when TV cameras weren't running, she appeared to become the producer of her own reality, burning through every major celebrity magazine touchstone at a breakneck pace: a custody battle, a breakup, plastic surgery (she Tweeted pics of her new breast implants), a sex scandal, substance abuse issues, a wedding, an arrest, and now, the surprise pregnancy.
Is it conceivable that the new age of reality stardom involves faking a pregnancy — or even getting pregnant for publicity? You be the judge.
But, excuse my skepticism, Jenelle, if you do indeed pop a baby out in nine months, after paparazzi snap you packing your bags, you Tweet a pic from the hospital and a magazine publishes "insider" details of the birth. Or I guess I'll just watch it all on your inevitable spin-off show.
[Photo Credit: WENN]
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A decade-long gap between sequels could leave a franchise stale but in the case of Men in Black 3 it's the launch pad for an unexpectedly great blockbuster. The kooky antics of Agent J (Will Smith) and Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones) don't stray far from their 1997 and 2002 adventures but without a bombardment of follow-ups to keep the series in mind the wonderfully weird sensibilities of Men in Black feel fresh Smith's natural charisma once again on full display. Barry Sonnenfeld returns for the threequel another space alien romp with a time travel twist — which turns out to be Pandora's Box for the director's deranged imagination.
As time passed in the real world so did it for the timeline in the world of Men in Black. Picking up ten years after MIB 2 J and K are continuing to protect the Earth from alien threats and enforce the law on those who live incognito. While dealing with their own personal issues — K is at his all-time crabbiest for seemingly no reason — the suited duo encounter an old enemy Boris the Animal (Jemaine Clement) a prickly assassin seeking revenge on K who blew his arm off back in the '60s. Their street fight is more of a warning; Boris' real plan is to head back in time to save his arm and kill off K. He's successful prompting J to take his own leap through the time-space continuum — and team up with a younger K (Josh Brolin) to put an end to Boris plans for world domination.
Men in Black 3 is the Will Smith show. Splitting his time between the brick personalities of Jones and Brolin's K Smith struts his stuff with all the fast-talking comedic style that made him a star in yesteryears. In present day he's still the laid back normal guy in a world of oddities — J raises an eyebrow as new head honcho O (Emma Thompson) delivers a eulogy in a screeching alien tongue but coming up with real world explanations for flying saucer crashes comes a little easier. But back in 1969 he's an even bigger fish out water. Surprisingly director Barry Sonnenfeld and writer Etan Cohen dabble in the inherent issues that would spring up if a black gentlemen decked out in a slick suit paraded around New York in the late '60s. A star of Smith's caliber may stray away from that type of racy humor but the hook of Men in Black 3 is the actor's readiness for anything. He turns J's jokey anachronisms into genuine laughs and doesn't mind letting the special effect artists stretch him into an unrecognizable Twizzler for the movie's epic time jump sequence.
Unlike other summer blockbusters Men in Black 3 is light on the action Sonnenfeld utilizing his effects budget and dazzling creature work (by the legendary Rick Baker) to push the comedy forward. J's fight with an oversized extraterrestrial fish won't keep you on the edge of your seat but his slapstick escape and the marine animal's eventual demise are genuinely amusing. Sonnenfeld carries over the twisted sensibilities he displayed in small screen work like Pushing Daisies favoring bizarre banter and elaborating on the kookiness of the alien underworld than battle scenes. MIB3's chase scene is passable but the movie in its prime when Smith is sparring with Brolin and newcomer Michael Stuhlbarg who steals the show as a being capable of seeing the future. His twitchy character keeps Smith and the audience on their toes.
Men in Black 3 digs up nostalgia I wasn't aware I had. Smith's the golden boy of summer and even with modern ingenuity keeping it fresh — Sonnenfeld uses the mandatory 3D to full and fun effect — there's an element to the film that feels plucked from another era. The movie is economical and slight with plenty of lapses in logic that will provoke head scratching on the walk out of the theater but it's also perfectly executed. After ten years of cinematic neutralizing the folks behind Men in Black haven't forgotten what made the first movie work so well. After al these years Smith continues to make the goofy plot wild spectacle and crazed alien antics look good.