After watching “The Truman Show” and “The Shining” over the course of last week, I can confidently say “The Truman Show” is the scariest movie ever made.

Patti Behler
“I love taking pictures” (Courtesy of E!)

If you were to tell me I could choose between narrowly escaping death at the hands of my insane, non-existent wife or finding out my entire life is a big fucking joke thanks to some d-bag named Christof, I’d gladly accept a little domestic violence and go about my business with my fresh life insurance check. I challenge you to disagree.

And all I could think about while watching Truman (Jim Carrey) try to take a ferry to Fiji was that this is currently happening to someone who’s well aware of it – well, at least on some level. Truman Burbank, meet Lauren Conrad.

Conrad – or L.C., if you’re into that kind of thing – has spent her life on television since 2004 when MTV started following her and her cronies around for “Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County.” After two years, Conrad moved to Los Angeles and picked up her own show, “The Hills,” which chronicles her life as a student/intern/pseudo-socialite. Basically, MTV follows her around with a camera, while allegedly feeding her and her friends the occasional line and tweaking some “dramatic” situations. In case you’re not grasping the intricacies of MTV’s prized possession, here are the contents of a general episode: overhead shot of L.A.; Conrad gets yelled at by boss; Conrad goes to club; Conrad gets in fight with boy; overhead shot of L.A.; credits.

(At this point, I should acknowledge that I am not, nor have I ever been, what one might term a regular viewer of “The Hills.” I disclose this not because I don’t want to associate myself with the show – which I don’t – but because I think you should know these things. Anyway, I’ve seen the show roughly 7.5 times, and I’m familiar with most of the characters (read: Not real people) but that’s about it.)

Yet, the absurdity of Conrad’s life truly hit me when I was fortunate enough to catch “The Hills: Lauren Looks Back” a couple weeks ago. You can probably infer from the title, but “Lauren Looks Back” is basically a two-hour highlight tape of Conrad’s life starting in ’04 that’s narrated by the show’s protagonist. As someone who has been too afraid to ever watch his own bar mitzvah video, the idea that someone could actually watch and narrate multiple years of his or her life is beyond comprehension for me. And what do you even do with a highlight tape of your life? Do you attach it to your cover letter in lieu of a resume? Do prospective landlords screen it as a character reference? Do you mail it to Grandma instead of calling her once in a while?

Still, Conrad’s “Greatest Hits Vol. 1 (2004-07)” isn’t even the most tragic and Truman-esque aspect of her recent existence. She certainly isn’t the first person to ever be trailed by a film crew for a reality show, but Conrad’s situation is unique because she essentially started her life over again with a film crew in tow, even though her face had already been plastered all over a TV network that the vast majority of her peer group watches, at least occasionally.

So, almost everyone who has ever come into contact with Conrad since “The Hills” debuted knows they are either being filmed for TV, or have the potential to be on TV if some sort of relationship develops. Regardless of individual intentions, it seems impossible for anyone to have any kind of interaction with her that would be congruent to their relationship sans MTV. Placing a camera in front of someone changes him or her on some level, and even if Conrad is used to being taped, not everyone she encounters is. This has to have some adverse effects on her life. Plus, she lives in L.A., a place where three out of five people are trying to whore themselves out for some kind of entertainment gig in the first place. She’s like a blind child living next to two million sex offenders.

Conrad has to realize this. Any semi-self-aware human in her situation would be able to grasp that people are acting differently around him or her – and she doesn’t appear to be a stupid person. Yet, her life is one big show, which at least some of her acquaintances have to be exploiting for their own gain. She’s not Lauren Conrad the person, she’s L.C. the TV character at all times. And that’s how she will continue to be approached until she eventually moves on with her life, if that’s even possible.

But at least she’ll have the formative years of her life on DVD when she’s older. I’m sure her kids will love that.

Passman is secretly in love with Conrad and disappointed he isn’t on her DVD. Console him at mpass@umich.edu

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