Running Scared: Observations of a Former Republican
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"Losing my faith in humanity ... one neocon at a time."

Thursday, December 02, 2004

That Girl

posted by Jazz at 12/02/2004 11:58:00 AM


In case you haven't been watching "The Rebel Billionaire" on Fox, (and judging by the way the ratings have been tanking, most of you haven't) the show has gotten rather weird, and possbily even abusive of the guests. This week's episode was probably the pinnacle of weirdness thus far, and brought questions to mind about the ethics involved and the impact such shows have on the contestants' real lives. One young woman was put in a pretty messed up situation because of it.

If you're not familiar with the format, it's a reality show similar to "The Apprentice." The key difference is in the types of "challenges" that losing contestants have to face. Richard Branson, the host and "rebel billionaire" is a thrill seeker who has tried to circumnavigate the globe in hot air balloons, gone skydiving, riding the rapids, etc. etc. He is also the BMIC at Virgin Enterprises, the parent company of Virgin Records, Virgin Airlines, and others. The contestants are competing to take over his job at Virgin and run the company... ostensibly a huge business opportunity that will pay off in very good cash as well as possibly even more valuable business contacts and networking.

These contestants are not the sort that you find on Survivor and The Amazing Race. No wannabe models and bartenders looking for their fifteen minutes of fame. Every one of these people is an entrepreneur of some sort in the business world, looking for a fast track up the ladder. Each week, in keeping with the show's theme, the contestants are split into two teams and are presented with a business related challenge. The losing team ends up with two of their members doing some stunt to try to stay in the game. Up until now they have been hair raising extreme events such as walking a tightrope between two hot air balloons thousands of feet in the sky, or riding on the top wing of stunt biplanes upside down.

This week, however, the teams had to sponsor an Indie rock band in England to try to get them a shot at a record contract with Virgin and a chance to be the opening act at the Virgin sponsored "V Festival" of such bands. The leader of the losing team is named Jessica, a beautiful young blonde haired woman who, at 27 years of age, already had an advanced college degree and was the owner and CEO of her own small telecommunications company. The challenge that she and another male contestant were given, however, was far from the extreme adventure challenges that previous losers had to face. The young man had to go up in front of this massive crowd of young punk and alternative rock fans and sing an a capella version of Britney Spears "Ooops I did it again." As you can imagine, that didn't go over well, and he was boo'd and people threw things at him on the stage.

Jessica's "penalty" was even lower. She was told she would have to "streak" the concert - in other words she had to appear stark naked on the stage and give a plug for the band her team had supported. Beyond that, she was really tricked in a way. Branson told her that she would be wearing "body paint" for her nude appearance. She naturally assumed that her entire body would be painted, similar to what some partiers do at Mardi Gras. Instead, a woman showed up and painted the name of her band, "RED" on top of her chest and the word "VIRGIN" on her butt in red paint. That was all. (And while Virgin is the name of Branson's company, the alternate, puerile slant on it was obvious.) Then, to add insult to injury, after she went through with her fully nude appearance (and carrying it off with a hell of a positive attitude, I thought) Branson turned around and immediately eliminated her from the game. He didn't even give much of a reason for electing to keep her male opponent over her beyond a "feeling" that she "wasn't ready" to take on an executive role. He even said he thought the two of them had come in dead even in the competition.

For a person hoping to make it as a large scale success in the business world, this is hardly something you want following you around. They blurred out her torso on the TV show, but of course many of the young fans there had digital cameras and recorded the moment, releasing it onto the internet immediately. In case you think that it was some obscured "fun" bit of nudity, it was full frontal and back.

WARNING: Links to photos are NOT WORK SAFE and not for minors or anyone offended by nudity.

Photo One

Photo Two

Photo Three

Photo Four

Original sources of photos, in order:
Source for one and two: efestivals
Source three: Virtual Festivals
Source four: Streakers

Instead of being referred to as a business woman, or even a contestant on a reality show, Jessica quickly became known on multiple web sites as, "that chick who stripped at the V Fest." Branson makes a big deal of talking about how the contestants he eliminates are great business people and how they surely have a big future ahead of them in the business world. In Jessica's case, he may well have just torpedoed her. Yes, I agree that Jessica knew full well what she was doing and made the choice for herself. But the prize for this is so huge, and she had to decide on the spot, that she probably jumped into an error of judgment out of desperation to stay in the game. It strikes me that this was far more of a puerile attempt to grab ratings than any legitimate challenge in keeping with the show's theme. Don't get me wrong... I love an attractive naked female as much as the next guy, but I get the feeling that these contestants didn't sign on for something like this.