Saturday, July 23, 2005
The Olsen Twins: Sign of the Apocalypse
Anyone struggling to understand this era we are living through must come to grips with the phenomenon of the Olsen Twins. I have known of the Olsen Twins ever since their "debut" on Full House back in the late '80's, when they collectively played the role of the Tanner baby "Michelle." Through the course of the show Michelle grew from a baby into an annoying, plastic troll-like toddler who would repeat the phrases taught to her by neurotic Danny, goofy Uncle Joey, and urban cowboy Uncle Jesse like a trained parrot. Then Full House was canceled and it seemed that the Olsen Twins (their separate identities not yet publicly disclosed) would disappear forever. Strangely, however, like a cancer which survives the death of its host, the Olsen Twins survived, and not only survived but became the sovereigns of a mighty empire of pre-teen product endorsement, fashion, and straight to video releases, valued in the hundreds of millions of dollars. The answer to how this came about is surely one of the great mysteries of our time. First of all, there is no particular reason I can see that "Full House" would have catapulted anyone to lasting fame and fortune. Bob Saget had a good run hosting "America's Funniest Home Videos," Dave Gouliet did a similar show, and John Stamos married Rebecca Romaine and does stuff on Broadway. (As for DJ and Stephanie, I have no idea.) Then what about the role of "Michelle" was so compelling that the Olsen Twins went on to net untold millions? There's no parallel that I can think of. Second of all, ponder the fact that the role of "Michelle" is to this date the Olsen Twins' only "real" role, in either television or movies. You might be tempted to think of them as actresses, but they aren't. They are more like real life dolls. They've never appeared in anything separately, and they always play the same character, which is simply the character they play in real life. The next time you see Mary Kate or Ashley being cast in a role which requires either one to actually act, i.e. to play a part, will be the first time. Thirdly, there is to my knowledge no difference between them, which is why one of them always has to dye her hair a different color. I don't mean physical difference, I mean that they both play the same character, in their productions and in the reality show which is their life. They literally share the exact same identity. In fact their pure interchangeability is part of their appeal. Having been almost literally born on television, they have simply adopted the world as their set. They have no experience of private life. Rather, their entire lives are an infomercial, an endless loop of reality TV highlights. The mind-boggling, billion dollar 10 year contract extension they signed a few years ago was simply an agreement to continue broadcasting their lives through various corporate outlets. Thus the Olsen Twins represent some kind of weird stage of ultra-capitalism which we can only hope is not a prophecy. Their very identity is a brand-name - their lives are "brought to you by" and "sponsored by" the products they endorse. They have literally sold their souls to the highest bidder. The fact that a perverted entity such as the Olsen Twins can come into existence and be supported by this society is an indication of how bizarrely non-human our priorities have become. Their fame and fortune is not in spite of their complete vacuity, but because of it! Their real job (and once you understand it you can see why it is so highly valued by this economy) is to mirror back to Americans a pacified, completely non-threatening image of the corporations which are currently terrorizing the globe. The Olsen Twins are icons of globalization. They are nothing more or less than a fantasy of American imperial ambition, the soft sell that reaches the shores of distant lands just before the bombs begin to fall.
Posted by weazoe at 6:15 PM