Elizabeth Hasselback is not alone in the world of pseudo-celebs who have, after little breaks, expanded to fill the space alloted to them by a novelty-hungry media. Paris Hilton doesn’t count because of her family fame and fortune, but Nicole Richie, Omarosa Manigault, Rick Rockwell and Darva Conga, and Trista Rehn do.
Elizabeth’s transformation from semi-huggable Elizabeth Filarski of The Survivor, to shrill opportunist and right wing chatter-box of The View, has been an interesting if not mildly pertubing. Tag line: initially fetching ingenue ironically morphs into full “Survivor” mode on and around the set of The View.
Having partaken of the nectar of pseudo-stardom during and after her Survivor experience, Elizabeth saw a great opportunity in The View, albeit one for which she was, even by the nebulous qualifications of “The View”, sorely under-qualified. She grabbed it with both hands and clung on like a boat survivor. Reason? Well she lacked the chops that participants need to have in order to be certified stalwarts on the day-time fav; namely journalistic and or comedic chops.
Elizabeth is neither funny nor particularly skilled when it comes to negotiating the contours of an issue without sensational over-steer. Watch the veins in her neck and her penchant for dramatic catharses a la Holly Hunter in Broadcast News. This by the way gives Barbara Walters a chance to play stalwart auntie to an off-kilter “teen”. Why Barbara chose her, will always be as puzzling as her choices of milquetoast Lisa Ling and pugnacious Rosie O’Donnell.
Was Elizabeth Hasselback some kind of token stand-in for the conservative lobby? And if so, why couldn’t have Barbara chosen someone less shrill, not to mention buffoonish. Wasn’t there someone out there who didn’t come across like a high school debater. (Have you noticed that Elizabeth is the only one who brings crib notes to the set?) Her take on the use of the “N” word, was as tone deaf as it could get on top of sounding downright sophomoric. Barbara Walters chiming in towards the end with a Mr. Rodgers view of race relations salvaged neither Elizabeth Hasselback nor that entire exchange.
Whatever Barbara’s reasons for bringing Elizabeth onto The View, the Survivor alum seems to have expanded to fill the space created for her on that set. In the process, an interesting, if predictable thing has happened: The scrappy sophomore has pumped up the adenoidal drama quotient to hide her lack of smarts, humor and or sangfroid. The View episodes in which she encounters Michelle and Barack Obama, are very instructive of Elizabeth’s M.O. and process when faced with real star power. Like her accidental hero George W. Bush, Elizabeth embraces opinion, conviction and “moral” certitude as a substitute for intellect. And some of her very public over-compensation has lead Elizabeth to very strange places; places which have morphed The View into some kind of a reality show by extension. She actively campaigned for John McCain in Florida and introduced Governor Sarah Palin at a couple of rallies in late October of 2008.
Watch those videos for the sheer voyeuristic drama of them. And as for synchronicity, see how much alike in voice, demeanor and air-headedness this 31 year old woman is to the 42 year old governor of Alaska. It crossed my mind at some point that beyond a la carte conservatism, Elizabeth probably feels for the Governor because of the congruency in their personal narratives; relative unknowns who got lucky breaks through quickie exposures.