Tommy Pickles: I don’t know what to tell you Dr. Lip Schitz, I cannot escape this feeling. I look at myself in the mirror every morning and I feel like Patrick Bateman in American Psycho. There is an idea of Tommy Pickles, some kind of abstraction, but there is no real “me”—I am simply not there.
The other night I spotted this beautiful girl at the bar. She was wearing a pair of jeggings that perfectly captured the voluptuous contours of a collegiate body that was bound to lose its appeal within the next five years. A modest t-shirt limited my ability to gauge the size of her milk mounds, but the screen-printing on her shirt was all I needed to fully understand her degree of sexual promiscuity. The front of the t-shirt said “4th Floor Hutch Hunnies” and the back boisterously stated “We like it on top”.… I’m sure her parents would be proud to know that their baby daughter explicitly advertises her preference to be the pace-setter during missionary sex.
Anyway, I approached her with some cheeky humor, filtering her responses for intelligence/socio-economical status in hopes of making a superficial connection that I could capitalize on. I overheard her talking about the Hunger Games Trilogy with her friend, so I used that as my entry point—women love thinly veiled romantic fiction, especially when compartmentalized into trilogies. Remember that Doc. Our conversation exponentially blossomed from there. Because she was the most attractive girl at the bar, every meathead wearing a hemp-necklace approached her with the fury of a soon-to-be neutered golden retriever….I felt her interest in me waning. At this point, I was faced with a scenario that I have become all too familiar: fuck or flight.
Honestly, I try to develop relationships with women and friends based on the merits of my personality, but when my efforts fail, I always have a smoking gun—I’m Tommy fucking Pickles. Anyone who possesses a cable connection and a birth certificate from 1987-1993 knows who I am. When I expose this celebrated attribute, all the girls want to see my “pickle” and all the dudes want to know what it is like to bathe with Angelica.
I’ll spare you all the monotonous sexual details that led to the climax of my identity crisis Doc, but basically I went home with this broad. Naturally, she assumed the “on-top” position. I gazed longingly into her vapid eyes as she moved up and down…but then my brain was struck with a vision that crippled my ability to enjoy the act of fornication. Suddenly, I saw myself from the third person perspective as if I were an audience member watching my own reality show. The past, present, and future all began to meld into one central feeling of despair. Whenever I have sex, my abs ache the next day as if I had put my body through a rigorous sit-up routine at the gym. Every time I move, or flex my torso, I feel a strain in my stomach. It is not a painful feeling but rather, a welcomed feeling of triumph—a relic of my sexual conquest. Historically I am a fan of said feeling, but at that moment I became disgusted with the actions that enabled me to lay this girl in her sleep number bed and the very idea of my contrived identity. I am nothing more than a character whose actions have been shaped by the cheers and jeers of an audience for 21 years.
Who am I? I remember screaming out at this innocent girl. A cold sweat came over my body and my member went flaccid. No explanation could have set this girl’s fragile emotions at ease….so I left. All of my friendships and relationships are dependent upon the character and fame that I acquired as an adventurous bald headed one year old.
Dr. Lip Schitz: That is a troubling story Thomas. At what point in your life would you say that you began to develop this keen sense of seeing yourself from a “birds eye” view?
Tommy Pickles: As the show accurately depicts, my Dad, Stu Pickles, was an inventor—err actually a “failure” is a more accurate job title. He just liked to play with power tools and tinker around with toys in the basement to compensate for his sham of a childhood. Regardless, after 20 years of failing to come up with a single invention capable of putting food on the table, he invented the Yak-Bak which he sold the to Mattel for a lucrative sum. Shortly there after, my mom caught him in the garage with a freshly “legal to consent” Suzy, beat-boxing on his flesh bone like Biz Markie. I always thought that my dad was referring to snickers bars when he said he loooooooved chocolate, but alas, he was expressing his affinity for ebony chicks. Last I heard the two of them were living somewhere in Barbados off the royalties of my Dad’s Yak-Bak Fortune.
As it turns out my psychotic woes were not brought on by my absent father, but more so by his legacy invention—the Yak-Bak. I would play with the Yak-Bak for countless hours, mimicking “Macho Man” Randy Savage’s guttural voice in those Slim Jim commercials. I would record, playback, critique, and rerecord my voice until I sounded the way I wanted to. In theory the Yak-Bak sounds joyous, almost fun, but it’s the first time I remember being able to view my actions in the past, critique them in the present, and make favorable changes for the future. The Yak-Bak enabled me to become a casual, and eventually critical observer of myself.
Now I know that self-reflection is imperative for growth. Presumably, people have been reviewing, analyzing, and judging their pasts and altering themselves for the future since the dawn of time, however, technology has changed the process of healthy reflection. Personally, I never had the chance to reflect on my actions and find my identity in a healthy way because of the television show I was on, and the digital era I grew up in. It is impossible not to see myself from the third person perspective as some sort of character. Between the Rugrats, the Yak-Bak, home videos, blogs, and Facebook, everyone one of my memories has been chronicled in a vivid way. My T.V. career may have ended years ago, but technology has enabled me to rewind, fast forward, and critique my existence as if it were a show stored on my DVR hard drive.
Facebook, specifically is damning because the validation or rejection of self is so instant and visual. By visual I mean that there are a series of videos, photos, status updates, and wall posts throughout my life that evoke vivid emotions, allowing me to either marinate in my triumphs or wallow in my despairs. Whether it’s looking at photos of my state winning high school football team, or that summer I spent in France indulging on crepes, chardonnay, and Parisian whores, I always feel energized by the documentation of my happiness, but it is just as easy to mull over life’s disappointments.
Facebooks “see friendship” function is a window into my social progression. Every digital conversation that I have ever had will exist for eternity. Sometimes I’ll look over conversations with people that are no longer in my life and try to pin point when the tone of our friendship/relationship changed. I try to use the digital dialogue to aid my mental memory of events, but the faintest ink is better than the strongest memory and soon the only recollection I have of an event is how it is represented on Facebook.
The Facebook machine is also instantaneous. Whenever I update my status, it’s a stream of consciousness—a cathartic release of emotion or whit. I sit and wait for the that little red number to appear over the globe in the left hand corner—a “like”, a comment, anything really. As I feel incrementally better about myself with each response. It teaches me what people want and do not want from me and in the process contrives my personality. In other words, what type of statuses, photos, and memes, and the characteristics/themes associated with them are worth adopting into my being? This process supplants internal reflection. Everything is a public decision that I share with an audience for their approval or disapproval. All of this probably sounds like technical jargon to an aging man like you Doc, but the truth is that the digital representation of self is nearly synonymous with identity.
Dr. Lip Schitz: You seem to be lacking a clear and defined purpose. Structure is crucial in order for you to realize Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs. If you have nothing to get up for in the morning, then surely you lack a reason to go to bed at night. Time loses its value without structure, goals, and benchmarks for reaching those goals. What would you say is your purpose in life? What do you want out of this world and…yourself?
Tommy Pickles: That’s a deep question Doc…. Admittedly, my goals are just as conceited and selfish as the next individual. I want to be loved, even liked by as many people as possible. I want true and meaningful relationships and friendships. I want to see the aggregate of my hard work materialize into a college degree with my name on it. I want a 1040 with a six-figure income. I want to return to my hometown and donate enough money to the local library that they will rename it in my honor and people will drive by and think “wow that guy really did something special with his life”. I want to wrap myself in a cocoon of material possessions until my insecurities and vulnerabilities are protected by the intangible value of my 5-stall, centrally heated garage.
The Greek’s have a word called Thurmos that literally means the desire to be recognized by people, not only now, but also for eternity. Every morning, while I am asleep, the sunlight pierces my windowpane and numbs my brain, reminding me of the consciousness and the reality that I must face. At that moment, I turn and bury my head back into my pillow for one last taste of solace. Dreams are free of noise, expectations, and obligations—a beautiful state of tranquility. Recognition, fame, or whatever you want to call it, is a slippery desire. If you do not have it, you want. You strive for it. However, coming from somebody who has it, I would do anything to let it all go. I am merely the victim of someone else’s selfish desire to be recognized. My parents and the creators of the show traded my privacy for fortune, my identity for fame, my childhood for instant gratification.
Dr. Lip Schitz: Wouldn’t you say that the fame and fortune that you acquired from being on the Rugrats has enabled you to achieve all the goals that you mentioned?
|(Jason Russell-Kony 2012 Creator)|
Tommy Pickles: That’s exactly my problem. Most people spend their whole lifetime climbing Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs, whereas I was handed enough instant fame and money to supplant the steps of true self-actualization. And, this all happened to me before I even developed a conscious or learned to wipe my own ass. People who achieve mass recognition without the struggles of hard work and the creation of value are not equipped with the emotional and intellectual tools to survive. Look at child actors, lottery winners, film makers who disguise themselves as philanthropist dedicated to taking out Ugandan terrorists, and especially reality T.V. Stars…the list goes on and on.
I don’t even know who to blame anymore. Money always muddies the feeble parameters of morality. Reality television especially disgusts me. People who have no skin in the game continuously exploit modest individuals by putting them into social constructs with the promises of free booze, an unlimited wardrobe sponsored by Under Armor, minimal obligations, and of course international fame. Audiences everywhere root for mayhem and the psychological destruction of normal human beings. The more mayhem, the more entertained the audience is, and the more money everyone makes. The humans on the show become cartoonish versions of themselves with each passing episode. This happens, in part, because much like the Facebook status, the gratification or rejection of self is so instant. Countless websites, fan forums, and post-show specials give audience members a platform to actively participate in the formulations of the characters they want to see on the show. The characters on the show become critical observers of themselves and pander to the audiences responses because their relevancy and essentially their paychecks comes from pleasing them.
Dr. Lip Schitz: In the time of Ancient Rome, people used to pile into the Coliseum to watch gladiators fight each other to the death. Though on the surface this may seem crass, I would argue that it is an essential component of keeping humanity sane. Freud came up with this idea of the Id vs. The Ego. Simply put, the Id harbors the innate, animalistic components of personality—the need to reproduce and destroy. The human brain is obviously more complex than that of an animal, so throughout time we have learned that there is much more to life than passing on your seed and dying. The Ego focuses on the reality principal by trying to please the desires of the Id in realistic ways. I would argue that reality television picked up where the blood shed at the Coliseum left off—it provides the masses the opportunity to service the desires of the Id in a healthy way—at the expense of only a few.
Tommy Pickles: Ha-ha. Listen to yourself, at the expense of only a few? Can’t you see that I am apart of that few. I have seen first hand what fame and characterization does to people. Chucky had a predisposition for anxiety on the show and now he is a delusional schizophrenic mess. He calls me periodically to pitch ideas about how to get the Rugrats back on television. “When is the gang getting back together for another movie? How about a reality Rugrats series where we live in Italy for three months and work at a pizza shop? American Idol is looking for two new judges, use your celebrity to leverage us a spot Tommy”
Phil’s level of delusion and desire to get back into the spotlight is even more depressing. Every time I see him he is wearing the same Austin 3:16 t-shirt that he purchased 15 years ago. His skin looks more tan and glabrous with each passing day. He has been trying to get onto the reality series WWE: Tough Enough for as long as I can remember. Like most wresting stars, or childhood actors with unrealistic expectations of reaching the limelight one last time, he has battled drug addiction and alcoholism since 13.
As a child, I had no sympathy for Angelica because she was a narcissistic twat but now I pity her. More than anything, she wants to be a Kardashian. She married J.R. Smith about two years ago but it ended after three months when Deadspin broke a story about J.R. tweeting a photo of his dick to a Stanford co-ed. She plans to audition for Basketball Wives this fall.
These testimonies perfectly capture the destiny of anyone who has ever been characterized by a television show—once a reality star, always a reality star. If there is not a camera to document their existence then they are left with a crippling sense of loneliness, emptiness, and delusions of importance.
Lip Schitz: Thomas, you need to take a step back and look at what you have. You are young and still have a lifetime to make whatever it is that you want of yourself. Do not let your past define your future. Depression is simply an illusion of circumstances, as is the “character” you feel has been created in place of your identity.
Tommy Pickles: It is too late for me Doc. My character follows me wherever I go. It hunts me. It haunts me. It chases me like a fire-breathing dragon named Reptar, except the grave consequences of life cannot be summarized into 15 minute parables like they can on Rugrats. Maybe I am ungrateful, and perhaps we are all just actors in a play called Life!, waiting for the right casting call to help us achieve temporary happiness….I just wish I were given the chance to choose my character.
Dr. Lip Schitz: Who are you?
Tommy Pickles: Nothing more than an idea Doc…as fictional as the reality in front of me.
Dr. Lip Schitz: Who are you?
Tommy Pickles: Nothing more than an idea Doc…as fictional as the reality in front of me.