The most revealing thing about Mariah Carey these days is her cleavage-accentuating apparel. She is cagey in interviews to the point of making them useless. Her public persona is the embodiment of style over substance, a collection of idiosyncratic affectations and tics that relegate humanity only to the surface, giving little indication of the actual human below.
Perhaps it’s just as well—she’s an artist and what she says and does in her music should suffice in terms of public communication. That’s not exactly the way things work when art is a product and success depends on marketing, but I don’t fault anyone for hanging onto their idealism in our cynical world. Mariah rose to fame in her early 20s—she wasn’t a child star, per se, but she was young enough for that attention to have affected her still-developing brain, and if she has a strange, paradoxical relationship with the spotlight, that’s understandable. It’s especially so given how unkind the press has been to her over the years.
And so it’s strange that Mariah signed up to do a reality show at all. She refers to it as a “docuseries,” like we’re all new to the world—don’t call us aliens!—and have no idea how these things go. To wit, she sounds utterly unenthused in its brief intro: “Welcome to my world,” she sighs. Throughout the show, she tends to speak as though she’s drifting off to sleep.
A Page Six report from earlier this year points to Mariah’s manager (as of last year) Stella Bulochnikov as the mastermind behind the move to “docuseries”—Bulochnikov formerly worked at Viacom, producing shows like Flavor of Love Girls: Charm School and Paris Hilton’s My New Best Friend (to be fair, they were both really good shows—Bulochnikov knows what she’s doing).
Bulochnikov’s considerable sway over Mariah’s life and public profile was apparent on the first episode of Mariah’s World, which was simulcast on E! and Bravo Sunday night. The most surprising scene depicts Bulochnikov persuading Mariah to postpone her wedding to James Packer in favor of going on a European tour. Mariah then relents and then sadly sucks a lollipop while Bulochnikov praises her wise decision. Elsewhere Bulochnikov describes Mariah as “such a dear friend and sister” and compares her to Rocky IV’s Ivan Drago (“She’s a machine!”). For better or worse, it’s clear that Bulochnikov knows exactly how to handle her pet superstar.
The rest of Mariah’s World, though, lacked juiciness, save an off-handed comment about how her night-owl schedule didn’t quite align with that of her then-fiancé (who appeared briefly in the show by her side). The premiere found Mariah frequently horizontal as if this were an episode of My Strange Addiction in which her addiction is lounging.
There were also some hilarious transitions featuring shots that were alternately candid and of Mariah posing awkwardly, attempting to counterfeit casualness.
At one point, as Mariah worked on the arrangements of her music for her then-upcoming tour, she commented that this was like watching paint dry.
You said it, Mariah.