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"Are you here for me?"

If you watch VH1 celeb-reality dating shows like Flavor Of Love, I Love New York, and Rock Of Love, you know all about "Are you here for me?" At some point, Flavor Flav, New York, or Bret Michaels will confront a would-be suitor over whether he or she has the audacity (the sheer and utter audacity!) to appear on a trashy, sub-moronic basic cable program with intentions involving something other than finding a love that is true, pure, and beautiful with a person who is dating 20 people simultaneously under patently false and degrading pretenses. In the most recent season of I Love New York, for example, New York pointed the "Are you here for me?" stick at Buddha, whose virtue was questioned because he had previously appeared on a different trashy, sub-moronic basic cable program, BET's Hell Date, and was also working as an actor. Tonight, Bret dropped the "Are you here for me?" bomb on Kristy Joe because, well, I'm not sure why, other than the fact that she cries a lot, wants to leave all the time, and gets really scary bug eyes when she's angry. More on that in a sec.

There are many obvious problems with the tired "Are you here for me?" dramatic device, but I'll just on just two. No. 1, to paraphrase Martin Sheen in Apocalypse Now, singling out one person for being a fake on these shows is like handing out tickets at the Indy 500. Nobody involved with Rock Of Love is really looking for a soulmate, including and especially Bret Michaels. Everybody knows this: the producers, the participants, the audience, everybody. Reality has very little to do with most reality shows, but it's not even on speaking terms with the "celeb-reality" genre. And that's OK. Cynicism and emptiness are part of the VH1 package. We watch to enjoy dumb sluts acting dumb and slutty, not because we want them to fall in love with skeezy rock stars and populate the world with lil' blonde-haired and leather-clad modern miracles of STD medication. Anyone who goes on Rock Of Love thinking it might lead to a long-term relationship and possibly marriage (fingers crossed!) with one Bret Michaels should be condemned, not the passably intelligent person who knows that just ain't going to happen.

Of course, if you appear on Rock Of Love or any other reality show in order to parlay your low value fame into slightly less low value fame you should also be condemned, because it's a horrible, horrible plan with exactly no chance in hell of ever working. That's reason No. 2 why "Are you here for me?" is such a tiresome trump card in the celeb-reality genre: Why the fuck else are you here? Appearing on a show like Rock Of Love tells the world: I'm a terrible person, and have nothing of value to contribute to society and no intention of trying. Appearing on this show is making it as far as these people are concerned. The breakout star of Rock Of Love Part 1 was Lacey, who parlayed her high wattage star power and instant name recognition into a brief and unmemorable guest spot on the second season of Rock Of Love. That's it, that's all she's got, have fun in oblivion, Lace.

Kristy Joe apparently really is here for Bret, even if she seemed reluctant to say so directly. (In all fairness, how easy can it be to say: "I love Bret Michaels." My fingers curled up knots just from typing the words.) I've never quite understood the general hostility toward Kristy Joe–she's neither more or less hateable than anybody else in this wretched house–but she was definitely getting on my nerves tongiht. Predictably, after the big dinner meltdown–kicked off by Bret's innocuous little "Who's here for me and who's not?" conversation starter–Kristy Joe predictably started fake-packing her bags, and Bret predictably fake-talked into her staying. It wasn't nearly as fun or entertaining as the USO sequence earlier in the episode, by far the best challenge in weeks because it was less about the nonexistent drama of trumped-up competition and more about idiots being idiotic, like Megan trying to recite the preamble to the Constitution while whirling a hula hoop around her waist. Like Fox News, it was equal parts ham-fisted patriotism and hilarity.

The only thing tougher to say than "I love Bret Michaels" is "Inna, I find you physically attractive," but Bret managed to get that one out even as he sent his Ukrainan love tank home. Kristy Joe is here for another week, and neither she nor me knows how to feel about that. She might be here for Bret, but I'm not. I'm here for the flags and hula hoops.

Grade: B