We don’t have enough digits on which to count the times we’ve seen an Us Weekly cover or feature about Spencer Pratt and Heidi Montag, and said aloud, “Again? How did those two get more famous than people with actual skills?” Apparently Speidi was listening, because on Monday the answer hits bookstores: a tome called How to Be Famous in which the notorious villains of The Hills gleefully elucidate how their astronomical renown came to pass. It’s like the other side of the coin to Lauren Conrad’s L.A. Candy, the breezy roman à clef about her Hills career: One is a fictionalized account of real life; the other, a real account of a fictionalized life. But in the twenty or so minutes it takes to read How to Be Famous, for every genuine laugh are about 40 eye-rolls that make you wonder just how much you can trust a supposedly true tale of two people who lied their way to the top. Our guess: not much. Herewith, our assessment the book’s defining factors and its highlights (or lowlights, if you prefer).
Merits As a Book: None
It’s impossible to judge How to Be Famous the way you would a real book, because it isn’t one beyond the fact that it uses words on paper and is portable. Thinking of How to Be Famous as anything but a long pro-Speidi pamphlet is like calling Diet Coke a vegetable just because it doesn’t have any meat in it.
Merits As the Textbook for “Spencer and Heidi Are Infallible Geniuses 101”: Endless
Though it purports to teach how you, too, can become as omnipresent as Heidi and Spencer, their tome lacks any section in which our protagonists learn from earlier errors on the road to fame and fortune. It seems they’ve never made any mistakes at all. Even an apparent misstep — leaking Heidi’s heinous first single and embarrassing homemade video — they now claim to have been deliberate, a face-saving bit of revisionist history that we suspect would read differently if the reaction to either had been remotely positive. They also conveniently ignore that their real first step toward fame was having the good luck to be friends with someone who was about to have her own super-popular reality show, probably because “psychically divine who is about to hit it big, and befriend them” is not practical advice.
Tongue-in-cheek Factor: High
We’ll cop to giggling at Spencer’s Villain-O-Meter chart, in which he places himself — on a scale of “Villains by Nature” to “Villains Who Actually Kill People” — smack between J.R. Ewing and Freddy Krueger. This may explain why Spencer recently tooled around town in a giant cowboy hat; we assume he’s saving the metal fingernails and fedora for some touching Christmas photos. The book also takes an amusing view of culpability for betrayals — Spencer advises that a short memory is best, so that at any moment you are absolutely convinced of your own innocence. He also decries Botox: “How are you going to show people you hate them if you can’t show emotion?”
“You’ve Got to Be Kidding Me” Factor: Equally High
Have Spencer and Heidi SEEN Heidi’s face? The only way she can show emotion is by getting a fresh lip injection so that they pout themselves for her.
Quality of Hills Dirt: Not Bad
Unlike L.A. Candy, which was disappointingly non-dishy, How to Be Famous boasts some juicy anecdotes, leading us to believe that a Spencer Pratt–penned tell-all could be a (very, very excruciatingly) guilty pleasure. Without mentioning her name, he cops to being the mastermind behind those rumors about LC’s alleged sex tape (duh), repeatedly calls her dull, and claims that the popularity of the Speidi wedding story line is what pushed Lauren off The Hills for good, making Spencer and Heidi the stars, which … given the show’s ratings slump, that’s one tune they probably should have changed.
Most Unexpected Dis: Kristin Cavallari
She may have introduced Spencer and Heidi — making this entire escapade basically her fault, so THANKS A LOT, lady — but that didn’t stop them from misspelling her name in the acknowledgments. Burn.
Quantity of Author Photo(s): Aggressive
There are three photos on the cover alone. The 50-picture pictorial in the center of the book feels like being trapped in an old copy of In Touch, and the back-page snapshot — of the gruesome twosome holding a SPEIDI stamp, which is about as subtle as a ball-peen hammer to your face — is repeated inside. If all the photos were removed from this thing, it would only be 40 pages long.
Quality of Advice and Information: Respectable
As gross as it feels to admit, How to Be Famous does boast some good moments. For instance, there’s a probably accurate chart offering tips on when the natural lighting outside is most flattering for being photographed by the paparazzi (Lindsay Lohan might want to check that part). Brad Pitt gets hailed, convincingly, as a master manipulator for divorcing America’s Sweetheart, taking up with the Other Woman, and coming out of it more popular than ever. And without naming names, the duo excoriates Audrina for her passive handling of the “Did Justin Bobby hook up with Lauren?” scandal. Although they inaccurately claim Audrina said nothing — when in fact she did numerous interviews, some televised — they do make the salient point that by not acting enough like the woman scorned, she allowed Lauren an equally strong voice in the story, thus losing out on an opportunity to be front and center (which ranks above premeditated murder on Speidi’s list of crimes). Given Speidi’s current level of fame, it’s impossible to deny that these two know whereof they speak; that we’re even writing this column in the first place proves that. Apparently our next project should be penning How to Be Part of the Problem.
Likelihood They Wrote It Themselves: Marginal
We weren’t kidding when we said this is a twenty-minute read, and it feels like it took about that long to type. Spencer’s many wrestling analogies and references to Chinese warrior Sun Tzu seem genuine, if only because it’s easy to believe he sits around watching the WWE and drinking Red Bull while pondering how to vanquish his enemies (of which we are probably now two). But most of the book reads as if someone with a good ear for self-aggrandizement strove valiantly to write in as conversationally catty a way as you’d expect Speidi to speak. The effect works, but we have a hard time believing Heidi Montag could come up with something as clever as calling tears “WWMDs: Women’s Weapons of Mass Destruction.”
Overall Quality: Appropriately Low
Before we got our copies of How to Be Famous, we admitted to one another that we were concerned. What if we actually liked it? No worries. While the Spencer-“penned” segments about his evil, evil villainy are funny, it is essentially a mildly entertaining way to pass time at Borders while you’re waiting in line to pay for a real book. In other words, its value is as fleeting as their fame ought to be.
For more of the Fug Girls, check out Go Fug Yourself.