There's something about these enclaves - these little gated fortresses of economic and ethnic homogeneity huddling themselves in the midst of a region with a population of such diversity, ethnically and every other ly rivalled by few, if any other spots on earth. It started, I guess, with Beverly Hills 90210. A generation of kids literally growing up with Brandon, Donna, Kelly, Dylan and the gang, and no doubt the popularity of that seminal telework has influenced the fascination that audiences around the world seem to have with this intriguing demographic. If celebrities themselves are the American version of royalty, then these Golden Ones that surround them are the American version of the royal court. For most of us, Americans and non-Americans alike, these shows represent a glimpse into a lifestyle, a population segment so far removed from anything or anybody we have ever known or will ever know, that whether any of them offer anything like a realistic protrayal of the exaggeratedly conspicuous consumption, limitless wealth, lives and people apparently unburdened by the slightest hint of substance doesn't really matter. It is a reality that could not be farther from our own than if we were watching a show on the Discovery channel about an isolated tribe of tree-dwellers recently discovered on an unmapped island off the coast of Irian Jaya. We cannot, it seems, get enough of our Golden Ones, our own homegrown Chosen People. So treasured are they that not only do they guarantee ratings to gladden the heart of the surliest suits, the solemnest and most skeptical of sponsors, they are so precious to us that we keep them locked safely in their golden cages, lest they become too corrupted by the wild and crazy quilt of sights and sounds and smells - and color - of the Real World that surrounds them on all sides. There, on their landlocked island, our beloved Authentic Designer White Trash wallow in everything the top-grossing marketing departments tell us is luxury. They shop, give lavish parties, couple and un-couple with each other like eternally pubescent celebrants of a continuous Authentic Designer Spring Break Gone Wild. They think nothing of spending, for a single bauble, trinket, or casual at-home gala for five hundred of their most intimate friends, sums that most of us do not earn in a year. They surgically alter their faces, and chemically alter their hair, to resemble each other as much as possible, thus making it not racist a bit to admit that one has difficulty distinguishing them one from the other. To relax, they go for day-long pedicures and have themselves - and their children - painted orange. Should any aspiring young go-getter dare to propose even one show that depicted, even as a satire, such blatantly and despicably and inanely cartoonish stereotypes of any other group in the United States, ethnic or geographical, he would almost certainly be escorted from the building by security guards, and be the subject of an industry-wide blacklist within the hour. As is often sadly acknowledged, most stereotypes can claim some grain of truth. Many people from Asia tend, for cultural reasons, to encourage their children to favor certain academic subjects over others. Female humans are generally stronger of leg than of arm. And there are indeed people who live in the famous Southern California enclaves who do and say and live gaudy and ostentatious things and lives. We do not, however, consider it acceptable to employ ethnic slurs, paint entire ethnic groups with a crude, broad brush, and increasingly, it is becoming less acceptable for young men to taunt each other with accusations of "throwing like a girl." And if someone in the public eye, or speaking into a public microphone, does make any such statements, we can be sure that organizations representing the maligned group will respond en masse, in force, and immediately. Where then, are the defenders of wealthy blonde and blonde-by-choice white people who live in Orange County? While it is unique in many ways, it is, like any other county, populated by many perfectly nice and respectable people who live perfectly nice and respectable lives. Yet we see no one stepping up to defend the honor of Orange County residents with happy, loving and functional families, who neither throw nor attend wild parties, people who neither commit crimes nor require stints in rehab nor paint themselves orange. Heavy is the head that wears the crown, but the coronet may be even heavier. While the royals make a conscious choice to concede privacy, and other assorted trade-offs in exchange for that crown, those born into the Court are destined to be painted Golden with a very broad brush. Oh, I know I am rambling a bit, OK, a lot, but the mystique of these self-templated demigods is a fascinating thing to ponder. Maybe it is at least partly, that very demi-ness. The "reality" casts are not really celebrities outside the context of their reality show star status, thus they can be perceived as being a step closer to us than "real" celebrities - the Royal Court. While a role on a hit TV show can mean a significant career boost - even a career maker for an actor, it can be a double-edged sword, and this seems to be especially apparent when the show is a Golden one. Few of the stars of the fictional shows were really stars when they started, and most of those actors have found that they are so eternally and inextricably locked into the characters they played that getting post-cancellation gigs have presented a challenge. The last time most of us saw Ian Ziering, for instance, was on Dancing with the Stars. He will always be a Star. He will always be Steve Sanders, just as Benjamin McKenzie will always be Ryan. His first big gig made him famous, a cruel twisting of every actor's dream of being "whoever you want me to be." We want Benjamin McKenzie to be Ryan, and only Ryan, forever. Meanwhile, in numbers at least large enough to support a handful of industries, we want to be them. Or at least we want to dress like them, as a quick eBay search will reveal, a year after the cancellation of the O.C., pages upon pages of garments touted as being, if not the very brand, similar in appearance to something worn by Marissa or Summer or Kirsten. We have all known people who came to the US from somewhere else and found themselves trying to explain to the folks back home that um, no, everybody does not live in a mansion and drive a Beemer or a Hummer - nor are most Americans driven around in chauffered limos. It reminds me of talking with a young man from Russia who had developed a taste for exported Mexican soap operas, but knew little about the country itself, who was very surprised to learn that most Mexicans are not blondes. Every nation, every culture, has something at which they excel, and for America, that something is business, and thus it makes sense that we define success as wealth, even define ourselves by what we do to earn money. And since our celebrities, our royalty, are constantly visible, due to the electronic media that has come to define our culture just as our wealth - or lack thereof - has come to define us, I suppose it is inevitable that we return the favor and define them.