I think about this tweet almost every day of my life:


— Andy Greenwald (@andygreenwald) April 10, 2015

I think about it so often because it feels like every dawn brings another clip of Lip Sync Battle, Spike TV's show about celebrities having, um, lip sync battles, which enters its third season tonight. Yesterday was Anne Hathaway in whitey tighties miming "Wrecking Ball;" today is Ben Kingsley wearing more metallic and showing more upper arm than any 72-year-old man should. We must post this very much trending content, 90 percent of websites say to themselves when these clips are released, and before you know it, Google News is flooded with descriptions of Hathaway's "Beyond Epic," "Zany," and "Flawless" performance.   

But I also think about this tweet because it's a question that truly has no answer. Lip Sync Battle is a variety show adapted from a segment of another variety show. It's a pointless charade for and by famous people, a false presentation of personae. "Why is Lip Sync Battle?" I DON'T KNOW (*whispers* and I'm scared I never will).

Lip Sync Battle was born during a road trip as John Krasinski, his wife Emily Blunt, and Stephen Merchant (the British OfficeHello Ladies) brainstormed an activity Krasinski could do with Jimmy Fallon during his next appearance on Late Night. "Their silent takes on 'No Diggity' and 'All Night Long' morphed into an idea," THR reports. "Morphed into an idea" is a very liberal interpretation of what happened next, but the resulting Late Night segment was entertaining (and short) enough. NBC, suspiciously, no longer hosts the very first instance of "Lip Sync Battle," which aired on May 7, 2013, but believe me when I say it featured Jimmy Fallon lip-syncing "Don't Cry Out Loud," "They Want EFX," and "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," and Krasinski syncing "Teenage Dream," Run DMC's "Peter Piper," and "I'll Make Love to You." It worked: the bit was cute, and though I can no longer watch anything Jimmy Fallon does without feeling pure rage, I'm sure at the time I found it quite funny. After that first instance, "Lip Sync Battle" appeared once more on Late Night, a three-way conflict between Fallon, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and OG brainstormer Stephen Merchant. When Fallon transitioned to The Tonight Show, he packed up the lip sync shit with him, and between Feb. 2014 and April 2015, he employed the segment four more times (with Paul Rudd, Emma Stone, Gwen Stefani and Blake Shelton, and a special Super Bowl edition featuring Will Ferrell, Kevin Hart, and Drew Barrymore). Then came the apocalypse.

On November 21, 2014, Spike TV announced that, in conjunction with Fallon, Krasinski, and Merchant, they would be debuting Lip Sync Battle. Nevermind the confusion over why Spike was adapting this thing and not NBC, the real question was, "How is this going to be a show?" The segments on Fallon were six to eight minutes long—what was Spike going to do for the other 14 to 16 minutes? When the show premiered in April 2015 with LL Cool J as host, because OF COURSE, and Chrissy Teigen as the quippy sidekick (?), we found out the answer, which was: more songs, lots of commercials, and more costumes—OMG, so many more costumes.

I don't need to regale you with the rest of the history. All that matters is that Lip Sync Battle set ratings records for Spike in its first season, and that ever since, two or more self-serving celebrities have pretended to sing #cool, #relevant hits on a weekly basis.

Because that's all Lip Sync Battle is: a vehicle for stars to project themselves as goofy and/or approachable and/or fun to a witless audience. In other words, it's just a slightly different version of Jimmy Fallon's Tonight Show. Frankly, if Lip Sync Battle's third season premiered a three to six months earlier, we probably would have seen Donald Trump appear on the show to lip sync a Ted Nugent song. And then LL would have tousled his hair.

The appeal of Lip Sync Battle is that it showcases usually immaculate celebrities being apparently messy and spontaneous. It's the TV show version of Us Weekly's "Stars, They're Just Like Us!" page. Who doesn't lip sync to Miley Cyrus with their gal pals, am I right? But that's all a lie—it was a lie when the segment was born on Late Night and it is even more so now. These aren't celebrities getting caught picking their nose by paparazzi—these are celebrities performing choreography and being outfitted by a professional stylist, on a show created by one of their own. And they don't even actually have to sing!

Since the advent of Hollywood, the people inside the industry have worked tirelessly to maintain their marketability. Old Hollywood had fixers who'd keep a DUI out of the papers. The TMZ age has destroyed the industry's ability to control public image from the safety of back rooms, so now they just do it right under your nose. Lip Sync Battle is part of celebrity mythmaking, a weekly thirty minutes of PR. 

And it's only getting worse. The success of Lip Sync Battle has paved the way for other celebrity-aggrandizing late-night skits to become television shows. James Corden's "Carpool Karaoke" is being turned into a series for Apple Music. "The joy of ‘Carpool’ is the intimacy it creates," Late Late Show exec producer Ben Winston said in a statement announcing the series. The key word is "creates," because all of these shows are creations—or rather, contrivances. Whether it's Hathaway lip syncing "Wrecking Ball" or Adele rapping Kanye West's "Monster," or Justin Bieber "rehabilitating himself" from the front seat of a van, the basic truth is that they are in front of the camera, and you are in front of a screen watching. That will never change—no matter how "silly" a celebrity pretends to be. So let's not play ourselves; we can end this trend before it truly gets out of hand.