Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Reality is only a state of mind

When will we learn?

As a society we need to wean ourselves off of our dependence of reality television. We need to free ourselves from the oppressive yoke of our network overlords. No longer should we be slaves, shackled in front of our television sets every night, eagerly lapping up the many vile sights and sounds that emanate from our "boob tubes" like the inane and ridiculous patter that spews from the mind of Anne Coulter all the time.

Reality television. Is there a greater oxymoron in the English language? There’s nothing real about it, and it doesn’t belong on television. And it’s sad, because reality television had such a promising life when it was younger. But just like that child who was unable to live up to his parents’ expectations or that most elusive of all traits: "potential," and consequently ended up being sodomized for crack, so too has reality television failed to realize its potential and expected glory.

In the beginning there were game shows, the original form of reality t.v. Everything was fine and dandy back then. People went on the shows, competed for pointless gifts like Amanda freezers and Cuisinarts, and occasionally did something spontaneous like saying unscripted things with double meanings.

Then, in the early 90s, The Real World arrived, on that most disappointing of channels, MTV, (this ushered in the era of MTV phasing out the music portion of the channel, and focusing on the attempt to shorten the attention span of all kids while simultaneously trying to control what is and is not cool in America. Thereby betraying MTV as the aging hipster of TV Land it really is. VH1, by comparison is actually a better channel.)

The Real World was innovative and interesting. The producers were breaking into new territory with the show and its low-key aura gave it underground, cult status. In my humble and most enlightened opinion, (it is my blog after all) the third season was the best one. There was drama, excitement, pathos, humor and most importantly, there was Puck, the first reality show icon. He got his 15 minutes of fame and milked it for all it was worth. God bless that social reprobate! He made life worthwhile for a short part of my young life. I could forget all about my acne, body hair, webbed-toes, unnecessary third nipple and vestigial tail. I could lose myself in the adventures of the San Francisco crew.

But then the makers of The Real World get a little too full of themselves. They started to think they were better then they were, and got lost in the pretentious artistry of the show. ‘Twas a shame. I couldn’t watch it anymore. Now, the show is most likely in its 80th season or something, and nobody cares anymore. The show has devolved into nothing but pointless sex and mindless gratuity. Normally I would enjoy that greatly, but everything is just inexplicable so much worse on MTV.

There are now, by some experts’ accounts, more than 4 million reality shows currently on t.v. These shows fall into a few different categories. There are the game reality shows, like Deal or No Deal, and Fear Factor. Which, though they suck, aren’t the worse ones.

Then you’ve got the garbage on broadcast channels, The shows where people try to show off talents they don’t have with singing or dancing or whatever. These shows all cater to what I call the LCD, Lowest Common Denominator. Those are the people who fit the stereotype of how the rest of the world thinks Americans live. You know, those hicks in mobile homes, who drink PBR, wear yellow-stained wife beaters and are missing a significant number of teeth. Or the little girls with posters on their walls of the current teen heartthrob and whose memories don’t last past a week. In short, the kind of people who care enough about the singing talents, (or lack thereof) of complete unknowns to "vote" multiple times for that person to win a meaningless title.
I used to think shows like American Idol were the worst kind of reality shows out there, and for a long while this was true. But just when you think things can’t get any worse, along comes: Paris Hilton.

Paris brought about a time of reality shows about rich, spoiled people who don’t relate well to regular people and who need to be taken outside and shot, (or rather, they should get what I call the "Jessica Lynch treatment. And it’s not pretty!)

Shows like My Sweet 16, The Gastineau Girls, that show with the Gottis and that semi-reality show Laguna Beach, are all on cable channels and all make me want to do sit-ups under parked cars just to clear my head. Why do the people who run the networks think that we all want to be immersed in the extremely spoiled, superficial and pointless lives of snobs? Ohhh, they frustrate me so much. Especially because these people get away with so much.

We need a show where random bystanders are paid to go up and bitch slap people like Paris Hilton. We need to give terrorists unfettered access to Laguna Beach and the whole of Orange County. I think the rest of the country would be okay with that.

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