Wednesday, March 28, 2007

What Price Fame?Or, R U Sick of Reality Shows?

I've been wondering about this for awhile. Of course, Andy Warhol predicted this when he said "in the future, everyone will be famous for 15 minutes." Little did he know how true this would become. I think the first reality show I ever watched was on MTV in the mid to late 80's. Something about people living together in a house....I forget. But now every single channel has jumped on the programming bandwagon with their own tweaked versions of Suvivor or Idol or Apprentice. Can we have a chat? What happened to creativity? What happened to doing something because it was new and different. New sells, it really does. Why else was LOST such a hit in its first season? It was a hit because it was NEW and DIFFERENT. Now that there are clones out the wazzoo for that genre as well, I have to wonder why Hollywood is even bother to pay writers anymore. They could easily go with the fill in the blank version of every plot and save themselves a bundle. Or perhaps that is what is going on. You don't see the big names writing screenplays very much any more. Instead you hear about sublevel hacks who plagiarize and risk trial to make a blockbuster that sadly enough, everyone has seen ten times before.

As for the "celebrities" we are encountering, are these people really worthy of their 15 minutes? I hate to sound petty, but in most cases the answer is no. And sometimes, hell no. I truly believe that casting diretors seek out the lowest common denominator of every socio-economic and racial profile to fill slots and then step aside to watch the mayhem. Is this really quality programming? When you watch American Idol, are you truly seeing the very best performers the country can produce? Or are we seeing a marketing ploy that send marginal performers to stratopheric heights. I know people who are serious vocal students at highly competitive programs who were told to go home from the auditions. They were told they were "too good". So Idol and its ilk are looking for the quirkly fall guys and gals to publicly ridicule. I do not call that entertainment.

I suppose part of this has to do with what this type of programming is doing to our society and our kids. We have kids who think they are going to be the next NBA first round draft pick, even when they are only 5'6" and can't jump, because our society has this irrational fear of speaking the obvious. Not every kids who plays a sport will get a scholarship. And even fewer will turn pro. And that's true for EVERY SINGLE ASPECT of life. You have to roll with the punches and work with what you are given. Yet we see time and again parents pushing kids into molds that they simply cannot or will not fill. I blame this on celebrity and reality type programming and on adults that have the common sense of moles. We have elevated celebrities to an insane level of worship and we ought to be totally demoralized. These people are just, PEOPLE. They have no super powers, no special insight. Yet we see the media turn to them in times of crisis asking "And what, Sean Penn, would you do about New Orleans?" or "How would you change the global warming prospects, Madonna?" PUH-freakin-LEEZ. With a few exceptions, celebrities are among the least educated and the most narcissistic subset of the population and they gauge their every utterance on how it will play in the media. Can you really trust a person who is more concerned with what camera angle the photographer is getting than the down the line side-effects of their lame comments?

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