"In the future, everyone will be famous for fifteen minutes." - Andy Warhol
I used to take great pride in the fact that I "didn't watch any reality TV." I used to skip past "The Real World" and "Survivor" and all the other programs that us believing that we were watching real people doing real things. Fifteen years ago I announced that I would only go see movies that were advertised on the Internet. Times change, and so do my ridiculous pronouncements.
The truth is, like so many people, I don't always make the best choices when it comes to watching television. I was watching "Cops" because I could rationalize that I was getting some insight into the job my brother does. What I was really doing was the same thing everyone else was doing: Staring at the screen, wondering why these morons would ever sign a release to have their ugly lives shown to the world. It's car crash television, you can't help but slow down and gawk.
The older I get, the harder it is to watch MTV. Where can I go to watch promotional film clips supplied by record companies to promote new music? Not Music Television. That's the one-stop reality shop. "My Super-Sweet 16" and "Pimp My Ride" are just the tip of the reality iceberg. And now the truth about reality: Not only is it heavily scripted, but editing could even my life look interesting. The notion that Ozzy Osbourne was the New Ward Cleaver was amusing enough to tune in for a season, then we moved down the street to Hulk Hogan, and now Gene Simmons. The frightening part about this trend is that it thrives on resuscitating the careers of humans who had already had their fifteen minutes or more, but were supplied with more network TV time for us to get to know them, up close and personal.
And what about the "Real World"? I have peeked into seasons that offered me scenery to go along with the teen angst. I credit Puck with breaking what was a very thin fourth wall and making reality TV a star-making machine. But by then,whose reality were we watching? I tried to look at "The Real World - Denver" to catch glimpses of my old stomping grounds, but it was full of next-generation Pucks who played out their mildly-scripted dramas around the omnipresent hot tub. It made me feel sad, old and wishing that I could see a Thomas Dolby video.
There is another writer's strike on the horizon. It was a writer's strike that gave us the initial wave of reality, and now we can brace ourselves for another. My friends have a suggestion for a reality show in which contestants take turns pitching reality TV shows to Mark Burnett. I suggest just jacking all the security cameras in all the Seven-Elevens into a network feed and call it "Convenience".
"The Future Has Arrived" - Danny Elfman