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Reality TV Bites

 

 

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REALITY TV BITES
Kelly Michael James

Reality TV sucks. The owners of networks and the producers of shows have only one Prime Directive: Increase profits. Professional actors, writers, and directors are expensive; nobodies willing to be contestants on “Big Brother? are not. Greed is good. And if the artistic, scientific, or educational value of the programming suffers in pursuit of corporate gold, so be it. They are confident that us beer-swilling, “Hungry-Man? eating rubes will watch whatever they see fit to vomit onto our TV’s. They instruct us to watch “must see TV,? and assume we’ll do what we’re told.

The plot of most “Reality? shows is the same—dangle a cash reward to give the “contestants? the miniscule incentive they need to behave in the worst manner humanly possible while “competing? for the prize. The only way to win is to be distrustful of everyone while conniving and back-stabbing and cheating your way to victory. It’s even better if you have to degrade and defile yourself to get thecash. Those who aren’t dishonest and tricky enough get “voted off? the show, leaving one slime-covered, skin-shedding, malcontent standing alone as the “winner.? Whoa Nellie—Now that’s entertainment! The actual goal of the “competition? doesn’t much matter. As long as a show provides adequate opportunity for lots of twenty-something hardbodies to run around in bikinis, the alleged “competition? could revolve around shaving dogs.

But reality TV isn’t just an awful excuse for entertainment—it is an evil plot to poison our minds. The few corporate powers that produce what we watch on television fully understand that their shows will effect our behavior. That’s why it’s called “programming.? That’s why minority advocate groups carefully monitor how various minorities are portrayed on TV. Many would argue that “Cosby? did more for black/white relations than busing ever could. It’s why you rarely see a Judge on any law-based show who’s a white male (and if he is, he’s portrayed as an abusive, predatory, mean-spirited creep, which, compared with real-life Judges, actually is reality TV). It’s why every show has to have a gay character who is respectable and above reproach. Used this way—to promote tolerance—the “programming? at least has positive results, although the method is a little too “Clockwork Orange? for comfort.

Reality TV is also used to program the viewers, but it purposely aims to have negative results. It is government/corporate indoctrination at its Brave New World worst. It teaches that others should be sacrificed for self-interest, while at the same time defining that very self-interest. We live in this age of Operation TIPS and Total Information Awareness, when a premium is being placed on blind “patriotism? at all costs. While John Ashcroft is encouraging us to “vote off? our neighbors if they seem suspicious, is it just a coincidence that what we are having crammed down our throats as merely “entertainment? involves the glorification of paranoid suspicion of everyone and rewards for plotting against and eliminating the weak or undesirable? Could your darker-skinned, non-Christian neighbor be The Mole?

Despite their transparent evil, new “Reality? shows just keep coming. Of all the insidious harm done by these noxious excuses for entertainment, perhaps the worst is what they do to women. Appearing in your living room soon is yet another truly fabulous TV season for the exploitation of women. Passthechips.

When it comes to shows whose focus is the degradation of women, the FOX network raised the bar (or lowered it, depending on your perspective) with the ground-breaking show they originally titled “How to Prove all Women are Whores? but changed to “Joe Millionaire.? The show brought together 20 women who competed by trying to woo the title character with their best feminine charms into a marriage proposal. The cat-fight was fierce because the women believed that the man inherited 50 million dollars and a palace in France. What we viewers knew was that the man in fact did not inherit anything—in reality, he was a poor construction worker. Let the hijinks begin.

Finally, a “Reality? show that actually mirrored reality: Both sides using dishonesty as a foundation for true love. Not surprisingly, the women hoodwinked into this opportunity for international humiliation were all hot babes—they knew they had the goods with which to barter. It was an especially nice touch that FOX chose 20 women who wouldn’t hold the hand of us ordinary guys to keep us from falling off a cliff, but were willing to play cream cheese to some perfect stranger’s bagel for $50 million.

My only gripe with the show was that the guy they chose to play “Joe Millionaire,? himbo Evan Marriot, is someone who is accurately described as a “hunk.? He’s the type of guy the women would gladly have an affair with after they’d safely married the $50 million, and the guy it came with. The show would have been much more entertaining if the guys all looked like Jason Alexander or E. Howard Marshall. Now that’s reality. Maybe next season.

   The other great vein of shows whose goal is to prove that all women will practice a variation of the world’s oldest profession for enough simoleons is also based on the “Who Wants to Marry a Millionaire? theme. Either you have a show that gets women to pretend to love a duped man when what they really love is the money, or forces women to partner up with a stranger to remain in “Paradise? and collect the payola, or get a woman to do whatever she has to do to get a man to “choose? her so she can collect some cash. Will she or won’t she? Tune in to “For Love or Money? to find out!

   There’s just one problem with this particular brand of insulting crap: Pissing on women isn’t everyone’s idea of a fabulous time. What are we, the Taliban? The befuddled network geniuses miss the mark when they assume we, the potential viewing audience, gives a shit about who some perfect stranger decides to fuck for money, or worse, for a desperate grab at fame. “The Bachelorette,? where 25 guys try to woo a marriage proposal out of the same woman is a prime example. The “star? of the original show, “The Bachelor? runner-up Trista Rehn, let us know from the outset that she fully understood what was expected of her if she wanted to continue the desperate grab at her 15 minutes. Even before the first show assaulted the airwaves, the previews showed her half-naked, swapping spit and writhing all over her various would-be suitors and throwing out such sophisticated pearls of wisdom as, “Sex is a very important part of a relationship,? and “I’m not worried about any double standard.? Don’t worry, Trista—we all know standards have nothing to do with it.

   Unfortunately, shows like “The Bachelorette? don’t work. The central premise of “Reality? shows is that they are competitions. The basic flaw is that there is no way to figure out who the “winner? on a show like “The Bachelorette? actually is. Trista is semi-hot. Try to imagine how much shorter the audition line to “Who Wants to be a Millionaire? would be if there was an audition line right next to it for a show called “Who Wants to Bang a Miami Heat Cheerleader? (which Trista was). Of course the lines would even up somewhat if the other show was called “Who Wants to be the 25th Strange Guy in Line to Bang a Vapid, High Maintenance, Attention-Starved, Self-Centered Exhibitionist and Then Have to Marry Her.? Maybe for $50 million. It seems that the true “winner? on shows like “The Bachelorette? is the first guy on and off.

   Screw these silly, insulting, vaguely soft-porn shows. Forget shows where we have to watch insipid nobodies plot and scheme against each other only to have to put up with them doing thecircuit as “celebrities? when they win. The hell with programming for simpletons, like “Survivor,? “Big Brother,? “The Mole,? “Fear Factor,? and the rest of the garbage. What we need are real reality shows. Shows where real people actually risk something in real settings. Shows like the following:

 

1)      How about a show where guys with the masculinity of, say, a Leonardo DiCaprio or an Andy Dick can earn a million bucks by getting Klan-type tattoos and then compete by seeing who lasts the longest after being thrown into a non-segregated high-security prison in a show titled “Who Wants to Toss My Salad, Bitch!?

2)      “Who Wants to Kill Saddam?? (Saddam, of course, will be replaced as necessary by the revolving enemy du jour in the never-ending war George Bush has solemnly, but eagerly, promised us.) Contestants get a crash course in guerilla warfare at a survivalist camp run by a seething anti-government retired Green Beret Colonel now with the Michigan Militia and are airlifted in for a night drop over enemy territory. In a real egalitarian twist, contestants could be limited to thechickenhawks who dodged their own military duty but nowcall for others to go die for their cause, like George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Richard Pearl, Paul Wolfowitz, or William Kristol. A show like this could begin a true “regime change? in network programming.

3)      “Who Wants to be Chandra Levy?? In this show, women compete by posing as congressional interns or lobbyists to see who can be the first to bag a married, sanctimonious, family-values-spouting politician. Tune in this week to see which elected windbags are willing to sell out the interests of their constituents for a blowjob! Of course there may be a problem because the show would only last one episode before somebody wins and the winner would win by seconds, rather than days.

4)      Let’s just skip the middle steps and take “Joe Millionaire? to its logical end in “Who Wants to be in a Tijuana Donkey Show?? This weeks winner: Carol “A Silly Millimeter Longer? Olsen of Liberty, Missouri. Later, stay tuned as Carol explains to David Letterman how you can learn how she kept her focus during the intense competition in her upcoming book. Then, follow the “career? of the freshly-minted and packaged “celebrity? as her agent gets her guest appearances on “Almost Perfect,? “Hollywood Squares,? a commercial for Valtrex, and a “Playboy? pictorial.

5)      To win at most game shows, you have to have at least some brains or ability, and this just isn’t fair to the great majority of stupid, lazy, slack-jawed morons out there (you know, like the folks who have watched too many reality TV shows). So, in order to be fair to thechallenged masses how about “Who Wants to Stare at the Sun?? This would lead to the obvious follow-up show “Who Wants to Marry a Blind Millionaire??

6)      “Who Wants to Avoid Date Rape?? Contestants are women who are surreptitiously slipped Ruhipnol and then snuck into fraternity parties on various college campuses.

7)      Many so-called reality shows make their contestants compete by seeing who will dothe grossest thing for money, like eating live bugs or sucking Joe Millionaire/Evan Marriot’s much-traveled dick. Just how far can this type of competition go? Let’s find out with, “Who’s Up For Necrophilia?? If she’s hot enough, most guys probably wouldn’t care that she also happened to be dead. So, the winner would have to be the last guy in the decomposing pool over a period of days or weeks. In case of a tie, winner is decided on sudden death basis (get it?) with cunnilingus. Contestants are not allowed to be morticians or funeral home workers—this is strictly an amateurcompetition. Too gross? Maybe, but it’s still less obscene then sending kids off to kill and be killed to secure oil profits and taxpayer-funded gold-mines for Dick Cheney’s corporation.

8)      Current lame “Reality? shows tease us with the possibility that thecontestants are facing serious injury or death. It’s all bullshit. What’s theclosest anyone came to death on “Survivor?—being 50 feet away from some toothless, de-clawed, tranquilized lion? Ooh, scary. We want real blood and guts. We want real risk. So, to pacify our insatiable bloodlust, tune in to “Who Wants to be Willie Loman?? The winner doesn’t collect the money—his or her surviving family does. As an added bonus and to keep things fresh, the show could have changing weekly themes, for example: “Who Wants to Pet the Cobra?? “Who Wants to Play ‘Is it Anthrax?’? “Who Wants to Play Crotch Full of Scorpions?? “Who Wants to Play Crazed Psychotic With a Gun Versus the Los Angeles Police Department SWAT Team?? “Who Wants to Cover Themselves in Blood and Swim With Sharks?? “Who Wants to Play Dodge Ball with Actual Syringes Taken Directly From the Arms of Heroin Addicted Prostitutes?? Or, for entertainment the entire family can enjoy at Easter—“Who Wants to be Crucified??

9)      I can’t think of a better way for auto manufacturers to get behind the reality craze than by giving away a new vehicle to the winner of “Who Wants to Eat a Chevy Suburban?? Winner is determined by who eats the most poundage of a new vehicle—lug nuts, spark plug wires, air filters, whatever. This week’s show sponsored by KC Masterpiece! Sure, some people might die, but when it comes to SUV’s and their pollution-spewing oversized engines and the money their gas guzzling gives to foreign terrorists who hate us and the sheer danger the top-heavy rollover beasts represent barreling down the highway, they kill lots of people anyway. At least the self-centered yuppie swine who assault the world with these monstrosities can entertain us while they’re winning their vehicle of choice.

10)   With world class surgeons from some of the finest medical schools in the former Soviet bloc assuring the very best in medical expertise, who wouldn’t want to compete on “Who Wants to be An Amputee?? “Okay John, you’ve lost two fingers and an ear. Do you want to go for a million dollars and lose a leg?? The winner might be a true idiot who ends up looking like something from Boxing Helena, but hey—with the money he makes on the show he could still marry the obviously very willing runner-up from Joe Millionaire.

 

   If it would work, the best antidote to reality programming would be simply not to watch. But it won’t work. The disconnect that network programmers have from their audience is complete. We’ll get their cheap swill and we’ll like it, because if we don’t, they’ll just give us even cheaper swill. They regard us with undisguised contempt. They sleep comfortably knowing that we have no alternative—what are we gonna do, turn off the tube and read a book, or play with our kids? HA! Fat chance of that ever happening andthe bastards know it.

   Times are desperate, brothers and sisters, and they call for desperate measures. They’ve left us no choice. Only violent revolution will eliminate the scourge of “Who Wants to Marry My Dad,? and “Paradise Hotel,? and “Cupid? and return us to the golden age when TV programming had educational, socially relevant content like that found on “Love Boat? or “Laverne and Shirley.? The only solution is to start a bottom-up grassroots movement. Let’s hit them with their own vile medicine and start a citizen-based, filmed-for-TV reality program based on theclassic movie “The Running Man? titled “Who Wants to Castrate a Reality TV Network Executive?? We may not have the resources of, say, a Rupert Murdoch, but if we concentrate our efforts and pool our money, I think we could raise enough for a grand prize of maybe ten or fifteen bucks. That should be plenty.

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