Thursday, October 22, 2009

Reality Means Anonymity, Not Celebrity

Okay I admit US Weekly is an occasional guilty pleasure for a myriad of reasons, but especially for the “Stars – They’re just like us!” section. I just imagine creepy paparazzi staked out in an Aries K-car full of fast food wrappers and assorted camera equipment waiting hours for that perfect shot of an Olsen twin emerging from an organic taqueria in Greenwich Village blasting a Marlboro, holding a 64-ounce cup of coffee, while sporting shades bigger than both of their heads added together, but she’s “just like us” because she bought a burrito.

The most recent cover of US I saw showed America’s newest celebrated divorcing mom and dad. Mom has the blond pheasant toupee that will be a smash hit this Halloween, and dad is the bloated, prematurely mid-life crisis experiencing guy complete with diamond studs. Yes, I’m talking about Jon and Kate Gosselin of course.

The wife has been a fan of their show for a long time and I’ve suffered through a few episodes here and there. By no means do I declare myself an authority of any sort over who is right or wrong with respect to their recent drama. Honestly, I don’t care. I just feel sorry for their children. In fact, both parents make me wince uncomfortably whenever I hear or see either one of them addressing a camera of any sort.

I suppose at the genesis of the show, the idea of televising their unique family situation was arguably an innocent way to supplement the household income. After all, they did have 8 mouths to feed.

Although their story was admittedly compelling, I doubt anyone foresaw the extent to which they would become celebrities. The frenzied tabloid coverage they’ve drawn since the marital problems arose publicly seems more appropriately reserved to greater accomplished head cases like Michael Jackson, Britney Spears, or Lindsay Lohan. Maybe because of this notoriety, I can’t help but suspect that both of the Gosselins privately craved fame when they decided to launch the show – or at least assumed the risk that they could become “reality celebrities.”

This brings me to my next point. (Wait a second, I’m getting out the old soap box.) The entire concept of a “reality” TV show absolutely blows my mind away. The idea of anything realistic happening on any of those shows could not be further from the truth. First, let me distinguish the reality competition shows like Project Runway, Top Chef, and SYTYCD (obv – greatest shows ever!) that celebrate actual talent, as well as those documentary-esque shows like Deadliest Catch (strangely entertaining), as opposed to those:

1) with fabricated “reality” plot lines celebrating shallow, talentless, wholly worthless individuals (see anything ever shown on MTV or starring Paris Hilton);
2) that recruit contestants from the slums of Desperateville (see above and any episode of The Bachelor/Bachelorette) to accomplish a sacred vow like, I don’t know, marriage; and
3) with main characters who go onto Larry King Live or The Today Show to publicly argue in the court of public opinion why he/she is so right and their future ex-spouse is so wrong.

Are we Americans so intoxicated with the idea that fame solves all of our problems and cures our unhappiness that we prefer becoming a celebrity for any stupid reason, instead of just living our lives as good people in anonymity? I pose this question on the heels of reports that a former Wife Swap father so desperately craves fame that he staged a hoax about a runaway hot air balloon using his poor 6 year-old son to lie and barf on national television, in order to land his own reality TV show.

Simply put, the shows that fall into any of the aforementioned 3 categories simply have little to nothing in common with actual reality. We real people go to work, raise our children, care for our homes, love our families, pursue our passions, struggle emotionally and financially all the time, fight over issues that truly matter, regroup, recover, and repeat. We are the ones who deserve free drinks and line privileges at bars – but we don’t have the time, energy, or money to go because we’re too busy working and just plain getting by!

Okay, I’m off the soap box now. Wow, I think I just blacked out like Frank the Tank during the debate in Old School. Where was I?

Let’s just say I would never in a million years sign up to televise my family life. I prefer my hugs and kisses from G and the wife to be in the warm privacy of our home, far away from any zoom lenses, confessional booth cams, and accompanying soundtracks with the coolest new Death Cab For Cutie jam – just like other real people. I mean, right?

1 comment:

Scott said...

Are you trying to tell me thet THE HILLS is not really reality?