going out on a limb here

okay, i have at least four posts i want to write about reality tv, which means i want to write a book on reality tv, which means that’s about the fifth book i want to write. yipes. anyway, i’m going to tell you about this post. so, here we go.

i was at a party briefly on saturday night (when i ventured out from my weekend long hibernation of sickness which also helped me procure crescent rolls and mrs. grass’ soup. holy shit, crescent rolls. so fucking good.) and somehow ‘a shot of love with tila tequila’ came up. first of all, i will say that when i initially saw the previews for this show upon scrolling here or there, i thought to myself (as i do with so many reality shows i end up watching (1)), “that is so fucking ridiculous. who in the hell is going to watch that? that is so lame. what is reality tv/MTV coming to?” (2)(3)(4)

but then, somehow, i end up watching this shit. it happens nearly every time. tv reefer, i tell you. powerless, powerless, powerless. but, here’s the deal. i’m at this party, and tila happens to be down to her last two peeps. for those not familiar, she’s this myspace phenomenon who has all these friends and is sort of put herself ‘out there’ and is now on a show declaring herself a bisexual trying to find love and trying to find out whether she wants to be with guys or girls. whatevah. anyway. she’s down to this dude, bobby and this girl, dani, who’s a little butch, but super super hot and lovely.

so, this comes up and everyone starts fawning ALL THE FUCK over dani. hardcore. and it’s weird. like how do we all “know” dani? and start talking about how pretty she is and how we want to be with her and what her personality is like and what we think of her and why tila should ditch bobby and that she’ll probably pick so and so and ….. bizarre. all of a sudden we have this conversation topic in common about these random people none of us really know at all, but we all are chattering away like we have known these people for years instead of a few weeks of watching them on the telly on a very edited, very manipulated reality television show.

i was thinking about this and it occurred to me that to some extent, reality tv has taken the place of your next door neighbor. it’s become a common neighborhood that we all share. since the advent of the air conditioner and the fence and the idea that we all just mind our own business, people don’t really sit out on the stoop and get to know their neighbors. they don’t know so much about each other’s day to day lives. they don’t gossip about the person they’re living next to, but they don’t watch out for them so much, either. it’s sort of become this anonymous, i take care of my own society. and when i go home to my very small town and hear my mother and her friends gossip about every little detail about every last person in the town or their circle of friends, it annoys me and freaks me out. but i also know beyond a shadow of a doubt that if those people were in need or got cancer or in a car accident or their house burned down, my mom and her friends and the lions club would show up big time.

and in a weird, fucked up way, i think reality tv has taken the place of this neighborhood. we can all talk about characters on gray’s anatomy (don’t watch it) or desperate housewives (don’t watch it), but hopefully, we all know they’re fake. we can’t really entirely identify with fake characters, because they’re fantasies. they’re literally mcdreams. but, reality tv people … even though most of us realize by now that there’s manipulated storylines with “characters” and inserted tasks/plots, and that things are edited to look more dramatic than they are, these are still real people doing semi-real things and having *some* sort of connection to one another in whatever way possible with a shitton of cameras and lights on them at every moment of the day.

and so we talk about them and what *we* think about that person and what they said or did and how we like that person and why we think that was a low blow or that person didn’t deserve that. or if you get more savvy at watching reality tv, you can even start to talk about how you know that person *won’t* get kicked off because they’re so catty or dramatic and the producers need them around. either way, it’s all about emotion and character and how people play the game. just like people used to talk about how which neighbor was fucking the other and who made more money and who deserved it and who didn’t and who was up to their eyeballs in debt and who was beating their wife. and maybe people who still do that in my small town or amongst close circles of friends, but at the water cooler, i think you’re more likely to hear about who’s winning survivor or who will be the next to get auf’ed by heidi (no one ever gets booted from ‘the real world’ unless they slap someone, right?).

(1)’america’s most smartest model,’ ‘rock of love with bret michaels,’ ‘i love new york 2,’ ‘flavor of love girls charm school,’ ‘the housewives of orange county,’ (originally) ‘project runway,’ the first ‘flavor of love,’ a few of later ‘the surreal lifes,’ the adrienne curry and brady thing, the bridgette nielsen and flav thing, ‘breaking bonaduce,’ (but i could NOT watch the tom sizemore thing), ‘rob and big,’ ‘scott baio is 45 and single,’ ‘hogan knows best,’ (5)

(2) as opposed to the *allowable* “educational” reality tv — ‘little people, big world,’ ‘shalom in the home,’ ‘honey, we’re killing the kids,’ some of the MTV ‘true life’ things, (watching ‘intervention’ makes my skin crawl cause no one ever talks about AA as a real treatment option it seems, so i stay away from that), ‘ten years younger,’ ‘what not to wear,’ ‘tim gunn’s guide to style,’ ‘trading spaces,’ ‘clean sweep,’ ‘miami ink,’ (‘inked’ fucking sucked balls in comparison, and really even though my chicago ladies are on ‘LA ink,’ that’s kind of weak in comparison, too. i watched one ep of ‘london ink,’ and blah to the blah, peeps.), ‘mythbusters,’ ‘criss angel/mindfreak’…..

(3) and then the ones i’ve managed to never watch/get sucked into — by some miracle of god (or the fact that they’re largely on broadcast tv): ‘survivor,’ ‘the amazing race,’ ‘the batchelor,’ ‘big brother.’ somehow, i’ve mostly entirely blown off ‘top chef,’ and all the ‘hell’s kitchen’/people screaming at others in the kitchen shows. probably because i don’t/can’t cook. i used to like the ‘pimp my ride’ and ‘overhaulin”shows, but i’m kind of over them. i’ve never watched ‘american chopper’ or any other car/bike shows.

(4) i have a problem, hey?

(5) some of these i don’t feel bad about watching. they turned out much better than i thought. the scott baio one. the hogans. rob and big. project runway, natch. even the flavor of love charm school. i could detail them all individually, but that’s for my own chuck klostermanesque book, i suppose.


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