Sunday, February 12, 2012

Really? The "REAL world?" A few suggestions.

Some of the "Real World" is not real.  That info shook me to my core and made
me reevaluate all things that I held to be truth.  OK.  I lie.  But I did meet Julie from
Birmingham, Alabama who was on the first season of "Real World."

Julie explained that through editing and taking shots from different days the producers
were able to take a small disagreement between her and her mother and stretch the incident into a
two parter.  Here is where you cut to a look of disappointment on my face.  You can take this look
from my recent discovery that my local McDonalds stopped carrying McRib.

Anyway, I thought "Real World" might need some updating.  I submit a few ideas for
the producers to consider on a new show called:

"Real World--the Next Generation."

1.  Instead of the cast consisting of some white people and a token black, a token Hispanic and token gay, make 2 housemates gay, 2 housemates black, 2 housemates Hispanic and include a token white heterosexual.  

2.  Put the whole bunch of them in Keokuk, Iowa and watch the hilarity ensue.

3.  Make all the housemates Harvard and Yale graduates.  Give them the same unlimited free alcohol they give all Real World casts.  We will learn that smart people can be as dumb as the dopey people that make up the usual cast.

4.  Have them all be average looking.  

5.  Make the housemates consist of 4 Republican and 4 Democratic U.S. House Representatives and watch them try to come to bipartisan agreement on where to go for lunch.  The cameras then follow them as they go to the local "Hooters" restaurant.

6.  MTV gives a dollar to charity each time a housemate says "like".

7.  Put the housemates in a dry county.  Then force the cast to have a discussion about a topic.  Any topic.

8.  Think three words:  "Real World, Somalia"

Any additional suggestions are welcome.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Debating the debates

Is there any debate on the silliness of the debates?

The usual format, the moderator asks a question.  The moderator makes the question very similar to the question on the same topic asked in every previous debate. But this time, add a twist to the question to allow each candidate to offer his or her most inflammatory response.  Each candidate has 60 seconds to answer. 

If there is an attack on another candidate, that other debater has thirty seconds to respond.  60 second answers.  30 second responses. I can’t explain to my daughter why she has a ten p.m. curfew in 60 seconds.   I can’t place my order at Ruby Tuesdays in 30 seconds.    And with those time limitations, we are actually supposed to learn about the candidates and make decisions?  The debate format allows errors, cheap applause lines and inflammatory comments. This format, after years of refining the timing, avoids any shred of substantive content. 

The very conservative Newt Gingrich agrees with writers of the not so conservative show, West Wing.  Scrap this format and allow the candidates to debate without time limits, without moderators.  The debater would just debate.  If they had nothing to say past bullet points, we would know.  If their plans only had superlatives but no actual plan, we would know.  If a candidate actually had a bright idea, we would know.  Bring back the Lincoln Douglas debate format. 

Or maybe find new moderators.  I learned very little watching the debates in Iowa and New Hampshire.  They don'’t like “Obama-care.”  Why?  It’s socialized medicine, said Michele Bachmann.  Oh.  How is it like socialized medicine?  Never got to that. 
Did the candidates hate all aspects of “Obama-care”? Is it all bad?  Newt Gingrich admitted in Oskaloosa, Iowa that about “300 pages” of the 2700 page document included good ideas.  Never would hear that in a debate. There'’s no time and no good questions. 

Candidates never had to defend their SuperPACS which both parties will take advantage of to spread lies and near-lies.  The Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. FEC allows corporations to spend unlimited money without identifying themselves.  What do candidates think about the decision, about super pacs, —about lying?  No time.  Instead, tonight’s debate sponsored by CNN, Fox News and Chevrolet would like to ask this question for the seventh time—but with tonight’'s added twist:
What will you do if your granddaughter announces she wants to marry a gay illegal alien?

At least make the debates fun.  Bring in Alex Trebek.  Make the candidates have to respond in the form of a question.   We would not learn anything less than the current debate format offers.

One last question: Is the current short answer/short response model of debates because the moderators don'’t think the politicians are smart enough to give anything but short answers? Or is it they think the audience is too dumb to pay attention to the longer answers? 

Please tell me this is not REALITY!!

            I have an idea for a hit TV show. It's a 'can't miss.'  It's copyrighted so don't try to steal it.  The name of the show?  "Bridezillas That Became Real Housewives That Raised Toddlers With Tiaras."   Sure hit, right?
            It's got everything that reality television needs.  It has people we can make fun of and feel superior to (even though some of them are richer than us). And it's got toddlers being psychologically abused by self-absorbed mothers with the IQ of a cumquat (the mothers, not the babies). 
            Yes, this is reality television today.  The highlight of each show is the inevitable rejection and heartbreak.  It is the bachelor rejecting a woman who after spending six minutes in a hot tub with a man realizes that they were destined to be together.  Until she gets rejected.
            It is the singer who knows she has what it takes to be a star and has focused her life on this moment of the audition.  The moment of audition was a better fantasy then reality.  She gets rejected.
            Reality television is merely human degradation for our entertainment. It is merely the celebration of failure for the sole purpose of making us feel superior to the slugs on Bridezilla. And it is the joy of allowing us to revel in how empathetic we all are as we watch these shows.
            Perhaps there is no money to be made watching normal people.  Perhaps the low cost of production and high ratings of many reality shows guarantees they will be here for a long time to come. 
            Perhaps sometimes we can take a moment to reflect on the thought that reality television celebrates human degradation.  It makes us feel good by watching someone else feel bad.  It makes us feel good watching people making fools of themselves. We are entertained as we shake our heads in disapproval and amazement watching a sixteen year old girl who is excited she can be on television, as long as she gets pregnant. 
            Feeling good by watching someone else feel bad is what bullies do in middle school.  It is also the mindset that reality television allows us.