If VH1 Shows Are Reality, I’ll Happily Stay In Fantasyland (with the fairies)
The recent tragedy that unfolded when a contestant on VH1’s reality show, Megan Wants A Millionaire, killed his wife, cutting off as much of her identity as he could, stuffing her in a suitcase, running to Canada and ultimately killing himself is absolutely horrific. But I can’t say that it’s surprising if you’ve ever watched even one half hour of VH1 or any of the other glut of reality shows on television that make “stars” out of unstable people as we voyeuristically look on feeling so much better about our own mental deficiencies and the occasional bad choice of a mate. And although VH1 took the show off the air, showing that someone (or some lawyer) had sense enough to know that it shouldn’t be on featuring a murderer (though they say they’ll bring it on when the timing is “appropriate”). The network no doubt lost all of fourteen dollars that it takes to make reality television – remember people who go on reality shows at this point are looking more for the fame than the fortune, the most expensive thing no doubt is renting these mansions they use. But I digress. A recent viewing of the first episode of Tool Academy on VH1 (I admit I’m not immune to the guilty pleasure of trash television) it dawned on me that if VH1 shows are reality, I’ll happily stay in Fantasyland (with the fairies) – Don’t Get Me Started!
If you don’t know the set up of Tool Academy, allow me to give it to you in one sentence. Unstable, egotistical guys get brought to a house by their pathetic low self-esteem girlfriends to hopefully be transformed from a “tool” to a human. They go through some ridiculous challenges and they earn badges like Girl Scouts all the while fighting with one another, their “true self” (so there’s some crying from the steroid induced assholes) and a lot of head shaking for those of us watching the show. What I think VH1 got wrong here is that anyone can see these guys with their pumped up bodies, acting as if they’re “pimps” and wearing their Ed Hardy sequined tops anywhere. I don’t know, maybe it’s because I live in Vegas but all you have to do is walk down the Strip and you’re bound to run into these guys with their enormous biceps, rage and small penises. But what VH1 SHOULD be doing if they wanted to make interesting television is instead of “fixing” the boyfriends, they should be fixing the girlfriends so that they can understand what part of them is in need of an asshole in their life, discover their own self-worth and ultimately move onto finding a suitable mate that will be kind and loving instead of sequined and stupid. I must admit I do love that they give each of the “tools” a “tool name” for the show. Who wouldn’t want to date “Alpha Male Tool” or “Eye Liner Tool”?
Look, no one is mentally 100% healthy out there (and yes, I include myself) but as long as we continue our “Lion vs. Man in the arena” mentality I think we’re all in need of some therapy. As we watch these damaged people pull one another and themselves apart is it any different than having a better seat with close ups from the coliseum in ancient Rome in your own home? I used to think the whole Mixed Martial Arts fights were barbaric but the emotional damage that these people come in with (and I believe leave with) seems so much more pervasive in reality television that getting an ear bit off or a bloody nose in a cage seems almost more civilized. The Christian Right love to tell us about how the anal sex from Sodom and Gomorrah brought down that civilization but I’m thinking that the display of emotionally damaged humans on television as they become more damaged may just be a little more damning for society than some guys taking it up the ass.
Look, I know why reality television started, it was cheap for the networks to produce and we all like to look at celebrities as we build them up only to revel when they get torn down (you don’t have to look much further than Jon and Kate plus who cares anymore to see that) so the idea of taking “normal” people and putting them in intense situations all the while making them think they’re “stars” instead of the “fools” that they are (and would have been in Elizabethan times) served its sick purpose for all involved (and I include those of us who watch from home). But perhaps there’s a glimmer of hope out there somewhere. As BBC announced that this will be the last season for their Big Brother (another thing, we arrogant Americans think we invented reality television when it was really the Brits along with almost every other show from sitcom to drama that was originally produced in the UK before coming to “the states”) so perhaps we’re going to see a shift in what we see on television and although it may be too presumptuous of me, maybe we won’t see “thugs” and “unstable” people being glorified on television anymore.
Perhaps the reality “stars” will go back to living in their parents’ basements, telling everyone how cool they are all the while wearing their fake diamond car hood ornaments for jewelry, saving up for rhinestone encrusted teeth and tattooing themselves whenever their parents will give them the money. They’re just as much of a drain on society as they ever were, not giving back or doing anything of real value so make no mistake about it, giving them a platform like television hasn’t made them more useful to society it’s just given the rest of us something to take our minds off of the fact that while our government continues to debate, the health insurance and drug companies are making sure that health is only for the rich, the religious right continues to try to keep its stronghold on making everyone who doesn’t believe in their Jesus as second class citizens and the old guard of white men who feel their grip on ruling the country is giving way have no place to go but television themselves as they rant and rave like street corner prophets hoping to make a name for themselves on the same medium as the thugs. Is there a real difference between Rush Limbaugh and Alpha Male Tool? I don’t think so. And both are so mentally unstable that if you want your kid to be successful you’ll make them become a psychologist because trust me, just flick around the television and you’ll see how many of us need a good lay down on a couch with a professional (and sometimes the “professional” is even a therapist too <wink>). If VH1 shows are reality, I’ll happily stay in Fantasyland (with the fairies) – Don’t Get Me Started!
Read More Scott at www.somelikeitscott.com