As I stated earlier, I provide occassional commentary for KRRO, a local radio station. One of my spots is called Get Out of Town, where I rant about local politicians, news people, newsmakers, etc. Occassionally, I also go after national pop culture faves. Here's what I recently said about this damned reality television trend:

(February 19) As everyone knows, I’m a huge fan of white trash tv. Give me the WWE, Cops, Blind Date, Stern, Springer, even Jenny Jones. But that doesn’t mean that I’m a fan of all things trashy. This week I’m here to put to rest a genre of television that has gone overboard.

Of course, I’m talking about reality television. It’s become an evil beast, threatening to take over the prime time schedule of not only the networks but most of cable. It must be stopped.

Originally, though, I was a fan of some of the original reality shows. MTV basically started the genre with The Real World and it’s half-sister, Road Rules. They weren’t great shows, but the first couple of seasons were, well, real. They just threw a bunch of people into a house or a mini-van and filmed everything. Like every pop-culture success story, however, once the shows became popular the contestants became more and more contrived. Now they’re virtually unwatchable. Each season has the token gay person, the black dude that lives up to the stereotype of screwing anyone and everyone, and a handful of people that believe that the show will launch an acting or singing career. This year’s episodes, along with the newest spinoff, the Real World/ Road Rules Battle of the Morons, feature the most annoying, self-absorbed morons that have ever been put on television.

With the introduction of Survivor a few years ago, the networks got on the bandwagon. Again, the first season was pretty good tv, but who can endure these media whores and/or Jeff Probst, along with the same tired old contests year after year?

Let’s look at the rest of the reality genre, and why they’re the lowest of lowest of television..and that’s saying a lot.

1. Dating Shows. Like I said, I was and still am a fan of Blind Date. Hell, throw in Shipmates and on a good night Elimidate. What I’m bitching about here is shows like the Bachelor, Bachelorette, and Joe Millionaire. What’s troubling about each of these shows is the simple fact that they set the women’s movement back by thirty years. We’ve now gone back to the stereotype that a woman is not complete unless she’s married, and said marriage must be accompanied by jewelry and candlelight dinners. Not that there’s anything wrong with the spoils of success, but these wannabe models care nothing about material goods and not ever having to work.

The worst has to be Joe Millionaire, where this complete dullard of a human is surrounded by a couple dozen of the sleaziest, not-as-hot-as-they-think former stewardess/models/bondage actors. After months of buildup (and further analysis that showed he made much more than ,000), the big surprise that was unveiled last Monday was not only Joe Dullard’s choice and the reaction by her that he was not a millionaire, but a check given to the pair that now made them real millionaires. Funny thing was that the check was for one million total, which actually made him Joe Half-Millionaire.

2. Pseudo-Celebrity Shows. I thought that we had finally gotten rid of Corey Feldman, easily the worst actor in the history of cinema. But no, he’s now the “star” of the Surreal World, a rip-off a Real World featuring has-beens such as Feldman, Hammer, Vince Neil, and the midget black dude that’s not Gary Coleman. In this mess of mediocrity, Feldman stands out as the biggest camera whore currently seen on television. He even rescheduled his wedding, sure to be pure bliss that will last at least as long as Ben and J-Ho, for the finale of the show.

Surreal World is just the latest of a strange segment of the reality biz that features would-be stars. There’s also the boot camp show that was on a few months ago, Celebrity Mole, Star Dates, and celebrity editions of every other game show that was last year’s fad.

3. Talent Contests. This is a topic that’s hard for me to talk about without saying one of the seven words you can’t say on the radio. These are the most vile, repulsive, vomit-inducing shows that have ever aired. I sat through one episode last year, and it was the longest hour of my life. Bad karaoke; wretched songs over-sung by wretched humans. In my opinion, the Simon guy was actually way too nice to these horrible wastes of sperm. When did the ability to hit the highest note and hold it the longest make you the winner? At least we got a consolation prize with last year’s winner as she quickly disappeared, destined to be nothing more than an answer to the 2004 edition of Trivial Pursuit.

Unfortunately, it’s huge success meant that there would have to be ripoffs by the other networks. CBS came out with a new version of Star Search, and pulled Arsenio Hall and the old Judd woman off of the unemployment line. They also rewrote history a little bit, attempting to take credit for the success of LeeAnn Rimes, Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, and Sinbad. Not that anyone would want to admit to that, but there appearances had absolutely nothing to do with their later stardom. God, I’m trembling just thinking about how horror of this show!

Lastly, I have to single out a new sitcom that’s making history by appearing on not just one network, but all of them. And it doesn’t even know that it’s a sitcom. Of course, I’m talking about the weekly appearance of a new Michael Jackson interview on seemingly every channel on the dial. There’s the interview, then Michael’s side of the interview, and then old interviews, interviews with pint-sized friends and egg-donors, and finally interviews with doctors breaking whatever vows of silence they sign onto when they become a doctor.

Why he’s suddenly everywhere is hard to explain. I guess he’s still famous in a Liz Taylor sort of way. But he can’t give away records these days. That’s what really bothers me. History has been rewritten in his favor. The reality is that after one good album, Off the Wall, and a blockbuster album, Thriller, that in my opinion killed the concept of videos by giving them movie-sized budgets, he became nothing more than a joke. Each of his albums sold less than a third of the previous, and they all followed the Thriller blueprint - the high-pitched squeal, the heavy metal guitar solo, the “save the children” ballad, the multi-million dollar video. After twenty years of this, his sales are now less than those for my silly little garage bands. At least those recoup their costs. Jackson spends tens of millions and recoups a fraction. Tommy Mottles not his devil; a bored public is.

And that’s why a part of me believes that this whole saga is as contrived as his music. I think he’s orchestrated this whole episode to keep him in the news. I’m probably giving him more credit than he deserves, but keep in mind that this is the same guy that handed the National Enquirer the shocking stories that made headlines in the late 80’s. I wouldn’t be a bit surprised that the British interviewer that supposedly sold him out was actually in his employ, and that he follows this up with an album in the next few months to capitalize on his newfound celebrity. God, I hope I’m wrong.


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