It’s life, Jim, but not as we know it…
I am in a really bad mood. A really bad mood. Worse than usual. And the reason I am in such a bad mood can be summed up in two words - REALITY TELEVISION.
The bottom line is there is nothing real about it and anyone who thinks they are actually watching a slice of real life is a moron. But I assume that morons are the target audience for drivel like this. It makes me FUME to see how many ‘celebrities’ have been spawned by this truly heinous genre of (and I use the word lightly) entertainment.
I read an article about a TV programme called ‘The Celebrity Apprentice’ where famous people compete to raise money for charity by performing various tasks set by billionaire Donald Trump. I was looking at the list of said celebrities and the number of reality ‘stars’ taking part horrified me.
You have somebody like Michael Johnson (The fastest man on earth) - a four time Olympic Gold medalist. His father was a truck driver. He started running competitively at the age of 10. Can you imagine the hours of training and the countless sacrifices made to become a champion of that status?
You have somebody like Meatloaf (Bat out of Hell) - a singer who has managed to achieve that elusive longevity in an industry dominated by disposable ‘BUBBLE’ celebrity. Whatever your musical tastes, you can’t deny the fact that the man has talent and that he has clearly worked his ass off to become (and remain) a success.
You have somebody like Marlee Matlin (Children of a Lesser God) – an actress who has been profoundly deaf since she was 18 months old. Constantly told she could never be an actress because of her ‘handicap’, she went on to win an Oscar, a Golden Globe and numerous Emmy nominations. “I can do anything except hear,” she is famous for saying. Can you imagine how hard it must have been for her to succeed in the shark tank that is Hollywood? The level of tenacity and determination she demonstrates should be an inspiration to us all.
And then you have Nene Leakes. Ever heard of her? No, neither had I. But now, sadly, I have. Apparently she is famous for shouting at people, throwing her weight around, pointing her finger in people’s faces and generally being aggressive and confrontational. For that she is paid the princely sum of $750,000 per season on the show ‘Real Housewives of Atlanta’. So is she paid this fee for being a great actor/singer/dancer/writer/journalist/athlete/scientist/composer/artist/inventor? Nope. She has garnered a net worth of almost $4 Million for being REAL!
Seriously this makes me lose all faith in humanity. This celebration of the pedestrian is everywhere. And talking about ubiquitous mediocrity, can anybody explain the phenomenon that is The Kardashians? Is there any reason in the universe that these vapid, vacuous non-entities should be on every magazine cover AND have around four television shows to boot? WHO ARE THEY??? There must be at least 25 of them, they seem to have appropriated every hair extension available in their continent and it seems that nothing - and I mean nothing - is off limits for them if it means boosting their ratings or fortifying their bank accounts.
This is what makes me despair so much: these people have become role models. Who was your role model when you were growing up? I can only speak for myself, but I can tell you categorically it wasn’t somebody who taped herself having sex, or who sold her wedding to so many sponsors that it was effectively like she was being paid to be in love. It wasn’t somebody who would actually Tweet to her 10 million fans (yes, she has more followers than Barack Obama) a picture of a YSL handgun. Classy.
My role model was my English teacher. I loved her. She was clever, she was stylish, she was inspirational, she was a fantastic teacher and she introduced me and my friends to our first cappuccino. I still have the utmost respect for that woman (Mary Maxwell, I wish you were reading this!).
This fashion for being famous is a serious canker in our society. Just over 5,000 children aged 10 to 12 years old from different continents were asked what they wanted to be when they grew up. 3 out of 5 in developed countries said they wanted to be famous. When pressed 1 in 5 was unable to say what they wanted to be famous FOR, they just wanted to be famous. By the way, their counterparts in developing countries aspired to be teachers and doctors. Presumably they don’t get ‘E Entertainment’ yet.
Today it seems our definition of entertainment is watching imbeciles from Jersey Shore, TOWIE, Big Brother etc. etc. etc. as they go about their ‘real’ lives. My God, Andy Warhol got it right all those years ago.
And Jon Hamm from Mad Men got it right too when he said ‘Being an idiot is a valuable commodity in this culture because you’re rewarded significantly.’