Seven Strangers, Picked To Self-Destruct....
As familiar as any rite of spring, seven strangers recently welcomed themselves back into our lives. That’s right, MTV has unleashed yet another season of The Real World and this time the Paris Hilton clones and A&F doppelgangers have headed south to America’s armpit, Key West. The formula at this point has, of course, become numbingly familiar. Plop seven emotionally stunted navel gazers into a garishly outfitted McMansion, throw enough booze and food money at them to keep them alive for several weeks and roll cameras. True to form, the hijinks have already begun in a perversely misguided campaign to help the obviously anorexic roommate, one that will undoubtedly end up in some bizarre Stockholm Syndrome-esque living arrangement.
Sadly, this isn’t how the Real World series started out. If you recall, the first season boldly picked out seven fairly independent, career-oriented individuals who varied more demographically than socially. While undoubtedly most of them saw the show as a launching pad in their own music/art/writing career, at least they had a direction in life prior to moving into the infamous loft. Now, the show is the direction and goal itself. MTV stopped casting autonomous young people and opted instead for abs, blond streaks and perma-tans. However, since it is difficult to fill up an entire season on just these qualities alone (and Lord have they tried), the producers mix in the obvious personality disorders (rage, codependence, probable childhood abuse) with A LOT of alcohol and let the sparks fly. (True fans of the show will recall the definitive turning point in the show’s modus operandi as the time when MTV decided to broadcast the “Casting Special” where viewers were treated to a look at how the show selected its cast by having twenty or so semi-finalists compete for attention over a long weekend at some resort. Astoundingly, when the cast was selected A Chorus Line-style --- after shamelessly hyping up any and all afflictions/disorders/life tragedies ---- “winners” elbowed their way past their sadly well-adjusted and boringly normal counterparts and proceeded to break into tears of misplaced gratitude for what must have felt like some form of life affirmation. Not even the deeply cynical failed to see the producers licking their lips and rubbing their palms in eager anticipation of the impending meltdowns, hysterias and blackouts). Well, mission accomplished MTV. Anyone who watched last season noticed that the show doesn’t even really try to make them work anymore and simply follows them out each night to one of three local bars. (Painfully, last year’s job, the impossibly cool opportunity to produce a documentary about a few bands at the local South by Southwest music festival, was utterly ignored by the cast. Other past jobs were equally doomed, such as the ill-fated decision to make the Chicago cast lifeguards despite only one of them being able to swim).
But here’s my real point. I was shocked to learn that these show ponies often go on to have lucrative gigs on college speaking tours. WHAT??? Who the hell is showing up to these things? And what possible words could come out of those drool holes that have any relevance to anyone? Seriously, I want to know. Because the only thing I could think to ask would be: “Does club soda remove vomit from a bed spread?”