Thursday, July 3, 2008

General Musings on The Real World

A few months ago I saw previews for the new season of The Real World, set in Hollywood this time. In the past few years I've seen some of the challenge seasons, Gauntlet, whatever, but I haven't watched an actual season of the original show in a long time. I think actually San Diego might have been the last one I followed. So I thought, Why not? One of the myriad reasons I've avoided it is that I always come in late, so I don't know what's going on, plus I now have DVR so it'll be easy to do.

This season hasn't been too bad, I suppose, considering the sharp nosedive the show has taken. I've stayed away ever since a commercial for the Las Vegas season almost gave me herpes. I know this ground has been covered elsewhere, but I have to say that it seems like the type of people they recruit, and the type of experiences they shoot for, has much more of a spring break feel than back in the day. I don't know what the first season I watched live was (perhaps London, one of my favorites), but remember the marathons they'd have all weekend? Through those I've seen all the early ones at least a few times, and there's just no comparison. You got a bunch of eager young people that wanted to join this experiment and push their own boundaries, as well as those of their housemates. And since this was before "reality" TV made every no-talent douche think they could be part of the pop culture landscape, these people had no further ambitions than simply getting to partake in the experience. Cut to the Hollywood season where they've completely abandoned all pretense and specifically found people that want to pursue entertainment careers. At least they're being honest, I guess.

So now they're about to start filming in Brooklyn. Hearsay tells me they've narrowed it down to Williamsburg or Park Slope. Surprise surprise. I think they'll go with Williamsburg, because the housemates will fit right in with all the other tools and they'll be a short cab ride on MTV's dime away from Manhattan, where they will surely go every night to drink on MTV's dime and pick up sluts using MTV's rep. I wonder what their "job" will be this season. To really make them live the Williamsburg experience they'll have to give them a lot of money they didn't work for and force them to perfect their completely ridiculous wardrobe while pretending they don't enjoy anything.

What I want to see is Real World: Omaha. Put these a-holes in a house in Middle America with no crazy night life and stop paying for their alcohol. See what really happens then. See what happens when seven people have to drop all their bullshit defenses and spend real, sober time with each other, actually have to talk to each other and (gasp) learn about each other.

When I was a kid I thought the people on Real World were the coolest. I was so jealous because they seemed to grow so much, and stretch their personal horizons and partake in this thing that so few people got the chance to do. Now I watch children learn life lessons that I had pretty much nailed down by the age of fifteen.

All of this is symptomatic of the disturbing trend MTV has been on in the last decade of forgetting that they've been the dominant social force for teenagers since 1981. They're sitting on a cultural goldmine and it's like they don't even know it. I happened to remember that another music video channel exists, Fuse, and I turned it over there during their 1995 Video Yearbook. I was both terrified and amazed at what I saw. Michael Jackson at the end of his relevancy. The Foo Fighters making fun of Mentos. People over the age of 25. Do you remember a time when kids said "I want my MTV!" and they meant it? When Corey Haim moved to his grandpa's house in Lost Boys and upon seeing no television, said to his brother Mike (Jason Patric pre-Keifer Sutherland backstab) "No TV? You know what that means? No MTV." The channel recently turned 25 and everyone talked about it except them. No best-video-of-every-year countdown. No interviews with Martha Quinn. No retrospective on Beavis and Butt-head. Just eight straight hours of Pimp My Ride and Cribs.

So where have all those videos gone, that were made solely to be played on MTV (back when VH1 only showed "adult contemporary" crap like Celine Dion)? They're locked in a doomsday vault with Puck, The Spin Doctors, and Jesse Camp. All these things are lost, like tears in the rain.

Or like the classic Real World virgin's dignity.

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Leslie said...

I forgot Jesse Camp existed. Thanks for the memories!

Colin Fisher said...

Woo hoo, first comment!

Sorry to remind you of him. He totally tried to pass as some homeless bohemian, but he was just a rich kid from Connecticut. Lame.