Friday, July 25, 2008

Television's New Low

Since about 1999 reality television, the type of tv shows that depict "average people" consorting in all sorts of nefarious behavior, has been a staple in most house holds. What started with "Survivor" a battle of the fittest to combat elimination at the hands of your fellow contestants, has morphed into an obvious incantation of greed, which at it's root, is reality tv.

Vh1's "I Love Money" is about as grass roots as one can get, in the realm of greed-fed reality television. The formula is unsurprisingly simple: Take the most notorious cast offs of every Vh1 inspired "I'll Fuck a Has-Been for Fame/Love" show in the last two years, and strip away all the bullshit. There's no decrepit former gangster rapper to suppress your gag reflex around, nor a balding middle aged one hit wonder with a love for bandanas and scarves. It's simply the money these contestants will (again) prostrate themselves in front of while Americans sit at home and watch and wonder how much more embarrassing can this all really get.

News flash America: It's can't. This is it. This is the last stop on the Freak Train, make sure you bring all your belongings with you and have a great day. Stand clear of the closing doors.

The show is literally a who's-who of scandalous characters, mixed in with some other also-rans who didn't make the cut the first time around. There's Toastee, the Flava of Love cast-off of obscure ethnicity who may or may not have posed nude on the internet. There's Pumkin, the venomous spitter, who will forever be remembered for her attack on I Love New York's New York, and then fled cartoonishly towards a camera, wide eyed as a 7 foot tall black bitch (who easily could've been confused for Wesley Snipes in drag) clawed her backside into

There's also some of the contestants from the various I Love New Yorks. Minuscule Chance, as well as all around weird white guy Mr. Boston have been resurrected to compete in ridiculous challenges that seem to be left over from last season's "Road Rules/Real World Challenge: The Gauntlet Inferno of Herpes IX".

But beneath all this lacquer is a commendable effort being made on Vh1's behalf: They're cutting through the bullshit. When I watch a marathon of episodes where a bunch of strippers vie for Brett Michael's attention, I know it's complete bullshit. No one can fall in love with someone after knowing them for three weeks, while also plotting to kill a houseful of other demented and poorly supervised strippers. The body's chemistry does not work that way, no matter how much free alcohol and coke you give these people on a daily basis.
So with the veneer gone, all that's left is greedy sociopath's battling gladiator-style for our entertainment.

We've gone completely full circle from the days of the Romans- where slaves and Christians would be led out towards lions and panthers and a crowd of people would watch. The drama would be played down and the violence played up, that's really the only difference when I watch a grown man named '12 Pack' stuff floating 100 dollar bills into a tiny little pair of swim trunks on cable television.

I say bravo to Vh1 for having the balls to do what no other television network has been willing to do in ten years; call America on the bullshit of reality television, while at the same time, calling itself on it as well.

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