Monday, August 13, 2007

Rock of Blog

That last entry was a total mess.

What was stirring in my mind, oddly, was some odd connection between reality television and blogging. More likely than not, there is a well parsed, elegant study about what I was noodling in my head, but I haven't even connected my own dots, so I haven't googled properly.

My as-still-undeveloped social thesis has the following mis-matched ideas as a collage:

1) If my understanding of pop culture is correct, the original reality television programming was The Real World on MTV. This was a cast of characters that were not famous for their thespian skills, but just a bunch of no-name actors whose private lives were documented for the Gen Y audience to observe. As far back as I remember, this was the first peek behind the curtain that was broadcast as entertainment.

2) Somewhere between then and now, the Hollywood Powers That Be violently vomited and gave us the current state of programming. From "The Bachelor" to "Temptation Island" to "American Idol" to "Project Runway," there has been created a whole cast of non-actors and "real life" stories that dominate popular viewing.

3) I have successfully dodged this projectile vomiting, for the most part. I watched a season of Survivor (the one with Elizabeth Hasselbeck), one of The Apprentice (I , honestly cannot remember who was on that one) one season of The Bachelor, the Trista-what's-his-name one.

4) I have never seen an episode of American Idol (I did watch part of one season finale and died a little inside when I saw Prince on it). That said, I recognize the distinction between a competition and drama for drama's sake. At least in theory, the contestants on those kinds of shows have a talent or skill and they are vying, again, at least in theory, for a prize beyond fame and recognition.

5) I succumbed to Bravo. Project Runway and Top Chef. Fashion designers and chefs -- folks with whom I have little in common. Part of how I justified my viewing was that it was a competition of skills and not fame for fame's sake. They could do something I couldn't, and ergo, I was watching their skillful competition, not contributing to some false B-list celebrity. I developed a crush on one of the Top Chefs because he was attractive, confident and could cook a mean steak. So, apparently, did most of the world. This is good television.

6) While I was sleeping, the true B (and D) listers of the world (former actors) hopped on the reality television bandwagon. Shit, even in their prime, Britney, Jessica Simpson, Ozzy Osbourne and others thought that their fans would enjoy seeing their "day to day"lives. Celebrities, you see, are just like you and me. US Magazine says so.

7) What used to make a celebrity a celebrity was their elusiveness. Think of the actors of yore who you really admired. I know very little about George Clooney because he doesn't call the paparazzi to inform them of his every movement. He doesn't reveal himself in interviews to the point that you have some false sense of intimacy with him. As a consumer of pop culture, I know he used to have a pig (Max), has an Italian villa, and that his politics bend my way. But unlike Brad and Angelina (who are more stalked by the press than exploiters of it) his every movement isn't documented, such that we eventually tire of hearing and seeing him.

8) Now, in what I have to believe is the sunset hours of reality television, we have aging or fading celebrities acting like those contestants on The Real World. Tori Spelling has a show. The Two Coreys. Bret Fucking Micheals (that show, incidentally, is 180% awesome, and I hate that I know and think that). The formerly famous are co opting the medium and trying to convince public that the minutia of their lives is interesting.

9) How this all relates to my thoughts on blogging? No meaningful idea. Part of it is a theory that some bloggers are looking for reality television type fame among the anonymous screen names on the internet. Documenting the minutia is part of the exercise, even if it is a misguided attempt at fame for fame's sake. Are they (and me, by definition, even though I abhor the notion of this corner of the internet being widely read) just hopeful fame whores? Is it a consequence of bad reality television that people think what their pets are doing is fit for publication or otherwise an interesting discourse?

10) Related: the blogs that I enjoy are usually characterized by a creative writing style, interesting and insightful on subjects that interest me, and/or written by people who fascinate or amuse me, usually because I have met them and enjoy their personal commentary. I confess to be a little uneasy at reading the personal websites of "celebrities" (read: authors or actors) that I admire, even though often I gain an amazing insight into the inner workings of their brain. I am not entirely certain I want that, as it changes the way I experience their crafts.

11) Because I go up to 11? Jesus, I love Rock of Love. I think it is probably the absolute rock bottom of reality television and perhaps that is the appeal. The tide surely has to wash back into the ocean and regroup, doesn't it? Watching those girls, all of whom have a the gleam of fame in their eyes, it is truly fascinating television. All of them want to be famous for doing absolutely nothing beyond whoring themselves out as outrageous. How is that different from the internet folks who try to be shocking as internet sluts, virtual bad asses, or online exhibitionists - despite being in-person introverts.

Yeah, it is all a mess of unconnected and likely senseless musings that have likely been more fully fleshed out by seasoned social researchers. In the end, it is, of course, a question of "change the channel if you don't want to see it." I nonetheless remain intrigued by the subject as a whole. Attention whores, internet personas, fan seekers and a disconnect from reality afforded by contemporary media.


Talix said...

Is it a consequence of bad reality television that people think what their pets are doing is fit for publication or otherwise an interesting discourse?

It may be a consequence of the Interwebs themselves and the ability to have "cable access"-level content satisfying niches nobody even knew were there. Some people love our pets because they love us and we love our pets. Some people love our pets because they love animals. I love Winston because he's funny looking and his owner (who recaps Rock of Love for VH-1's Celebreality blog) is crazy about him. And wham! All of a sudden we have Lolcats in our 'puters, haxx0ring our wesbites.

The collection of sites lumped together as "blogs" really needs a little more teasing apart. There are diarists, but there are also thousands of sites with dated entries that address specific topics or groups of topics. Maybe the diarists are the attention whores; maybe they're just giving their far-flung friends and family a way into their daily doings. The people that deliberately try to cultivate an audience, from my limited perspective, seemed to be aspiring writers from the beginning.

There - a few more vomited ideas to add (or not) to your thesis. In the meantime, was Heather calling Erin a "starfucker" not the greatest bit of pot-calling-the-kettle ever?

cornutt said...

See, you get whatever the fuck I am trying to say. I can't seem to flesh it out to save my life. It started out as "why do people feel the need to broadcast and/or blog the minutia of their lives and what sort of arrogance makes them believe it is interesting?" to "just as many of the reality show folks are putting on a show to be famous, so are many of the bloggers" to "Rock of Love, fuck yeah."

Heather calling "Clown Tits" a starfucker? Unreal. P observed that Clown Tits actually had "tit cleavage" or some such thing, and it became distracting to watch her. I LOVED her exit interview, where she claimed to have had better than Bret Michaels.

I should be so ashamed for watching that show, but because it is my first real experience with trainwreck television, I am savoring every episode.

suitep said...

heh...Clown Tits has 'butt cleavage'. I scream and die a little inside every time I see those monstrosities. :D

cornutt said...

Butt cleavage. Makes so much more sense than tit cleavage. And her tits look like ass. Ass cleavage.

Talix said...

Ah - it all makes sense now! There's an interview with Erin on the Celebreality site, should you care to peruse.

I dreamed about you last night, K! You had come over to hang out and we were having some fun rowdy time, but I kept thinking about having to go to bed so I could get up for work. Buzz kill.