This goes out specifically to the cast of The Jersey Shore, anyone named Kardashian, anyone who appears in anything titled The Real Housewives of…, any show on TLC set in a workplace featuring a boss with a hair0trigger temper and his doofus squad of employees, and the entire prime-time line-up of TruTV.
Go. The hell. Away.
You know what? Let me amend that. This goes out to anyone who regularly watches any of the shows I’ve listed above: for the love of god, STOP WATCHING.
Here’s the thing: I love TV. I grew up during a golden age of television, when everything from I Love Lucy and The Andy Griffith Show to the entire Sherwood Schwartz oeuvre was in steady syndication and Norman Lear ruled CBS, Fonzie and the gang was ABC’s anchor, and NBC…uh, they had Real People. And a bunch of cheesy sci-fi shows starring people you never heard of. Remember Manimal with Simon McCorkindale?
Which was also a good show, but that was on CBS. It was another Lear production.
But I digress.
My immediate point is, I am a child of television, for good or ill. I am the guy that gets every single pop culture reference in any given episode of Family Guy. I love good, solid, scripted comedies, dramas, adventures, sci-fi — anything that tells me a great story featuring people I actually give a damn about, anything that, at its best, creates art.
That is to say, everything reality TV is not.
Take the Kardashians — please. I mean, for example. What exactly do they do? They’re living their lives in front of a camera. They’re not acting (not in the traditional “I went to Julliard and take my craft seriously” context, anyway), they’re not telling a story, and the drama they present is cheap, tawdry, and manufactured so they don’t come across as nothing more than the uber-rich, pampered celebutants they are.
Then there are the Jersey Shore dolts, a group of party-hearty emotionally arresed lunkheads who, I believe, would throw their fellow “cast mates” into a pit of hungry wolves if it would earn them a little more fame and a little more money. They put all their energy into looking (what passes in their world as ) good, having fun, and acting out in ways that could and sometimes do land them in a jail cell.
Do their antics move you emotionally? Do they touch or enrich your life? Do you actually care about their fate? Or do you watch and think on some level “Wow, how pathetic are these people!” ?
Not as pathetic as the person sitting down every week to watch them.
You enable these people. By adding yourself to the Nielsen body count, you send the message to Hollywood that this is what you want to see: people behaving badly; people who are creating spectacle but not art; people who contribute nothing to the betterment of society; people who are getting rich by behaving in a manner that would get any regular person — anyone without the benefit of an ever-present camera crew — shamed by their family, ostracized by their friends, and ridiculed by society at large.
Kim Kardashian? She pockets $40,000 per episode and rakes in $6 million a year for doing nothing more than attaching her name to stuff. Kate Gosselin? Before her show got dumped by TLC she made $3.5 million. “The Situation” made $2 million from The Jersey Shore and various doomed side-projects like his workout video and his guidebook for picking up women.
And are you people even aware of the greatest irony here? How many times over the course of 2011 did you turn on the TV to hear someone on the news droning on about Charlie Sheen’s latest drug-fueled insanity or Lindsay Lohan’s — uh…latest drug-fueled insanity, and said, “Jeez, I wish these people would go away! I’m sick of hearing about them!” ?
Charlie Sheen and Lindsay Lohan are the exact same people you see on The Jersey Shore, etc., with one critical exception: their shenanigans haven’t been presented to you in a slick, deceptive package. Put self-indulgent, self-destructive dopes on the news and they’re pitiable annoyances; put them in a weekly TV series on E! and you gobble them up and beg for more.
You can put a stop to it by, very simply, refusing to watch these shows anymore. The next time the surgically enhanced face (and chest and butt) of a Kardashian appears on your TV screen, change the channel. Find some quality scripted TV. Turn to a news station and learn something of value. Maybe even — dare I say it? — turn the Idiot Box off entirely and read a book, or go to a museum, or go see some live theater or a concert. Go reward some people with actual talent for their efforts with your time, attention, and money.
Say no to trash masquerading as art and glorified clowns masquerading as artists. Say yes to true art and true artists. We’ll all be better off for it.
The views and opinions in the Enterprise blogs are those of the author and are not neccessarily shared by Falmouth Publishing.