Saturday, February 05, 2005

"Death Knell for Reality Television" (?)

I was just reading a book (remember that, people?), when I glanced up long enough to see the cast of Desperate Housewives accepting some award from the Screen Actor's Guild.

Some expertly coiffed Ken-doll accepted the award and said something to the effect of, "Here's to this award sounding the death knell for reality television."

I could honestly, hardly believe my ears.

Aside from the fact that the Screen Actors Guild is one of the tightest "labor" unions in the country, I just can't muster up any sympathy. Really. It's not that I don't admire the work that many actors do. I have family in the profession, and believe me, I couldn't do what they do.

It doesn't change for one second that this group of people are the most self-congratulatory bunch of glad-handing back-patters on the face of this planet. Honestly, any given week will find some awards show devoted to beautifully dolled, impeccably tailored, red-carpet-trodders who seem to have nothing better to do than announce to the world how wonderful they are.

Let's put that aside for the moment, and address the subject of "reality television." We all understand that a reality TV show can be fully funded and expertly shot for a fraction of the cost of a series (or even a miniseries). Is that a bad thing? The public love these shows. There are new ones coming out all the time, and the ones that make the cut, last, those that don't, don't. We still have Survivor and The Amazing Race, two wonderful examples of the staying power of "reality television."

But no, because SAG doesn't get to demand massive amounts of money (a la Friends cast) for the participants of these shows, they simply must be an evil to be eradicated. My question is, Why now?

Why wasn't Cops a problem? Or America's Most Wanted? Or America's Funniest Home Videos? Or Jerry Springer? Jenny Jones? The People's Court? Or, heaven forbid, Oprah?

I'll tell you why. Because nobody watched(es) the first 3. Numbers 4 and 5 were a flash in the pan that lasted longer than anyone ever thought they would. Number 6 had Judge Wapner (and everbody loved Judge Wapner;-). And Oprah, dear Oprah, has so much of America's fairer sex in her pocket that the promotional value of appearing on her show would be enough to propel a modest entertainment venture into the arena of the blockbuster.

Now, there's real competition. Competition that doesn't, in any way, allow the overpaid SAG-masses to get their paws on it. Competition that is eating up market share like Microsoft Windows on a steroid coctail. SAG's gonna have to learn something, and they need to learn it fast. For all their high-minded, red-ribbons-will-make-it-better mentality, they're becoming less relevant. They are removing themselves from the "common man/woman" that the liberal ideals (that actors profess to cherish) hold at the center of their reason for being.

I don't have any links. I'm sure there'll be no story. In the long run, who cares?

I suppose that SAG cares. I suppose that Ken-doll (among others) will continue his crusade against the evil forces of "reality television." I suppose that he may have a chance of one day succeeding, too.

But you know, for that to happen, I think the first reality television that hits the chopping block should be the glitz, glamour, style, fashion, fawning, and ferality that are the original reality shows.

The Oscars alone has been televised since 1953.

Thank you, and good night. I see the music has started.