Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Crack-Cocaine for the Masses

Do you know me?
I'm not a stalker, but I play one on T.V.
That's why I carry the American Excess Card

Don't peep through the windows of another home without it!

The brother of a friend of mine has landed a role in the "reality-based" T.V. show, "Joe Schmoe 2." Based on the popularity of the first installment of the show- wherein the "schmoe" is unwittingly dropped into the middle of a cast of professional actors who pretend to be fellow contestants- it's quite a feather in the cap of an actor to get a role in such a runaway hit program.

He plays the stalker, "Bryce," who fixates on one of the other characters and likes to watch her every move without being seen, himself.

It's rather ironic, really, since that's what the show asks us to do as well. His performance becomes ours.

Karl Marx once said, "Religion is the opiate of the masses." If that's to be considered, then reality-based TV shows must surely be the crack-cocaine - Cheap, low-grade, highly addictive and seemingly targeted to the simpletons of society, who come back to it time and time again regardless of their revulsion.

They're also inherently mean-spirited. Personally, I consider so-called "reality" TV one of the lowest forms of entertainment - somewhere between snuff-films and burning ants in the back yard with a magnifying lens. It's shaden-freude voyeurism for the unwashed masses, who get to sit and themselves fixate on the discomforts, indignities and mental or physical suffering from the comfort of their living room. Add the that the technological wonder of TiVo, and you can rewind and breathlessly watch over and over again the expressions on the faces of the willing victims at the precise moment of their anguish. Delicious, isn't it?

So ... I'm torn. I could tell myself that I'm watching the show only to view the performance of a good friend's brother, but of course he's not always on the screen. I could claim that it's merely an academic interest to bolster or shift my opinion of such shows, but the narcotic effect of such voyeurism isn't deflected by a badge of academia, and would find its irresistable way in to scintilate my synapses and dull my defenses. And lastly, should the serious tone of my thoughts on the matter belie the fact, I know it's a comedy and probably quite funny.

I am certain of one thing, though: those people who pick up a crack-pipe for the first time, don't do it with the goal of getting hooked, either.

In the movie, "8mm" which dealt with the disturbing topic of snuff films, Joaquin Phoenix's character had a line that has stuck with me long after I've tried to wash the rest of the disturbing images of the film out of my head:"When you dance with the Devil, you don't get to lead."

Perhaps I should just sit this one out.


Blogger Dianne said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

June 16, 2004  
Blogger Dianne said...

I love the crack-cocaine metaphor - perfect!

June 16, 2004  

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