Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Jackson verdict and in defense of Reality TV

If you want to know why the verdict voted the way they did for the Micahel Jackson trial - check out Slate's assessment at: http://slate.com/id/2120812/?GT1=6554.

The trial was said to have been the most-covered trial in history. I had a good talk with my roommate about this. It didn't seem possible, the OJ trial still seems like the "Trial to end all trials" in terms of media circus. It was the trial was able to spawn full-blown cable channels, devoting 24-hour coverage. It was the trial that most Americans could remember where they were when they were watching "the chase" in the white Bronco. The OJ trial made Jackson's trial seem almost subdued by comparison. However, my roommate pointed out that in terms of coverage, it was probably the international coverage that made it the most-covered trial of all time.

On to topic 2 - In Defense of Reality TV

Just watched Fox's Hell's Kitchen last night. For those who don't know, it's a reality TV series that features about a dozen-or-so aspiring chefs trying to win the respect of acclaimed, renowned asshole chef Gordon Ramsay and win their own restaurant. Like many series, it's lifted from a previously UK series. The series is amusing, derivative and ... fun.

Reality TV has been routinely bashed for its exploitive nature. It's also been bashed for pushing a lot of television writers out of business as networks turn to cheap reality TV instead of investing time and energy into creating scripted sitcoms and dramas. For awhile, it looked like TV was going to turn into "all reality, all the time," but shows like 24, Lost, Arrested Development and Desperate Housewives show that there will always be a place for writers (even though Arrested Development always seems on the verge of cancellation).

Truth be told, the criticisms facing reality TV are the same criticisms that faced TV in general when the medium first emerged: it panders to the lowest common denominator, it contributes to the "dumbing down" of our culture and it's vastly inferior to other artistic expressions. I remember Chevy Chase bashing television on "Politically Incorrect" - but seriously, I would find more humor in an episode of The X-Files (seasons 2-5), Seinfeld or Arrested Development than anything Chevy Chase has done on the big screen in the past 20 years. Those who say books are better than television are right (to a point) - in general, they do force the audience to use their imagination. But the writing and storylines in shows like The Sopranos, Lost and The Wire are just as good as the best books that came out last year - and are vastly superior to approximately 90 percent of the stuff published.

And in terms of reality TV, shows like The Amazing Race and Hell's Kitchen are more entertaining than most scripted sitcoms and dramas out there. Given the choice of According to Jim or Hell's Kitchen, I'm going to Hell, no question.

Hell's Kitchen represents the best of reality TV (just like the first season of The Apprentice and the best seasons of Survivor): compelling characters and an interesting premise. Just as business classes in college showed episodes of the first season of The Apprentice, Hell's Kitchen serves as a great primer for people who are thinking of going into a field that they don't know much about (other than the way it's romanticized in TV shows, books and plays). It also teaches you some fundamental lessons about the work world, namely:
  • as much as your boss may deserve to be told to "f**k off", it's almost never a good idea.
  • never, never leave a hot cookie sheet out in a work area filled with chaos
  • don't take criticism personally, especially when you're doing something that you're passionate about (e.g. cooking, writing)

Current listening selections

Beck - Guero

The Velvet Underground - The Velvet Underground and Neko

Bob Dylan - Love and Theft


At 2:08 PM, Blogger misterorange said...

"don't take criticism personally, especially when you're doing something that you're passionate about (e.g. cooking, writing)"

This is a ridiculously hard rule to follow based on its very definition: Because you -are- so passionate about the subject, you are more apt to take any criticism (constructive or otherwise), far too seriously.


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