Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Anchored Man

Tonight at the gym, I decided to run on the treadmill in front of the TV set featuring CNN since it was a slow night for sports. Though I could not hear the sound, I could tell by the grisly images of the charred bodies on the screen that Anderson Cooper was doing a story on the cast of The Jersey Shore.  Now I typically am a fan of Anderson. He’s done a lot of great reporting in the past, both within our borders and behind enemy lines, getting the scoops on stories we may not hear about otherwise. This terrific journalism earned him my nickname “Anderson Scooper.” But now, after spending ten minutes of his “Ridiculist” segment tonight discussing Snooki and the rest of the idiots from NJ, I’m ready to brand him with a new moniker, “Cooper Scooper,” because spending time mocking The Jersey Shore when you are on a respectable news channel like CNN is simply serving up a pile of crap. 

The only thing easier than picking on Snooki
is picking on AC for picking on Snooki
One could argue that my criticism of Cooper’s ill-advised use of his television platform is hypocritical for two reasons: 

1) I have this blog and many of the topics I discuss are less than world changing. To that I would argue my blog only gets a few hundred visitors per week, and there’s no telling how many of those are from me checking the site multiple times a day to see how many people read my latest post. Meanwhile, Anderson has a show on CNN that reaches millions of viewers every night and, with everything going on in the world, should be spending all of his time discussing more important issues than J-Woww’s breasts, the Situation's abs, or Snooki's penis. She's a dude, right? I get that a lot of news-watchers can’t stand Keith Olbermann’s condescension or Sean Hannity’s insanity, so infusing some fun topics to break up serious stories on war and recessions may be a smart tactic to pull in less serious viewers. But it doesn’t make it right. 

2) The other reason one could question the validity of my criticism of Cooper is that I work in Reality TV and promote many "celebrities" who are as bad if not worse than the J.S. cast. My resume includes shows that featured the Kardashian family, Paris Hilton, and the Real Housewives of NY. Not exactly the role models I want my potential future daughter looking up to. To this observation, I have no excuse, other than that the reason I get a paycheck for working on these fine pieces of art is the same reason Anderson features their stars on his show: Supply and demand. America loves this shit! As soon as our culture stops idolizing reality stars and other celebrities, I’ll go back to writing more of the things I actually care about, and Cooper Scooper will be back to earning his old nickname. Until then, we both have to pay the bills.

If all my tombstone reads is, "Worked on Khloe & Lamar,"
please just cremate me.
I don't see a change happening anytime soon. Stand in line at the supermarket. You're surrounded by tabloids and magazines featuring every celebrity, from the most famous to the never-heard-ofs. As long as they have a recent break up, a bikini shot with visible cellulite, or a newly adopted African baby, they are front-page news. And you know, I don’t have a problem with that because people need their guilty pleasures. We all deserve to put aside our vegetables and go for a bowl of ice cream once in a while. But when CNN is covering reality stars instead of reality wars, it’s like we’re eating our vegetables in the form of Spinach Artichoke dip. That's not a real vegetable just like Snooki isn't real news. And yet, we all continue to crave our unhealthy obsessions. 

Anonymous shopper in line at the store:
"Got my cheese. Got my gravy. Got my pork chops.
Oh, ya! How did Jessica lose all that weight?...
And some Milk Duds, please."
When I sit down at a computer I admittedly check my Facebook, my fantasy team, and then probably my Facebook again before finally moving onto my favorite news sites. And even then a juicy story about a celebrity divorce catches my eye before anything having to do with the Debt Ceiling. We can’t constantly be bombarded with the bad news of the day. But I can’t help but think there are better stories to intersperse with the misery of the world’s events than the latest on something as meaningless as The Jersey Shore

Is it na├»ve to think Americans would rather watch an inspirational story about an every day citizen surviving cancer? Or would they rather just watch a show simply titled Survivor about a bunch of half naked people trying to win a million bucks? No matter how well written a script or how well acted a scene, these television shows can never match the intensity, the drama, the emotion or the importance of actual life. After 8 years in the industry, I can tell you, it’s called “reality” TV and not “real” TV for a reason. Whether we like it or not, when the last flame is put out, when the last rose is received or when the last Idol has sung, the real world is still out there-- and it’s not 7 drunk assholes living in a house. 

1 comment:

  1. funny and decidedly poignant! me likey!