What happens when people stop being polite

Maybe it's best not to admit to this, but here goes: I still watch The Real World. Though with this latest, Austin-based incarnation, I'm thinking it may finally be time to stop. Okay, so the time to stop was probably when I graduated from high school, or, at the very least, college. But I can't help it. At its best (or worst, depending on your perspective), the show is a perfect guilty pleasure. Plus, it's been on for so many years that it's become a kind of constant companion.

Does anyone else remember that first season in '92? Oh, how quaint it seems now by comparison: no hot tub or ridiculously contrived "job" for the housemates (back then, they had – gasp – actual jobs, or at least school, and thus had reasons for being in whichever town they were in other than groping each other on camera). In that first season it was still surprising when Kevin morphed into Angry Black Guy, or when the girls took off their tops on the Jamaican vacation, or when the White Southern Girl was accused of being racist and/or homophobic. Oh how I miss those sweet, innocent days!

Now it's all become so predictable. In those first few seasons (New York, L.A., San Francisco, even London, though maybe to a lesser degree) the show felt like a real experiment. Sure the final product was contrived, with MTV choosing to play up certain dramas and downplay others, or to fit each "character" into some easily digestible type. But there were still occasional moments of "realness." You could forget sometimes that there were cameras around, or that the cast knew there were cameras around. But starting with the Miami season, you really began to get the sense that these people knew exactly what they were getting into. Since then, it's like every member of the cast just goes ahead and stereotypes him or herself, to save MTV the trouble.

The newest cast is just the latest example of this. It's like they're on some sort of Amazing Race to see who can embody their given stereotype first. On the first day Token Black Guy shows up to the house wearing a huge Africa pendant and a Black Power tee shirt (I bet someone's gonna do something to make him angry!). The Whore With a Boyfriend She'll Definitely Be Cheating On prances around the house in her underpants and shows one of the male housemates her asshole (no, I am not kidding). The White Frat Boys high-five constantly and make a bet about who's going to "pull more ass" over the course of the season. The Girl With a Drinking Problem gets drunk and makes out with one of the Frat Boys, then the next night gets drunk and picks a fight with Token Black ("Don't you disrespect me!"). And everyone flocks to the hot tub like venereal disease to a Baltimore hooker. Yawn.

I also have to question anyone who still wants to be on this show. Sure you get to live in a cool house, but is it really worth it? The locals hate you (in the first Austin episode, one of the White Frat Boys got the left side of his face caved in when a local punched him outside a bar, requiring surgery). Your parents, and maybe even your friends, will probably disown you. And no one can still hold out hope that being on The Real World is going to make you famous as anything other than That Guy/Girl Who Was On The Real World. Is being a perpetual contestant on that godawful Real World/Road Rules Challenge show really such a prize? Then again, we seem to have entered an era where being Center Square is no longer something to be mocked, but something to aspire to; it's a "career choice" and not just what Vincent Price or Whoopi Goldberg fell back on when the movie offers stopped coming in.


TMC said...

a few things:

1. She actually showed him her asshole? In what context does that come up?

2. My least favorite people in the world are pathetic reality show regulars like Trishelle and The Miz.

3. When Real World was here in Philly, pretty much every weekend there was another story about how some guys ran into the Real World crew and started a fight... it's a chance to get on TV, and also to punch those obnoxious assholes in the face.

joe said...

I love the blonde! She actually talks like the girls who post their webcams on the internet (i.e., "I never thought I'd have a roommate as hot as you.") You know what means, right? The girls on the webcam are real!!! They're not actting, they really like doing women!

Plus, I'm totally crushing on the pale girl with the short dark hair. Man, she is super cute.

dave said...

After Las Vegas, I think they should have put it out of its misery. You're just never, ever going to get that many drunk whores together in one place at one time, ever again. Oh, and there was the guy from Lewisburg, PA, too, who seemed to be kind of embarrassed and kind of frustrated that he couldn't get in on the drunken whoring.

What do you think The Miz and Coral and Trishelle put on their tax returns under "employment?" I guess they probably just write "being the Miz" because that does appear to be a full time job.

Mike said...

Joe, you mean the designated Alternative Chick, who also fills the Virgin role? Sadly, she seems to be the most level-headed in the group so far. She was drinking Guinnes while the rest of them were throwing down shots and grinding on each other. Then again, I'm sure she's got some annoying habit; just give it a couple weeks. Maybe she's a cutter, like that girl Frankie from S.D., and we can see another Very Special Episode.

joe said...

Actually, it was the Guinnes that got me. I love a woman who drinks dark beer.