Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Reality Check$

As a kid in the 1970s and ‘80s, there were a lot of different things I wanted to be when I grew up. First I thought I’d be an Olympic gymnast, then a flight attendant, psychologist, and finally a news anchor.

While my friends and I actually wanted to have “normal” careers, so many girls today have only one ambition: to become famous on a reality show. It makes me want to bang my head on my desk.

They don’t care what they have to do, whether it’s eating a live slug, cat-fighting with 19 other women over some single guy they just met, or living with a houseful of other ill-behaved, scantily-clad drunk girls vying to see who among them is the most ill-behaved. All that matters is that they do it on TV, consequences be damned.

There’s even a dreadful pop song by the Pussycat Dolls about this very topic. Some lyrics:

When I grow up
I wanna be famous
I wanna be a star
I wanna be in movies

When I grow up
Be on TV
People know me
Be on magazines

Ok, I admit that part of the reason I wanted to be a news anchor was because I wanted to be on TV. But I had every intention of going to college, actually studying hard and obtaining a degree in a legitimate subject, and working for the privilege of seeing my face on the evening news. It never occurred to me that I could bypass all that pesky educational stuff and make a profitable living merely by donning a push-up bra and behaving like a selfish entitled brat.

On one episode of MTV’s “True Life” show, a 19-year-old was bummed out because her parents were on her case because she didn’t have a job and wasn’t in school. She just lived at home, went out with friends, and ... I don’t know what else, not much. But she had big dreams: her goal was to be in Maxim magazine. So she found a sleazy photographer whom she paid several hundred dollars to do a “photo shoot” so she could send the shots to Maxim. Because, as we all know, this is all it takes to become a famous model.

The poor girl couldn’t even formulate a sentence without using “like” four or five times and she still never got a real point across. But nothing was going to stand in the way of her dream, certainly not lack of communication in her native tongue.

Now I’ve got a confession
When I was young I wanted attention
And I promised myself that I’d do anything
Anything at all for them to notice me

I don’t know who I’m most annoyed at: the girls with no ambition, their parents for not having a lick of influence over them, or the people who invented reality television in the first place. What I do know, though, is that listing “last girl standing from Bad Girls Club, season 5” on a resume isn’t going to push anyone over the top for that law clerkship job. Those appearance paychecks run out quickly, but the after effects of many of those shows linger far longer than their participants might prefer. The public’s collective memory is quite clear and has a penchant for remembering embarrassing detals for years.

Unbelievably, I would have to agree with the Pussycat Dolls here...

Be careful what you wish for
Cuz you just might get it
You just might get it
You just might get it.

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