Friday, October 15, 2010

Bury This Show!

As Generation X’s love affair with MTV continues to wane, a part of me still keeps going back, giving the network just one more chance to prove to me that they’re worthy of my time. And I continue to shake my head.

This week after much ballyhoo about the new season, I gave “The Buried Life: What Do You Want To Do Before You Die?” a shot. The show follows four male college friends who drive around the country attempting to complete all 100 things on their do-before-I-die list. Allegedly the show was picked up to help MTV make a major shift in their programming, away from the nonsense reality programming they’ve been known for of late, and toward a more socially conscious media. In fact, the show was nominated for a Do Something award for its efforts in encouraging the pursuit of life goals. Sounds promising, doesn’t it?

Let’s take a look-see at a few of the things on these guys’ bucket list:
#62 Steal a lock of Robert Pattinson’s hair
#36 Street fight
#54 Make a million dollars
#27 Marry a stranger in Las Vegas

What exactly about those four goals is socially conscious? One is mayhem, one is personal assault and theft, and one is nothing but pure selfishness. The last one, though, is not only NOT socially conscious, it also makes a complete mockery of the fight that millions of gay Americans have struggled with for years. Going to Las Vegas purely to find a stranger to marry (with the assumed immediate annulment) is spitting in the face of all gay Americans. In effect it says, “Look what we can do and then throw away when it becomes boring.” It’s like buying a feast in front of a homeless person, taking one bite, then dumping it in the trash.

Until recently I was ambivalent about gay marriage. I wasn’t against it, but I really had no internal push to fight for it, either. Depending on the day and my mood, I could see the arguments from both sides. But when I watched this ridiculous spectacle of young 20-somethings herding unsuspecting women in the casino to “interview” with the determined groom-to-be (who was so drunk that at least one girl had to extricate herself from his inebriated grope), it dawned on me just how unbalanced our marriage laws are.

There is nothing stopping this idiot or others like him from legally marrying a complete stranger on a whim, so long as the two participants are of opposite sexes. There is no test, and there is no qualifying background check. Pay a hundred bucks and sign your name a few times, you’re married. You are now granted all the benefits and privileges assumed in marriage.

Yet, two women in a committed 15-year relationship cannot attain this privilege. The law sees them as somehow inferior, unable to uphold the sanctity of such a union, not worthy of the legal benefits that accompany marriage.

As the show progressed, Dave the protagonist did find a willing girl, an 18-year-old casino pool lifeguard named Michelle.
Her puzzled and shocked reaction to Dave’s proposal conveyed that she only said ‘yes’ because cameras were on her. Yet she donned a wedding gown and veil, Dave’s fellow bus-mate wore his best penguin suit (this is not a euphemism for a tuxedo, he wore an actual penguin costume…again, taking this whole marriage thing extremely seriously), and some dude walked the bride down the aisle. The two strangers were legally married. No muss, no fuss. No forethought. No plan.

Even without my inclusion of the debate over gay marriage, this episode of The Buried Life was insulting to my intelligence. Once again MTV has made me want an hour of my life back.

As the episode fades to black, Dave is on the phone with his mom. He tells her just got married in Vegas. Mom says, “You know I feel that marriage is sacred. I’m going to go throw up now.” Listen to your mother, Dave.

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