Yesterday on The Huffington Post, in a post titled "What's Next? Broadcasting Executions?", Jamie Lee Curtis (of Halloween, Halloween II, Halloween H20, Halloween Resurrection, and Christmas With The Kranks fame) alerted the public to the existence of two notable trends: reality TV competition shows, and over-reacting:
There I was trying to celebrate with my friend when my eye kept being pulled to the set on the wall. There were some chefs on the screen, all standing with their hands clasped behind their backs, at attention, as a panel of people (who are they?) told them mostly bad things about, I assume, their food. I knew they weren't nice supportive comments as the camera was close on the chefs' faces and they looked scared and sad. They were then marched in and out as a group until one woman was asked to leave. She was crying, packing up her knives. It made me so sad and sick to watch. Why was I drawn to this? I didn't want her to lose…did I? Do I? I don't even know her. Why would I wish her harm?
Aww. Debilitating empathy for aspiring chefs who chose to be on a reality competition show on Bravo. Who even knew that was possible? Apparently, Jamie Lee Curtis is the celebrity blogging equivalent of the boy in the plastic bubble: So sensitive to everything outside of her sphere that an episode of Top Chef can cause her to break out in an oozing rash of feelings–not to mention Gladiator references and a mountain of rhetorical questions:
I understand there are many of these shows now. All "elimination"-based and faux reality. Real like a firing squad. I understand there is a good side, a jubilant winner getting their shot at fame and fortunes, but the bulk of the watching, I gather, is some communal elimination where the audience gets a hand in the stone-throwing. It begs the question of why we feel the need to watch this. Are we all so unhappy in our own lives we need the fix of watching another human go into the gladiator ring and come out a bloody, eviscerated mess? What does Russell Crowe scream in Gladiator — "Are you not entertained"?
I am not entertained and neither was that red-faced, tear-stained woman who was told she wasn't good enough…I think the world is filled with people. People who try and dream and risk and stumble [and go on Bravo in the hope of winning money/gaining notoriety]. Heavy, light, rich and poor and all who just seek to be seen and heard [and get famous on television]. Not judged and eliminated [even though that's what they signed up for]. When did life become Boot Camp?
The brackets in that last paragraph are mine. Also, I think by "people", she means "Bravo reality show contestants," and by "life" she means "televison shows." But there's more:
I understand that a screaming drill sergeant and the subsequent training prepares a young soldier as they go into battle but we have turned everything into a battle. Is that what life is? I don't think so. I hope this trend gets eliminated. That we return to telling stories that are written by great writers, rather than manipulated into looking real, but really are scripted and cast and controlled. What other human experience can we marginalize? What are the costs to our national psyche? What does this tell our children? What is this saying about us?
Also: can't we all just get along? How will we, as a society, go on? If only there was a guide to show us what really matters, a pure inspirational manual of some kind to stand in the face of all this dirty reality TV show competition. Or, you know, a children's book written by Jamie Lee Curtis:
In my latest book for children, Is There Really A Human Race?, I pose the question: Is life nothing but a giant competition? It ends with these simple thoughts as the mother tries to reassure her young son:
I'll spare you the quote from the book. I can't wait to see what happens when Jamie Lee Curtis accidentally stumbles upon an episode of Age Of Love. I guess we'll have to wait until she comes out with Mommy, What's A Cougar? to find out.