Sunday, April 20, 2008

Guerrilla Philanthropy

The Queen Bee and I watched an episode of Oprah's Big Give online the other day and--wait, wait, back up, I've got to start earlier--a few days before that I was talking on the phone with my brother Jason and he was telling me how "compelling" some reality TV is. He went on and on about Flip This House, and Survivor and I told him how much I HATE reality TV, and how I can't stand to watch badly scripted "reality" played out between narcissistic "cast members," in various stages of either "undress" or "distress," or "please don't open your mouth again, I'm just a viewer and I'm completely embarrassed."

It doesn't matter if they're remodeling a home, swapping wives, trying to "survive" on a tropical island (since when have "less-than-Bikini" swimsuits been adequate survival gear anyway?), raising 16 kids, getting plastic surgery, going on a blind date, trying to win the heart of a bachelor, or Singing out a lung for a panel of b-list celebrity judges, I can't stand reality television. Its my worst nightmare come true: Superficial television world meets superficial real world!--Okay, let's get back to Mel and me and Oprah--So we were watching Big Give the other night and I got completely sucked in. What drama! Who will be the biggest giver? It's like The Apprentice, but instead of a Bobble-headed Donald Trump training minions of future Tycoons, a People-Minded Oprah is sending out an elite force of guerrilla philanthropists! And the conflict--genius! Teams of philanthropic lethal weapons competing head-to-head, trying to be more creative, more charismatic, more caring, more (dare I say?) Christlike? Now that's an angle Reality TV hasn't really taken. Shocking! Exciting! Intriguing! Yes, even "compelling!" (you got me Jason). So I'm hooked, but hooked too late. The show is nearing its exciting conclusion, and I've only seen the first episode. Alas, the one reality TV show that might have won me over, is well, just about over. Maybe next season.1

1. Yes, I am aware of the irony here--that while I hate reality TV for its incessant glamorization of superficial people looking for their fifteen minutes of fame and the chance at some cash, I am writing about it on a blog-- a genre that itself celebrates the representation of "reality" as seen through the eyes of the "average joe" (average joe's like me who have stooped so low as to allow Google ad space on their blog in hopes that a few clicks a day might bring in a little cash). So does blogging then become, at least in part, a Reality TV outlet for the pseudo-intellectual, "I'm too good for Television" crowd? Is this blog just a "text-only" version of all those awful shows I can't stand? Yikes!


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cari said...

We watched the Big Give too. I think the idea of it was really good but there were a couple of people who were supposed to be given big things and got gipped (jipped?). Like the one where a disabled veteran was in need of help for housing and the "giver" was supposed to give away his truck (that was part of the challenge). Well, the veteran got like $2500 for his housing which was really nice but the "giver" gave the truck to the restaurant owner that hosted the give away party. ? Go figure on that one. But, it was a good show. I liked how the contestants had no clue that they would win anything and were just in it for the giving. That's pretty cool.