POSTING BY JB MADDAWG
Unless one owns/operates a brine shrimp vessel in the Caspian Basin, chances are most people have seen a least a scant taste of reality television programming. Everything from contest shows, i.e. Survivor and the Amazing Race to shows that follow everyday business, such as American Chopper were ratings dynamite for a good run. Nowadays, however, the general public has once again had too much of a good thing and are turning the dials back to scripted shows. Well, better scripted shows, that don’t try to pull off a charade as “real”.
For those folks who aren’t in the reality t.v. know, many of the contest shows are creatively edited and their format, polished. Ever try to send in an application for one of these shows? Forget it. Unbeknownst to the viewing public, most of these people are model/actors or “mactors” as they are known behind the velvet curtain. They come complete with head shots, press kits and managers. There may have been a time when most of these participants were indeed Al the butcher down on the corner, but now it’s almost fully stocked with B actors and underwear models. There are plenty of times I’ve spotted one of the “contestants” of these shows in several locations.
Examples? Let’s take a young British gal by the name of Jade Ramsey. Jade and her twin, Nikita, could be seen all over the place trying to backdoor Hollywood a number of years ago, most notably being known as the “Brit Twins” on a show called Movie Mob which aired on the Reelz channel. Every week, the “mob” would be some people who used a home webcam to review current movies, and if the reviewers weren’t likeable, fans of the show could vote them off. Needless to say, the twins never left, more than likely because they were on the show payroll. Shortly after this gig, the twins once again popped up on a larger venue, the set of “Deal or No Deal”, and were “contestants”. Rigged? If it were any more fixed, Vince McMahon would have had them hitting Howie Mandell with a steel chair. Finally, though, apparently with the twin thing not playing well, Jade took a legitimate role on a Nickelodeon show titled House of Anubis. So much for reality.
Reality programming took it’s most serious hit however this December with the highly popular show Storage Wars on A&E. The show revolves around the idea that many storage units around the U.S. are abandoned by their owners, and after non-payment, the storage company sells the unknown contents of the unit to the highest bidder during an auction date. The premise obviously hypes the fact that what could be inside the foreclosed units may be untold riches, or a bunch of forgotten junk.
Enter Dave Hester, a staple on the show, who on one episode, found a massive stack of newspapers noting the death of Elvis Presley in a storage unit he successfully bid upon. The papers were worth a large sum of money, yet there was one problem. Hester would come clean later and admit he’d been tipped off that the papers were inside. Known as “salting”, the producers of the show would plant many items in the units to add to the excitement. Let’s face facts, nobody is going to tune into a show where the storage units are constantly loaded with dirty diapers, a box full of extension cords and macaroni art. And of course someone is going through the units beforehand. I point to the Silence of the Lambs scenario, where the storage company throws up the garage door, only to find a vintage Deusenberg and it’s semi-rotted corpse in the backseat, dressed in Sunday’s best. I don’t care what kind of sicko enjoys corpses, most of the viewing public doesn’t want to get up close and personal with decomposition while having pizza with the kids. Storage Wars still wildly denies any wrong doing, and have since been slammed with new accusations of encouraging one of the female contestants to get breast augmentation. Stay classy, A&E.
I laughed years back when season two of The Amazing Race was taking contestant applications, and the esteemed former Mrs. Bloomquist sent away for one so we could enter as a team. Wrong for two reasons, the first being the application was roughly 300 pages and basically said CBS didn’t give a &$%* if we both died of cholera in the far reaches of Dildo, Newfoundland. The second reason? Going anywhere on “vacation” with the esteemed former Mrs. Bloomquist required either an economy sized jug of Xanax or a pistol and a “Do Not Resuscitate” sign I could put around my neck. No really, I had one printed up professionally, with a nice Baskerville font, so when my prone body was wheeled into the E.R., the attending could say, “wow, this guy really fucking meant it”. But as always, I digress. The simple fact is, I got the distinct feeling CBS had no interest in me, or anyone else for that matter, turning in an application to be on one of their crown jewel reality shows. I believe that cast was set months before any applications became available to the general public.
All in all folks, be a wary consumer, just like all other avenues. Remember that television is show business, nothing more. The powers that be aren’t interested in winners, losers and fairness. They simply want you to stay with them as long as possible. I knew a local business man I once asked how long his relationship was with his customers. He simply answered, “I’ll ride ’em until they buck me.” That’s exactly what reality television is all about. They’ll show you all the fake bridal dress battles, swamp buggy races and rich housewife bullshit until they see the overnight ratings that prove you moved from your couch. My advice? Start watching pro wrestling. At least they tell the consumer their product is fake.