In 1968 Andy Warhol was quoted as saying "In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes.” Geez, I hope not. Have you done the math? The US population alone is 307 million, that’s almost 77 million hours of television coverage! I can’t take that much stupid.
This prediction has morphed into a birthright, a cultural imperative along with a flat screen TV and a BMW. You must be famous at some point in your life; you just have to figure out how and there is no shortage of avenues for you to take.
Television has brought us the reality show, PUH-lease, what part of any of these shows even approaches reality? America’s Next Top Model, America’s Got Talent, American Idol, Addicted, Armed and Famous, Amish in the City, Are You Hot? Average Joe, The Apprentice, The Bachelor, The Bachelorette, Big Brother, The Biggest Loser, Basketball Wives, Beauty and the Geek, Boot Camp, Brat Camp, Bridezillas, Battle of the Network Reality Stars – and that’s only a small sampling of the As and Bs!
What people will do, say, or eat just to get on television never ceases to amaze me. I couldn’t even watch the trailers for Fear Factor without a stomach flip; the entire premise seemed to be based on getting people to eat disgusting things. Survivor and Big Brother are all about psychological head games (this is fun to watch?); one takes place on a “deserted” island (save for a few hundred film and production crew) and the other in a house that no one can leave. Wife Swap; I’m sorry – I can’t tell you what that’s about – can anyone out there help me?
Unfortunately these people are rewarded with exactly what they crave, celebrity status. The tabloids and magazines cover them as if they…did something. They’re constantly being photographed and interviewed because they’re on TV. They’ll go to the opening of an envelope. Other television shows have them as guests, sometimes even elevating them to reporters and commentators; you know where Elizabeth Hasselbeck of The View came from? Survivor: The Australian Outback. I don’t even know where the Kardashians came from.
It’s a vicious circle; you become famous for being on a reality show. Then you’re photographed and interviewed because you’re on TV. Then you’re on the cover of a magazine and someone says “let’s get him/her on the show!”
The real challenge seems to be just how long these “stars” can string this along. Case in point, Rob Mariano aka “Boston Rob”, who parlayed his initial stint on a season of Survivor into 2 more, as well as 2 seasons of The Amazing Race, his own reality show “Rob and Amber Get Married”, about the wedding to his wife whom he met on Survivor (a collective ah, or is that eww, is appropriate here) and then because apparently we would care what happened after they got married, “Rob and Amber; Against the Odds”. Not to be limited to the US market only, he also picked up a season on the Canadian show “Reality Obsessed” (what a shocker).
So let’s see, from Survivor: Marquesas in 2002 to Survivor: Heroes and Villains in 2010 – that’s an 8 year run - his 15 minutes are up. I guess there are worse ways to make a living, although if you make me watch any of these shows I’d be hard pressed to think of any.