(posted by julia prescott)
When I was younger I often thought of MTV as my too-cool-for-school older brother, always introducing me to pop music I never knew I needed and spouting hipper-than-thou lingo that would make Diablo Cody blush.
I grew up with the naive belief that my early 20’s would be filled with jacuzzi parties and clubbing (where somehow girls never got hit on and were free to dance with themselves), all set to a soundtrack of Green Day and Sonic Youth.
I dreamed of being on “The Real World,” envisioning myself as the cute artsy girl always sandwiched into the cast between the incredibly right-wing sorority girl and the extremely leftist alternative chick. The house would be a constant chaos of arguments, only silencing momentarily to reprimand the gay roommate for turning the fully furnished breakfast nook into a human dart board on a Tuesday night.
It was a sad day when I discovered that my “Real World” dreams would not be realized. This reality-based program does not in any way reflect its namesake. The creatively expressive girl archetype has rescinded into the shadows and has since been replaced with another helping of promiscuous sorority girls, that first girl never caused enough ratings-grabbing drama in the first place anyway.
If the skeptics during the premiere of the original “Real World” thought this was surely a sign of the pop culture apocalypse, then the frontier of MTV’s current heap of programming would undoubtedly send them to their grave.
I’m not here to talk about “Jersey Shore” or other “Real World”-like scenarios whose premise is firmly rooted in the voyeuristic quality of watching young people misbehave in extravagantly furnished houses. I’m here to talk about shows that accent upon the illusion of reality, and hoodwink the younger generation into believing a certain “truth” about being young.
Normally I would never couple the words, “revolutionize” and “The Hills” into the same thought, but it’s the only thing that can accurately be applied in this situation. Who knew that when MTV stuck a camera in front of Lauren Conrad and dared her to shop, eat, and pamper herself on-camera that they would be creating a new genre of television?
Certainly I didn’t, and heaps of other television snobs and cynics, but it’s there – it’s pervasive – it’s generated a profusion of spin-offs and its murky residue has seeped all over MTV (now sans the “music” moniker, another sign of the television end). It’s a hack comedian’s joke that MTV no longer contains anything music-related, but the same could be said for it depicting reality.
There’s a show called, “My Life as Liz,” its basic premise is that it follows the life of an ‘alternative’ teen and the normal rollercoaster ride that is High School. It utilizes the formula set forth by “The Hills” – a show that sells itself as a reality show, but is blatantly scripted. To anyone over the age of 12 who can easily discern the show’s fictional foundation, it reads as a blatant insult. Slowly but surely the network’s programming will resemble one long-winded ‘Punk’d’ stunt.
MTV makes being 21 the end all be all to human existence; at least they did in the late ‘90s. I feel like I’ve spent my life looking forward to being the target demographic for their programming and by the time I reached that point, they’ve lowered the bar so tremendously I can barely catch my breath.
Scours of critics and television philosophers have debated the purpose of an all “reality-based” network (I use that term flexibly) and my guess is that it caters to the phenomenon of the YouTube generation. Perhaps if viewers felt like they could make their own versions of “My Life as Liz” and “The Buried Life,” then they can relate to the programs more.
But that’s just the thing, when you subsidize yourself to that low of a quality bracket, you make yourself obsolete. It’s a classic instance of the “grown-up” generations not understanding the youth’s cultural likes and dislikes, but now that has extended into the territory of twentysomethings in the dark, an alarming concept to say the least.
What’s my proposal? If it’s reality let it be reality, if it’s scripted let it be scripted and if someone strums a guitar and screams, “I want my MTV!” well then they’re certifiably insane. That starry-eyed vision of what used to be a network no longer exists.
My name is Julia Prescott and I’m too young to feel this old.
When I travel, it’s the food that excites me. At home I can suffice on the lowest of the low quality. But on vacay, I want to know what my travel destinado does best. I don’t care about the history or the museums, unless it’s a history of cupcakes museum or something. Then I’ll even donate to the historical society. Pismo doesn’t bullshit you with culture, and you can’t throw a seashell without hitting a restaurant/bar, so it’s my kind of town. They offer a wide variety of food options, all delicious, none of which are local to the area. New England Clam Chowder. Carolina Ribs. New York-style Pizza. Tacos. Pismo Beach – Where East meets Mexico.
The New England Clam Chowder is the most popular and I visited the most popular spot for it. Splash Cafe, ten-time consecutive champion of some mythical clam-off, serves their chowda in a sourdough bread-bowl that EVERYONE recommends, and seemingly EVERYONE throws out. I found this to be very wasteful. So I rinsed mine and brought it home with me.
I’m not going to say it was the greatest clam chowder I have ever tasted, because thus far in life I have not been keeping a running tally of clams I’ve eaten. I don’t put another notch on my bedpost every time I eat a clam. And at this point in my life, I only eat a clam if it’s truly special. Or if I’m truly drunk. Then, whatever. The more the clammier. Splash Cafe is not a clam to disrespect with a drunken soupy call. They make an excellent chowder worthy of an empty stomach and a clear mind.
It seems strange that Pismo Beach would specialize in New England Clam Chowder, but maybe it isn’t. It’s not like you can taste the essence of Boston in every bite no matter where you enjoy it. It’s a white cream soup with potatoes in it. New England can’t rightfully stake claim to that generric combination. After those essential ingredients, it’s all about the quality of the clam. Would you rather enjoy clams dug from the home of Morro Bay or Jason Bay? That’s a baseball joke, made expressly so I can now say this…
Speaking of baseball, it only took a few minutes of watching surfers along the Pismo Beach Pier to realize surfing is ten times more athletic baseball is. I was raised to believe it’s not a sport if there isn’t a ball involved. Well these surfers have balls up the wazoo. And you can’t be fat and surf, hence the baseball comparison. All it took was one fat man getting clobbered by one whopper of wave to drive that point home. Fatty went down HARD! He lived, so I laughed. It was his own fault. Like the skin-tight body suit wasn’t a giant flashing light telling him to find a different hobby. He’s got a new hobby now: Cleaning algae out of his sinuses.
Hanging out at the beach with a belly full of chowder is an experience incomparable to any other. I take that back. Ebola is similar. Ebola is kind of a poor-man’s chowder beach belly.
Later in the day I stopped to learn how salt-water taffy is made, because, why wouldn’t I? It’s fascinating. Ended up purchasing half an LB of chocolate-covered Gummi Bears also. If you know me then I don’t need to tell you how I feel about this find. And if you don’t, quit prying into my Gummi personal life.
Last SNL of the season tonight. Will Ferrell and Green Day. If you think I’m going to let some silly vacation come between me and that, you know me even worse than those prying Gummi jerks. Here’s this weeks promo:
Back to LA tomorrow…I think. We’ll see.
My name is Ben and I blogged this.