The evil truth about reality stars like Snooki and The Situation

I marvel at how people like Snooki and The Situation and the Kardashian sisters are famous, or infamous, though they wouldn’t know the difference if you flew in a Harvard linguist professor to explain it to them every morning.

Snooki has a book deal. The Kardashian sisters have clothing lines and money coming out of their ears.

The joker who calls himself The Situation in on track to earn $5 million this year.

I have witnessed episodes from the first season of Jersey Shore by using the power of the internets, and I have come to an epiphany.

These people are not making scads of money, scoring book deals and dancing badly on “Dancing With A Few Stars and A Bunch of Other Schmucks” in spite of their obvious handicaps in the areas of brains and common sense.

Just up the road from the beaches of New Jersey are thousands of people on Broadway who can sing, dance and act. Many of them are gorgeous. In every way, they are clearly superior to the reality stars picked by producers to invade our lives. So why aren’t they making $5 million a year and getting on the covers of all the tabloids?

Let it be known: These reality stars are not chosen and elevated in spite of their lack of common sense. They are famous precisely BECAUSE OF this very flaw.

Normal, well-adjusted people are boring. They don’t make for exciting television.

If a film crew followed you or me around for 24 hours, they wouldn’t get footage of four random hookups, two screaming matches and a bar fight. They’d get film of us driving to work, doing our jobs and fighting traffic on the way home to have dinner. If you’ve got pookies, maybe you take them to soccer or baseball or whatever. If you’re young and single, maybe you catch Arcade Fire if they’re in town.

You would not spend three hours showering, spray tanning and doing your hair to get ready to go clubbing, then get into a bar fight.

You would not steal your roommates latest girlfriend, as they have been a steady item for at least 48 hours, which is a record. You would not drink all of the booze in the house and call your father at 3 a.m. while you were crying and whining about your boyfriend being pissed about that fact that you slept with a roommate or three.

You would not not order pizza and tell the pizza man that your last name is Situation and your first name is The.

And therefore you do not have, and will never have, a reality show. So there.

###

This is Guy Bergstrom the writer, not the Guy Bergstrom in Stockholm or the guy in Minnesota who sells real estate or whatever. Separate guys. Kthxbai.

Guy Bergstrom. Photo by Suhyoon Cho.

Reformed journalist. Scribbler of speeches and whatnot. Wrote a thriller that won some award (PNWA 2013). Represented by Jill Marr of the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency.

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6 Comments

Filed under 7 Media Strategy Saturday, Journalism, publicity and scandals, Old Media, which is still Big and Strong

6 responses to “The evil truth about reality stars like Snooki and The Situation

  1. Pingback: Top 10 Myths of Journalism School | The Red Pen of Doom

  2. I only watch Anderson Cooper occasionally, the Weather Channel, NASA, South Park, and TVG. If I could just get news, weather and horse racing without cable I would…

    I’ve no idea who these people you speak of are and they are so scarily depicted by your succinct words that I would be afraid to watch whatever show they are on. Behold me ecstatic in my ignorance of reality TV.

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  3. Hmmm. I would have to respectfully disagree. And I’m going to have a rare serious moment here, so watch out. It will be over very quickly. Like the fame of these reality stars.

    I think the biggest reason that these reality stars are stars is that they are exactly like the average American person. They have flaws and foibles. They are relatively strange and untalented. There is nothing earth-shattering about them.

    The only thing that makes the Kardashians and The Situation stand out from the crowd is that they somehow managed to get suckered into letting cameras follow them around. I think that a lot of Americans are exactly this weird and this shallow and this utterly pathetic. And that is why the collective culture so embraces them.

    The Situation is the unfortunate Everyman of the 21st Century. I know people who watch Jersey Shores and The Kardashians not because they are a spectacle, but because they get what is being put down. They may not have bazillions of dollars, but they are exactly like them in every way that counts.

    Many educated, upper-middle-class people of any race/ethnicity/religion (of which I consider myself to be part–I have a white collar job, two Master’s degrees, and will someday get an inheritance that is relatively sizeable) would love to believe that everyone in this country is like them. But the simple fact is: they’re not. Most of the country are like Snookie and The Situation, without the fame. If you go to a random bar in middle America, spend any time in public schools (at any level), or troll MySpace for awhile, you will see this.

    The real thing that sets The Situation and Snookie apart from the crowd is that they’ve managed to make money off of being seven separate kinds of stupid. Most of the country continues to do it for free.

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  4. This is true.

    When I teach media and politics, the students always start out with the lovely, idealistic perception that the media is supposed to educate you – that it is their job to ensure that you, as a human being, are aware of the information you need, and that information should be provided free of bias or agenda.

    Yeah. Because media isn’t a for-profit enterprise which thrives on bringing the stories that have people clicking for updates because it’s like watching a train wreck. Or maybe it IS watching a train wreck. The media is the circus part of our bread and circus program. They will cover whatever will get them ratings and bring in the bucks. Similarly, they’ll show us whatever brings in the bucks.

    I will admit to being something of a reality snob. The only “reality” show I watch (aside from the Discovery Channel’s Dirty Jobs) is Dancing with the Stars. For me the appeal there is watching stars that haven’t a lick of dancing ability bust their butt, figure out that it’s hard work, and really actually grow as people. Watching Kelly Osbourne was like watching a butterfly get her wings. It was absolutely mesmerizing and beautiful to see how she just BLOOMED (mixed metaphor) over the course of the show. Last season, Erin Andrews regained her confidence and joy. This season, Margaret Cho is digging beneath her comic facade to find out some things about herself. And, btw, The Situation (along with Audrina Patridge of the Hills) is on DWTS this season – and he, too, is learning that it’s actually work.

    Also btw, I suspect this is why you will never see a certain type of reality star on DWTS – it involves actual physical work.

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    • Rebecca

      Elise nailed it, I think, and so did you, Oh Epic Black Car Guy. The news isn’t a classroom and Reality TV is rather moronic, for the most part. I don’t watch Dancing With The Stars or any other “reality” show for the most part because escaping into that faux reality isn’t actually all that entertaining.

      Like

      • I don’t know who you are, Rebecca the Zookeeper-Feeling Person, but you are funny, and I hope you are an actual zookeeper, and know how to frolick with tigers without being eaten, and to train dolphins to spit on people you don’t like on command, because that would be cool.

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