And earlier today, Timothy McVeigh's execution was moved back to June 11th. Ahhhhh. You know, I love a June execution.
Or better yet, let's forget June. Let's put it in sweeps week. Just imagine what an ad would go for. You think I'm kidding? Trust me, if General Motors thought it would move vehicles off its dealers' lots, they would sponsor a live TV broadcast of Timothy McVeigh's execution. No doubt with some sort of tasteful product tie-in: "Folks, if you thought that injection was lethal, check-out the fuel injection in the all new 300-horsepower Cadillac Escalade"
Now I don't want to get off on a rant here, but what does it say about our culture when the most escapist form of entertainment is currently called "reality" television?
In the past, most networks tended to dabble delicately in the arena of reality tv, but lately, they've been going for it like a hungry mutt on an ass-flavored Milkbone.
One of the longest-running reality shows is "Cops," every episode of which poses the burning question: "Why is that morbidly obese man not wearing a shirt?" At least digitally scramble his mantits, OK?
Then theres "The Real World." Based on the premise that living rent-free in a fabulous house on the beach with a bunch of attractive young people all the while being videotaped by an ever-present camera crew is in any way, shape or form "real." However, "The Real World" does provide us with the valuable insight that, like, when you buy, like, orange juice, you know, and somebody else, like drinks it without, you know, like, asking, that's, like, a personal violation? You know?
And I couldn't watch "Temptation Island" because from what I gather, it would have reminded me of one of my vacations when I was single. Remember when you planned to hit the island and fuck anything that movedand nothing moved?
"Survivor" is the gold standard of reality programming, and when this craze is over, appropriately, it will probably be the last one standing. I caught the season finale of "Survivor." Watching this poly-merized tribal ritual through the smoky tiki-torch kerosene-scented haze, just one thought crossed my mind: How come that Keith guy is 40 but looks like he's 90?
Now I realize that if I were to be a contestant on "Survivor," I would probably be one of the first to be voted off -- if not for my tendency to openly hate other people, then for the visual and emotional assault that is me in bicycle pants crying all the time. But my plan would be simple. As soon as the votes were tallied, and Jeff Probst gave me the bad news, saying, "The tribe has spoken," I'd say, "Oh yeah? Well fuck the tribe. I'm a 'Survivor!'" and I'd bolt into the jungle, only to emerge every night to pick the other contestants off one by one with poison darts. Then I'd start in on the crew.
The truth is that, although people see reality shows as their doorway to instant television celebrity, it's probably much harder to beat out the 35,000 other applicants vying for a spot on "Survivor" than it was for me to beat out the one other applicant trying to be the host of Dennis Miller Live. Though believe me, Lynn Redgrave did not go down without a fight. That is one scrappy lady.
Now they've started double-layering the reality shows. They've had everything from "Dateline" stories on "Big Brother" to the "Survivor" cast on "The Weakest Link." But you know something? I'm not sure they've taken it far enough. I wouldn't mind seeing that frigid dwarf chick from "Weakest Link", caught in nothing but her chainmail corset and size 2 jackboots, running down an alley from an immigration officer on a Fox special called "When Untalented Foreigners Get Hired."
But while I've got my bones to pick with it, I do think reality television has a deserved place in the roster of our nightly entertainment. In fact, I myself have several ideas for new shows in the genre. The first is called "You Gotta Be Shittin' Me," and it involves simply mounting video cameras atop gasoline pumps at stations throughout Southern California.
I'm also pitching an alternative to "When Good Pets Go Bad." It's called "Put the Goddamn Video Camera Down, Edna, and Yank This Mongoose off my Nutsack."
To make a long story short, the key thing to remember about this evolutionary stage in the television medium is that TV tends to eat its own. And in a classic example of plagiaristic television logic, the geniuses at NBC noticed that every successful reality show sparked its own catchphrase "Voted off the island," "Is that your final answer?" and so they decided that all they needed to make a hit out of "The Weakest Link" was to plaster the phrase "You are the weakest link" over so many billboards and bus-stops that it is now permanently burnt into my brain like that time I walked in on Star Jones at the Universal Amphitheater VIP bathroom. But you know what? You cannot build an entire show around a single, easily-remembered catch phrase, and assume that just because you repeat it week after week, people will ultimately attach some sort of profundity or wit to it, and clap like trained seals whenever they hear it. People are not that stupid. They're not going to fall for it, and it's simply not going to work.
Of course, that's just my opinion, I could be wrong.