Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Why Admiring Geordie Shore & Tallafornia Stars Makes You Less Of A Person...

Inspired by this column, by the ever-excellent Charlie Brooker.

Somewhere out there, a TV executive slightly missed the point of Jersey Shore...and it's revealed something very uncomfortably true* about society.

Don't be fooled by the hypocrisy in a television station called Music Television never playing music, the executives at MTV are very switched on. They know their audience. Without doing so, they never would have re-invented the reality TV genre with Jersey Shore.

He's like a modern day Fonzie...on steroids...
They spotted a gap in the market in capturing the lives of people so outrageously missing the point of existence and it proved to be immensely entertaining. Nobody in their right minds would aspire to be 'The Situation' or Snooki. We watch them because they are social anomalies. Political correctness may have dictated that 'The Freak Show' change its name and be shot in HD, but its business is as thriving in 2012 as it was in the 1800s. It's just gone undercover now.

And yet, somewhere in England, was a TV executive who, as an impressionable child, dreamed of being a movie star. The years weren't kind to them, though, as they realised that television was an incredibly fickle business, that the mass population were interested more in the ratio of fat around one's cheekbone than their Thespian credibility. You can rattle off Shakespearean soliloquies in your sleep, but if you can't make a horny teenage boy erect by merely blinking your eyes, then you just don't have what it takes. Fair or not, it's just how it is.

So they settled. Instead, they wore headsets and reassured mentally unstable people with rhythm and pitching issues that they were destined for stardom, coaxing them into humiliating themselves for the entertainment of millions. They wrote off the guilt by dwelling on their own lost dreams. They had to learn the hard way that they wouldn't become the next Brad Pitt or Angelina Jolie, so why should these people get advance warning?



He's been standing outside that trailer for 37 hours.
By night, they were generally too exhausted from a hard day's nutcase-coaxing to work on their unfinished screenplay. They were 5 pages into the first draft of it, but had the bones of an idea in their head that they knew was instant money. They'd get around to it one day. And then they turned on the TV and watched Jersey Shore while having a pot noodle for dinner.

Then it hit them: what word rhymes with Jersey? Geordie! That's where they live! They frantically reached for a notepad and wrote down the following notes (as discovered by extensive research within the bowels of my imagination):

"Jersey Shore...GEORDIE SHORE!

Idiots!

Sex!


Tans!

 ...Accents!

???

Profit!"

The saddest part is that somewhere in Ireland, that exact cycle repeated itself. Except this time it was probably with a work experience kid who'd spent three years working on godawful TV3 reality TV imports, likely for no pay, who at one stage had 'Galway Shore?' written on their notepad.

This exact show almost happened.

Realising that wasn't a goer, instead they just ripped off an ironic phrase rhyming a renowned rough area of Dublin with the beautiful landscape of California. They then pretended to have invented the phrase, 'Tallifornia', in the pitch to the executives who were too old to know better, or just didn't care. Everything on TV3 is ripped off something else anyway, so what does it matter? It's the thrashiest of thrash TV stations that not only laughs in the face of original thought, it spits in it. Spits in it while eating. So it spits chewed up pizza in the face of original thought.

The problem was that the above thought process was about all of the thought that was put into the shows before they were wheeled into production and had big marketing campaigns put behind them.

In the States, before shows go to air, they have thorough market research, an extensive casting call and audition process, tweaks to the format, shoots, re-shoots, test screenings, more tweaks, THEN a pilot show where it finally gets some feedback from 'real people'. After that there are tweaks to the tweaks based around the feedback, and if it gets the green light to continue, the above process is repeated until it finds a winning formula with the audience, or it is canned.

In Ireland, they either can't afford or won't pay for the crew for that kind of professional process, so they mass produce these shows by filming as much as possible in as short a space of time, then just hope for the best. The extent of the market research is a couple of unpaid interns watching the Twitter hashtag while the show airs, seeing what is trending, then just putting more of that person or story in the final edit of the next show. That is if, hopefully, that person didn't lose interest halfway through the filming process (as 'The Corminator' appeared to in Tallafornia).

The Corminator: god's gift to...smart arses like me who make fun of twats.
So with that massive gap in quality control for the shows, a wildly different end product emerges. And since we're suckers for consuming this absolute shite (myself included), the vision and reaction is wildly diluted. This is where I feel Mr Brooker slightly missed the point in the above article.

You see, for intelligent people like you or I, the idea of these shows is to laugh at people like this (as Brooker points out). And Jersey Shore was such a well-crafted show that you couldn't but do so. Nobody could take someone who's daily routine consisted of going to the gym, getting a tan, doing laundry, then saying the words "Yeeeaaahhh buddy" a lot, seriously. For a start, unless MTV are funding you to live this shell of a life, you need money to pay for the gym membership and the detergent at the very least. So it's just not realistic.

What Geordie Shore and Tallafornia have managed to do, however, is to dilute this message so that the less educated among us can relate to the characters involved. Monkey see, monkey do, and all that.

They see the Tallafornians living in a modest 3-bed semi-D in Kylemore (since TV3 can't afford a proper bachelor pad) and going out to The Wright Venue (because they're willing to pay TV3 money for the plug) and think, "That's something that normal people do! But they're on TV...they have muscles! I want to be on TV...I want to have muscles!"

She's the Queen Bebo Stunnah
And what do we have? All of a sudden the likes of Gaz and Charlotte from Geordie Shore, and Phil and Nikita from Tallifornia...are aspirational characters!

People may laugh and bitch about their antics, but instead of the laughing that we enjoy in Jersey Shore, where the entire charade is farcical, here it's almost that jealous type of laughing and bitching. The type of bitchy carry-on you might see as one girl 'accidentally' pours drink over another, better-looking girl in a nightclub on a Saturday night.

Here's the harsh reality, though (and I realise that I may be wasting my time here since anyone self-aware enough to click this link and read this far is probably already intelligent enough to realise this). Here's the reason you should NOT aspire to be like the cast of Geordie Shore or Tallifornia. Here's the reason you should NOT fill their vapid, empty-headed egos when they're booked down your local nightclub next Saturday to do a pretend, Paris Hilton-style DJ set. Here's why these people should absolutely NOT be held up as celebrities and receive anything but the laughter and mocking and negative attention that shows like this are designed to bring out:

Take Phil from Tallafornia, for example. Who I'm sure will read this about 15 minutes after I post it when he completes his hourly routine of Googling himself.

Sexy...like your 48-year old alcoholic uncle.

Surely he went into the show with delusions of grandeur that he was some kind of Playboy pin-up capable of wooing any woman into the leaba with a mere cheeky wink. And yet, the show's narrative quickly became about how, every night, Philly would come home and say, "Aw man, der wuz just no decent talent out der 2nite". That's right, he even talks in textspeak.

This is despite us seeing a 5-minute montage of Phil hanging out in the club, dancing to LMFAO and groping any woman that passed him by in a manner that would see him arrested on molestation charges if it was 6 hours earlier in the day.

His biggest conquest in the show was riding fellow 'co-star' Nikita, a woman who once bragged about her ability to fall into the mouth of 30-odd of Tallaght's most desperate men on a particular night. A woman so riddled that even staring into her eyes without blinking for a minute gives you herpes.

Try it. And if your crotch starts to itch don't say you weren't warned...

Now let's have a look at Phil's official Twitter page. This is where he attempts to touch base with his 'fanbase' (i.e. 2,000 followers. Not exactly Lady Gaga levels of stardom, but still) and remain relevant while the show is off-air. This is his chance to show the world that he was given a poor account by the editing of the show and is actually a complex human being filled with a plethora of intelligence and depth. Here's how he describes himself:

love man u,unbeaten come on united,jersey shore gtl baby,2 and a half men,rnb music,nikki benz and goin the gym :)

Oh. So the only additional thing we've learned from that is that he has a complex relationship with spelling and grammar. Or maybe he's more deep than that and his refusal to use capital letters, commas and apostrophes in their appropriate place is his way of sticking it to th...

Nah, who am I kidding. He's a thick, Jersey Shore wannabe who clearly just wanted to be a reality TV star so he could bang porno models like his favourite, gassed up R'n'B stars do in their music videos. He's admitted as much in his own description.

Basically, he's me when I was 13. Only he's forgotten to grow up.

Not only is this man's head so empty and void of any intelligent thought or grand scheme, his entire life is based around eating, sleeping and humping people. He's essentially a dog. Only I'd fancy Pudsey's chances if the two reality stars were ever paired off in an obstacle course.

Actually, think about it now, and give this some serious thought...who do you have more respect for:

Pudsey the Dancing Dog?
 Or...
Phil from Tallafornia

You respect the dog more, don't you?

So, realistically speaking, Phil and other wannabe reality stars are less respectable to the general public than a dog.

Yet, for the past couple of months, I've seen events like this pop up all over my Facebook feed:
http://www.facebook.com/events/226285967491792/

For those too lazy to look, it's Gaz from Geordie Shore appearing in a popular nightclub.

Unfortunately, being a DJ and having to stay in touch with the goings on of clubs, I'm then subjected to seeing pictures of these events fill up my feed afterwards. And they're selling out. People are essentially going to pay money, queue up, scream at, go weak at the knees for, other people who have the general intellect and self-respect of a less talented Pudsey.

Women want to have sex these men, and they get all threatened, jealous and bitchy about the women in these shows. Men start doing their hair, partaking in the GTL routine, plucking their eyebrows to look like them in case the women hopefully lower their expectations and settle for a wannabe of a wannabe of a wannabe.

Is that how low we've gone? Is that how little respect we have for ourselves?

I've no problem with Phil or people of his ilk, you may be surprised to hear. Good luck to them. They're horribly educated, sinfully thick, essentially overgrown teenagers, who live to be the punchline of the jokes of more sensible people...but if they're happy with that, then who am I to judge? It's the rest of us I'm worried for.

These people should be treated like dogs: not necessarily to be given dog's abuse, but looked upon like cute animals that do funny things sometimes. Curious distractions from real life. But just because a dog is cute or funny, it doesn't mean that you should want to be one.


*That's the first time I've ever done one of those self-referential nods to the name of this blog. I feel dirty, now, for having done so. It won't happen again.

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