Wednesday, December 2, 2009

So You Want to Be in Pictures?

I read an article in the New York Times this weekend in which the writer estimated that in any given year, ten thousand reality-show contestants (actors?) grace our television screens. Ten thousand? I think that’s a conservative estimate.

As you faithful Stiletto readers know, I have partaken of a few reality shows myself. My son and I enjoy Survivor immensely and look forward to sitting together under a blanket (it’s almost winter here and I refuse to put up the heat until absolutely necessary) and criticizing each contestant’s game play. Then we talk about how long we would last on the show. (Me? One episode. Him? He’d win.) And I admit, I do enjoy the “Real Housewives of Whatever City They’re In” if only to bask in the glory that is my own lack of self-absorption and over-spending. The entire family enjoys The Amazing Race and have a new-found love for the Harlem Globetrotters after watching Big Easy and Flight Time run a very nice race against some very nasty competitors. We were sorry to see them go this past Sunday night because Big Easy couldn’t rearrange five letters to spell “FRANZ.” Oh, well.

By the way, if I ever make the Harlem Globetrotters, I would like my stage name to be “Paperback Writer.” I know—not original. But it’s better than “Can’t Make a Foul Shot” which is probably more appropriate.

All kidding aside, I have never had an urge to be a reality-show participant, but from what I glean from the Times article, I’m in the minority. That’s why it wasn’t a shock in one sense to read about the State Dinner crashers, a former Redskins cheerleader (if the wife is to be believed—no one on the Redskins’ cheerleading staff remembers her) and her equally fame-hungry husband. On what planet is it acceptable to crash a dinner at the White House? I guess if you’re dying to be recognized or to exploit your fifteen minutes of fame, it would be this planet.

There is so much wrong with this scenario that I hardly know where to begin. Breach of security? Check. Possible international incident? Check. Complete lack of class? Double check. In my humble opinion, I hope they are roasted like my Thanksgiving turkey when they sit before a select group of representatives tomorrow. And then, I hope they go to jail.

You want to be on television? Shoot a video and stick it on You Tube. Then, tell all of your friends to watch it and help you make it go “viral.” I assure you, some nightly news program will pick it up and televise it. Then you can live your lifelong dream of seeing yourself on the tube and we can all go back to our daily lives, secure in the knowledge that the Secret Service can focus on their job of protecting the President from the true crazies, not just the ones who think it would be a hoot to get on tv.

I wish I had something more cogent to say about these two knuckleheads, but as I am sitting here writing this, I realize that their actions raise more questions than I can answer in six hundred words. What has become of our country that people are so focused on achieving some kind of fame—however dubious—that they would put the President of the United States in jeopardy, not to mention his family and guests? They are an embarrassment to our country. I know that heads are going to roll for this stunt—and I’m not saying that they shouldn’t—from members of the Secret Service to select White House staff. I wonder how that makes the party crashers feel. You got your fifteen minutes of fame, but someone is going to lose their job during the holidays.

Well done, White House party-crashing wannabe reality stars. You’re famous. Or infamous…not that you care.


Maggie Barbieri


  1. Love Survivor and the Amazing Race. My granddaughter and hubby are going to try out for the Amazing Race as soon as they are sure their grandparents (my d-i-l and hubby) are up to coping with their 4 year old son for the time they will be gone. He's a handful. They also have a 6 year old daughter, but she's 6 going on 16. Genie, granddaughter, loves to bungie jump and all those scary things--her husband likes whatever she likes. If it ever happens, I'll let you know.


  2. I cannot understand the desire to be famous for being famous. For accomplishment, yes. That I can understand.
    By the way, I picked up your new book yesterday - I'm saving it for the weekend (with much anticpation.)

  3. Marilyn, do keep me posted.

    Janet, I hope you like the new book! (fingers crossed) Thank you for picking it up.


  4. Except for one day a year or two ago when I was sick on my couch and I watched a marathon of Real Housewives of NY episodes and seeing a few stray episodes of other Real Housewives in the couple of months following that, I don’t watch any reality shows. Truly, the use of the word “reality” for these things takes a big set, if you get my meaning. They are vulgar, tacky, exploitative, mean-spirited, and they make my skin crawl.

    Since I can’t really contribute much to this main theme of the discussion and Maggie’s (yet again) beautifully written blog, I wanted to mention the following, which I coincidentally just heard on Fareed Zakaria’s GPS show from the past weekend: statistics, most of them from Google’s CEO, Eric Schmidt, show that about 90% of people enjoy and want to tell and share everything about themselves. This was cited to illustrate why Google and other applications that allow info sharing along the lines of FaceBook, Twitter, friend-tracking, etc. are so popular in our culture. Ninety percent! It’s official, I’m in the minority sliver.

    I think that sort of desire to have everyone be in on your life, be it banal or thrilling that day, is directly related to the misplaced effort and desire to be famous/seen/heard. It’s very human to want to be heard and understood (another theory of mine is that this is why writers are often held in awe: we can communicate and make ourselves understood). The problem these days is that people are settling for being lazy and faking the first part of that, the part of being noticed, while ignoring the part of accomplishing anything worth notice.

    Oh, and I too think this stupid couple who crashed the WH dinner should be squashed like bugs by the legal system. We cannot have the model out there that you can pull this sort of selfish and ignorant stunt and not pay dearly for it. I had a dream that no one would pay up the half million these twits were asking to tell their story, but I know my US media and figured I should wake up and stop dreaming. Anyone else noticed how more and more our news and information media have turned into low-rent “reality shows”?

  5. Anjali Kapoor-DavisDecember 2, 2009 at 2:15 PM

    Nicely written Maggie and Vicky.

    Anjali in California

  6. I completely agree! Those two boneheads need to go to jail for what they did, if only to set an example. I think it's insane the lengths people will go to achieve notoriety (because that's all it is). Kids hurt themselves and others; grown women act like brainless boobs and hookers; and men eat bugs, lie, and cheat. It's like watching constant train wrecks, and it's become our national pastime. Ugh. I remember when grade schoolers used to want to be astronauts, firemen, or teachers...and now, according to many surveys, they just want to be (yes) "famous." Okay, rant over. You put it much better than I did, Maggie!

    Susan (feeling very rant-inclined today after a dust-up with one of my doctor's assistants...grrrr!)

  7. I watch Survivor with my husband. I watch America's Next Top Model because I like to see beautiful skinny girls being critisized (this is where size 10 is plus size -- puh leeze). I think that's it.
    I completely don't understand the urge to be famous or be on a tv show.
    And the WH crashers are pathetic. Give them a huge fine and community service and let them fade into obscurity where they belong.

  8. I am addicted to reality shows. Amazing Race is one of my favorites but I thought that this year's edition was not as good as other years.

    Now I want to see if Russell can win Survivor.

    Helen Kiker