TV 101: Celeb-Security (OR: Another fool-proof plan to save the world!)
So while most of the big media outlets focus on silly, soon-to-be-solved problems like "the economy." I've moved on to bigger and better things. In fact, I believe I have found the number one problem facing the next president and some practical advice on how he might be able to fix it. This is a problem that affects democrats and republicans, the rich and the poor, the old and the young, the black and the white. I'm talking, of course, about...
Yes, Screech. Let me explain:
Screech is emblematic of the saddest kind of celebrity: the famous person without money. We're conditioned not just by our society, but by our language to believe that once you achieve fame, money is sure to follow. You don't just dream about being rich or being famous, you dream about being "rich and famous." It's like chocolate and peanut butter; you can't separate the two.
There are a lot of reasons why a famous person might not be rich. He might have misspent his fortune early, when it seemed like the money would never stop coming in (think any rapper on MTV: Cribs); he might have had parents who "managed" him into the poorhouse (like Gary Coleman); he might have invested poorly (like Ed McMahon); or he might be a boxer (see: any boxer). No matter what the reason, a lot of celebrities manage to lose all or most of their money.
If any of us non-famous people were to achieve a fortune and then lose it, we would probably do the honorable thing: flee our negative equity by abandoning our home and then start new lives for ourselves in Mexico. What we would not do is clog up trade shows by making "personal appearances" or go to fan conventions and charge sad, lonely people $20 for an autographed picture. Most especially, however, we would not begin appearing on reality shows.
But famous people? That's what they do. In fact, by looking at VH1's lineup, it appears that's all they do. There seems to be no ceiling on stupid when it comes to pitching celebrity-based reality shows. Lets get fat celebrities skinny! Let's train hasbeens and neverweres to do magic! It's like a circus, except instead of freaks, we'll have former sitcom stars! Everybody loves professional wrestling and everybody loves Screech, so let's make something happen where Screen professionally wrestles!
I'm beginning to think that a lot of these are pitched as a joke and then when they're bought, the producers have to go scrambling to make it happen.
"Crap! They actually want the Screech wrestling thing! I know, I can't believe it either. Well call his agent and see if he's available." [laughter] "In the meantime, let's go back and pitch... oh, I don't know, a show where Mr. Belding and Erin Moran have to team up to kickbox a stingray. There's no way they'll buy that."
I write for this website because I love television. As Homer Simpson once described it: "Television! Teacher, mother, secret lover." I assume most of you feel the same why I do: Celeb-Reality is a blemish on television's pretty face. If the original Surreal Life could be compared to Cindy Crawford's mole -- an imperfection that makes the rest of television look even more beautiful -- then the current lineup on VH1 is like the giant melanoma hanging off of the principal Uncle Buck had to meet with.
And, like Uncle Buck, I'd like to tell VH1: Here's a quarter. Go downtown, and have a rat gnaw that thing off your face! Good day to you, madam.
We need to fix this problem. For the love of TV and all the good it can offer us, we need to fix this problem.
As I see it there are only three ways to get these shows off the air:
1. Get the network to stop showing them. This is impractical because of economics; as long as people watch something, it'll be on the air.
2. Get people to stop watching the show. Impractical because people are stupid. And I mean, really stupid. As George Carlin once said, "Think about how stupid the average person is and then realize that half the people in the world are stupider than that."
3. Get the celebrities to stop appearing on the show.
That, my friends, is the solution. See, the only reason famous people are willing to humiliate themselves on VH1 is because they're not as rich as their fame indicates they should be. Since they don't have any other skills, they're always up for whatever VH1 has in mind. If they were rich, though, they could afford to say no. That would stop these shows from existing and that would make the world a better place.
So this is what I'm suggesting: Celeb-Security. Once you reach a certain degree of fame (say, more than 30% of the general population can recognize you), the government automatically gives you a check for $1 million a year. If your level of fame is high enough, you get the check in perpetuity, no questions asked.
At first blush it seems both expensive and extreme. Could an investment in Celeb-Security really pay out in the long run? Consider:
1. No more Celeb-Reality shows. This frees up the networks to air things that actually have substance. The resulting increase in neuron-firing by audience members leads to big technological breakthroughs that help spur the economy.
2. The celebrities won't just hoard the money -- remember, they're broke for a good reason -- they'll spend it! Like water! According to Reagan, supply-side economics -- does anyone know what Vice President Bush called this in 1980? Anyone? Something d-o-o economics. 'Voodoo' economics -- fixes all of a country's problems. You can be assured that anybody working in the jet-ski or giant aquarium industry will benefit greatly from this investment. That money will trickle down to the rest of us!
3. It doesn't take a genius to see that the current world order, characterized as it is by violence and mistrust, has risen up at the exact same time as Celeb-Reality shows. You need only apply simple logic to see that if we were to eliminate these shows from the air, the result would be world-wide peace and understanding. If that's not worth a few hundred million dollars a year, then what is?
I know that a lot of my plans to make the world a better place have been described as "radical" or "stupid". I feel that this time, though, I've really hit a homer. But, there's only so much I can do: if you want to help fix the problem of Celeb-Reality, you need to get out and be heard. You need to rock the vote! You need to contact your representatives in congress and tell them this is the problem we need to hear about in 2008!
Together we can change the world.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to go watch Celebrity Stingray Kickboxing on VH1.