This is the true story of 750 Penn students applying to be on TV and have their lives taped. Find out what happens when Quakers relive the dorm experience for a national audience... Last Saturday, representatives from MTV's The Real World came to Mad 4 Mex in search of cast members for their 11th season. Despite its ubiquitous reputation and the current swarm of "reality" television, for most, The Real World will remain the paradigm of life-based entertainment. And for good reason -- as most of us have witnessed, the show has produced moments that add up to what producers like to call "great television." Who can forget David pulling the covers off of Tami in L.A., Puck's eviction from the house in San Francisco or Steven slapping Irene in the face in Seattle? Hopefully, the 10 individuals who made it to the second round -- and everyone else on that line -- realized that they were applying to sacrifice their identity for the entertainment of their MTV-watching peers. The entire premise of The Real World situation poses an interesting question: Is it worth trading in one's privacy, personality and time in exchange for mid-range celebrity and the opportunity to be judged by people who see you for six minutes a week? I'll be the first to admit that I love watching the show, but I think the people who go on it are idiots. At least half of them come back for banal time-fillers such as the Real World/Road Rules Challenge, which means to me that they aren't occupied by too many other activities. A handful are "lucky" enough that they get invited back to be MTV veejays. Another handful hate the experience, and hopes to distance themselves from their relationship with the show entirely. Does anyone really think it is worth abandoning his or her personality in order to become a character for this show? You could be one of the most complex and interesting people in the world, but if nine seasons (and their countless reruns) have taught me anything, it's the following -- every person on The Real World fits a character mold. If you're gay or lesbian, you're The Gay One. If you happen to practice -- and observe faithfully -- a particular religion, you're The Catholic or The Mormon. You can also choose from being The Ethnic One, The Virgin, The Bimbo/HimBo or (my personal favorite) The Really Annoying One. In a world so conscious of stereotyping and bigotry, a show many of us grew up with has no problem easily categorizing people into recognizable caricatures, even if those caricatures neglect to include many different aspects of the individual's personality. Take a moment to think about your life at college so far, and all the things you've done. The night you passed out in the Quad bathroom hugging the toilet. The fights you've gotten in with roommates, hallmates or friends. The hookups you wish never happened, and the subsequent walks of shame. Now, imagine you had a camera in your face the whole time. Imagine your grandmother, first grade teacher and potential employer watching you do all of those things. Now, that makes for "great television." Our culture places a high value on celebrity. And a lot of people -- at least 750 of you -- are willing to do a lot of things in exchange for even the mediocre celebrity associated with being a cast member on the set of The Real World. Ultimately, our generation is willing to go to any extreme in order to have people recognize us and have the opportunity to be on television. People are willing to hand their very lives over to producers, and allow them to shape who the world thinks they are -- all in exchange for a sliver of fame. I'm sure next year, when The Real World returns to recruit at Penn, the turnout will be even higher. And I wish everyone who tries out luck, along with those who made it to the next round. It's a hard job to be a celebrity and allow other people to determine who you are. But hey, someone has to make "great television," and why shouldn't it be you? Just pray that they don't cast you as The Bitch.Comments powered by Disqus
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