Friday, January 23, 2009

Reality TV Isn't All Fluff and Nonsense

Okay, I admit to being a fan of reality television. SOME reality television. I don't watch every show that comes down the pike. But startling in January, I'm glued to the TV on Tuesdays and Wednesdays as the latest batch of American Idol contestants vie for the title. I've also been known to watch America's Next Top Model (I blame my teenaged daughter for this one), Project Runway, and So You Think You Can Dance.

A new VH1 reality show caught my eye recently: Confessions of a Teen Idol. I admit to watching the first episode of this show because back in the day, I was crushing hard on a couple of these guys and was interested to see how they turned out. The show isn't at all what I expected and has, frankly, surprised me with its intelligence and emotional depth. I find myself relating to these "has-beens" who are trying to figure out if they have what it takes to make a comeback and if they're really ready to make the sacrifices required of them for that all elusive fame. Why do I relate? Because their journey isn't unlike that of a writer seeking publication.

As I said, these guys have to make sacrifices to achieve their dream, some of the sacrifices are big ones. Name me one writer, published or not, who hasn't given up something important – like money, time, and family obligations – to write or attend a conference or enter a contest or take a class. What's the old saying? Nothing worthwhile is easy.

These guys are also putting themself out there each week, opening themselves up to frequently painful criticisms and critiques. They know if they are going to make it in the industry, they will have to develop, or in their cases, re-develop, thick skins. Don't we writers do that as well? We enter contests and receive harsh comments from judges. We get rejection letters by the barrel. We endure cutting and cruel reviews or posts on blogsites, trashing our books. It hurts. But we do for the glory of being published.

This past week, the seven guys were sent out on an audition for a hair product commercial. Three of them refused the opportunity, citing that commercials were basically beneath them. The other four did audition, realizing that at this stage in their careers , they weren't in any position to be choosy about what roles they took. Afterwards, one of them was awarded the part. He was ecstatic, and I was ecstatic for him. From small successes we can build bigger ones. I have basically conducted my entire writing career using this stepping stone method. It's served me well so far, and I hope it will eventually lead me to the top of the hill.

The four guys who auditioned didn't let their egos get in the way of their ambitions, and I predict they will each make some sort of comeback. I also believe writers have to do the same to be successful. We have to think we're good enough, or we have the courage needed to mail off that first submission. But we also can't afford to be prima donas. At least, not in the early stages of our careers or, like these guys, when we're on the downside of our careers.

Yeah, it's true. Another reason I like watching the show is because these guys still look good for their ages. Hotness isn't restricted to youth (grin!).

Go reality television!!

Cathy Mc

1 comment:

Lee McKenzie said...

I love American Idol! It's the only "reality" show I watch, although I did tune into Dancing with the Stars a year or so ago when Marlee Matlin was a contestant. She danced so beautifully, even though she couldn't hear the music. So inspiring.