Thursday, March 18, 2010

Celebreality Bites

On Sunday, curiosity got the best of me. As much as I despise Donald Trump (and the dead animal he calls his hair), I just had to see his latest installment of The Apprentice because of Cyndi Lauper, Sharon Osbourne, and the impeached former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich. In fact, it was mostly because of Blagojevich that I tuned in. The man does not belong on a reality show in a desperate attempt to rehabilitate his image. He belongs in JAIL! It used to be where a politician considered doing any television to be beneath the dignity of the office. Then Nixon did Laugh-In. Clinton played his sax on Arsenio. Bush and Gore had separate dates with the Oprah Winfrey Show. John McCain wielded a light saber and compared himself to Luke Skywalker. And of course, President Barack Obama is considered a superstar who was compared to Paris Hilton by a jealous McCain. Disgraced former Congressman Tom DeLay showed his Texas two-step on Dancing With the Stars. Now we have Blagojevich, trying to charm his way into the Trump's good graces. What's next? John Edwards airing his pornographic video tape on the Playboy Channel?

It has been a weird month of TV. I was quite stunned that Madonna was on The Marriage Ref giving out marital advice. Madonna? The twice divorced cougar whose current beau is a 23 year old guy (born after she became famous in 1983)!!! Flashback to 1983...critics fell in love with Cyndi Lauper (she had the much better debut album) while believing that Madonna was a flash in the pan. Who knew the Material Boy Toy had the smarts to evolve and keep herself in the public eye? She's the master of reinvention, while Cyndi seems stuck in a time warp. However, based on my impression of Cyndi over the years and especially seeing her on Celebrity Apprentice, she seems genuinely nice. She's the epitome of a Bohemian chick and I was especially glad to see her defend friend Rosie O'Donnell to a nasty Trump (they're still feuding? Gosh, I forget what started it all). Its interesting to look at the trajectory of those two women who appeared on the music scene the same year. Now, they are both appearing on a "reality" show, though Madonna has been far more successful in music.

The problem I have with both The Celebrity Apprentice and The Marriage Ref is the level of nastiness. I don't think this is a good sign for our society. In fact, I think both shows reveal the decline of American civiliation. The four feuding couples presented on The Marriage Ref are purely for mass consumption. The guest panel of celebrity "judges" don't seem nearly as interested in solving the dispute as one-upping one another with funny quips. Despite the heavy advertising push during the Olympics, I believe this show has an extremely short surface life. I was bored after two couples' feuds were presented. May the show die a quick death! Madonna is not a credible person to judge anyone else's marital dispute (especially after wrecking A-Rod's marriage and moving on to cradle robbing).

The Celebrity Apprentice is far worse, though. It shows capitalism at its worst: cutthroat savagery. Trump divided the group into two teams: the men versus the women. They were each tasked with running two different diners in Manhattan during the lunch hour rush. The money was all for various non-profit organizations. Whoever raised the most would get the entire amount raised by both diners. There's nothing wrong with healthy competition, but when the losing team failed to raise nearly as much as the winning team, the Donald wanted a scapegoat to fire. The ladies were too nice, not wanting to put all the blame on someone. Because this show requires someone getting fired each week, though, someone had to take the fall. We saw the ugly side of Donald Trump and his cutthroat capitalistic style. After watching him in action, all I can say is that he is EVIL. I knew there was a reason why I never liked him. He has no compassion at all. It would suck to be one of his children. I don't like how he failed to give credit to the ladies for the work they did in raising money for charity. They wanted to make things affordable for real people to have a meal and actually meet famous people. The big donors likely have celebrity friends. Really...who has the money to pay $1,500 for a hamburger?!?

The most interesting aspect of the show was how Blagojevich comes across. He's clearly seen talking to customers at the diner about his personal woes and insisting on his innocence. He seems like a major ass. And a narcissistic one at that! When the Trumpster confronted him about talking to customers about his personal situation, Blagojevich actually tried to play it off. He's an unconvincing liar. He behaves like a boy who got his hand caught in the cookie jar. Listen, Blago...Joan Rivers' hamburger was cold because you were chatting up customers about your innocence. That's unprofessional. If anyone deserved the chopping block, its Blagojevich. However, I have a feeling that he might be on there for a longer duration simple for the sheer entertainment value. The longer he's on the show, the more nails that are driven into the coffin of his political career (he actually saw himself as a future presidential candidate!). I don't see what possessed him to think that being on a reality show would resuscitate his public image. Not going to happen. He's this season's Omarosa.

As I watched the show, I got a sick feeling in my stomach. This is exactly how our corporate capitalist economy operates. There's no compassion in our country anymore. The values of greed, endless competition (with the threat of being fired if you don't beat the other person), and constant schemes to fleece working class people of their money are values that I want no part of. Our economic system does not have to be this way. There are alternatives to capitalism that do not involve communism or socialism. The economic system I support would place a premium value on cooperation, innovation, ethical behaviour, sustainability, and improving the quality of life. Cutthroat capitalism hasn't gotten us anywhere. Does anyone really think America is better off in 2009 than it was in 2000? In the past decade, Americans pretty much got Enron'd!

What's even worse is seeing how many people who claim to be Christian advocating such a savage economic system. Its the result of our Cold War brainwashing that associated communism with atheism and capitalism with Christianity. Under the dualistic thinking encouraged by Christianity, most Americans believe wrongly that if you are not a capitalist, then you must be a communist. Take it from me, though. I reject both ideologies. What I want to see is a new ETHICONOMY emerge. There needs to be a financial incentive to encourage people to be cooperative, charitable and ethical. And yes, I think greed should be a capital offense. Its the only way to strike fear into the hearts of a cutthroat capitalist.

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