University is the place for reality (via The Red & Black)

Posted on April 25, 2011

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This is my column that was published today. Totes counts as a post!

I can’t turn off reality.

It’s my weeknight highlight, my hunch to read spoiler alerts, my reason for taking a break from the chaos around me to peer into someone else’s life.

But as I sit with bated breath at panel results to see America’s voting record, I realize how far I’ve come as an audience member.

I was one of many who rejoiced to see a chef from Atlanta “Blais” a trail in “Top Chef” history.

And it seems like just last year I was “Aiken for Clay!”

But with the ebb and flow of pop culture puns, so too have come those 15 minutes of shameful fame for their reality star namesakes.

And that fame is often followed by a fade back into obscurity.

Remember Omarosa? Or when Flava Flav wasn’t the only one to “Love New York?”

Even though we still brag about Athens’ own “Real World” alumni, we’ve come light-years since the pilot of “Survivor” premiered and a pre-“Silver Fox” Anderson Cooper hosted “The Mole.”

“Reality” has evolved into different forms: competition, lifestyle, scripted and Z-list celebrity diaries that feed our own aspirations for fame. Television is the epicenter of our entertainment world.

But as these “realities” — melodramas and shocking destinies controlled by producer intervention — have become so popular, I’ve started to see a superior entertainment value in the unscripted world around me.

It seems my life as a University student has become grounds for a new type of series.

Think “Jersey Shore” meets “The Hills” meets a groundbreaking nonfiction version of “Greek.”

For starters, our title as the nation’s No. 1 party school isn’t unfounded.

If you replace the fist pumping to techno beats with table dancing to country, and Snooki poofs with pageant hair, you’ve got the University of Shore-gia.

And with a campus rife with HOPE-mobiles, aspiring fashionistas and sorostitutes who quote Lauren Conrad on Facebook, we could easily move Laguna Beach drama below the Mason-Dixon.

Bid day, the Greek community’s outrageous version of Freaknik, would be a sight for the silver screen.

And on many occasions, I’ve gone to a frat party and felt like a walking cliché.

Students could even provide material for location shooting, such as Frat Beach during Georgia-Florida weekend.

Or over spring break in Key West, where rickshaw taxis made shackers’ morning walks a little less shameful.

Considering the relationship between said Greeks and the hipsters who bring their own ironic flare, Athens could bring a new dynamic to television tension.

And there are the exceptions to the stereotype rules — those Greeks and hipsters who do coexist. Therein lies the popcorn-worthy stuff. It’s not every night a viewer can tune in to see a bow tie and a rat tail in the same frame.

Scenarios reminiscent of “The Bachelor” could pepper these story lines, too.

University women’s cutthroat pining for a single suitor isn’t inaccurate, especially since women outnumber men on the University campus, according to The New York Times (“The new math on campus,” Feb. 5, 2010).

And when a friend who was preparing to go on a helicopter date asked me what to wear, my only point of reference was the cocktail dresses women wore when competing for Bachelor Brad’s affection.

“People do this in real life?” I asked her.

I guess that’s the point of it all.

Instead of laughing at a contestant’s levels of crazy, widening my eyes at what remains of Bruce Jenner’s original face or providing my own social commentary on child rearing in a polygamous marriage, maybe I should reset my programming.

Maybe I should say “Auf Wiedersehen” to my remote control. Maybe I should try harder to enjoy the characters in my own absurd life.

And maybe, if I’m feeling ambitious one day, I should start brainstorming “Buckman” puns.

After all, at this University, it may not be long before the spotlight hits.

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Posted in: College life, UGA