January 09, 2004

Now it can be told.

This break I've been soaking up all the things I don't have, in any traceable amount, back in New York: home-cooked food, a big bed, video games, television. The moments when I've been able to combine at least three out of four have been among some of the happiest of my weeks here. I have spent an inordinate amount of time in front of the tube, and an inordinate portion of that time has been spent watching MTV. There was a period there where we couldn't bitch and moan enough about MTV lost all its music videos and all its integrity, even though most of us weren't alive when MTV played strictly videos, and no one was alive when it had integrity. (oh DISS.) We were totally missing the point.

In the stead of music videos, MTV has put a stable of consistently exploitative and brain-dead reality shows that could not be more fucking entertaining if they tried. (They reached their zenith with "Made" and "Making the Band 2" and I'll knife-fight anyone what says otherwise.) They are sick slick editing geniuses who know what exactly what they're doing and God love 'em for it. Tommy Hilfiger's daughter rendered incapable of happiness by a lifetime of uberprivilege, the male audience rendered incapable of arousal by her horse-faced best friend. Ex-Real World cast members shimmying up rickety product-placement obstacle courses teetering over swimming pools. Affeminate fat kids from Brooklyn being egged on to a third sit-up by steroidy drill sargeant types.

Who wins? The American viewing public.

Anyway, longwinded introduction can be summed up thusly: if MTV were a girl, I would sleep with it, as faux-vapid and secretly pragmatic as it, as a girl, would be, much like Bree in high school who we all suspected would leave her business card after she'd fucked you.

They have this new show, "Boiling Points," which isn't divinely stupid, it's just stupid. They're playing it about eight times a day, like they do when they're trying to launch a new show, so you can catch the episode a friend has earlier described to you when you're eating warmed-over Italian food on the couch at three in the morning (Winter break ROOLZ, as the kids say.) A lot of the locations where they film their stunts, trying to get people to freak out at their epicly annoying behavior, at least in the one episode I've seen, are places I pass every day at school. This came as no surprise. Me and this show crossed paths, once. And the results were as unpretty as they were anticlimatic.

Dig:


It's an afternoon which will seem more dramatically significant if I describe it as the last beautiful afternoon of the year, and I won't feel bad about it, because in my memory, it was. I'm waiting on a bench in the park, underneath trees whose branches sustain an orange-jacketed tree surgeon (yes, they have those) who shouts to his partner down below. I'm waiting for Emilie to come out of her dorm so we can bum around in the park before I have rehearsal in the final hours of this most gorgeous of days. Dan calls me. Dan is Emilie's childhood friend and my friend by way of both of the comedy troupes I'm in; he's the film director in Hammerkatz, the sketch comedy group. Dan says it's urgent, come to Tisch right away. Tisch is where I'm going at six after the park. I don't want to go to Tisch right now. I want to lay in the park with a pretty girl. But, spurred by the supposed urgency and depressed and ever the maker of regrettable decisions, I go.

I get up to AJ's office (AJ is the director of Hammerkatz) expecting someone to be on the floor bleeding. Nothing less will justify robbing me of my potential afternoon. As nerdy comedy folk, we don't really deal in injured bodies, though, so I decide I'll be satisfied with the unfunny third beat of a sketch on the floor, bleeding. It's not.

Dan and AJ excitedly gather AV equipment and explain that MTV is filming one of their retarded hidden-camera shows at a restaurant right around the corner. They give you what are purported to be free appetizers, then they charge you for them. If you don't flip out you get a hundred bucks. Their big idea is pranking the pranksters: we'll film Dan as he not only flips out but goes legitimately psychotic, see what happens, then we'll reveal ourselves as having been taping them, then we'll yell "Cheese it!" and run away in a large and exaggerated silent film fashion (This last part is my contribution.) We'll show the tape, if this works, at our next show. I am to go in in advance of Dan, camera in my backpack, sit down behind where they've set up, while AJ gets shots from across the street.

Okay, I say, and we go downstairs lugging several thousand dollars of audio-visual paraphenalia.

Apparently the poorly-disguised production van out front with cables running into the restaurant isn't giving it away, and neither is the producer's table at which the recently gotten sign releases allowing their pissed-off faces on TV. Just as I sit down, a customer throws a shrieking fit at the cast member and is about to drag her boyfriend out when she's told she's being taped. She jumps up and down triumphantly. They lead her over to the table. Dan walks in just as this is happening. We're made.

He calls me from the bathroom. There's no chance of them trying the same thing on him, they just saw him walk in. There's nobody else we can call to come down and freak out. We're so made. We leave, any and all chances of besting MTV and shouting "Cheese it!" and any hope of salvaging my afternoon dashed.

I have AJ take my backpack back to Tisch; unbeknownst to be the camera's still running inside. I go and get a soda before rehearsal starts.

So if you're watching "Boiling Points" in the weeks to come and you spot a long-haired blonde kid sitting awkwardly behind that annoying girl with big camera glasses, reading Chekov, camcorder maybe jutting from his backpack, that's me. I told you it was anticlimatic. Unlike the bitch goddess of reality television, I have the decency to warn you before I subject you to something.

Posted by DC at January 9, 2004 03:26 AM
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