I confess: "Teen Idols" terribly riveting, but mostly just terrible
If you can name four of the supposed "teen idols" from VH1's new Scott Baio-Jason Hervey reality abomination, well, evidently you had less of a life than me growing up. I got stumped at three -- Jeremy Jackson (far left prettyboy from "Baywatch"), Jamie Walters (dastardly "90210" Donna-thrower Ray Pruitt, who looks like he should be on "Prison Break" these days) and Eric Nies (the Jesus-looking vegan dude). I thought Adrian Zmed (second from right) looked more like Mike Myers, and I was totally clueless about the rest (Christopher Atkins of "The Blue Lagoon," David Chokachi of "Baywatch" and Bill Hufsey of "Fame" and "Days of Our Lives") until they were re-introduced to me courtesy of helpful little subtitles on last night's show.
Why did I watch, you ask? I have a soft spot for old "Real World" episodes, so something about another reality show with Nies (an original cast member on the MTV series) looking like the Second Coming must have triggered a Pavlovian reaction. Honestly, it just happened to be on, so I kept watching out of sheer morbid curiosity at who may have been dragged out of their parents' basement for the latest sleazy VH1 roll call. When Chachi and Hervey (that'd be Wayne from "The Wonder Years") showed up as hosts, I immediately cringed knowing full well how Baio's two previous "unscripted" VH1 shows played out.
Anyway, there isn't much depth to cover here. Only Jackson -- he was Hobie, Kid Hasselhoff -- and another displaced lifeguard, Chokachi, made, er, waves on the first episode. Jackson talked about being addicted to fame and everything that came with it, leading to a lengthy drug addiction and prison stay (the latter not for being on one of the worst shows in TV history, mind you.) Meanwhile, Chokachi pulled the classic first episode walk-away after throwing a hissy fit upon realizing the show wasn't what he signed up for (yeah, because if there's one thing reality TV has taught us, it's that producers are always on the up and up.)
The temper tantrum stemmed from an experiment conducted by Baio and Hervey where the two had the "idols" line up backstage at a theater with the belief that behind the curtain were adoring, screaming fans. As each individual's name was called, the crowd got louder and louder -- except when the curtain was eventually lifted, it was revealed to be piped in applause.
Choke on that, Chokachi! Surfer boy got straight CLOWNED.
So yeah, he was kinda mad, packed his bag, left the house and had to get a verbal beatdown from pipsqueak Hervey to realize that humiliation is what it takes to "want" fame again. Drama, I know.
The whole point of the show seems to be "how can one gain back fame" and not "what can one learn from an experience that obviously didn't go so well the first time around." And isn't it a fallacy to be pointing these guys back to the spotlight, when by virtue of being on a reality show that's accessible to a large portion of the viewing public, they already ARE in the spotlight again?
Plus, what ever happened to just waiting out the lows and rising from the dead like Patrick Dempsey. Dude was in "Can't Buy Me Love" and "Loverboy," then fell off the planet, only to return years later as McDreamy. Instead of stooping as low as reality TV, he -- you know -- kept working to regain his fame. Shocker.
Media exposure: get it while you're no longer hot, right?
With Baio and Hervey, there will no doubt be more scripted humiliation around the corner, and I can't say it's anything I plan on sticking around for. Not because I don't mind seeing people humiliated. But these guys already had their 15 minutes and they're whining about not getting to see 16? Boo-freakin-hoo.
What has this world come to when a reality TV show on VH1 isn't enough fame for one person? Why would anyone need to rise above "Rock of Love Bus," "I Love Money" or "Celebrity Rehab: Sober House?" Greedy bastards.
-- Thomas Rozwadowski, firstname.lastname@example.org