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Seattle battles ''The Real World''

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Until now, the biggest problem MTV has faced with its reality-based soap opera The Real World was figuring out what to do with that obnoxious Puck guy. But the show — currently taping its seventh season, in Seattle — has suddenly found itself dealing with a more distressing reality: ”Seattle thinks The Real World sucks.”

At least that’s what it says on a popular T-shirt created at the local Roanoke Tavern. And it’s clearly a sentiment shared by more than a few members of Seattle’s fiercely protective hipster elite, who are making the show feel less welcome than Ticketmaster at a Pearl Jam concert. A number of locals have taken to disrupting tapings of the show, cursing into microphones whenever they encounter the cast in public. At one recent concert attended by the Real Worlders, audience members even started chanting ”f— The Real World,” in an attempt to make the footage useless.

Resentment has been most evident in the pages of an alternative-weekly paper, The Stranger, which in January obtained and printed the address of the Real World house, forcing MTV to erect a fence around the building. The paper has also run a constant stream of unflattering gossip about the World cast (”They allegedly offered to send one [shopkeeper] a dozen roses for her time and trouble — then stood her up!” a recent column reported). One of the latest jabs is a ”Real World paparazzi contest,” which offers prizes for videotapes of the cast doing ”something embarrassing.”

So why does Seattle think The Real World sucks? ”They’re out there acting like a bunch of geeks,” says Stranger music editor Kathleen Wilson. ”I was in the bathroom [during a concert], the lights go on, and they’re filming in there, while I’m trying to use the restroom. They’re annoying the s— out of everyone in the music scene.”

MTV won’t comment ”for authenticity and security reasons,” says a spokesperson, except to remark, ”it’s really scary that The Stranger is obsessing as much as they are about The Real World.” Welcome, as they say, to the real world.

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