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Reality TV is ruining the idea of celebrity

Kristen Baldwin wonders what will happen if everybody’s famous

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Reality TV is ruining the idea of celebrity

Having been on TV maybe three times in my life (all to offer standard sound bites about various pop culture topics), I can tell you that as an experience it’s more stressful and tedious than exciting and life-changing. That said, I’m completely baffled as to why the public is in such tremendous awe of the idea of being on TV — so much so that they’ll actually vie to be stranded on a deserted island with a group of strangers, marry some hack stand-up comic with an oversize chin, or be held prisoner in a sparse house full of cameras.

This summer ?- with the advent of ”Survivor,” ”Big Brother,” and all the new reality shows being developed in their wake -? it has become clearer than ever: People will do ANYTHING to be on TV. It’s gone well beyond the buffoon standing behind the local TV news reporter and mouthing, ”Hi Mom!”; now people are willing to sacrifice their dignity (one proposed new show, ”Chains of Love,” features a woman tethered to several men for days until she decides whom she wants to date) for the dubious glory of being on the boob tube.

The only theories I can come up with for this TV worship are pretty mundane. Maybe some folks are so bored/ unhappy/ dissatisfied that they think appearing on television will fill the void in their lives. (I buy shoes to fill that yawning chasm of ennui; it usually works for about a week.) Then there’s the fact that my place of employment is just one of two gajillion media outlets that deify celebrities and celebrity, so maybe folks feel that they’re worthless unless they’ve gotten some on-camera validation.

What’s worse, the desperate TV acolytes who actually do manage to elbow their way into the spotlight are being rewarded with fame -? Stacey and B.B. from ”Survivor” are starring in ads for Reebok, while several of their island mates have signed with talent and management agencies -? and the only thing they’ve done to earn it is express their desire to be famous.

Granted, there are a lot of people who are considered celebrities who haven’t done much to deserve it (i.e., Carmen Electra), but today some depressed ”exotic dancer” named Jordan could score a dozen thong endorsement deals within minutes simply because she sat in a CBS-sponsored house for three months. If this keeps up, fame will be meaningless because EVERYONE will have the opportunity to be famous. So please boycott all products pitched by cast mates of ”Survivor,” ”Big Brother,” or Darva Conger ?- because if celebrity becomes obsolete, I’m out of a job.