Why MTV's ''Becoming'' is just pathetic
A fleeting shot at pop pseudo-fame is a cruel prize, says Marc Bernardin.
Why MTV’s ”Becoming” is just pathetic
There’s a show on TV that out-embarrasses ”Fear Factor” and out-malices ”SpyTV” — a program that, despite its bubble-gum happy vibe, is even more insidious than ”The Price is Right” could ever be. Yes, I’m talking about MTV’s ”Becoming.” If you’re unacquainted with this Carson Daly-free program, here’s the dilly: Each episode (Tuesdays, 2:30 and 10:30 p.m., except on August 21), MTV chooses a bunch of normal kids who are major league fans of a particular chart-topper and transforms them into the celebrities they so admire, from Destiny’s Child to Limp Bizkit to Britney Spears. The goal is for the fans to recreate a particular music video — so for ”Say My Name,” three girls got made up to look vaguely like Destiny’s Child, learned the choreography and the words, underwent a general pampering, and were then conveyed to a look-alike set via limousine.
MTV has gone to a similar well before with ”Fanatic,” a show that made dreams come true by bringing fans and their idols together, complete with teary confessionals and stretch transportation. Harmless enough. But where ”Becoming” becomes cruel is in the stuff we don’t see. We never really get to see much of these kids’ lives before they’re tapped for their ”becoming.” But it’s clear that they’re average Jacks and Dianes, going to school (or not), working minimum wage gigs (or not). There’s nothing outwardly special about them. There’s no evidence of talent.
Hey, for all I know, one of these kids is a Bobby Fischer waiting to break free, but the show doesn’t go there. The show is constructed to make these teens famous for about a day, celebrate them for a gift that they clearly don’t have, and then let them sink back into obscurity. It’s one thing to be a one hit wonder, and then fade away — at least then, there is something you can point to and say ”I made that” — but these Becomers don’t even have that. It’s like making a wish and blowing out the candles on someone else’s birthday cake.
And all the while, we’re watching at home, feeling the only thing we can feel: despair. Despair because this event that could well be the highlight of someone’s life, is nothing but a hollow mind wank staged for our bemusement. And despair because we’re not doing something, ANYTHING else. Good thing MTV still plays music videos…right?