Posts Tagged ‘reality TV’

Oh, go away, already.

Oh, go away, already.


Comedian, actor and singer Bette Midler has slammed serial self-promoter Kim Kardashian West after she posted a barely-censored photo of herself on social media.

The reality TV star, shared the saucy pic to her 62 million Instagram followers and 41 million Twitter fans with the caption: “When you’re like I have nothing to wear LOL”.

While some fans sang out in her praise, Midler was less than impressed by the recent nude, hopping on Twitter to lay down some home truths.

“Kim Kardashian tweeted a nude selfie today. If Kim wants us to see a part of her we’ve never seen, she’s gonna have to swallow the camera,” the actress, singer and songwriter said.

Milder’s tweet has so far received over 14,000 retweets, 17,000 likes and was greeted with a social media round of applause.

Hear, hear.

We hasten to add that if KK wants to be nude in public that’s her business. We’re just sick to death of her. Utterly, totally, boringly over-exposed.

And not just her skin.

trump handsWe love presidential election year in the USA, but this year it is especially rewarding for all election freaks with the universal excitement/horror at the elevation of Donald Trump to current front runner in the Republican stakes.

As we have opined as recently as yesterday, the Trump phenomenon is really not new – we have seen it all before – although never with such a marked disrespect from any major candidate for either facts, analysis, talent, civility, truthfulness or knowledge.

The hard fact that everyone has to bite down on is that Trump is, in truth, a classic fascist populist – an “anti politics politician” – and whilst that may play well with the disenchanted and ignorant, and it is also evidenced in election results elsewhere in the world – it is extremely dangerous for the fabric of democracy and the civil good.

He is the end product of a country that has dumbed down its civil discourse to a level far below where it has ever been before, and where “entertainment” is now generally little more than the endlessly mindless repetition of idiotic reality TV shows and celebrity-for-celebrity’s-sake. Cheap, stupid pap. Donald Trump is the archetypal candidate for a society where cheap, stupid pap is the new normal.

Yet despite our distaste for what he represents, we see him, essentially, as a paper man – simply incapable of winning a general election. (Mind you, they said the same about Hitler.)

And sure, those who adore him (or the mindless celebrity and nihilism he represents) are merely further driven to greater ecstasies of pleasure when he is attacked and exposed.

But attacked and exposed he is, and frequently it is not the organised political establishment that is rearing up – although belatedly it now is – but rather it is social media that is doing the attacking.

Social media – the rise and rise of interested or concerned individuals expressing their opinions directly to other individuals, singly, in the tens or hundreds, or sometimes in the thousands and even millions – is the great leveller in this election, and, we suspect, all future elections, everywhere. It talks to everyone, not just ironed on supporters of one party or another, and thus its reach is impressive and significant.

Here are a few of favourites from today. We are looking forward to the GOP debate later to see just how vitriolic the Republican mutual slaughter will become. We suspect, very bloody indeed. As we have said to supporters of the right in America for years, “be careful what you wish for”.  Well, this is what you wished for.

Pass the popcorn.






Trumps wives


round up

As reported by Melbourne’s Age newspaper, lawyers for “Crocodile Hunter” Steve Irwin’s 17-year-old daughter Bindi must submit her father’s death certificate to a Los Angeles court to prove that he is actually dead.

Irwin’s father, who had a high profile on US television as a host of wildlife programs, was killed by a stingray barb in 2006; his funeral was broadcast on news services around the world.

But as strange as it seems, a Los Angeles court has ruled that without documentary proof of Steve Irwin’s death, it cannot proceed on the assumption that he is, in fact, dead.


Bindi Irwin has has received enormous praise for her performances each week on <em>DWTS</em>.

Bindi Irwin has has received enormous praise for her performances each week on DWTS. Photo: Supplied


At stake is Irwin’s daughter Bindi’s earnings from the reality television program Dancing with the Stars, on which she is currently competing.

Under US law, contracts with minors must be processed by a judge; during that process both parents or guardians would usually waive any legal right to the minor’s income.

But this very strange legal wrangle began when a Los Angeles Superior Court rejected Bindi’s “minors” contract with the show because the ancillary paperwork did not comprehensively prove that her father was dead.


Steve Irwin, who was killed in 2006.

Steve Irwin, who was killed in 2006. Photo: Animal Planet


Irwin’s lawyers had included in their submission a release stating that Irwin’s mother, Terri, surrendered all legal rights to any income Bindi may make from appearing on Dancing with the Stars.

But the judge has ruled that without a similar release from her father, “the court is unable to find that it is in the best interest of the minor to be bound by the terms of the contract.”

Owing to Steve Irwin’s huge profile in the US, his death created international headlines and his funeral was broadcast on news services around the world. Bindi was eight years old at the time and gave a memorable speech.

One of the most revealing aspects of the case is that it has effectively cracked open the financial terms of a reality TV contract, a rarity in US television where the details of such contracts are typically considered “commercial in confidence”.

According to the contract, Irwin is to be paid a fee of $US125,000 to appear on the show, plus $US10,000 per week for the third and fourth weeks, $US15,000 for the fifth, $US20,000 per week for the sixth and seventh weeks, $US30,000 per week for the eighth and ninth weeks and $US50,000 per week for the tenth and eleventh weeks.

At this point in the competition, Irwin has earned $US230,000. She and dancing partner Derek Hough are widely tipped as possible winners. They are the only couple in the series so far to receive “10” scores from all three judges twice. They were scored “perfect 10s” for both a rumba and an Argentine tango.

Though some media outlets are reporting that her income from the show is in jeopardy, there is no real suggestion that her salary will be withheld, though it may be delayed as the court processes the paperwork.

Irwin has not commented publicly on the legal wrangle. But we imagine the matter is rather distressing for her and her family. How utterly ridiculous. Then again, when did commonsense ever have anything to do with the American court system?

Or as Steve might have remarked: “Crikey!”

“If Donald Trump becomes president, that will be the end of the world,” Lawrence told Entertainment Weekly during an exclusive interview promoting The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2.

Lawrence, 25, apparently regards the possibility of a President Trump as well as her character Katniss Everdeen regards the ruthless President Snow in The Hunger Games, and openly wonders whether the Republican frontrunner’s campaign is indeed legitimate.

“I genuinely believe that reality television has reached the ultimate place where now even things like this might just be for entertainment,” she said. “It’s either that or it’s Hillary’s brilliant idea.”

Two of her Hunger Games costars seemingly agree.

Something of an un-reality show, frankly.

Something of an un-reality show, frankly.

“It’s a publicity stunt,” Josh Hutcherson told EW. “It can’t be real.” Liam Hemsworth, meanwhile, doubles down on Lawrence’s prediction that a Trump presidency could lead to the apocalypse.

“I’ll back you up on that,” he said.

Lawrence added that while Trump’s blunt style might appeal to some voters, his uncensored straight talk leaves her shaking her head.

“I was watching him on the campaign trail and one guy said, ‘I love Donald Trump because he’s saying everything I’m thinking and I just can’t say it because of the PC factor.’ And I’m thinking, ‘You are absolutely right. That’s who I want representing my country, somebody politically incorrect. That will just be perfect.’ ”

A few more people making the same simple point wouldn’t hurt before the world assumes that a great chunk of America has gone stark-staring moon-barking mad.


With beards ...

With beards …

Things do not look good for controversial but popular “reality TV” show Duck Dynasty.

Although A&E allowed “family patriach” Phil Robertson back to shooting just weeks after his inflammatory remarks about homosexuality, the storm has not yet settled. And the numbers are in to prove it. Everyone – especially right wing commentators, politicians and hunting fans – expected that in light of the drama surrounding the show that when it returned this week it would be to epic numbers.

Unfortunately, it turned in ratings close to 30 percent lower than the last season’s premiere, and everyone associated with the show is apparently getting concerned.

Perhaps the message, anyway, that the whole show is something of a con made for TV might have got out. Here’s what the family looked like back in 2001. Hardly swamp-dwelling nether-region throwbacks, but rather a nice, clean shaven family.

ducks without beards

Anyway, if the makers thought that Phil’s viral (and virulent) comments were a case of any publicity is good publicity, here’s hoping they are starting to clue in to just how mistaken they were. If you ask us (and no one did), it’s reassuring to know that we live in an age where the public appear to vote with their feet when presented with ignorant comments that are disrespectful to millions.

(Zergnet and others)

British TV Actor Jeremy Irons in the Borgias

He’s got that distant look off just right, no?

Last night, relentlessly sleepless after a rather large piece of rib-eye steak that wasn’t, for once, washed down with a couple of bottles of good Shiraz (hence still being wide awake, I guess) I ended up round midnight, family all asleep, aimlessly flicking the cable TV channels looking for something to keep the brain marginally occupied.

I’d just finished watching the last episode of the first series of the marvellously bodice-ripping The Borgias – what on earth does an actor of Jeremy Irons’ standing really think of acting in tosh like this? Helas, it’s all about the dosh, sometimes, I suppose – and a surfeit of murders, sex scenes and hard-core history had left me wide awake.

The Borgia's Francois Arnaud and Holliday Grainger

A big welcome to Francois Arnaud and Holliday Grainger

(Incidentally, whilst Irons was doing his “Jeremy Irons acting by numbers” bit, young French-Canadian actor François Arnaud was effortlessly marvellous in revealing the inherently awful nature of Cesaré Borgia. How could this apparently sensitive man adore his young sister so, feel disgust at the excesses of licentious medieval Rome, and yet not flinch to order horrible slaughter to protect his family’s position? Watching both the way his character was written, and the consistently compelling performance by Arnaud, I was reminded powerfully of those Nazi prison camp guards who would play adoringly with children in villages near the camp one day, and then throw living children in the camp furnaces the next, with no apparent understanding of the enormous evil and irony of their behaviour – or if they did understand, their exercise of the ability to compress their conscience to the extent that such a moral contradiction didn’t matter.

As the bulk of her work had previously been on UK television, the show also introduced me to the work of young British actress Holliday Grainger as Lucretia Borgia, and apart from being very pretty and winsome (she was apparently voted one of the 55 Faces of the Future by Nylon Magazine’s Young Hollywood Issue in May 2010 – whatever Nylon Magazine is) her acting in a relatively under-written part revealed real depth and layers of emotion. I see she is to play the cruel Estella in a 2012 production of Dickens’ Great Expectations; a role which I suspect she was born to play.

And yes, yes, I know, I know: I should have been blogging, not watching TV, but all work and no play, eh?)

Chelsea Handller of "Chelsea Lately"

Chelsea Handler

Anyhow, having devoured the last Borgias episode I came across American comedienne Chelsea Handler and her show Chelsea Lately. Whilst I often think this programme is testament to the absolute worst of faux-celebrity culture – can anyone enlighten me as to what Kim Kardashian is actually for, by the way? – I do enjoy Handler’s acerbic wit and that of the comics who share the stage with her for the first half of her show.

She is often unkind, but usually at the expense of those features of our society, or its citizens, who would receive much benefit from a jolly good slap up against the head, so I tend to forgive her when she herself falls into the traps associated with the mainly mindless psychological cruelty that seems to pervade much of America’s gutter culture – the seemingly endless obsession with people’s sexual antics or marital status, the latest beautiful face to command our attention momentarily, and people’s fluctuating body shapes or looks.

She is not afraid to be controversial. During the June 20, 2011 episode, while discussing doomed Amy Winehouse’s poorly-received performance at a concert in Belgrade, Handler read a statement by Serbian Defense Minister Dragan Šutanovac calling Winehouse’s performance a “shame and a disappointment”. Handler then stated, “Well, so is your country”.

The comment has since drawn criticism, with requests for Handler to apologize for the comment. A Facebook page and petition have also been created calling for a boycott of Handler and E! until a public apology is given: apparently Handler has yet to comment on the matter. On June 25, 2011, Serbian Ambassador to United States, Vladimir Petrović, sent a letter to the makers of the show describing Handler’s act as “inappropriate, distasteful, and just plain bad humor”. Few modern comics touch such raw nerves, whatever the merits of her comments.

She also doesn’t seem to take herself too seriously, unlike most celebs, which is refreshing:  it’s as if she is permanently somewhat surprised that anyone seems to enjoy this puerile drivel.

Snookie, aka Nicole Pollizzi

Snookie, aka Nicole Pollizzi, does what she does best

What is less clear is the extent to which shows like Handler’s merely perpetuate the problem of moronic celebrity adulation, whilst simultaneously taking the piss out of it, and at risk of seemingly needlessly tendentious or censorious, that’s what I’d like to think about for a moment.

Last night, Handler welcomed a star guest (and no, if you don’t watch MTV, I am not making this up) called “Snooki”, aka Nicole Pollizzi, from the hit reality TV show Jersey Shore, which is essentially an excuse to watch a lot of relatively unattractive Italian background Americans (so-called Guidos and Guidettes) make idiots of themselves.

They fight, they drink, they hook up, they break up, they cuss. And that’s it, essentially.

The beginning of an adulatory interview with Snooki on Good Morning, America recently called the show “ground-breaking”. It’s also been called “a cultural phenomenon”.

A cultural phenomen? Really? Well, the University of Chicago has announced an academic conference that will examine the show. And in 2010, the cast of Jersey Shore was named on Barbara Walters’ 10 Most Fascinating People list, (not that this is a great recommendation, as in years 2007-2010 she also nominated Sarah Palin, who is about as fascinating as watching paint dry), and the series has since exported to dozens of countries worldwide.

Thanks to the ever-increasing success of the show, Ms Pollizzi is now paid thirty thousand dollars an episode, and can apparently command the same sum for making a speech. In April 2011, for example, Snooki was paid $32,000 to speak at Rutgers University. Her message included what it’s like being a celebrity, and also what she thinks is important in school, including the sage advice “Study hard, but party harder”. There was a big uproar from both Rutgers students and alumni, who thought that Polizzi was invited merely for her celebrity status and was an inappropriate speaker for an academic setting.

Anyhow, on Chelsea Lately last night, Snooki waddled cheerfully on stage covered in ridiculous adornments, including a spiky bracelet which could have got her arrested for carrying a deadly weapon in most jurisdictions, but not around the studios of E!, apparently. (E! is the NBC subsidiary which makes Handler’s show.)

For the next five minutes or so, she burbled excitedly about her latest ventures, which apparently include a range of bedroom slippers, and the ubiquitous perfume release that seems a mandatory add-on to every up-and-coming star today.

(When asked about said perfume on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Snooki kindly offered that “I wanted it flirty and bubbly like my personality, and obviously something DTF.”

If you’re not sure what that means, ask Leno’s first guest of the evening, Jeff Bridges, as Snooki had to explain the explicit acronym to the actor during the show. Or Google it, as I admit I did.)

But that wasn’t always what she envisioned for her signature smell. Snooki said she originally wanted it to smell like pickles. “I like pickles so everybody else should like pickles.” But after sniffing the mock-up, which she said smelled like – shock! – pickles (and grass, apparently), Snooki chose to go in a more conventional direction.)

I did consider changing channels, but a cursory flick through the listings on the TV revealed a football game I already knew the score of, and a BBC show with a young man hunting down the owners of the world’s biggest breast implants and watching them strip on stage. Somewhat confronted, I stuck with Handler.

OK, now look: this is where I am going with this ramble.

I am sure Ms Pollizzi is a pleasant enough person underneath all the pretended outrage and set-up-for-the-camera tension (sexual or otherwise) that is the staple for such shows.

What worries me is that, beyond her gallons of chutzpah and a distinct lack of personal shame, she is hardly worthy of our attention. Nor are her fellow cast members.

Jersey Shore is merely the mental equivalent of one too many vodkas. It’s what you do when you’re slumped at a bar and you can’t be stuffed to go home. Yet millions of (primarily) young people watch the show with rapt if somewhat vacuous attention. The more moronic the behaviour exhibited, the higher the ratings.

My core question is this: is this type of mind-numbing nonsense essentially harmless – and our concomitant fascination with the participants – or is this kind of reality TV dumbing down our reactions to the real world around us to an as yet ill-determined but probably worrying extent?

I am reminded of all the research documents that reveal that hyper-violent movies and slasher computer games produce a de-sensitisation to casual violence which shows up as a lack of understanding of the consequences of their actions in some young people.

So is the inevitable result of shows like Jersey Shore that teenagers and young adults will gradually assume that all one really needs to do to end up on Chelsea Lately – talking about one’s ever-burgeoning business empire – is to allow oneself to be filmed 24/7, yell fuck repeatedly at one’s “friends”, screw around and not care who knows it, drink to excess (preferably in public), wear ridiculous clothing and evidence the all-important “attitood”?

Perhaps the most worrying indication that this might be the case are the many opinion surveys of pre-teen children (in numerous countries) who, when asked what they want to be when they grow up, can’t actually nominate a career, but simply answer: “Famous”.

It’s also worth noting that on July 30, 2010, Polizzi was cited on a count of interfering with the quiet enjoyment of the beach, which AP called “essentially, disturbing the peace”, as well as for disorderly conduct and criminal annoyance of others. In a September 8 plea bargain, Judge Damian G. Murray sentenced her to a $500 fine and community service. In handing down the sentence, he characterized Polizzi as “a Lindsay Lohan wannabe”.

Needless to say, her arrest was taped during production of season three of Jersey Shore.

And on May 31, 2011 in Florence, Italy, (where the latest series was being filmed) Polizzi was briefly taken into custody by local police after the car she was driving collided with a parked traffic police car. According to Italian police, Polizzi was cited and released, and two police officers sustained minor injuries. Yep, it made it into the show.

Naked snowboarding: when will it be on TV?

Naked snowboarding: when will it be on TV?

At least back in the days of the Borgias, people basically knew this stuff was unhealthy. Not exactly “world’s best practice”.

But does anyone still care? Are the barbarians not so much at the gates, as already ripping them down and making snow-boards out of them for the next episode of Xtreme Winter Naked Snow Challenge?

In short, I fear for Snookie. I fear for her friends. I fear for those who watch her.

I think we’re losing the plot.

Oh, there isn’t a plot, any more?

Silly me.

Dutch TV host Valerio Zeno prepares to take a bite of his co-presenter

Dutch TV host Valerio Zeno prepares to take a bite of his co-presenter

As the Daily Mail and the West Australian report, amongst thousands of others, a Dutch television stunt is generating headlines around the world.  The two presenters of TV show Proefkonijnen (which means guinea pigs or test rabbits) brought reality television to a whole new level when they ate each other’s freshly cooked flesh.

Dennis Storm and Valerio Zeno were earlier filmed while they were under local anaesthetic as a surgeon cut a piece of their muscle at a clinic.

Storm watched as flesh was cut from Zeno’s abdomen, and Zeno returned the favour when muscle was cut from Storm’s bottom.

Then a chef was brought in to fry their flesh on their TV show, in front of a studio audience. Zeno and Storm then sat for a candlelit dinner – complete with wine – to dine on each other’s, er, muscle.

Storm told ABCNews in the United States that the muscle was cooked to medium-rare in sunflower oil without seasoning.

“Nothing is really that special when you’re talking about the taste of the meat, but it is weird to look into the eyes of a friend when you are chewing on his belly,” Storm told ABCNews.

“The punchline of the show is to get really simple answers on stupid questions, such as can you shave with ketchup or can you drive blind? And we wanted to find out how human flesh tasted.”

Storm said the stunt was worth the pain in his behind.

“It was just a few centimetres of meat,” he said. “And now I have a good story about that scar.”

Storm and Zeno said the stunt was legal because both entered into the cannibalistic pact voluntarily, Britain’s Daily Mail reported.

“A lawyer advised the program’s producers that while cannibalism is not itself against the law, the presenters or the surgeon who operated on them could run in to legal difficulties,”  The Mail said.

“The presenters also claim that there is no risk of ill health, as long as the human meat is properly cooked.”

International news headlines ranged from “Cannibalism on Dutch TV generates world-wide repulsion” to “Sick TV stunt features presenters eating EACH OTHER”.

A very simple Google search will find you video of the flesh being cooked, but not actually being eaten. That, presumably, has not been released until the pre-recorded show airs tomorrow in Holland. Oh, those crazy wacky Dutch, eh?

Personally, I don’t think there’s anything especially newsworthy about the headline “Two Dutch guys eat each other.” Then again, I visited Amsterdam in the 70s.

Musings by George Polley

Musings by George Polley


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