True to form, I was watching the Real World Chicago last night. The cast is probably the most pathetic grouping of pre-adults they've assembled yet. From Aneesa's I-think-naked-is-beautiful-and-I'm-just-A
Anyway...last night's episode. The show was cut and pasted together from footage they got between September 10 and September 14, 2001. I'm confident the folks at MTV were just pissing themselves with joy that the attacks coincided with a Real World shooting. Had they missed this...man...you don’t know.
Night. September 10. We see Aneesa and Tonya bickering about the phone. Tonya spends about 17 hours a day on the phone with her boyfriend, and Aneesa wants the phone since it's her birthday tomorrow. Tonya pulls the most unacceptable roommate offense she can: she tells Aneesa's birthday-wishing friend to call back since she's waiting for her boyfriend to call. Bickering ensues. We go to bed. Morning, September 11. The kids are watching the towers collapse on a TV with an antenna. They had to bring this TV in for the day, so it tells me that the kids woke up clueless, and the camera folks woke them up to show it to them. And early. If Chicago is what, 2-3 hours behind the East Coast it was like 6am for them. I'm not trying to do a Television Without Pityesque recap of the show, I'm just setting the stage.
So they show the day go by with the kids glued to the TV like all of us were that day. By about :22 after the hour, Tonya and Aneesa were bickering about the phone again, Cara was giving the look to everyone, Chris left, Keri was trying to be tough, and Kyle and Theo were off being stereotypes again.
The show was embarrassing. I have no illusions about MTV, the Real World, or anything that's edited for a half-hour, but this was really really sad. Glazing over the hammed up tears, them trying to out-sensitive, out-pray, out-patriot each other and the "We've been unified by this disaster" moral, the editors did a really good job of showing how much of an act people, particularly those in entertainment, will put up to show their sensitive side and how fast they'll drop it when the going gets tough. I found the whole thing very cold and calloused, very staged, and very fake. They would have been better off not airing the episode. As far as I’m concerned, it did the opposite of everything it intended to. Rather than show off the cast and MTV's undying concern for the events of the day, it showed their undying concern for getting the needle right back on the broken record. It showed how fleeting dedication really is nowadays. They knew they were supposed to show how upsetting it was, but the hotness of the topic couldn’t make it through a half-hour.
MTV is a microcosm. From "Best of All Time" lists with nothing older than 1993 on them to bandwagon expose shows on high school shootings to anti-semitism that are never aired again, to their obligatory nod to what may be the most important event in the past 100 years, they are the nutshell of everything that is vomitous about the media.