I can sort of buy New York Times critic Alessandra Stanley’s premise that the reality TV stars of today bear a resemblance to the scandals and tabloid sensations at the turn of the last century. Sure, technology has changed everything, but in the broadest strokes, there’s nothing new under the sun, until people start having sex with cyborgs.
But then she has to go and spoil it by including this:
So, in a way, does “Jersey Shore.” The antics of Snooki, Ronnie,
Vinny and the other housemates are a reality show version of a
children’s poem in Gelett Burgess’s “Goops and How to Be Them,” first
published in 1900:
The Goops they lick their fingers
and the Goops they lick their knives
They spill their broth on the tablecloth
Oh, they lead disgusting lives!
Followed, in relatively short order, by this, regarding E!’s new series “The Spin Crowd” and a sequence involving “Extra” host Mario Lopez:
There’s nothing new about coaxing celebrities to promote products;
the actress Lillian Russell endorsed Coca-Cola at the turn of the last
century. But Jonathan has to persuade a Hollywood hunk to be a spokesman
for a line of self-tanning lotions for men.
And the surrealism of show business is what makes this a marketable reality show.
There’s a kind of surrealism to reading Stanley as well — like you started perusing the pages of People magazine and wound up in the midst of an 18th century French poem. The references are impressive, but they’re so wildly out of context — really? To make a point about “Jersey Shore?” — that you have to blink a couple of times to make sure you didn’t stray into another article.
It’s interesting, I suppose, but not something I can handle first thing in the morning.