Back when Big Brother first began in Australia, I was hooked.
I absolutely loved Sara-Marie Fedele - her bunny ears, her infectious laugh and, most of all, what seemed to be her burgeoning romance with fellow
inmate housemate Blair McDonough, who went on to star in Neighbours.
Sadly, none of the following seasons could quite hold my interest in the same way, but they did herald the arrival of a genre I’ve come to love and loathe in equal parts – reality TV.
At it’s best, this sort of programing is part instructional and part entertaining. Think Project Runway, The Biggest Loser, MasterChef, Survivor, The Block or even Go Back To Where You Came From.
At middling it can be a bit over the top and/or cheesy, but reasonably inoffensive. See Dog the Bounty Hunter or Farmer Wants A Wife
But at it’s worst it’s an absolute waste of space, with the mental nourishment of a soft cheese that’s been left in the sun for a day. Think Jersey Shore, The Only Way is Essex, Girls of the Playboy Mansion, Rock of Love, Paris Hilton’s My New BFF etc etc.
Now in these latter cases, the ONLY reason for such shows to exist is to prove that any halfwit/bogan/skank/racial stereotype can be famous for 15 minutes. I mean good on Snooki for extracting every last dollar from her profile through avenues such as animal print and self tanners. But when you hang out with someone who calls himself The Situation with no sense of irony, we’re not exactly looking at the next generation of Nobel prize winners, are we?
And truthfully, that’s not the point or plan. It’s all about cashing in on those 15 minutes of fame before the spotlight invariably (and thankfully) fades. Which prompted me to wonder exactly who coined the phrase.
I had heard vague rumours the concept originated with Andy Warhol. And this turned out to be true, although it’s actually a paraphrase of his words. The original line – featured in a catalogue for an exhibition in Stockholm in 1968 – proclaimed that “In the future everybody will be world-famous for 15 minutes.”
The way things are going he will turn out to be right. Although please god, in the case of anyone who lists ‘Real Housewife’ as their occupation or classifies all critics as ‘haters’, let it come down to 10.
At the very least, let the TV powers-that-be pick up on my reality show, Hasbeen Hideaway. This involves sending former reality TV ‘stars’ (air quotes intended) to an island where they must forage for themselves and complete set challenges. Each week one of them gets voted out by the public, except in my version they don’t just get banished, they get summarily executed.
Who’s with me?