Tonight on Bravo, one of the many channels quickly destroying art, taste and the soiled remnants of American culture will debut a show called NYC Prep. The show is supposed to be the “real” compliment to the popular show Gossip Girl, which shows what a bunch of horny and spoiled teenagers attend New York City private schools, or at least lets high school kids know that if they aren’t spoiled or having sex they are probably doing something wrong. As Oscar Wilde said (and I often quote): Life imitates art.
I have a theory on the degredation of pop culture over the last 10 years. Much like how Thomas Friedman has written that the fall of the Berlin Wall and the creation of the Internet were two of the main factors in creating a “flat world”, I proposethat the rise of Britney Spears and the cancellation of Sex and the City have created an irreversible and negative trend in television. Sort of like the force that keeps getting Kal Penn work in Hollywood.
Britney Spears may idolize Madonna, but I think it was her pimp parents who allowed her to have the far more influential role on pop culture and be a sex object for men worldwide at 16 years old. I may risk sounding like the Christian Right here, but teenagers are the most susceptible group to peer pressure and cultural influence, from smoking to violence to sex. The question of whether shows are reflecting current behavior or influencing it is not so important when speaking of soda choices , but is important when it comes to other matters like drug use and sexual activity. The problem is that these shows create an irreversible trend. Just like guys of my generation could not go back to watching Charles in Charge once they saw Nicole Eggert get railed by the Coreys in Full Blown, you cannot expect young teens to go back to to the days of Happy Days once the kids on WB are getting happy endings. Parents still have the big responsibility for sure, but I think that experiment has failed. Parenthood, I mean. Parenthood is like the Robin to Home Ownership’s Batman in the American delusion that has been propagated. If you can’t afford a home you should not be brainwashed into trying to buy one; if you don’t have the time or desire to raise kids you should try not to have them.
Then there was the elimination of Sex and the City. The most popular show not named The Sopranos in cable television history is a landmark. Regardless of whether you like it or not it is a defining show for modern women. But then it was off the air and has been followed by Desperate Housewives, Real Housewives, Kardashians, etc. It is as if Sex and the City was the Saddam Hussein of television – a necessary evil (that I watched) that kept ridiculous show concepts that focused on four to six women, with “really different personalities” on the shelf or in the level of hell they were stored in because there was no market for them. Now, with Sex and the City leaving a huge void it has been filled by a cornucopia of loud-mouth failed actresses. Not to mention the fact that Sarah Jessica Parker had to go back to fronting for Twisted Sister.
And somehow born of this perfect storm of voyeuristically-exposed, unrestrained teenage libido and talentless skanks is NYC Prep. Now I went to a New York City private school and attended the school with many wealthy kids (the kind of school where your friend with a Park Avenue apartment marvels at how rich the other kids are), but I don’t think I had an experience akin to NYC Prep. For one I think my parents had me because they wanted me, not because they needed an accessory to complete their social profile. As exhibited by one girl on NYC Prep, she and her brother have free reign of their Manhattan apartment because their parents live in the Hamptons and only come into the city one day a week. Wow – that is the metaphorical equivalent of having your kid at the prom, but leaving the baby in a Gucci bag instead of a trash bag.
But we can’t sterilize people, poor or rich, no matter how terrible they will be as parents, but do we have to put these kids on television? If my future/possible sons want to act as kids I will let them do school plays, right after I ask them if they are gay. But they will not be on shows as kids. End of story. I mean when is there going to be legislation criminalizing putting your minor kids on reality television? (Or the death penalty for all of those kids who were on My Super Sweet 16?) It’s per se bad parenting. Like a parent who buys their daughter breast implants because her self esteem is low – how can her self esteem improve if her Dad is buying them?
“What’s wrong honey?”
“Well, Dad, with my small boobs guys just don’t want to fu-k me…”
“Well let’s turn that frown upside down sugar tits!”
But I think my main question is why are we watching this stuff? Are we really that stupid and shallow as a people? Or have we just lost our sense of shame? Greg Giraldo has a great bit about people on shows like Jerry Springer having no sense of shame, in fact being proud of having made objectively terrible decisions in life. But we are predisposed to laugh when the people are white or black trash, but not when they come from the upper crust of society. Oh well, I guess I do not have an answers to theses question, so I will leave them open to comment. But hopefully this trend stops before we get to Bravo’s eventual reality show: My First Period. And no, it’s not about early classes at school.