Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Dizzies Interactive: Guess the phony!

At this point only two groups of people watch MTV: 13 year old girls and 25 year old boys fascinated and perversely amused by what 13 year old girls watch. MTV's programming has become so deadpan in the last couple years, that at this point it's unclear which demographic is the target and which is the happy accident. Even the producers/writers/directors making these programs seem unclear: are they recording their subjects or mocking them? Sometimes I wonder if we asked that question to two different members of the crew of one of these mad television programs if we'd get two different answers.

My Termite Art partner Rob Sweeney investigated the fascinating MTV dating show Parental Control during our week of television-related blogery, and recently I've found myself fascinated by its sister show, NEXT. Its central conceit is a mixture of Love Connection and the Old Country Buffet : one sexy single tools around Los Angeles in a van with a tourbus in tow: inside the bus are five more sexy singles, who come out to try their luck one at a time and can be dispatched at any moment with a clear announcement of the show's title. Contestants from the bus earn a dollar for every moment their date lasts. Should these lovebirds beat the odds and find they aren't entirely repulsed by each other's presence the contestant chooses: the money they've accrued or a second date, this time free of the encumbrances of cable television production.

There is a lot of very strange stuff to enjoy in NEXT but my favorite moments are the bits of personal information displayed onscreen next to each dater as they exit the NEXT bus. They're sort of a modern version of turn ons and turn offs, if they were written by the staff of Cracked Magazine. I mean most of these couldn't possibly be real -- simply because no one in their right mind would admit to any of these statements with the full knowledge that they could be placed next to their faces on national television. Examples:

-Attracted to Simba from The Lion King
-Sings 'Free Falling' on the toilet
-Is afraid of babies

Though NEXT is, for all intents and purposes, a reality show, the participants "witty" putdowns and catchphrases are obviously scripted, or at the very least coached: I filmed one episode of an MTV film criticism show called Your Movie Show a few years ago, and though everything I said on the show were my own thoughts, most were selected, structured, and massaged by the show's two writers. I suspect much of the same is at play when contestant's gleefully announce "I hope she has big boobs -- like freakishly big boobs!" but, again, MTV plays its cards so close to its MTVest who the hell knows.

Think you "get" MTV's drier-than-the-Sahara sense of humor? Here's your chance to prove it. Below are four NEXT intros. Three are real, transcribed directly from the screen. One I made up. Answer tomorrow. Good luck!

A)Wants a guy who will let her pick her nose
B)Cruises Overeaters Anonymous for chicks
C)Hopes to play in the World Series of Darts
D)Aspires to rebuild the Egyptian pyramids


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