Russell and Duenes

The reality intern: life in the bizarro world

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I can’t prove it, but I’m beginning to think there’s something to this “bizarro world.”  At the very least, there is an ever-increasing inverse relationship between the things we think about, and their overall importance to life in general.  My evidence is strictly anecdotal, but it’s sitting there nonetheless.

Let’s assume we can utilize internet search engine results to infer where folks’ minds are residing.  The top Yahoo searches from last year were as follows: Britney Spears, WWE, Barack Obama, Miley Cyrus, Runescape, Jessica Alba, Naruto, Lindsay Lohan, Angelina Jolie, and rounding out the top 10, American Idol.  The most surprising thing about this list is that the future leader of the free world managed to edge out Paris Hilton.  One can only assume that if Jessica Biel ever started playing video games while singing karaoke, she’s run away with the top spot.

Granting that this may not be the best way to draw out conclusions, let’s look at the topics our favorite talk shows are tackling, as it’s in their best interest to have their finger on the pulse of the nation, right?  In just the last few days, we saw Oprah cover, among other things, Reality TV’s biggest stars, an interview with Patrick Swayze’s widow, celebrities’ first jobs, and something called a “shoe, handbag, and accessory intervention”.  A review of the topics and content of The View, Ellen, and Live with Regis and Kelly revealed similar depth.  And it’s not lost on anyone paying attention that a show like Charlie Rose, which delves into subjects that one could safely say carry a bit more gravity, garners a fraction of the audience that the above intellectual graveyards collect daily.

This isn’t to say that there’s no seriousness out there; Dr. Phil is trying to help us figure out why we’re all a mess, and Dr. Oz is out there making us all healthier (although, what’s up with the scrubs?  Does he think he’s going to be suddenly called away to perform emergency surgery or something?  This is like Tom Brady wearing his football helmet during an episode of Letterman.).  But the majority of the subject matter we devote our leisure attention to can only charitably be called semi-significant.

Now, I don’t pretend to be an authority on what everybody ought to be thinking about, but a few things seem to be no-brainers.

Global warming, or climate change, or whatever we’re calling it now (it’s only a matter of time before it’s “environmental discombobulation”, or something equally vague) seems important, but even the dean of the movement, Al Gore, won’t debate any of his critics, so how interested are we really, in getting to bottom of this one?

Considering the fact we’ll all be dead a whole heck of a lot longer than we’ll be alive, one would figure that people would be thinking about whether there’s anything on the other side of the ultimate curtain.  But I don’t remember seeing “What the heck happens when I croak?” on the top of any Google lists.  And somebody’s bound to come up Monday at work and say “Hey, you see that guy blow his groin on America’s Top Dancing Models last night?” But when was the last time anyone said, “So, before I get run over by a crash-landing jumbo jet, what’s your take on reincarnation?”.  It just doesn’t happen.

The answer to the question of why we approach life in this inverted, yes-indeedy, bizarro way, is probably longer than we have room for here, but I suspect it’s related to my childhood approach to test-taking; we fill in the easy questions first, and leave the tough ones for later, especially if we don’t like the answers.

Your Reality Intern, Chet Nutley


Written by Michael Duenes

November 6, 2009 at 4:22 am

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