Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Go Away, Icky Twins!

Tacky, tasteless and terrible.

An utter waste of 45 minutes.


Try as I might, words can’t quite describe how absolutely mind-numbingly dumb the show A Double Shot at Love with the Ikki Twins is. In Episode 4: Lickety Split, I witnessed grown adults get stuck in cornstarch, lick frosting off mannequins for an hour, and throw drinks at each other. And if that wasn’t enough, the Ikki Twins initiated a make out session with everyone they came into contact with.

If you haven’t watched the show before, A Double Shot at Love with the Ikki Twins is a spin-off from A Shot at Love with Tila Tequila. In the show, 12 straight men and 12 lesbians fight to win the hearts of the bisexual Ikki Twins, Rikki and Vikki. A Dou

ble Shot at Love with the Ikki Twins uses a series of tasteless challenges to determine which contestants get to have alone time with the Ikki Twins, and contestants use the time alone to try convince the Ikki Twins that they have genuine feelings for the twins.

The two challenges that the contestants had to perform were blatantly demeaning; the first involved contestants running across a kiddie pool filled with a mixture of cornstarch and water (the texture of which was similar to quicksand) to collect tins of cornstarch, while the second 

required contestants to lick the frosting off mann

equins modeled after the Ikki twins for an hour. Almost all of the contestants had lacerations on their lips or mouths after the second challenge, yet Trevor and 

Xoe, the winners, saw no harm in making out with both the Ikki twins a few hours later.

I don’t know what annoyed me most about the show, the incredibly fake acting by the Ikki Twins, the obnoxious contestants or the fact that in that one episode, there was at least one person crying every 10 minutes. Arguably the most irritating contestant was Nick, who cried every time he tried to explain to Vikki how he wasn’t able to explain his feelings for her. To make the situation worse, Vikki and Rikki would cry every time he tried to talk to them, saying he made them “frustrated” because he was unable to express his feelings and they couldn’t connect.  Sensing that he could use the situation to an advantage, Scott, another contestant, decided to confront Nick after finding out that he made Vikki cry. This didn’t work out for him and he later found himself in the bottom two with Nick. Luckily for him, he was allowed to stay because the Ikki twins (and everyone else in the house) couldn’t stand another day with Nick and his endless complaints.

If I could send a message to the world, I would tell everyone NOT to watch this show. It’s immature, irritating and, despite the endless hot girl-hot guy / hot girl-hot girl make out sessions, just plain boring. Not only that, it plays heavily off gender stereotypes, making it socially acceptable for people like Scott to play the role of the tough guy to protect the Ikki twins – who play up to the idea of the woman on a pedestal, both literally and metaphorically. They are always perched on either platforms or ridiculously high heels and are unable to look after themselves, needing protection from characters like Scott. For playing the role of useless women, taking turns making out with over half the contestants, and even just agreeing to participate in a show like this,  I think it is safe to conclude that they have no moral standards and are indeed the Icky Twins.

-Stephanie Siow

Who You Gonna Call? Ghost Hunters!

Have you ever heard whispers in the night when no one else is around? Heard a glass break in a closed cabinet without anyone else in the room? Gotten Goosebumps for no obvious reason? Seen a mysterious outline of a figure?
Enter the reality of another dimension. Sci-Fi's new series, Ghost Hunters International, a spinoff (as many reality shows do) of the original Ghost Hunters series, takes viewers to some of the most renowned haunted places around the world. Frankenstein's Castle, Dracula's Castle---you can travel with the team of paranormal investigators to investigate, and possibly debunk, places like these, which have been subjects of horror movies for years. The show brings to mind Ghost Busters, as both involve a team investigating paranormal activities. The TAPS team, equip with FBI-like jackets, spend hours going over every last detail of the videos, sound recordings, and thermal images they found.
If it weren't for some of the clips that actually show scientific evidence (for those who believe such tools can capture the paranormal) like a raspy voice saying, "Help me!" or a thermal imaging camera capturing the outline of a body where no one actually stands, they would seem as ridiculous as the Ghost Busters team. Although when someone asks, "Hey, what do you do for a living?" it seems quite strange to answer, "Oh,
 you know, I'm a ghost hunter." But, they also have the advantage of saying, "I'm a reality television star!" (Something everyone seems to be wanting these days)
For people like me, who sadly watch almost every week (it's my love for horror, I promise), it is quite disappointing when no real evidence is found and the proposed paranormal activities are debunked. Last week, the team traveled to the Diplomat Hotel in the Philippines. The building was first used as a monastery, then converted to a sanitarium, and then used a refugee torture camp for the Japanese--the perfect setting for a scary movie and likely to be ripe with paranormal activities. Visitors and workers claimed to have seen a black figure wandering the grounds. However, the fancy scientific tools of the TAPS team showed no evidence of paranormal activity and the black figure was attributed to hallucinations produced from the radiation emitted by a cell phone tower near the area (they had evidence for this, of course).
The best episodes are those where something is found. The unexplainable is still unexplainable, but definitely proven to be paranormal and there. On one episode, the team captures a voice saying, "I like the one with the hat," referring to a member of the team who had been instigating the being to illustrate its presence. In another episode, the team captured a clear black figure of a man looking down at them over a railing and then quickly vanishing into the darkness. The odd thing was that the motion-sensor lighting on that landing did not recognize the figure. FREAKY! Then there are the odd scientific measures of the EMF readers and thermal camera imaging indicating unexplainable, paranormal activity.
For those of you who have always wanted to travel to that supposed haunted sanitarium at night just to see something for yourselves but can't seem to overcome that fear of the dark and the unknown that lies within, this show is a comfortable way to do such. And make a believer out of you----or not. You decide. For all of you reality TV lovers, take a break from those pseudo-searches for love and catty fights and give a new reality a chance. Tonight at 9, travel to Paris, the City of Lights, as the team investigates some mysterious terrors!

Alyssa Belcastro

Monday, February 23, 2009

The Bachelorette: A way to find true love... WHATEVER!!!!

True love…That is what everyone is looking for, right? That’s why we have a million love shows, including The Bachelorette. After not getting proposed by Brad in The Bachelor, DeAnna Papas finally gets a second chance in love because of ABC. ABC creates the show and finds 12 guys for her, hoping that one of them will be her true love and she will end up happily married (finally). Is that what true love is though? Having twelve guys that are willing to do anything for you, even stay in a shack with no shower curtains, while you stay in a mansion enjoying the hundreds of dollars of clothing? Where is the risk? Love is not that simple. You are never given choices. You have to go out, meet people, take risks and see whether you are compatible or not. DeAnna has skipped all the “scouting” parts and hopes that within a small sample of only twelve people (and let’s face it; 12 is nothing!! It’s definitely less than the average number of men women go out with!!), she will find true love. I am pretty sure that my math is strong enough to say that chances are really really…reallyyyyy slim! 

And then what about the dates that she plans for them…as if a normal human being (i.e no ABC help!) can do something like that. DeAnna’s regular dates include a private concert from Natasha Bedingfield, a trip to Grand Bahama Island and many many many more unreal stuff.  So does that suggest that people like us have no chance in finding real love because…we just do not have the money to plan such glamorous dates and look that good all the time?!!  Ok then..I’ll just quit and stay in my room watching The Bachelorette and cry my eyes out (NOT)!

Finally, is it really ok to date three people, share intimate moments with them and tell each one of them that you have feelings about them, AT THE SAME TIME?? How can she have a date with Jason and not compare him with Jessey? How can she just turn of her feelings for the other people? I just don’t get it. Is that what love is? What happened to the idea of “I love you and want to spend the rest of my life with you…just you!!”? The sad thing about it is that people watch the show and say that it’s all about true love. They cry and cry and are so happy that DeAnna finally found someone and expect it to somehow happen to them. It just feels weird to know that the society calls this “true love” and finds the whole process of dating and falling for three people at the same time acceptable. What is the point of love then?

Sunday, February 22, 2009

"Cheaters": Keepin' it Trashy, One Failed Relationship at a Time

If you haven’t seen “Cheaters”, then you are a better person than I am.

In case you don't watch garbage TV at 2am like I do, here is the basic premise of “Cheaters”: it’s a hidden camera show that uses private investigators to catch people cheating on their significant other. In the introduction the show claims that, “This program is both dedicated to the faithful and presented to the false-hearted to encourage their renewal of temperance and virtue.” The language in that description alone is a preview to the extravagance of this show in trying to make each episode as dramatic as possible. The main appeal is humor at just how over the top and trashy it all is.

In every episode, it’s clear that the producers are trying to make it as scientific and therefore legitimate as possible. Zoom and shaky camera techniques make you feel a bit dizzy. In general, all the high tech banners and whatnot are distracting and reminiscent of a bad “Mission Impossible” type spy movie. The language of the voice-overs only adds to the effect. Terms like “suspect,” “unknown female, are employed as frequently as possible even though the actual names of the people being followed are always known. They also throw in a good number of “agents,” “headquarters,” “field operatives,” “base,” and “stakeout” type terms for good measure in case you haven’t caught on that this is serious spy business.

To my disappointment, all this led up to was a melodramatic plot. First we were introduced to Misty, who I’m pretty sure was drugged during her interview. She tells us the heartbreaking story of her husband’s distance since she was injured in a car accident. Then the investigators get to work and for most of the episode we watch less-than-thrilling scenes of the husband and his lover trying on sunglasses at the mall, eating lunch and sightseeing. Don’t worry though; the commentary doesn’t fail to add drama. The husband, an architect, is “drafting plans that don’t include his wife.” A meal is a “lunchtime tryst.” No one drives, they “barrel down the highway.” Instead of swimming in the ocean, the couple is “splashing in the rising tide” and “passionately making out while the waves crash around them.”

“The Confrontation” is by far my favorite part, but once again, doesn’t quite live up to expectations. The host gives some false sympathy (a completely monotone “it’s going to be all right”) before revealing the evidence to Misty, who breaks down while the camera zooms in. In order to get as dramatic a confrontation as possible, Misty is briskly whisked away mid-tear to meet her husband and his lover face to face. This is where it gets good. The shaky camera is going crazy. Misty is unleashed. We get some small scale violence (a deflected slap) and even a fight between the two women in which the lover yells at the camera “They don’t love each other,” and to Misty, “You might understand him if you weren’t pilled out all the time.” The husband concurs that he doesn’t love Misty and that, “The Misty I loved died when you started taking those pills.” I guess my suspicion was accurate. That’s irrelevant to the host, who tries to guilt the cheater and make his lover insecure about his fidelity, up until the point when Misty screams at her husband, “Well maybe when you get home I’ll be in a casket.” The host seems a little nervous at this point (has this happened before?) and lets the couple drive away. It might sound good, but really it was just three people arguing and some uncomfortable camera angles for about a minute.

There’s little conclusion because it’s pretty obvious Misty and her husband aren’t going to last, so they follow up with a previous episode instead. Shanequa tells us about how Cheaters “changed her life” and she kicked out her cheating boyfriend. It’s a “you go girl!” kind of feel good moment so you aren’t left feeling sad about poor druggy Misty.

All in all, I actually feel like a need a shower after watching the “Misty Love” episode. It scares me to try and think why anyone would want to see this or be on it—you do get a free investigation, but only if your case is aired. I really have no idea what the takeaway message is supposed to be, so I’ll leave you with a few extra pieces of gold in case you aren’t dying to see “Cheaters” and decide for yourself yet…

1. The logo of the show is a broken heart inside a magnifying glass.
2. The host, Joey Greco, is incredibly creepy. That intense stare and eyebrow movement has been practiced in the mirror, without a doubt. I could definitely imagine him hiding in the bushes outside of my house, and enjoying it.
3. They have a blog for people to meet.
4. The phrase, “suspect demonstrates his proficiency in lying and flying as he does some serious loop-de-loops around the truth.”
5. The show’s address is on Lovers Lane.

Friday, February 20, 2009

The "Man" in Man vs. Wild 

What would you do if you were stranded alone in the middle of the Sonoran Desert with nothing but your shirt on, a broken down dirt bike, and an army knife? Well, Survivorman would be able to tell you how to make a shelter and get food in this specific situation. However, how likely is it that you or I would personally be in this exact instance with a knife and the parts of a motorcycle? I don’t know about you, but I personally don’t usually take joy rides in the middle of a desert by myself. Survivorman tells you how to survive, but that’s it. 

On the other hand, Bear Grylls in Man vs. Wild does it to the max. He not only shows you the basic life skills, what to eat and what not to eat, but he demonstrates how to get out of quicksand, fight off poisonous snakes, and drink the fluid of elephant feces. Sure these things are not necessary, and you nor I would mostly likely need to know how to do these in our lives, but this is television—people don’t want to simply learn the basic life skills one would use to build a cover for the night: they want to be entertained.

Les Stroud, by all means, transports all his gear and films the show by himself, which is extremely difficult, but the show does not really appeal to the pop culture of today. People want to see action. They want to see blood. They want to see death. Well ok, maybe Bear Grylls doesn’t show the death part of it, but he has had hypothermia in one of his episodes and demonstrated how to get out of it. This guy is hardcore.

There are many controversies bouncing around the Internet today about how this guy is fake. I’m sorry to have to inform you, but Man vs. Wild isn’t really his life: he hasn’t actually been in these situations. Critics condemn the fact that his crew sporadically helps him out. A real situation, more often that not, includes at least two people (no one truly wanders around these exotic places by themselves; that would be very silly). Bear Grylls has stated on multiple occasions that they have aided him on certain occasions; he’s not trying to take all the credit. In the episode in he African Savanna, for example, Grylls declares to the cameras that he in fact does not wind up in a pool of quicksand but he does it for the sake of doing it, for the sake of entertainment.

            Bear Grylls shouldn’t be condemned for what he does. He isn’t trying to be like Survivorman: that’s why there are two distinct shows. If you know you will be stranded in a particular situation later on in life and would like to learn the basic life skills on how to survive, then Survivorman is the perfect show for you to watch. As for right now, however, entertainment is what most people want to watch on TV and Bear Grylls entirely fulfills this. He is, in my opinion the “Man.”


Aurélia Heitz

Sunday, February 15, 2009

"The Real Housewives of Orange County": Fancy Parties, Lots of Alcohol, and...Boob Envy?

Just because you have money, you don’t necessarily have good taste. The best evidence supporting this statement is BravoTV’s “The Real Housewives of Orange County.” The ridiculous show follows a circle of OC housewives—Jeana, Vicki, Tamra, Gretchen, and Lynne—who married rich, and have the Joan-Rivers-faces, Pam-Anderson-boobs, and Britney-Spears-drama to prove it.

The episode “Why are You Being So Mean to Me?” opens with a lavish party at Tamra’s home where the housewives are dressed up in low-cut gowns and chugging expensive champagne. The party quickly turns into a gossip fest as Gretchen—the young blonde bombshell engaged to a much, much, much older and richer man (Jeff) dying of leukemia who has been divorced five times—flirts with and hangs all over Tamra’s young son Ryan. Locked in the bathroom together, Gretchen drunkenly whispers, “You totally turn me on, but I can’t make out with you because you’re Tamra’s son.” She fails to mention her engagement. Tamra then decides Gretchen is in no state to drive home so she should just stay at her house for the night; what a brilliant idea! Let’s have drunk, horny Gretchen sleep on the couch with her younger love interest just across the hall.

What follows is (drum roll please) more parties. Tamra hosts a pool party where all the women flaunt their highly prized possessions—surgically-enhanced chests—in incredibly tiny bikinis. Tamra believes that Gretchen, who has real breasts, was “looking around in boob envy.” That’s right: boob envy. Enough said.

Vicki, perhaps the most self-centered woman of the bunch, thinks everyone is envious of her at a different party where she receives an award for her business skills. Hollering her signature “woo-hoo,” Vicki tumbles down the patio stairs and shatters her champagne glass. Most guests are hardly sympathetic, including Vicki’s husband Donn who laughs into the camera that his wife “AAATTTEEE IT!”

The rest of the episode focuses on the girls’ trip to Santa Monica where they shop at Fred Segal. Each creates her personal scent and then examines some really pricy ($3,000) sexual “luxury toys” encrusted with diamonds of course—which Jeana mistakes as toothbrush holders. Then at lunch, the “real” drama occurs: how Gretchen can secure her fiancé Jeff’s millions ASAP. Vicki and Jeana emphasize how Gretchen must have the “beneficiary designation.” Teary Gretchen admits that they are right but still needs to decide how to solve her crucial dilemma: bring up the subject with Jeff, or immediately marry him in the hospital bed to avoid the question altogether. Only time will tell what manipulation Gretchen will choose in her quest for millions from a dying man. She sure is classy…

Clearly, good taste is seriously absent on this show, but at least they have the boob envy, “woo-hoo”s, and sexual “luxury toys” to make up for it.

Stephanie Browne

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

King Corn Review

What with Michael Pollan's _The Omnivore's Dilemma_, the obesity epidemic, and a new organic-free-range-fair-trade market, food is on the mind of many Americans. Particularly corn. If you couldn't get through The Omnivore's Dilemma (there's quite a lot of corn at first, though I'm told it gets better), try watching King Corn. Learn about food while watching a TV screen. It's a very American thing to do.

King Corn traces the journey of two twenty-somethings as they grow their very own acre of corn. They drive tractors, plant their corn seeds (without actually seeing the seeds go into the ground), and dispense fertilizer and pesticides. The corn grows. Months pass. Lots of beautiful shots of corn fields and blue sky. In the end, they have a successful harvest (four times what their grandparents could've raised from the land) which goes to the local silo. Unfortunately, they can't track what exactly happens to their individual seeds of corn after that--but they can figure it out.

One thing does not happen to the corn. People don't eat it. It's not edible in a corn-on-the-cob sort of way. Instead it gets processed into livestock feed (an unhealthy diet--but luckily the cows eating it are slaughtered before it kills them) or gets processed into high-fructose corn syrup.

The woman interviewed about the process is, to be frank, scary. The words come out of her mouth, she smiles, and all I can think of are the youtube videos re: high fructose corn syrup. (Check out, and then for the spoof) Then the guys try the process at home, which involves chemicals labeled with scary pictures.

So watch the documentary. Get scared about the amount of corn you consume. Also, the occasional animation is pretty cool.

--Jeannette Westwood

I die. D-I-E, die.

Celebrities! Fur! Shiny things! Absurd catchphrases! The Rachel Zoe Project offers you all this and more. This Bravo TV “docudrama,” we are given a look inside the madcap, surreal life of Rachel Zoe, celebrity stylist. The show is centered on Zoe, her career, her marriage, and her relationships with her employees (as well as their less-than-stellar relationships with each other). Impossibly over the top, yet bizarrely irresistible, it capitalizes on American consumerism and obsession with celebrity, or at least with the celebrity lifestyle. In the fifth episode, Zoe is busy styling celebs for the Independent Spirit Awards and gearing up for the Oscars, while simultaneously trying to maintain her relationship with her husband/business partner (whose hair I can only describe as… floppy).

The episode opens with footage of Zoe and her husband, Rodger, sitting next to each other talking about how they feel like they never see each other. It then cuts to Zoe talking about how busy she is, driving around in her preposterously large sunglasses, looking for things for the Oscars. The producers, in their ever subtle manner, cut to images of every high-end store Los Angeles has to offer, even though Zoe is headed to a small vintage-looking boutique that no one has ever heard of. She then heads home to discuss the Independent Spirit Awards (or “Indies”) with her assistants. And right about when I see what Zoe is wearing, I stop paying attention to whatever storyline there may be. Instead I’m pondering the apparent Pomeranian that has been splayed across her shoulders. I mean, really, is that necessary? It only gets worse when I see what her assistant, Taylor, is wearing. It’s what I imagine an Olson twin would wear to the ski lodge. Except more… blindingly bright. Here’s where this show loses me: Zoe is touted as one of the most successful stylists around (and I have read articles wherein she seems more than aware of that fact), and I acknowledge that some of the looks she styles are quite nice. But between those you have a whole lot of crazy!! Take this look for the Indies, worn by Molly Sims. Zoe describes it as “Bananas. Amazing.” I don’t know what that means; I do know that the dress is all sorts of weird. At least Zoe acknowledges that it looks like Sims forgot to wear pants. Add to all this that Zoe herself can’t exactly be described as a peach (although her catchphrases are absolutely fantastic. But she literally does not smile this whole episode), and it makes it hard to understand why she is so successful.

I have to admit, though, that the show is entertaining. Zoe certainly isn’t charming, but she says and wears ridiculous things that make the show interesting and fun. It can get irritating though, especially in today’s climate. Zoe’s lifestyle, occupation, and attitude are unequivocally shallow considering America’s economic troubles. It will be interesting to see if the show can survive another season of such decadence. Still, I absolutely love it whenever Zoe exclaims, “I die. D-I-E, die.” So do I, Rachel. So do I.

Lydia Zodda

P.S. As a parting gift, I thought I'd share with you possibly my favorite outfit from the episode. Here is Zoe shopping with her sister:It's bananas.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Bromance: Do you have what it takes?

From The Bachelor to the Double Shot at Love, the concept of love and how to find it is consistently being redefined through reality television. MTV’s latest adaptation of love shows deals with “bromance.” According to the network, bromance is “an intense brotherly bond that makes two buddies become virtually inseparable.” Bromance, MTV’s newest reality show tells the story of nine ordinary guys who compete for the chance to share Brody Jenner’s lifestyle as his new best friend.
Every episode, the contestants have to compete in a series of challenges to prove that they are Brody’s best fit. The dares serve to test whether the guys are trustworthy, fun, and good-spirited. These have included group “dream dates,” such as hanging out with the Playboy Playmates, skydiving in Vegas, and other challenges, like being judged by Brody’s ex-girlfriend L.C. Every week, Brody sends one more guy home in an effort to select his best friend.
This week’s episode was the finale where Brody has to choose which one of the three guys left--Chris from Orlando, Luke “the jokester,” or Femi “the tiger”--will be his new best friend. To help him with the decision, Brody decides to bring in his mother, Linda Thompson, who has decided to give all the guys a lie detector test. The contestants are taken to an interrogation room where Linda asks them questions ranging from “do you think Brody is real,” to “do you think I’m attractive?” Some of the responses are quite surprising, with Chris saying that he would walk away from this competition if he were offered a million dollar check and adding that he not only finds Linda attractive, but that he will also have fantasies about her. With these responses in mind, Linda gives Brody her expert opinion before Brody decides to kick Chris off the show.
For the last test, Brody follows the remaining contestants’ back to their homes to find out what their lives are really like. First, the three of them travel to Jacksonville to meet Femi’s family. This experience allows Brody to see a different positive side of Femi. However, later in the night when Brody meets Femi’s friends, Femi’s personal love issues get in the way and cause him to leave Brody while pursuing his ex-girlfriend. The gang then leave for Boston to meet Luke’s family and friends. Brody really enjoys Luke’s family but dislikes some of his friends who poke fun at Brody.
Finally, they all return to Los Angeles where Brody makes his final and hardest decision. Luke and Femi are told that they will be escorted in separate cars to different places based on whether you won, or not. It turns out that Luke from Boston’s car led to his victory. At the end of the show, we see that Luke has won Brody’s bromance and as a result, he is automatically brought into the high life--and is even gifted a new car.
It seems hard to believe that true bromance can be found through a television show, but only time will tell whether Brody and Luke will bros for life or if Luke was merely after the fame and riches.
- Ana P.

Monday, February 9, 2009

To Deal or Not to Deal?

Deal or no deal? That is the question that Howie Mandel asks repeatedly of the contestants that pass through the television game show, Deal or No Deal. One of NBC’s hottest shows since its premier in 2005, not only because of the twenty-six beautiful models it showcases, but more especially because of the intense suspense that draws its audience in, as they hold their breaths to see whether the contestant will take a deal or not.

Of the four seasons of Deal or No Deal, there has yet to be a boring episode. Their casting questionnaire asks candidates for their stories of their most lucky moment, most interesting job, an embarrassing moment, and the most outrageous stunt the candidate pulled. No doubt its producers spend their fair share of time weeding out the best candidates to be put on the show.

The game begins as soon as a contestant steps onto the stage. The contestant chooses one case from the 26 cases that the models carry in holding randomized numbers of the amounts of money ranging from $0.01 to $1,000,000. She has to believe that her case is the million dollar case as she starts to eliminate cases by opening them to find out. This is where The Banker comes in and tries to get the contestant to take home as little as possible. He offers the contestant an amount of money based on how she does in opening cases with big or small amounts. Often times, he entices the contestants by finding out what they want the most and offering them that as a prize (if it would cost less) and a sum of money.

But who can blame the greedy contestants when they usually don’t take a deal. Especially when their adrenaline is pumping and the audience is inciting them to continue, shouting their favorite chant, “NO DEAL!” And of course, the contestants do have to believe they hold the million dollar case. The game is all about risk.

--Malee Yang

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Superbowl Review

Holmes' Game-Ending Reception

This past Sunday pitted the surprising Arizona Cardinals against the defensive-minded Pittsburg Steelers in the NFL Superbowl. It was a classic match-up of offense versus defense. The Cardinals, with future Hall-of-Famer Kurt Warner at Quarterback and two of the games top Wide Receivers in Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin, led the NFL in an amazing 14 offensive statistical categories in the postseason. The Steelers, featuring the likes of Safety Troy Polamalu and Linebacker James Harrison, the defensive Most Valuable Player for this past NFL season, were arguably one of the best defensive teams of all time this past season.

Early going in the game was rough on the Cardinals, as a few mental mistakes and a misread on a offensive play inside the red zone left the Cardinals trailing 17-7 at halftime. The third quarter didn’t go well for them either, and they entered the fourth and final quarter trailing 20-7. No team had ever come back from such a large deficit in one quarter of the Superbowl, but the Cardinals quickly found momentum and ended up taking the lead 23-20 on a 64-yard touchdown pass from Warner to Fitzgerald with 2:37 left in the game. The Steelers did not give in, and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger led the Steelers on a 78-yard drive, capped by arguably one of the best touchdown catches in Superbowl history by Santonio Holmes. The third-year receiver, who had an overall remarkable game with 9 receptions for 131 yards on the day, dived fully outstretched towards the back corner of the endzone with 30 seconds left in the game to catch the pass from Roethlisberger. The truly brilliant part of the play was Holmes’ ability to tap both of his feet in the endzone before falling out of bounds. The game was an emotional rollercoaster, or as Al Michaels, the television commentator for the game, said immediately following the touchdown by Holmes, “The emotions in this game have been over the moon!” The game had excitement, depression, a late lead change, and a game-ending dazzling display of athleticism. Can a sports fan ask for anything more?


Wednesday, February 4, 2009

What Would You Do?

ABC’s new show, What Would You Do? asks their subjects just that: the concept is pretty simple, the producers create scenarios that ask the Everyday Joe to either stand up for those who can’t help themselves or stand back and allow a clearly unjust action take place. At it’s root, the show is a revamp of Candid Camera where the humor is stripped away in lieu of taking a closer look at the social relationships that exist beneath. Much like the original, this series examines how a contrived situation can affect the actions of an individual; in addition, they insert a psychologist’s expert analysis to show why or why not an individual’s reactions may be valid. This series is part of a recent string in ABC’s primetime line up of the more serious docudrama variety. The series really tries to tease out who in the general public is good-hearted and altruistic or more concerned with their own appearance or safety, whichever the situation may threaten.
The latest episode featured a set-up involving a blind actress who appears to be buying a cake from a small bakery. As she hands the man behind the counter a fifty dollar bill for her sixteen dollar cake, she makes a point to ask the cashier to tell her what each bill is so that she can fold each one uniquely to be able to know what each bill in her wallet is. The man, in return, gives her six singles and tells her that it is the thirty four dollar change that she deserved; moreso, he dishes out some pretty rude remarks calling her “Helen Keller” and asking her if she has a helper who takes her around. The host of the show asks the audience to think what they would do to step in and help the patron being cheated. Repeatedly, for the young blind woman being wronged in the pastry store, the group of people in line behind her would stand up either demonstrating by boycott or demanding to right the wrong by calling him out to a manager. One man even speaks up about the rude behavior of the pastry worker before he even has a chance to cheat the young lady. To step beyond this singular episode, the producers re-enact the experiment with a young man for a second turn: given the slight adjustment, it was interesting to see that while people still often stood up for the blind victim, more often than not the cashier had to act more outrageously and for a longer while before people would stand up for the blind man in most cases someone would eventually take a stand. Each time, the fight against the rude cashier was instigated by one bold customer who was then backed up by fellow patrons.
At this point in the episode, the frame shifts to an in-studio interview with a psychologist who gives insight into the reactions of the people before they are aware of the set-up. This medical overtone to the show sort of dictates how the audience should interpret the action based on the ‘reliability’ of the source. In my opinion, the show does not seem written for success in our time: though people do like to both revel in the beauty of human kindness and act shocked at the sight of outright unjustness thinking that they would of course be the person to stand up and do the ‘right’ thing. The lack of appeal of the show is sadly obvious in that in only 6 weeks of airing they have not nailed down a solid schedule having aired only 3 times. Unfortunately, people would rather watch shows like Caught on Camera where the subjects are really victims being paraded around as bad examples of humanity and thus, the educational and enlightening motives of the show are not met with the intended reception and in my opinion don’t allow the audience to decide for themselves what the right course of action is.

Kelly Hill

Monday, February 2, 2009

COPS: does it crop crime culture?

It may be shocking to some people that COPS, the American documentary television series, is actually considered to be a reality television program; certainly, I, myself, had no idea that this is the case until very recently when I began my “journey” through finding some topics for my PWR research project. This is the one of the first television program that I began to watch when I first came to the United States about seven years ago; as I began to watch this television series, I began to understand a little bit better about the distinctive culture that I had no idea about before. Some scenes were quite shocking at the time, probably because, firstly, I was a bit young then and, more so because I began to see a new culture.

COPS is, of course, a documentary, or reality, television series that follows police officers during patrol; it depicts criminal scenes, most of which involve some types of violence, drugs, and violation of law. It has been running since March 11, 1989 and, therefore, there are about 700 episodes up-to-date. Apparently, it is one of the longest-running television programs in the United States and the second longest-running show in Fox; correspondingly, it won the American Television Award in 1993 and earned four Emmy nominations.

Some critics have argued that COPS and other crime reality television program actually crop a crime culture by depicting crime scenes in public television. I would like to qualify this statement during my PWR research; my goal is to stand on this side or the opposite side by the end of the quarter.

Yongwhan Lim

Sunday, February 1, 2009

VH1 Scores a TD With TO

Producers at VH1 must feel like they just scored a touchdown. Terrell Owens, a star football player known for his diva-like antics, is going to be the subject of a new reality television show on VH1 this summer. This currently untitled show will follow Owens, also known as TO, as he and his best friends and publicists attempt to reshape his image. Throughout Owens' career, the player has committed several acts of immaturity and recklessness. To list a few of his actions: TO has continually complained about not getting the ball in games; he once publicly accused a former teammate of being a homosexual; and he even almost died from an overdose on hydrocodone.

If there is one this I have learned about television producers, it is that they love to publicize the most private details of a celebrity's life, particularly humiliating or chaotic ones. What might VH1 get out of this football prima donna? 

If VH1 is lucky, TO might be a walking disaster much like Danny Bonaduce. Breaking Bonaduce, a VH1 reality show meant to document the former child star's attempt at rehabilitation, followed the volatile man has he repeatedly found ways to endanger himself and those around him. Over the course of the show, Bonaduce shot up steroids, exhibited alcoholic tendencies, and even tried to commit suicide. While typically these things are preferably kept quiet and private, VH1 let anyone with access to cable television watch Bonaduce tear himself apart physically and emtionally. After the series ended, Bonaduce's wife filed for divorce and full custody of their children. Some rehabilitation.

TO, instead of self-destructing, could actually change for the better, which might be fine with VH1. Perhaps this TO's show will take the shape of former child star Scott Baio's Scott Baio Is 45... and Single. In this show, Baio confronts his inability to commit in relationships and by the end of the series, proposes to his girlfriend. VH1 seems happy enough with this success story, as it just began airing Scott Baio Is 46... and Pregnant. (Or is VH1 just waiting around for the ensuing carnage when Baio snaps...who knows?)

The important thing to recognize is that this new TO show is not about whether TO actually gets better or worse. As long as Owens somehow changes, the network will be happy. Maybe they will be able to witness the star athlete consuming illegal drugs, or destroying the few friendships he possesses. Or perhaps TO will see the world from a different point of view and become a better friend and teammate in the process. Either way, VH1 is going to cash in, maybe even squeeze another season out of the guy. In short, as long as TO can succeed or fail in typical dramatic fashion, VH1 is going to score this summer.

Greg Klausner