Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Soup...So Meaty

For those who aren't already, you should be watching The Soup, hosted by Community's Joel McHale. I was first introduced to this television show a couple years ago, as my partner loves "Spaghetti Cat," and I love the insight into the reality television shows that are currently airing. McHale offers a hysterical perspective on the show.

His most recent segments on Gold Rush Alaska (GRA) have made me laugh harder than I have in a long time. The terminology on GRA is closely linked to things one may hear at a gay bar: glory holes. This term is why McHale has named the segment "Gay Shows: Alaska Edition", not to be confused with "Gay Shows" which mostly features RuPaul's Drag Race. As someone who doesn't get all the American RTV shows, it's a great way to catch up on what's happening in the world. As a gay man, it doesn't offend me in the least bit; these shows are pure comedy in my opinion.

With the recent legal action between Cara and Gibson Reynolds, and McHale and the Soup, it's hard to say how the show will be affected. Radio programs, like 102.1 the Edge constanly are under scruitany for their "defamatory remarks," but I say people should not take these remarks so seriously. The job of the host is to entertain, and in this case, inform on a hot topic that is in the news. If it's in the news, it's fair game. The couple was interviewed after losing their first born child, who only lived one day, and was told they could not use embryo screening to make a dwarf baby. In 2007 they were questioned for their ethical choices of this practice.

If you're going to be in the public eye for something that poses controversy, then you need to be ready for the backlash you will receive. I'm sure the Reynoldses received positive support, but McHale and others are using what the public give them. I'm sure the contestants on RuPaul's Drag Race and the men of Gold Rush Alaska are not going to be suing The Soup anytime soon--it's publicity for them.

Google The Soup or Cara and Gibson Reynolds to find more stories. Watch The Soup Friday's at 10 p.m. on E!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Placing the blame

Besides Survivor, my favourite reality competition show is The Amazing Race (TAR). For me it's a true test that is based on luck and skill, and should be done without the dependence on others, except your teammate. Unlike other reality shows where you have to "trust" others to help you in this game, competitors on TAR should only depend on themselves to get further in the game.

Since the first season of TAR the reason for losing the race has been because of a blunder caused by the cab driver, the locals or wrong directions. My favourite reason for losing the race is when someone blames their teammate. This past Sunday didn't have Jaime or Cara, the NFL cheerleaders, placing the blame on each other but just bad luck. In the previous season they competed in, season 14, they lost because of a poor cab driver in Hawaii, ending in second place overall.

At the end of each leg, everyone who does poorly tries to find an excuse as to why it was not them who hurt their chances of winning or staying in the "front of the pack." But I wonder this: isn't it your fault as you are part of the same team. The best couple for who wronged whom was back in season one, Lenny and Karyn, who fought with each other so much that Karyn dumped Lenny on the finish mat when they were eliminated. Now that's class!

Like I said before, you cannot blame another for your loses. Just like in life, wins and loses are determined by your motivation and ability to succeed. Most of the time, teams are running for a chance to win the money. At one point or another, they re-evaluate their chances only to determine how important the grand prize really is. Those who get to the end and win do so by true determination; those who lose gave it their all and failed trying, or gave up half-way to the finish mat. Just don't blame the local citizens for their wrong directions, because it was you who chose to ask them.

To check out more TAR and other great reality TV blunders, check out MrTheamazingrace on youtube.

Monday, March 14, 2011

...then came Craftsman

Elisabeth enjoys Doritos and a Dew.
I want to get this blog post in before the next episode of Survivor and we have to meet a new Sears product. The immunity challenge last week involved Craftsman products from Sears, in which the castaways had to use a shovel, an ax, two saws, and a hammer to cut through the course's obstacles. It was the first time since Survivor Palau where the castaways used the products in the challenge. Typically the product placement occurs less-subtly in the rewards, where the castaways get Doritos, Charmin products, Coca-Cola, either a Ford, Saturn, Pontiac or Chevy. This was my favourite implementation of a product into a show.

Product placement is the lazy man's advertising. In all actuality, it's smart for producers to have the products in the show. Similar to the start of television soap operas when the housewife would use a certain brand of soap products to sell to the audience, reality television shows have jumped onboard to this form of advertising--they've even started to steer the cart.

It's Coke , Dawg.
Last year I wrote an essay on this topic, and I was not shocked to find that Survivor, the Biggest Loser (B.L.), and American Idol were the top three shows that used product placements. The placements are not subtle either: the top ten Idols in the first season appeared in a Ford commercial, and to this day the judges drink out of Coca-Cola cups; Survivor lets castaways win a call home on an Sprint phone, which also sponsors their website; the Biggest Loser trains the contestants in an Anytime Fitness gym, and the B.L. books, t-shirts and fitness materials are found throughout the campus.

It's just going to get stronger, as regular television shows are having small product placements appear. In movies it's second nature when no one realizes the reason a Mac in front of Alec Baldwin's naked body in "It's Complicated" was because Mac paid for the computer to be there. Apple ranked number one in product placements in movies in 2010; Apple appeared in 10 of the top films to rank number one in the box office, with 30 per cent share ("Shocker! Apple product placements dominate hollywood"). It's difficult to find a show out there, that hasn't ranked number one in ratings, to be without product placement. If you can find one, I'll shake your hand.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

First left Russell...

Russell Hantz
The best night of Survivor has occurred. Russell Hantz, the evilest villain in the history of the game, was finally eliminated from the game and we will never see him again. In his own words "I am done playing Survivor."

Natalie White beats Russell 7-2
Russell was first introduced to the Survivor world in 2009 during Survivor Samoa, and before the first episode Jeff Probst (see left of screen) deemed him "the best villain Survivor has ever seen." I have to agree with that statement: Russell burnt other's socks on the first night, dumped out all the water and made his fellow tribemates lives miserable. But through it all, he dominated the strategic part of the game. He lost his first season to Natalie White for being too villainous, but he did manage to eliminate the strong eight members of Galu.

Sandra beats Parvati 5-4; Russell got not votes
His second season in Survivor Heroes vs. Villains gave Russell another advantage in an all-stars game: no one had seen him play before because the episodes were just airing in the North America. I believe he would have gone much sooner if anyone had seen him play. Parvati Shallows, the runner-up of that season, had "heard" about Russell's game play and strategy through producers. Their alliance helped both get to the end, but it was Sandra Diaz-Twine that became a two-time winner of Survivor (her previous win was during 2003's Pearl Islands season).

The Tribe has Finally Spoken
Russell's downfall was that he had a sense of entitlement. He "believed" he was destined to win Survivor, and that it was "his game." In his first two appearances on Survivor, he was able to find the hidden immunity idol (a small idol that can be used to nullify votes when it is used at tribal council. It can only be used once and must be presented before the reading of the votes). While he plays the game well, he never plays to win.This is why none of these photos show Russell in the winning position, and why he is out third this round (second due to Redemption Island).

I am not a Russell supporter. I laughed tonight as he cried before his dramatic exit. I think he's too self-righteous and am glad to see him go. Third time really was a charm-- for him to leave. But now that he's gone, bring in the newest tribe member: Craftsman. That's the next blog so stayed tuned. Check out CBS's Survivor website for more info about the new twist.

Monday, March 7, 2011

In the Real World

On Saturday I came across a new Canadian reality television show, specifically for kids: In Real Life. It's an Amazing Race-style show where nine teams of two, between the ages of 12 and 14, compete in "experience challenges" that are based on a chosen occupation. The kids, all from Canada, must complete these tasks in order to move onto the next "experience." From my research I discovered I am watching the first season, while the second season is currently underway and aired at an earlier hour.

The first season, so far, has taken the group of 18 to Atlanta, Georgia, where they completed tasks at a race car track: go-karting around a regulation NASCAR track, changing an air filter, tires and fueling a race car, and racing around a track at 240 km/hr to find three flags; the second took place in Florida at an alligator farm, where the teams had to collect baby alligators, one adult alligator, carry rats to a feeding yard filled with giant alligators, then race to the observation deck. At this point, the green team (Jesse, Barrie, and Carlisee, Toronto) were eliminated, and another reward was given out and a "wrench", as in "throw a wrench into the situation", was given out to slow down another teams progress in the next "experience."

I know that was a long explanation but you, my readers, should know the show and now watch it. I am purely jealous of these kids for two reasons: 1) they get to do these cool jobs I didn't even dream of as a kid, but now think it would be really awesome to do now; 2) They get to compete on a reality tv show that's in Canada! After watching this I know now I was born either way before my time or way after my time, in the wrong location.

But that's what I love about this show is that they are opening opportunities for these eighteen to experience different, if not life-threatening, jobs. All I had when I was their age was bring a kid to work day (I got to be a principal), and would have loved to had a chance to try out cool and interesting jobs. With only four weeks away until I enter that "real world" I only hope I get to test drive a cool, out-of-the-ordinary job. If PR is what it's shaping up to be, then I guess I'll definitely get my fix.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Dancing with the "Stars"?

I have developed a great admiration for the people who compete on dance shows, especially celebrities. Celebrity reality television shows are supposed to be easy (e.g. Celebrity Rehab), with little challenges that don't harm them and the filming doesn't take longer than a few days. Dancing with the Stars isn't that.

DWTS has become a Monday night ritual, like how The Bachelor is for some people. With the creation of the newest celebrity status -- Reality TV Star -- we are seeing a wide range of personalities on the series. Last year was my favourite by far: who knew that Mike "the Situation" Sorrentino could make it that far (the people of Jersey Shore, that's who); or that Kate Gosselin could "dance"? The fact is that reality TV stars aren't trained professionals, so it'll be hard for them to make it to the finals (Bristol Palin is an exception: she's not a reality star, she's a "teen activist"). Jennifer Grey did not surprise me last year, and overall I thought the cast was something to look forward to each week. This year may be different.

This year's cast is hard to explain because the names aren't that familiar. Rather than take celebrities who need a boost in their careers, ABC and DWTS's producers have reached out to current popular names and some old favourites who could use a little touch-up. I had to think twice before I realized who Wendy Williams or Kendra Wilkinson was, but to hear that Kirstie Alley, Chris Jericho, and Ralph Macchio are on the show made my day. Those are classic names, all with interesting resumes; I cannot say the same for Chelsea Kane (still trying to figure out who that person is). I think the reality competition shows, or the few that are left, need to keep bringing back names of people we enjoyed from the past and not from our present. Celebrity Apprentice 4 is airing on Sunday and Gary Busey, LaToya Jackson, and Star Jones are all revving up the audiences for a drama-filled season. I hope DWTS can do the same with their almost famous cast.