I’m not in any way entertained by reality TV. One episode each of “Survivor,” “Big Brother” and Dancing With The Idols was evidence enough that there was nothing in the genre for me.
OK, I got hooked on Orange County Choppers for a time, but that was the exception that proved the rule — the clear-cut demonstration that all these reality shows were scripted beyond belief, to the point that the phoniness itself became its own raison d’etre:
1. Someone wants a theme-based motorcycle.
2. Cast elaborates on why this will be the best bike they’ve ever built.
3. But it comes with a catch; there’s a deadline for its completion.
4. Many problems arise that put this deadline seemingly out of reach.
5. Everyone argues about whose fault these problems are.
6. Mikey appears for some comedic relief, as everyone takes a break from shop work to shoot ducks.
7. Miraculously, everything falls into place at the last minute and the deadline is met.
8. Cast elaborates on why this was the best bike they’ve ever built (reprise).
I mean, I know John Grisham works on a formula, too, but somehow it’s really not the same. I kept thinking that if you’re building hundreds of motorcycles, odds are that at least one of these projects would eventually go according to plan — which, or course, it never did.
There would be the fake injury every now and again where someone would show up with his arm in a sling, but it wasn’t very convincing. So finally I lost interest.
Fast forward 10 years, and apparently my complaints have been addressed. According to USA Today, which I was shocked to learn still exists, motorcycle customizer and reality TV star Jesse James actually cut off half of his pinkie finger while working in his shop last week.
This is what’s known as a game changer.
It’s one thing to fake being lost (with your entire camera crew and production staff) in an Amazon jungle, but if these reality goofs are going to start actually lopping off digits, they just might win me back.
No one wants another Steve Irwin situation, rest his soul, but within reason, a little pain and suffering is only fair, considering how much suffering they inflict on the viewer. Removing all the safety guards from their grinding machines, for example, would be a good start.
The only thing that bothers me about Jesse James is that his first call wasn’t to EMS, it was to TMZ. He quickly provided photos of the missing finger and an almost gleeful account of how it happened to the sensational website.
If he was looking for sympathy, he didn’t get it, at least not from the folks commenting on the subsequent TMZ story, including the post, “That little pinky didn’t make it all the way home.”
I don’t know the man, so I can’t comment on the broadside of public opinion that this was something he had coming to him. But the real just deserts were twofold, represented by the people who thought that a.) the pictures were doctored and the whole incident was faked to revive interest in his fading celebrity, or b.) he chopped off his finger on purpose for the same reason.
If I had to pick, I’d hope it’s the latter. If you’re going to be a fake, at least be a man about it.