(File this one under I Am An Old Fart.)
Last night I had the rare opportunity to sit down and watch a little TV, just to kill some time. It’s not often that I get the TV and the remote all to myself, or for that matter have the house all to myself, but there I was. (Frankly, I was a little lost.) Spawn was at my parents’ house, my husband was out of town, and I was waiting for the appointed time to head out to Spawn’s school for a mandatory parent meeting.
I put a load in the washer, fed the cats, and sat down for a few minutes in front of the TV. I ran through the cable guide to see what was on, and you know what? There was nothing on that I really wanted to see. I flipped around for just a little bit and somehow I landed on a show on MTV called “Teen Cribs.”
For the uninitiated, Teen Cribs is all about touring unbelievably enormous and tricked-out houses, designed as mortgage-bearing playrooms for the teens that live in them.
For about ten minutes, I sat agog.
Hey, I realize that even in today’s crazy economy, there are people living the high life. There are some super-rich folks out there. The people featured in this “reality” show (and I use that term “reality” loosely, hence the quotation marks) aren’t celebrities, as you might suspect. Celebrities, we expect to live large. These are just regular non-celebrity rich folks. (Also using the word “regular” loosely, as there is nothing regular about them.)
But really. I guess it’s nice and all, to have gobs of money to build indoor playrooms the likes of which one might find in, oh, Vegas. I have a few people of my own personal acquaintance with the odd pinball machine or big-screen TV in their basement, who have a nice swimming pool or tennis court or stables, or all of the above. I’ve been in a few houses that seem to ramble on for days. Still? The homes featured on this show were over. the. top.
The premise of the show is that the teens themselves take the audience on a tour of the home, showing off the toys and games and doodads that keep them and their friends from ever leaving the premises. Why go to the arcade at the mall when you have one at home, right? And in watching these teens schump and mumble their way through the tours, I got to wondering (and flat-out assuming) if these kids had any sense of entitlement.
We all know someone from our youth who was deemed the “rich kid” in the school. That was the person who got a new car for their 16th birthday, and it was a new new car, complete with the new car smell and Mercedes/BMW/Audi emblem on it. The person who had the best of everything, the latest, the name-brand. It was obvious they had money. Having come of age in the 1980’s there was a lot of conspicuous consumption going on in my rather large high school. To a one, each of those rich kids was an entitled snob. I often thought how cool it would be to suddenly come into a pile of money and have those kids want to be my friend, only to feel quite justified in rebuffing their friendship. (Hey, I was a teenager. Not only did I live in FantasyLand I harbored animosity toward the popular crowd. Results are typical, I suppose.)
I flipped the TV off after watching a couple of segments of the show because I was, in all honesty, taken aback. How nice for them to be so rich. How nice for them to be able to flaunt it so. Whereas in this neck of the woods there are agencies out there begging for people to donate school supplies so that kids, whose parents are out of work, are able to have pencils and folders and backpacks.
I don’t watch a lot of MTV, mostly because I’m not in a position to sit and watch TV. But I’m not their demographic, and I know this. I used to be in their demographic when all they did was play music videos, but times have changed, and I guess so have I. To show that kind of lavish teen living when the bulk of the people watching it are somewhere far below that line, in this day and age, seems to me to be uninspired and uncreative programming on MTV’s part. And then to call it “reality” TV is adding insult to injury.
Thing is, I know the difference btween “reality” and reality. The bulk of young people having this sort of thing presented to their wondering eyes don’t have a lot of distinction between the two. No wonder kids are rotten and entitled. What they see presented as reality is nowhere close to the truth.
How I long for the days where the people defined pop culture, not the other way around.