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Mike Reyes, aka Mr. Controversy, has considered himself a writer ever since he was a child. He wrote for various school publications from about 1995 until 2006, and currently runs both The Bookish Kind and Mr. Controversy, which is an offshoot of the regular column he wrote in High School. He's also authored several short stories such as "The Devil's Comedian", "The Devil v. George W. Bush", and most recently "Wait Until Tomorrow". He resides in New Jersey. Any inquiries for reprinting, writing services, or general contact, should be forwarded to: michaelreyes72@hotmail.com

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Friday, September 10, 2010

My Abusive Relationship With Hollywood: Episode 8 - My Generation Sucks, or "Proof that ABC has the biggest vagina"

 This column has been inactive for quite a while, and frankly I have no excuse for it.  None at all.  This whole blog has been inactive for quite sometime as well, and the only thing I can say is that Writer's Block seems to be more powerful in the Summer than in the Fall.  Nevertheless, it's time to resurrect old columns, and attempt to make the words flow again.  And what better way to do that than to indulged in a specialty of mine...bitching about Hollywood!  It is with this that I bring to you, the triumphant return of My Abusive Relationship With Hollywood.


When Roger Daltry sings, "I hope I die before I get old", he's not talking about life but he's talking about relevance.  From what I interpret, the point of the lyric is that he'd rather die than become an irrelevant statistic that serves more of a collective than an individual identity.  In other words, he'd rather die an outcast than live as a sheep whose needs are marketed to, catered to, and packaged towards.  Whether he succeeded or not is up to the fans and himself, but in any case the point remains: would we rather leave this Earth when/if we mellow or is it still worth it to live as one of the faceless crowd?  It's a question we pose to ourselves every time we look in the mirror, and when do we start asking this question?  In fucking High School.  How better than to bring this question into the public consciousness than by creating a pretentious, schmaltzy, trope laden, flimsy excuse for ratings that looks more like Grey's Anatomy meets The Yearbook Club than an actual network drama.  Behold the bastard child that is, "My Generation".

Trope-a-licious, is it not?  In just 30 seconds, we have the stereotypes and their destinies laid out:

- Blond Girl - 2000: "I'm a perky actress wannabe" / 2010: "I'm a mom...but I still 'wannabe' an actress.  *giggle* "
- Alex P. Keaton, the Second - 2000: "I'm going to be a Republican Candidate!" / 2010: "I burned out big time...and I knocked someone up BIG time."
- Token Black Guy/Football Player:  2000: "WHOO! / "2010: "WHOO IRAQ!"

I'm sorry, but this show promo is the equivalent of an annoyingly perky blond from Market Research standing in front of a focus group shouting, "Doesn't that look AWESOME, you guys?!  Don't you want to just DVR that shit and wallow in the fact that while you were full of piss and vinegar ten years ago, you've mellowed out to a bitter shell of your former self?!  YAY CLASS OF 2000!"  Sure, the promises of youth versus the unfulfilled future have been one of the greatest sources of pathos throughout the history of fiction.  But quite frankly, it's never been THIS douchey.  At least, I can't remember it being that douchey, I could be wrong.  After all this is, "A drama series unlike anything on television".  (Which in industry talk means, "A drama series JUST like anything on television, only with a different cast.")

Still, pre-existing history or not, you can't escape the fact that this commercial is marketing to a specific demographic, specifically plotted on the timeline of recent events where they're still young enough to remember accurately but not old enough to remember idealistically.  And according to ABC, our generation is one of hipster douchebags who've either compromised ourselves to fulfill our dreams and be with the people we want to be, or we've just dashed it all away entirely and are struggling to get it back.  So we're either an unhappy overachiever or an ambitious burnout, which is humorous to think about when you contrast it with the fact that the reverse used to be true.  I get it:  Nostalgia plays, we've got a new demographic entering that prime real estate in the middle of the 18-35 year old demographic, and what better way to capitalize on that than give these people the stereotypes they best identify with, combined with the everyday angst the audiences for this show are probably feeling while watching it.  Remember, the people who are playing the parts of the protagonists were ambitious High Schoolers once too...they just somehow got to their goals earlier than you.

Perhaps the most damning part of all is while they aren't showing it, you can bet your ass there will be at least one "Ugly Duckling" in the bunch.  You know...the stereotype they made movies about back when we were STILL IN High School.  Apparently, they aren't so popular once we graduate, because as we all "know" the awkward kids graduate and become successes.  Not always the case, but we're going by popular perception here, so let's run with it.  What's wrong with marketing success stories?  How about the nerdy kid who started a dot com and managed to retire early?  (Without being an asshat, mind you.  I understand "The Social Network" has all but said caveat covered.)  How about the Goth girl who somehow got it together and managed to live a fruitful life free of the social pressure and depression she might have faced, to become a better person?  What about the Gay teenager who comes out of the closet and sheds off all of the social stigma they felt they endured during less tolerant times?  Why do we always focus on the same three archetypes when we revisit the same goddamn personal era of achievement?  Give us something new, for fuck's sake!

This is all by the numbers bullshit, and just because it's focusing on people our age instead of a previous generation, it's supposed to be something "unlike anything on television". Again, you transplanted the whiny nature of Grey's and transplanted it into a pseudo Breakfast Club sequel that not even Stephenie Meyer would touch with a sparkling ten foot pole. It's like EVERYTHING we've seen before! In fact, I'm going to call a couple things out:

* The football player is going to be uber sad that he's in Iraq and wish he had his glory days back again. (And 10 to 1 he gets traumatically injured/handicapped/dies. Remember, I saw The Hurt Locker.)
* Burnout politician/surfer dude will reunite with ex-girlfriend/hook up (who's probably seeing/married to someone else) and will join her in a union of matrimony to sanctify their bastard spawn.
* The actress will be more humble, less spotlight hogging, and a "sensitive soul looking for guidance in the storm of the now". (In other words, no change, just age. Remember, Glee's still on the air.)
* One nerdy kid will succeed and they will never be spoken of again.
* One "Gay kid" will come out and they will never be spoken of again. (Remember, Glee's still on the air.)
* Someone will actually be happy with their life...and they will never be spoken of again.
* This show will be cancelled during mid-season sweeps, or at most will not live to see another season. (So don't buy the "Season 1.0" DVD set, instead wait for the "Complete Season 1 Series" box set.)

You want to know how our generation is going to be remembered, if we go by the "historical records"?  We're the first kids to be spoiled and eventually dumbed down by technology.  We're the first kids that thanks to said technological "liberation" became the first in a line of more demanding, more consumer minded, and more vapid citizens than ever.  We can't do anything unless a famous person tells us to do it first.  We can't buy anything unless it's gotten that seal of approval from someone who we think we know.  We can't live unless we're comfortable, and we can't be comfortable unless we have what we want, and we can't have what we want because we don't want to work for it.  So we sit at home, lamenting our station in life, and watch shit like this!  What the fuck happened to the dreamers, the innovators, the writers, the individuals, and the leaders?  Nothing...they're just too busy on Facebook, Tweeting about how Jersey Shore was so intense this weekend and how they're gonna go drink their feelings because OBVIOUSLY the world wants to know about them and only them!  Face it, we're a generation conditioned to respond to fame, and in doing so we think we're guaranteed a piece of that fame to ourselves because when we actually chose to listen and obey, it wasn't to our authority figures.  It wasn't to ourselves.  It wasn't even to the positive role models in our lives.  It was to some moron who found the shortcut before we did, and we will do ANYTHING to get there ourselves.  All this show does is perpetuate it a little further, and enclose us in the balm of self pity through fictional catharsis.  If they succeed, we succeed through transference.  Which, is a load of shit when you think about it.  Not to mention, we're going to be remembered as a generation that allowed Limp Bizkit to become chart toppers.

Do you want to succeed?  Shut the TV off.  Log out of Facebook.  After you're done reading this, think to yourself about what you wanted in life, how you got sidetracked, and how you can get there again.  Then get out there and contact an old friend from High School.  Ask them the same questions, and get to talking about the good old days past, and the ones yet to be.  We can do better than this, people.  We can steer ourselves out of this Hell hole we're creating and do something better.  We have minds, voices, and souls; and all should be put to good use.  As for me...this is what I want to do with my life.  I want to write.  Not much, not a very glamorous profession, but I love the fuck out of it.  And you know what?  I bet I could out do "My Generation" any day of the week.

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