According to the city's paper of record, the Burlington Free Press, MTV's "The Real World" is coming a-knockin' on lil' ol' Burlington's door. They're looking to cast folks for their 24th season of the "reality" show, considered the granddaddy of the genre, and the longest-running program on MTV, formerly known as the station that played music videos.
The photo at right is what the "Real World" looks like in Cancun, Mexico, minus the barrios and aching poverty.
Now, I know what you're wondering — what is this "real world" of which you speak, Lauren? The cruel world where people get laid off from their jobs, can't afford health care and get caught in poverty's downward spiral? No, I mean the real world of cheerleaderish post-teens with preternaturally sparkling teeth named Ashleeye and Madysonne whose problems range from where to get the best California wax to figuring out which alcohol will get them drunk without making them fat.
Frankly, I didn't even know the show was still on. I assumed that it had been gobbled up by the scads of other reality shows out there like "My Mother Is a Two-Bit Hooker," "Mud-Wrestling Widow Grannies" and, my personal favorite, "The Homeless Olympics," in which people without homes compete in challenges to win prizes like food scraps, shopping carts and cardboard boxes.That's on Japanese TV.
But apparently, the MTV show is still trundling along. Since debuting in New York in 1992, it has taken up residence in San Fransisco, London, Seattle, Key West, New Orleans, Denver and Sydney, among others. I'm not sure who still watches it, but somebody must. In this age of overwhelming entertainment options and media fickleness, MTV isn't about to keep a flagging show on the air, no matter how deeply woven into our pop culture fabric it's become.
Right now, they're filming season 23 in my old 'hood in Washington, D.C. My friend Dan Zak at the Washington Post recently wrote a brilliant piece basically about what a non-issue it was to have the "Real World" cast in this Dupont Circle neighborhood. Since the cast came to town to intern, they mostly just go to work and come home, all the while followed by camera crews. Apparently, they're nice and neighborly. Good television that does not make. What they need are some Vermonters to shake things up a bit. Cuz you know how rowdy we likes to get up in deez Green Mountainz!
Photo on the right is the cast of The Real World 18- Denver. Not a snaggletooth in the lot.
On Saturday, the casting crew will be here in Vermont, looking for the next young person/people who want to exploit themselves for the sake of a little notoriety. The casting call on the production company's website doesn't specifically indicate who they're looking for, but the Free Press says they're searching for " a person who is physically challenged; someone struggling with weight issues; a person affected by a natural disaster;
OK, I'm pretty sure I'm exactly what they're looking for. I consider myself physically challenged — now that I'm old and decrepit, I can't do things like run a 6-minute mile and double-time it up the stairs. I struggle with weight issues — this past winter, I ate a half-pint of ice cream every night and now my jeans won't fit over the floatie ring that my waist area has become. I lived through the Blizzard of '93 in Pittsburgh and I went to a prep school. I would like to spotlight the plight of epileptic dogs and bring some much-needed attention to those seizurey little pups.
You can join me at the auditions this Saturday at Ri-Ra on Church Street in Burlington from 10 a.m.- 5 p.m. But be warned – I fight dirty. I will pull your hair or scratch your eyes out if that's what it takes to get me on the teevee.