Unless you’re a professional bike rider or skater you probably don’t shoot video of yourself while working. I’ve long believed in the power of show ‘n tell, something I learned in grade school. But you can scan through some YouTube channels and find people vlogging (video blogging) their daily lives. As YouTube partners they earn monthly incomes by living a slightly (or flagrantly) larger life and capturing it all on video.
You think reality TV is a pretty recent invention, but you’re wrong. According this article in Writer’s Guild of America…
Allen Funt, with his 1948 TV series Candid Camera is often credited as reality TV’s first practitioner. In fact, he started a year earlier with Candid Microphone on radio.”
Reality TV shows like Deadliest Catch, Dirty Jobs and a butt-load of HGTV shows on home improvement have attracted faithful followers. And you can’t think about reality TV without thinking of those contest shows spearheaded by American Idol and The Voice.
Last week nothing trumped the publicity given to Kim Kardashian’s pornographic photos in a magazine in a campaign called “break the Internet.” There is no denying her popularity. According to an article written by Amanda Fortini…
If you know nothing else about Kim Kardashian, you know that she is very, very famous. Some would say that’s all you need to know. At press time, she has 25 million Twitter followers, about a million less than Oprah Winfrey and nearly 5 million more than CNN Breaking News. Her Instagram account, where she is a prolific purveyor of selfies, is the site’s third most popular. You can’t walk through a supermarket without glimpsing her on a multitude of tabloids whose headlines holler about her relationships, her parenting style and the vicissitudes of her ample curves. But she has also graced the covers of highbrow fashion bibles like W and Vogue; with her now-husband, Kanye West, she appeared on the latter above the hashtag #worldsmosttalkedaboutcouple, creating a furor that made it perhaps the #worldsmostcontroversialcover.
Ms. Fortini spent time with Kardashian for the magazine that published the photos. No, I’m not linking to it. It’s easy enough to find without me contributing to the buzz. As Matt Walsh posted something about it on Facebook early last Thursday.
I’d just like to point out that the Europeans landed on a comet yesterday and yet still the only thing I’m seeing on Facebook is Kim Kardashian’s butt.
They landed on a comet, everyone. A COMET. The thing is 300 million miles away, traveling over 40 thousand miles an hour. They put a probe down right on top of it. This is unbelievable. Phenomenal. History making. But our nation is entirely too fascinated with some lady’s backside to even notice. Lord help us. The easy thing here is to call this country stupid, like the Obamacare architect said. That’s too convenient, though. We aren’t stupid. We’re just bored, I think. Immature. We’re like spoiled 12-year-olds in need of constant amusement and stimulation. Too shallow to recognize real beauty, too jaded to be amazed by what is truly amazing.
Let’s take a step back, folks. There’s some really incredibly things happening in the universe and none of it has to do with a reality TV star’s pornographic publicity stunt.
In case you’ve been living under a rock and hadn’t heard, last Wednesday the European Space Agency landed a probe on a comet. That happened on the same day the Kim K photo buzz hit. Matt’s right. Society gave a lot more attention to Kim K than this feat of science. But it only proves how voyeuristic people can be and maybe point us toward some things we can learn about behaving like we’re a reality TV star.
What if a camera crew followed you around all day, every work day? Or how ’bout every day?
True confession, the Million Dollar Listing series – New York and L.A. – are both favorites of mine. The shows are appropriately titled. They’re about real estate brokers who specialize in ultra high end properties in two of the wealthiest cities on the planet. No, the shows are all that realistic because there’s a lot of waiting around, long hours and rejection in the real estate game. Producers and writers can spice things up nicely. Both shows do give viewers a taste of how many phone calls and how many hours are required for success in real estate, but nobody would watch if we saw all the preparation, chasing and waiting.
There is a genre of reality shows that I’m particularly fond of – the business intervention shows. Restaurant Impossible, Hotel Impossible and The Profit are three that I’ve watched quite a few times.
For me, Marcus Lemonis is top-drawer. He’s the host of CNBC’s The Profit and owner of the national company, Camping World. Marcus is a cut-to-the-chase guy who famously focuses on people, processes and product. As a guy who has run companies since my early 20’s, I completely relate to how Marcus operates. Episodes are always fascinating because business owners are the wild card. I’m mostly shocked that some of these people behave so poorly with sound and cameras rolling. The last episode involved a little coffee company that had two very contentious owners. The normally calm, deliberate Marcus had finally had enough – and I was saying to myself when I watched it, “About time.” Marcus decided to just offer to buy the company because he confessed he really wanted to be in the coffee business.
I haven’t computed it, but anecdotally it appears most of the business owners that Marcus encounters are inept at the basics of business. Quite a few of them are just downright dishonest. Almost all of them are highly emotional, to their own detriment. A woman operating a salon business with 4 locations doing about $4 million annually had been burned by a previous business partner. Even though it had been 2 years she seemed stuck in her pain when Marcus gave her some very sage advice.
You’ve Gotta Have A Game Plan That Can’t Be Affected Or Impacted By Anybody Else
Marcus wasn’t telling this business owner that she was in complete control. Rather, he was telling her that she needed to move forward in a positive way where her previous partner didn’t affect her. She needed to make her decisions based on what was best for her and her business. No matter what.
This is where this whole reality TV star business can really hit a wall. We can and often do things that keep up a facade. One of the more common occurrences on The Profit is the business owner who either doesn’t know the vital numbers of their business, or they lie hoping Marcus won’t find out. He always finds out. Eventually.
In our own reality TV series – the one that nobody is filming or broadcasting – we’re either lying to ourselves and others, or we’re being open, honest and transparent. We hear that last term – transparency – a lot these days. What exactly does that mean? It means candid. It means being open.
Jeffrey Pfeffer is Thomas D. Dee II Professor of Organizational Behavior at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business. He’s also the co-author of, The Knowing-Doing Gap (2000). He wrote a piece for Fortune, entitled “Openness and transparency will not solve our problems.” He argues that the Internet hasn’t changed everything like some people say. Instead, in spite of social media and openness, he puts forth the notion that these things won’t keep dishonesty at bay or make sure people are informed. He’s not saying openness and transparency are bad. I understand him to say they’re just not the cure for all that ails us. As with most things, there’s more to it.
Dr. Henry Cloud posted this on Facebook a few days ago, “Over 80% of the leaders I have surveyed have said they have no one they can be totally transparent with. Make sure you are in the other 20%.” Leaders necessarily are unable to reveal everything they know and everything they feel. Hence the cliche, “It’s lonely at the top.”
Yet on these reality TV shows we see people who seem to unbridle the most vile behavior possible. Or producers who foster that behavior, failing to reveal to us the true backstory behind some of what we see. Of course, I could argue that a trailer manufacturer or a coffee company aren’t benefited in the least by openly shouting, cussing and disrespecting their partners with cameras rolling knowing a global audience will have access to see them behaving poorly. It could be that we’re seeing the real people and it’s evident of why the cameras are there in the first place — because these are businesses in trouble. More than that, these are lives in trouble. Dysfunctional daily behaviors playing out on our flat panels.
I don’t suppose this past week was much different than any other week in the online world. We see people living life in their own reality TV show sans the TV. Blog posts written, podcasts recorded, photos shared…giving us insight in the lives of real people. Two videos went viral this week, both of them proving the power of living life as though we’re a reality TV star…because you just never know if it might happen.
One video was a husband and father pulling into the drive through of a Starbucks doing a Slingblade impression. And he did it pretty well, too…completely embarrassing his wife. Kudos to him for sticking with it through the entire thing.
The other video is a major contrast to that though. I’ll let the description posted at YouTube tell you the story…
Chris Picco singing Blackbird to his son, Lennon James Picco, who was delivered by emergency C-section at 24 weeks when Chris’ wife Ashley unexpectedly and tragically passed away in her sleep. Lennon’s lack of movement and brain activity was a constant concern for the doctors and nurses at Loma Linda University Hospital, where he received the absolute best care available. During the pregnancy, Ashley would often feel Lennon moving to music so Chris asked if he could bring his guitar into the NICU and play for Lennon, which he did for several hours during the last days of Lennon’s precious life. One day after filming this, Lennon went to sleep in his daddy’s arms.
For more information please visit: http://www.piccomemorial.com
To donate to a Memorial Fund to help with medical bills and associated expenses, please visit: http://www.youcaring.com/memorial-fundraiser/ashley-picco-memorial-fund/260229#
How open and transparent do YOU want to get? For some it’s very hard. For others, like Kim Kardashian, it’s a career. It’s money. Fame. Fortune. I’ve gone on record saying kudos for her for knowing how to leverage celebrity. That doesn’t mean I respect her, or how she behaves. I simply acknowledge her ability to work the system of celebrity and fame to her highest advantage.
Meanwhile, as of this recording, Chris Picco lost his wife of 7 years and his new born son, all in one fell swoop. With 10 days to go, the memorial fund put in place to help raise money to defray medical bills has raised $76,479 of a $50,000 goal, proving people are touched and willing to help this young man. I admit it. When I first watched Chris play that song to his dying son I thought of my own son’s birth over 34 years ago. I remember how terrified I was at the prospect of something going wrong with my wife. Or with him. And I thought of my wife of almost 37 years…30 more years together with the love of my life than what Chris had with Ashley, he beloved.
Reality Doesn’t Always Play Out As We Hoped
This Is Your Life was a radio and TV series on in the late 50’s and early 60’s. It was sorta like reality TV because the stories were biographical and true. Ralph Edwards was the host, not Michael Hyatt, who now has a podcast by that same name. Here’s an episode from 1956 with Lou Costello of Abbott and Costello fame. When I was very young I remember seeing reruns of this show. I know it seems hokey by today’s standards, but as a very little boy I was fascinated to hear the story of these people’s lives and to see people surprise them on the show. Of course, the subjects of the show were celebrities. Life appeared to turn out mostly well for the people on the show, but every episode was filled with stories of early struggles and trials.
If such a show existed today and the host surprised you with the words, “This is your life” what would that show look like?
Sadly, if a TV crew hit Chris Picco right now the story would be tearful and filled with sorrow. He’s not alone. Lots of people are suffering. Many are disappointed with how things are turning out. For some, it’s just a moment in time. For others, it’s a sustained life-long tribulation.
It’s not about insulating yourself from problems. That’s impossible. You’re going to have hardships and disappointments.
It’s not about pretending your something you’re not. Well, not for most of us anyway. Of Kim Kardashian, Ms. Fortini continues in her article…
The rap on Kim Kardashian is that she has done nothing to merit her fame. But the longer I steep myself in the ambience of her pleasantly languid manner and hologram-perfect looks, the more facile this charge begins to seem. Of course, she has cannily leveraged that fame to build, with her sisters, a beauty-industrial complex, which includes a clothing line, a makeup line, a line of tanning products and seven perfumes. (A collection of hair care implements and styling products will debut in the spring.) Her mobile app, Kim Kardashian: Hollywood, in which players climb their way to A-List status under Kardashian’s tutelage, has earned over $43 million since its debut in June.
The article ends like this…
We’re accustomed to our performers having onstage and backstage registers, but for her there is no division between the two. This is, indeed, the definition of a reality star. She’s not performing, that is — at least not visibly. She is being, and being is her act. Her appeal derives from her uncanny consistency, as does that of her show. It’s relaxing to watch the sisters sprawl on each other’s beds and talk about nothing, to see them discuss constipation cures or their preferred way to eat Nilla Wafers. Like Warhol’s screen tests, Keeping Up With the Kardashians has a disarming purity. It invites us to glory in its stars’ mundanity, which permits us to enjoy our own.
Are we voyeurs because we want to see how grand it must be to be that person who is having crazy success while we struggle?
Are we voyeurs because we want to see the despair of others so our own is diminished?
Are we sharing too much information?
Am I better for knowing that Chris lost his wife and newborn son this week? And for seeing him sing to his dying son?
Yes to all of the above. Is there any going back? No. Once you squeeze the tube of toothpaste, it’s out. There’s no putting it back. You’d best grab your toothbrush and start brushing.