I see the best and worst minds of my generation destroyed and ignored by free-range narcissism, MTV fucks and close encounters with video cameras and confessional booths, whose fix is television, or more correctly, celebrity, an all consuming nectar.
I see the best and worst minds of my generation destroyed and ignored by free-range narcissism, MTV fucks and close encounters with video cameras and confessional booths, whose fix is television, or more correctly, celebrity, an all consuming nectar, promising fame but only delivering embarrassment and, often, a nasty case of herpes.
Fuck you, reality television. I hate your stranglehold on the public image of my generation, though I’m as fascinated as I am repulsed, and I can’t help but feel a little bit responsible.
Take, for example, Bromance, MTV’s latest shit-storm of entertain-o-vision that perfectly encapsulates my existential dread.
At it’s center is Brody Jenner, a Los Angeles celebutante who is famous, much like Paris Hilton, not for doing anything, but rather for his proximity to fame and willingness to expose his life. His friends and family seem to have a grip on basic-cable reality television, most notably with The Hills and Meet the Kardashians.
Bromance is a competition show where a dozen guys, young men desperate for attention, compete to become “bros” with Jenner. The prize is an initiation into his lifestyle—promises of friendship, dead-behind-the-eyes fame and a gaudy douchebag lair at the top of the L.A. skyline.
Before this show, I was not aware of Brody Jenner as a person or idea. The contestants on the show, however, know everything about him. And from what I can glean, they feel one of three ways: 1) They want to be him, 2) They hope knowing him will get them closer to Lauren from The Hills, 3) They want to have sex with him and, vampire-like, suck out his celebrity.
It should be noted that the third option is most prolific, and sets up the never-ending hilarity of the show.
A bromance is, by definition, a non-sexual relationship between two men that most intelligent people simply refer to as “a close friendship.” But these guys are not intelligent, and their feelings often manifest themselves in unintentionally homoerotic ways.
The producers and star of the show seem to be in on the joke. But the contestants definitely aren’t. Why else would you stage an elimination round in a hot tub? Or set up romantic “bro sessions” in front of a slow-burning fire? Or constantly talk about your feelings and why you need each other (often accompanied by crying)?
Take the most recent episode, when a contestant named Alex lost the competition and didn’t get the privilege of dining with Brody. He whines in dismay about the winner: “He gets to have a fireside, like, romantic dinner with Brody. Instead I get to eat fish.”
He says this without irony, which makes sense. Earlier in the episode, Brody made him take his shirt off and wrestle a beefy biker dude wearing studded leather, y’know, “to prove his friendship.” I would be upset too if I didn’t get a little love later.
The whole inept and hilarious routine aside, the problem with Bromance, or at least the idea that it makes clear, is its reliance on finding young people who are willing to destroy themselves for a taste of fame.
I worry that an obsession with famous people and the unquenchable need to fulfill narcissistic tendencies—exemplified by Facebook profiles, YouTube videos and almost every form of “new media”—are fast becoming the hallmark traits of my generation. Basic-cable reality television just amplifies them.
But what is there to be done about it? Why do so many individuals want to supplicate themselves to the teat of near-celebrity? Obviously, the majority of human beings are not like the confused monsters on TV. Still, something is being reflected back at us. Something ugly.
And as this new mode becomes a dull roar, and a whole new generation of young teenagers—the market for MTV—internalizes the insanity, what will happen? Every piece of technology is like a mirror. We’re fucking rapt with attention—and all we see is our disgusting selves.