October 1998
s m u g
by Joe Procopio

Casting Call

There is only one thing more tired than normal people who want to be famous, and that one thing is boring famous people. It's a dichotomy, I know. But it's also somewhat of a revelation. A revelation that occurred to me last night in front of an episode of the Real World.

That's right. I watch the Real World.

Well, not really. Although I'm all for it. There's nothing more revealing than the harsh glare of studio lights when they're bent in an ironic arc. It beats the hell out of regular television, which, when summed up, is simply an endless string of boring famous people. On the flip side, The Real World has always been a cartoon, in a pop-culture sense. That being said, the show accomplishes exactly what it sets out to do. It exposes the human condition of people giving their all to convince you that they're not acting. Like those people who try really hard to pretend that they don't care if you like them.

Ergo, it's the Disneyland for people who think they're famous and would rather be boring famous people.

This season's series came to what should have been a momentous climax last night. The episode (and, I'll admit, I haven't seen a whole episode since the dreadful "Puck" era), featured the girl with Lime disease breaking down into a schizophrenic mess and making a self-imposed exodus from the show in mid-season. On her way out the door she tells her nemesis, the African Jewish-American guy (or is it Jewish African-American guy, it's essential to get that nailed down) that, although he hasn't yet realized it, he is a homosexual. His response was to follow her car, flag her to a stop, open her door, and slap her.

It was grisly, ugly, pathetic, excellent television. It was a Springer moment without all the scripting and choreography. And it went by without so much as a dramatic pause. The car drove away, the guy went back into the house, a couple of the other roommates explained, in incomprehensible understatement, that she must have really pissed him off, and then the credits rolled.

I had to share this. But no one I knew saw it and, when I tried to recreate it for them, my description was met with ambivalence. So I logged onto the MTV site to find out if the suits were, as I would expect, beating this moment into a frenzy worthy of, well, worthy of MTV-style hype.

Nothing. Not a thing.

Admittedly, they hadn't updated the site from last week. Most of the comments revolved around Justin and Janet (of whom I have no recollection, they seemed to be supporting characters around the aforementioned meltdown). What was there however, was an invitation become part of next season's cast.

Now, raise your hand if you've ever thought of this.

Come on. No one's watching.

During the inaugural season, I thought it would be neat to bum around New York with free rent. Although my aspirations of becoming the next "Eric" left a little something to be desired. Furthermore, that was all years ago, when I was still figuring things out and only giving advice to the marginally famous.

But I know a bunch, a big bunch, of people who have made it all the way to dropping their audition video in the mail. There's something about MTV's big fish tank that, when viewed in small doses from the outside-in, makes it as attractive as the kind of coffee shops they only have in the movies.

Okay. I've rambled long enough. Here's how to get on the show.

It goes without saying that the Real World is all a big scam. From a production-values angle, these kids are pre-defined, down to their eye-color and catch-phrases, before the location is picked. It's been that way since the first experiment. It's television, it's formula. And you don't screw with the formula.

So what you, the MTV hopeful, should do is get yourself a video camera and method-act one of the Real World Basic Seven Personality Types.


I've included examples from each of the first three seasons. The first two season's groups I had actually watched and the third group I was just able to match, relatively quickly, from their profiles on the MTV site. I'm sure you can go through the remaining seasons and do the same. If you're into that sort of thing.

Type I: The One Who Doesn't Belong (Julie, Irene, Pam). This person, usually female, often has a real job and/or just doesn't have the stuff of self-idolization. It's hard to pull this off in an audition, so you might want to read on.

Type II: The Protagonist (Kevin, Dave, Puck). Positives: Usually the most popular character, goes on to do the most commercials and walk-on roles. Negatives: Usually kicked off the show, possible legal action.

Type III: Tragically Gay (Norman, Beth A, Pedro). I think this one ran its course. From what I can gather they've replaced the type with "The One With the Painful Secret."

Type IV: The Painfully Shallow Hunk (Eric, Aaron, Mohammed). Just work out a lot and spout ideals that everyone else already knows. But spout in the most passionate manner possible. Post-Real-World? Dance video and/or Buns calendar.

Type V: The Wishy-Washy Nice One (Andre, Jon, Judd). You're gonna get laughed at. You'll also probably have a bad time on the show. On the plus side, no one will remember you.

Type VI: Power-Hungry Female with Personality That Makes Achieving Real Power Impossible (Heather, Tami, Rachel). Three words. Republican Sex Kitten. If you can pull this one off, you probably don't need the show. Most likely you already live the show.

Type VII: The One with Some Sense (Becky, Dominic, Jo). I'm not sure these people even auditioned. More likely they were MTV interns, pulled in at the last minute when the "Slut-Who-Doesn't-Mind-the-Camera" couldn't get the release form signed by his or her parents.

There it is. Godspeed. By the way, if, for some reason, one of these personality types really does describe you with accuracy, then forget about it. You're already on your way to fame. In that case, tone down your act a bit and head over to one of the networks. I'm sure it won't be long before you land Everybody Loves Your-Name-Here.




in the junk drawer:

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