May 22nd, 2009


I'll think I'll pass...

In celebration of Horn being very nearly off to the printer's, here's a link to a bunch of unicorn tattoos, via Maureen McHugh's blog.

There are ... some very horrifying ones.

I'm still puzzling over why you'd want to put some of those on your body forever. And also the one, look out for it, where they needed to bring the metaphor back to literal. Ahh subtlety. It's too much for some people. Or should that be, not enough.

(And jasonfischer some of those are in there for you for payback for that HORRIBLE email you sent editormum and I the other day :P)


Ahh life

Clearly I have been unwell as I haven't been able to figure out my antibiotics!fail until now. Which means I must be feeling better. In trying to follow the instructions, I have managed to pretty much fail every single day in following the instructions. I googled around to see what you are supposed to do but pretty much am sticking to just trying to finish the course. And hope I didn't create a superbug. My other ear might hurt today but let's move on.

The instructions said to take 3 times a day, 8 hours apart. Is it just me? But that seems kinda impossible to me. Sure, if I slept for exactly 8 hours a day and took one just before bed and just as I woke up, I could achieve this. But you are supposed to take them with food. Yesterday I managed 3 times a day but not 8 hours apart.

I kinda give up on this one.

I like my life when I can get a random phonecall from a friend on the east coast bookshopping at lunch time and asking me which of two books he should get.

Life is good.


On reality TV shows

Just came across this article via yasminke about the supposed upset last night on American Idol where Adam Lambert did not win. Neither Yasi nor I watched the show so I can't give my own commentary on it, on the performances or indeed how biased this article is about the outcome.

But what it reminds me is why I like reality TV shows at all. I like them because they say a lot more about the watching and the voting public (not always the same thing) rather than anything to do with what the show is actually doing.

Who wins when it's a vote-from-home style talent show usually has nothing to do with who has the most talent at all. You can see that when apparently how you dance or cook is related to your life - did you struggle? have you overcome some great ordeal? - the judges ask. I saw it in the Masterchef audition rounds this time - and remarked that apparently if your mother was recovering from cancer, that made you a better contender to be Australia's master amateur chef. What rot. It's all about TV and it's all about pulling the heartstrings at home. If it was about talent, you'd just have a bunch of dancers perform one after the other and we'd all dial 1 through 0 on our home phones to give a score out of 10 and tally em up.

Another example is Casey Donovan who won one of the earlier versions of Australian Idol. She could sing. She had real talent. She made me cry in a performance she gave at about the Top 8, it was so personal and heartfelt. Here was this very overweight, very shy, very awkward 16 year old who didn't know who she was yet in life. And she poured this angst out into her power ballads and made them sound the way they are supposed to be delivered. And an audience of teenage girls can relate to that. They rooted for her, and her overcoming her limitations (not for her talent) in a way that they normally only reserve for the Dean Gyers (who they wish they could shag) in these competitions (he's on Neighbours now). And she won. But the recording company didn't know what to do with her - she didn't fit their mold. She wasn't what normal pop fans want from pop idols. And they fucked up her image and made her sing songs that were beneath her. And she went to where all the other Idol winners go. (It might be down to the local pub. I dunno).

In this example, in American Idol, we see a Jewish boy pitted against a white evangelical Christian from Arkansas. I'll quote a bit of the article (it's written for the Jewish Journal so do with that what you will).

Adam Lambert, whose devastating talent all but guaranteed his win, instead, lost the competition to Kris Allen, a sweet-faced, small-town folk singer.


Actually, it felt more like a series of “Star Trek”. But here, the battle of good versus evil, dark versus light, played out in the context of a culture war. There’s Lambert, 27, the avant-garde rocker from San Diego with clear-eyed ambition for Hollywood fame; and Allen, 23, an evangelical Christian from Arkansas who plays acoustic guitar and does missionary work. In a pop contest starring these opposites, talent is secondary; who they are behind the scenes is much more important.

Lambert is the dark knight. He has raven hair, wears dark eyeliner, black nail polish and leather trench coats. His style recalls classic rock stars, school serial killers and vampires all at once. Beyond his trademark flamboyance, Lambert possesses a sexual ambiguity he’s hardly interested in dispelling: When photos of him dressed in drag and kissing other men leaked on the Internet, he responded with indifference: “I am who I am,” he said, and left his detractors to their own devices. And, if that wasn’t enough to jilt the evangelical crowd, Lambert is also Jewish.

Allen, by contrast, is clean-cut and pristine looking. He wears tshirts and jeans, sings sweetly and leads worship services at New Life Church back home. One look at him and you can imagine the hordes of teenage girls virtuously gathering their friends to call up and vote for him. Allen is the all-American boy, as inoffensive (and unexciting) as vanilla cream pie.

... in the end, ‘Idol’ viewers proved that they’re not that interested in the best singer. They don’t even care about electing a star. All that matters is that they get to worship their Idol, the one who is just like them.

The final line says it all for me. Because actually, that's what reality TV shows are about. That's what these kind of shows have always been about. As I said earlier, the winner always says so much more about the demographic of the voting viewer audience than anything else to do with the formula or nature of the show.

That's why for my money, I really like the formats where the audience doesn't get to play. The ones where it's all down to the wits of the contestants - Survivor, The Apprentice, The Amazing Race and Project Runway.

These shows are still about skills. And that's really fun to watch. But the biggest skill of all is a) sussing out how the game is played and b) managing people.

a) is only ever fun the first season through. A different kind of person signs up for a whole new show. And someone in that group will nut out how the game is played. I always wonder if Richard Hatch had not been on the first season of Survivor and someone else had won that game a different way, whether every single show since, Survivor or other, would involve an alliance. It's how he figured out to win. And every other group has gone through and played it the same way. But I bet there is another way - I think once the immunity idol thing came in, it changed things a bit.

b) though is the most fun to watch. To see really manipulative people orchestrate things for 3 months so that the right people are eliminated in a way that is convenient for their purposes. That's what I enjoy the most about reality tv shows. The people watching.