This is the true story of seven strangers, picked to live in a house, work together and have their lives taped, to find out what happens when people stop being polite and start getting real.
The Real World.
Over the course of this break, I've also been given the opportunity to indulge one of my favorite past times: trashy reality television. But why is the Real World showing up in this queer little slice of the interwebz, you ask? I can assure you, it's not just because this blogger is green with envy that he's been excluded from yet another season. The first reason, of course, is to show Chuck Klosterman that he is not the only one in the world capable of discussing the Real World and also using the word "postmodern" in a sentence. It is my hope that this will entice Mr. Klosterman to give up
Secondly, Terp enthusiasts, my very own soon-to-be alma mater is finally being represented in the annuls of reality television in the form of the kinda nerdy, only recently de-flowered Michael Ross. I've got to say, in terms of people who might be representing our fine institution, I'm pretty unimpressed. UMD is quite well known for its diversity. Why, MTV, did you select a straight, white, frat-type, when you could have instead selected one of our extremely qualified and infinitely more interesting queer students (for example, a socially awkward blogging undergrad with a penchant for putting his foot in his mouth)? I'm just saying, MTV, you missed out on some marketing gold there.
At least Michael Ross seems to be sort of smart, though obviously one has to be generous when talking about intelligence in MTV terms. It's not totally unlike running a three-legged race with a corpse as your partner. In one of my all-time favorite Real World exchanges, Michael (with whom I have no less than five facebook friends in common) uses the word cataclysm, and then proceeds to spout information about solar flares, while the rest of the cast just stares blankly at him. The camera then cuts to a confessional with another cast member, who explains that she needs a thesaurus just to understand Michael, so she usually just smiles and nods. Pseudo-unscripted television at its finest.
And then there's the fact that this is one of the least diversified seasons ever. I was more than a little sad to discover that the season was void of queerness. No gay dolphin trainer. No sassy lesbian from Milwaukee. Not even a little bi-curious straight girl that we can all agree is pretty offensive. On second glance though, that might not quite be the case. Enter Dustin Zito. Dustin is your typical, obnoxiously attractive straight white guy. Oh, plus he used to be a gay porn star. Dustin did a stint on a vaguely reality-themed site called (WARNING: Actual porn link) Frat Pad. Maybe the season is a little more diversified than I first thought.
MTV certainly seems to be developing a fetish for gay-for-pay porn stars. This phenomenon fascinates me. What does it mean for a totally "normal" straight guy to make his money posing naked for other dudes? What does it mean for him to peddle his heterosexual identity (on which he insists, relentlessly) to a gay porn site whose premise is that all of its models are straight dudes who just happen to be naked? Of course, part of me wants to label this phenomenon as a complex intersection of capitalism and identity that says a lot about the ways in which we concretize identities. The realist in me also just thinks the man probably needed some cash and didn't have much going for him other than his revoltingly attractive face. Not that I'm bitter.
Also, while I'm asking speculative questions, what do we make of MTV's recent documentation of the gay porn industry, with particular emphasis on gay-for-pay porn stars? On the one hand, its nice for gay smut to be getting some recognition. On the other hand, this phenomenon has a strangely pornographic-imperialist feel to it. Does MTV's treatment of gay porn give the impression that my porn is really just something that straight guys get paid to do and that I happen to enjoy? Does it frame some of the gay porn industry as a bone that straight guys are throwing us (pun obviously intended)? Don't straight guys have their own smut to publicize?
(Obviously this conversation about queer porn is framed almost exclusively in terms of gay men, not in an effort to recapitulate the terms of the rampant sexism that exists in the gay community, but rather because the majority of my pornography experience has involved man-on-man action. Is there a parallel phenomenon in the lesbian porn community? I would be fascinated to know.)