Monday, April 27, 2009

Mocking our betters

The American fascination with celebrity (or sellebrity, as James Twitchell calls it) fascinates me. I am pretty sure that the fascination of the rich and famous--our social betters--is rooted in our genes. How else can one explain the ease in which people for millennia have lived in hierarchical societies.

Only occasionally do politicians become important celebrities. John Kennedy is the best example, though Barack Obama seems intent on equaling him. More often celebrity goes with theatrical, athletic, or musical performance. (The gatekeepers of celebrity have been very hostile to reality shows because they provide another avenue to celebrity, and celebrity by its very nature is limited--one person's gain is at the expense of others.)

Which brings me to the current series of Donald Trump's Celebrity Apprentice. The first and even the second seasons of the original Apprentice were entertaining, interesting, and even informative. I never understood why the goal was to win. The best outcome, it seemed to me, was to last until the late rounds and then be eliminated. At that point you would have showcased your abilities, gained useful contacts, and have a variety of options open to you. I never understood why a job with the Trump organization was a special prize. It would be interesting to learn how well the people who have been on the non-celebrity Apprentice have done, and what correlation, if any, exists between success on the show and career success.

The last regular season of the Apprentice was a parody of itself, with the losing team camping in a tents. Bad as it was, the Celebrity Apprentice has been even worse. Paradoxically, shows can become so bad that they re-emerge as good shows, and the Celebrity Apprentice may have achieved this result. Many of the celebrities, most of whom are former stars if they ever were stars at all, are exposed as nasty, egotistical, and thoroughly dislikable people. There are exceptions, but most of them were voted off early. In the last episode, Melissa Rivers, daughter of Joan Rivers, was "fired." Her exit was a temper tantrum.

Anyone who has an iota of common sense must realize that he or she will be "fired" because that is the nature of the show and Donald Trump often makes capricious decisions. Hence, a rational person would prepare for an exit when agreeing to appear on the show. It would be a wise move to have an exit statement prepared beforehand that is gracious, and to practice is so delivery is poised. Most of the people who appeared on the regular Apprentice understood this and made gracious exits.

In conclusion, it is often fun to watch people on make fools of themselves on national television, especially when these people think that they are our social betters, and this is the only reasons that the current season of the Celebrity Apprentice has been entertaining.

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