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Ben Turner Storms 'The Real World', June 6, 1999 :: Ben Turner's Soapbox

 

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archived soapbox: June 6, 1999
"Ben Turner Storms 'The Real World'" [permalink]
    keywords: TV
    soapbox #: 190
    written: June 6, 1999
    words: 2030

"Ben Turner Storms 'The Real World'", an Essay

Alright. I admit it. I secretly long to be on one of those MTV's "The Real World" seasons. For the uninitiated, The Real World is an MTV experiment that throws together a bunch of different young folks into a lavish, fully-furnished house in some interesting city so that they can have their lives videotaped for a few months. Basically, it's 17- to 23- year-olds or so who are obviously going to have philosophical or personality differences that cause everyone to get in a big fight halfway through the season until one person gets kicked out and is replaced with someone else who meshes in with the group personally so that everything ends on a good note. One person's really young and inexperienced (read, sexual virgin), a few people are hardened and jaded and outspoken, a couple are really sweet, one or two are talkative and dependent, and then there's one person who doesn't fit. That's either the person who gets kicked out or the person who doesn't communicate much. That's my spot!

And MTV looks good in the whole process because they have scores of desperate young people (like myself) who try to think of ways to get picked to spend three months sharing their immaturities with other little brats while it's all on camera for the amusement of nasty little hellvixens and young adolescent male voyeurs who develop attractions towards the girls on the show. MTV figured this one out perfectly.

The show is often maligned, particularly by people who consider themselves to have lived hard lives (oh whee, join the club), since they feel the subjects on the show are spoiled brats who don't really know what life is about. You know, it's your typical pseudo-intellectual posturing of people who can't wait to grow old and boring and, somewhere along the line, wise and even happy.

But me...well, as you know, I am a TV junkie, a pop culture junkie, a whore to the commercial pimps, sucking up whatever's put in my face because that's what they know I'm willing to do. I actually like The Real World. I suspect more people do than they admit. It's a secret little pleasure. Next season, the show's going to be shot in Hawaii. Naturally, my brother and his girlfriend expressed reservation towards Hawaii's future with this primordial scum invading their paradisial future land of residence. Deep under it all, I wonder if they're actually curious...

The Real World is strangely addicting. You see regular people putting up with living with each other, describing their feelings to the camera, knowing full well that it will be broadcasted on MTV for years to come. You see people's reactions to different situations, and you see how petty they can be. You of course see MTV's little interpretation of the whole affair. I just dig stuff like this. It's sad, I know, but I do. ;)

As much as I trash other people out of a distaste and distrust of them, I also feel a strange affinity towards other people my age. It's something I missed out on my childhood, spending time with a group of other people. About the closest I got was being part of a baseball team full of psychotic, spoiled kids and their even more psychotic parents. Ever seen anything like baseball families? It's the scariest shit. I fear they throw the baseball around as a family in the park or something. Or draw pentagrams on each other's foreheads for birthday parties.

Eh, but can you see it? Ben Turner on The Real World? I'd be the computer geek that everyone says, "Whoah, it's so cool that you know how to use computers; I'm scared that I'm going to destroy it every time I touch one!" to...or, "You'll have to teach me some of that Internet stuff...my e-mail stopped working for some reason and I think it's because I typed in my street address at yahoo.com..." You know. Computer geeks understand when the computer illiterate are trying to communicate with them. It's the equivalent of someone saying to you about tennis, "Yeah, I've played tennis a few times, but I always hit the ball straight up..."

Ben Turner, the computer geek who keeps to himself most of the time, but opens up to show a sensitive side...and everyone bothers him with their personal problems and then they turn on him and question why he spends so much damn time doing whatever it is he's doing when blah blah blah other things he could be doing with his time. Ben Turner the naive little kid who thinks he knows more than he does when in actuality he's still a little pup who can't even compare to YOU, Mister.

And yet...it's attractive. ;) You have to admit, the lofts or warehouses or whatever that they stay in are pretty cool. And they get a lot of national exposure, not to mention MTV puts them all on a trip to somewhere else in the world... You know, fish out of water kind of thing... I want to be part of "The Real World: Serbia" season! And then we take a vacation to Antarctica where Jenny the annoying bitch of the cast gets eaten by a polar bear, and the bonding between the remaining cast members as they realize what's truly important about the world... Sniffle. I dig the group management stuff, as long as no one on the team is completely incompetent (group work and incompetent group members being eternally inseparable, unfortunately). The few times I've worked in a group, I've been a natural leader, strangely enough, and I enjoy seeing everyone realize what they've accomplished together. So, well hey, I could live with other people my age for a few months. Social interaction fascinates me for some reason, yet much of the time, I wish not to engage in it myself... Does that mean I'm destined to become some sort of sick, twisted sociology professor who spends long hours in his dark office taking notes on a yellow pad, secretly spying out his window at students as they walk around campus?

Maybe it's just that I want to do something that involves spending a lot of time with other people my age. I have admittedly grown up in spheres of the world predominantly inhabited by adults. It's only recently that I feel I've connected more with others my age as I've become comfortable with the shit that grownups and old fogeys have to deal with relentlessly for their whole lives. No matter how snobby others get towards young people, I still maintain that young people are a blast to be around. It makes me sick to see people who consider themselves educated and fair-minded trash youngsters because they act immature and stupid and childish... That's the whole point... But fun involves being stupid and immature and childish. I don't even see it in such negative terms anymore. I used to push myself away from the usual youth stereotype, but it occurred to me finally that one doesn't define himself through playing off of others, but instead by being himself. That is, you cannot grow and develop by antagonizing others, but instead by being a protagonist in your own little world that you create for yourself.

So you heard it here first, folks... I think what I'm going to do is as follows: I'm going to graduate next year, in the spring of 2000 (yay), and then I'm going to take some time off and travel. Or maybe I won't have to take time off in order to do it. But I'd need to seriously upgrade my equipment... Yes, that's what I want to do. I want to get to know this world a lot better. I've only recently become sensitive towards London... Did you know that the movie Notting Hill with Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts is actually named after the area in which Anna and I stayed? Notting Hill Gate, Kensington High Street...yes, I know where that is now. That sort of familiarity is something you cherish. And I have little familiarity with any of the world, not even the United States.

Of course, keep in mind, if I'm offered a hefty salary at an ultra-cool design/web/.com/marketing firm, screw the travelling for a bit... :P

I need to spend this next year generating one big final push through the university so I can graduate with those 16 years of school or whatever under my belt. My web design career's come a long way in only a couple years or so, so the next year should hold many more pleasant surprises for me. Any project I get is a pleasant surprise at this point -- I am, after all, highly suspect in the "professional" world of web design. Cough. Given another year of investments and trading securities, I hope to have a strong foundation to start my life with fresh out of school.

Then again, MTV could do The Real World in Austin...Austin's a snappy little town. Technologically bustling, home of the largest university campus in the country (i.e. money from massive MTV promotions), young and fresh political and social atmosphere, plenty of action around town... And then I could still go to school while on the show. ;)

I have it all worked out. I should be in charge of The Real World's thinktank!

I think I've set myself up pretty well to have a fairly reasonable financial backing to support myself out of college for a bit... So it would allow me to go off and do something completely different for a bit, if I liked...something crazy like move to London and start up some .com company out of a small building or whatever. I think after all these years of being tied to school, being free of it will let me widen my horizons substantially... Live life a little more vividly and all that shit. I have a good head start.

Are you reading this, MTV? I'm whoring myself out to you, so whatever panel of judges not much older than me can consider how popular I would be on the show. I promise I don't take up much room. I could be the serious, wired kid on the show. And I clean up after myself. You could set up some stupid stunt where someone else on the show accidentally cuts off my Internet connection and then we argue until we start fighting and that would be a whole episode right there. Or there could be some "see the cast member's web site" promotional thing. I could donate my shirts to the MTV charity auction. Yes! More more more! I am an MTV slut! And then when it's all done you could hire me to work as part of the web site staff there for a generous sum of money as project leader...right? Besides, MTV's web site REALLY sucks right now... It had a design a long time ago that was really ahead of its time. Now, however, MTV's site is an embarrassment, considering it's the rallying site for the generation of youth... In return, I get cool pre-release CD albums and lots of sweet official band memorabilia to scan in and put on the site...yummy, gimme some of the good stuff so I can leak it onto the 'Net...

How pathetic is this? Oh well. I have no shame anymore. I figured I'd just take a moment to muse upon one of my flights of fancy... It's not something I do too often on this site of mine. I just decided I'd admit to being a complete and utter junkie who enjoys such braindrain as MTV and shit like that. It's just more honest, you know?

And how many personal sites these days can say that, without a fake, condescending sneer?


 
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