I just finished reading an advance copy of Donald E. Westlake's last Dortmunder novel, GET REAL, which will be out in July. It's a fine end to the series, a dead-on skewering of reality television that made me laugh out loud more than once.
But that book, combined with this morning's news that Patti Blagojevich has agreed to appear on "I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here," made me wonder about reality television.
Mrs. Blagojevich -- who admits that she does not meet anyone's definition of "celebrity" -- says she needs to do this to support her family. This puzzles me. Aren't they still hiring at McDonald's? Surely one of the strip clubs out by O'Hare needs a waitress...
Reality TV fascinates me, just because it supports my own longstanding view that many people walk around starring in the movies of their own lives. You know these people when you meet them: remember that interview Marla Maples gave to Barbara Walters, right after news of her affair with Donald Trump broke? She was talking to Barbara; she was also watching herself talk to Barbara, and anyone watching knew that this interview was the product of countless rehearsals in front of her vanity-table mirror, probably dating back to Ms. Maples' earliest childhood.
Some people don't feel real unless other people are watching them. I don't know whether this was always the case, or is just a product of our mass-media society. In any case, I suppose it's lucky that reality television exists, to give these people the opportunity for self-actualization.
No one, thank God, will ever make a reality show about my life; it would be like David Lynch's comic strip "The Angriest Dog in the World," in which the image never changed. You'd just see me on the living room couch, or at my bedroom desk, in front of the laptop...
One could argue that blogging is not too far removed from this phenomenon, and I don't deny that. But for myself, I'll say that blogging doesn't make me feel any more real -- and in fact, as the annual themes of this blog have become more personal, I've found it harder to keep up. Next year's theme is going to be as impersonal as I can make it. Suggestions?