Lauren Rabaino

They say that life’s a game. Well, TV is the same. So who’s up next to get their 15 minutes of fame?

Sometimes I wish “Real World” never happened. Then we wouldn’t be stuck with these crappy reality shows. The newest trend in these suck-fests is the “next” phenomenon. We’ve got “America’s Next Top Model,” “The Next Iron Chef,” “The Next Soap Star,” “American Idol,” “The Last Comic Standing,” and even the ludicrous “Who Wants To Be A Superhero.” (Honestly, unless you’re going to give me an operation that gives me telepathic powers, I am not signing up to call myself Braino Draino and prance around in spandex on national television … it’s more fun at home.)

These shows are just blowing the job application and audition process way out of proportion. On P. Diddy’s “Making the Band,” there was a famous episode where he made the contestants walk a bunch of blocks to get him some cheesecake. What part of the game is that, Puffy? Like, if I can sing and dance, but I don’t know where to get you a strudel, I’m out of the band?

What if your job application was really like one of these shows? You go in for the interview and your future boss says, “Well, I feel like you’re a great person and you’re well qualified for this position, so I’m going to hire you. But there’s a twist . you will be teamed up with the person you hate most in the office and forced to cooperate in an endurance race. If you lose, (cut to close-up of contestants looking frightened) your co-workers will have the option to vote you out of the company. Keep in mind, the winner gets the Orbit Chewing Gum squeaky-clean benefits package.”

America, you have the power to decide these people’s fates. So text ISPENDMONEYONSTUPIDSHIT to 555. Homie, please. Is it worth your hard-earned funds to give your favorite “Idol” singer a chance to win so that you can spend more money on an album featuring his or her hit single about creeping around people’s houses and watching them? (Anyone else listen to that Clay Aiken song and wonder how he left out the part with the binoculars and trenchcoat?)

Why do people get so emotionally involved in these things? They cry when one of their new friends gets fired, voted off or disqualified. Like you didn’t exchange phone numbers and e-mails so you can show up to a nightclub inexplicably at the same time after you’re both off the show? They act like they just sent their friend to the electric chair. And furthermore, athletes don’t knock somebody out of the playoffs and get all emotional like, “You know I really like the guy, (insert sniffles and bottom-lip quivering). He’s been a lot of fun to hang out with, (now in a whiny high-pitch) and I don’t know if I wanna play the game anymore now that he’s out of the playoffs.”

The only trendy reality game show I think you should watch is “American Gladiators” (both the ’80s episodes and the new ones). It’s like watching a gang initiation. Contestants get thrashed by behemoth gladiators with silly names like “Wolf,” “Crush,” “Turbo” and “Hellga” (yes, the spelling is correct) for the opportunity to win cash and become a gladiator. Now tell me that doesn’t sound like getting jumped into the gladiator gang? “Now that you’re one of us, I need your pee, we got a test today.”

If you love great shows, like “The Office,” that are off the air because of the writers’ strike, you should refuse to watch the reality garbage the networks are putting in their places. You might speed up the negotiations because the networks will want to get you back. But then again, it looks like America will settle for anything mildly entertaining – why else would “Keeping Up With The Kardasians” have lasted this long? Oh yeah, because sex sells. Damn you, America; get your values straight!

Try on some “American Gladiator” and tune in next week for another electrifying episode of TRENDASAURUS. TRENDASAURUS is brought to you by AcipHex, the only non-prescription drug on the market whose name sounds like “Ass Effects.”

Brian McMullen is a journalism senior and Mustang Daily columnist.

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