Jim Austin's Vermonter at Large
Jim Austin
Jim Austin
is a freelance writer from Putney, Vermont.

His previous columns are archived HERE.

Posted 12.26.02


My slice of reality

Reality TV is becoming the hot new phenomenon of the new millennium. We can now eavesdrop on the likes of Ozzy Osborne, Anna Nicole Smith and the gang from "Survivor."

Why would anyone want to do this? What is our motivation to peek in on the lives of the weird and the mundane?

I have only seen Ozzy and his family on TV once for a brief period. The viewer is confronted with Ozzy, a rock star noted more for his drug orgies than his music. If I were producing a public service ad decrying the use of recreational drugs I would make liberal use of Ozzy.

First of all, one is struck (hard) by his appearance. He appears to have had a skin replacement. Instead of a normal pinkish hue, his skin has sort of a gray Dracula-like quality, as if he has been lying around for a few years in John Wayne Gacy's crawl space.

Perambulation seems a struggle for Oz. He combines the zombie-like lurch of the undead with a squinching mince usually confined to Metamucil overdose.

He speaks a language know only to his immediate family. We know it is English because every sentence has a minimum of two censor bleeps.

Ozzy is not a well man. His wife, though equally obscene, appears to be the brains of the outfit. They say there is someone for everyone and Pamela has been saddled with Ozzie.

Their son schlumps around the home in Drew Carey glasses and a corpus that has never seen an exercise bike. He's Pugsley from the Addams family struggling with hormones. I only caught a glimpse of the daughter. Her hair was the color of glandular discharge and strangely it didn't seem at all out of place. I didn't care for the show.

One I like better is "Fear Factor" on NBC. Its success is greatly influenced by the fact that there is nothing better to watch while waiting for Monday Night Football.

Fear Factor is a sort of game show where contestants vie for $50,000. They usually have to perform two stunts requiring courage and dexterity and one that requires a strong stomach. To say it is reality TV is a stretch.

True, the competitors are not acting but they are all cut from the same cloth. Contestants are all beautiful babes and hunky guys. Not required is an IQ above room temperature. It is as if they are bred on a ranch in South Texas where the sun has burned away the powers of intelligence.

T and A is a major draw. Large breasts, while often a drawback to performing the stunts, are almost essential to the application process. The show could easily be over with in fifteen minutes. It runs for an hour.

Highlights include the comments by non-participating contestants when one of their number is performing. While a cute chickie with a rack to die for is eating a bowl full of pig's testicles in a bed of night crawlers you might hearů"yuk, dude you are totally going to yak" and "dude, you could totally get a parasite." And on and on until you absolutely have to switch channels. Fear Factor is better than Ozzie but no Emmy for sure.

The only one I watch with regularity is the Anna Nicole Smith show on the E channel. It comes on late at night so that the sight and sounds of Anna don't stunt the growth of any pre-pubescent children.

Here is the deal: Anna is the product of South Texas; her real name is Vickie Lynn Hogan. Born without brains, she was convinced that the only way she could make it big was to make "them" big and she did.

At 19 she invested in a set of yabbos that would choke a dinosaur. (I know it seems like I'm preoccupied here but this is reality). From there she went on to the cover of Playboy and then hit the trailer trash lottery.

She married a billionaire just shy of 100 and ended up inheriting 88 million bucks. The rumor is that the old geezer died with a smile on his face that the undertaker couldn't wipe off without post mortem surgery. Soon after, the lawsuits brought by the family were settled Anna decided to let us all in on her day-to-day life.

She's let herself go a bit since the Playboy days. Well more than a bit. Anna is busting out all over. She tests the power of spandex Capri pants in ways never intended by the manufacturer. Her speech is laced with South Texas obscenities and she seems to eat every hour on the hour.

On one show she challenged her live-in lawyer, her assistant, and her son to an eating contest at an upscale Italian restaurant. Halfway through the meal she got up to go to the ladies room and was followed to the can by the lawyer who plastered his ear to the door to see if Anna was purging.

Anna caught him and was furious. He had violated her trust, you see. Watching Anna is very similar to slowing down and peering at an auto wreck on the highway. You are sickened by the gore, ashamed that you looked and really glad that its not you.

Why do we prefer to watch Anna over the Discovery Channel? If I knew the answer to that I wouldn't watch Anna would I? Duh.