Sometimes you just want to chill out.
Last night I took the opportunity to watch a reality show that is generating a lot of buzz here called “First Contact“. It is a three part show that exposes a group of 6 “regular” Australians who have had no or minimal contact with Aboriginal (indigenous) peoples to a diversity of examples of how they live. In some ways, it was a too-good example of the reality show genre, almost a parody, especially in its heavy handed editing and overly dramatic voiceovers (“Bo-dene is about to confront something shocking that will shake her to the core”). They also created drama where there was none, and glossed over many chances for meaningful pedagogy on the issues and legal regimes that confront Aboriginal populations. And yet, it did present Aboriginal communities in a variety of contexts, and gave this American a little view into the lives of these groups. Having been in Australia now for only about 10 days, I do get the sense that they are more in touch with the legacy of their colonialism and treatment of these groups than we are in the US. And yet, it seems there is also an ongoing evaluation of this legacy that probably swings back and forth over time, and with changing of governments and attitudes.
My friends Brian and Adam (or, if you prefer, the couple known as BrAdam) had extra tickets to what I thought was a taping of “The View“, and invited me along. I say “what I thought was” because I was slightly nervous to discover that the show is live every day except Friday. I arrived at the studio on the (somewhat) upper west side at about 8:30 this morning and met my friends in line. When I got there Brian showed me the letter he had received about attending the show as a member of the studio audience and I was surprised by how detailed it was. Not having received the memo beforehand, I quickly realized I was all kinds of out of compliance (I was not wearing bright colors for example), but fortunately they let me in anyway. Once inside the security, we stood in the lobby for about an hour waiting to take the elevator up to the studio, somehow both excited and bored at the same time. Our boredom was fortunately alleviated somewhat by examining the mostly New Jersey crowd that had come to see the show. In particular there was a 60-something woman with a scary orange-leather tan and matching orange and yellow skintight outfit, accessorized with huge orange string art/dreamcatcher earrings. We loved listening to her talk in her heavy bronx accent, saying things like “I wooda got dawna uh cawfee, but ya know how picky she is, and if I gawt anything wrawng, ya know dere wood be hell to pay…HELL…TO…PAY.” After that we speculated on the sexual orientation of the very few men in attendance and concluded that we were somewhat unique. Once inside and in our seats we were instructed on proper crowd etiquette, such as when to clap and how loud, how not to look at the camera, what our enthusiasm level should be, etc. The first part of the show had the panel discussing stars behaving badly and such, and then there was a “surprise” visit by some of the cast members from “Modern Family” to promote the season finale this evening. I love that show, so it was cool to see them, even if they said nothing particularly of interest. Next up was Will Forte from “SNL“, who I quite like, followed by someone from the show “Lost” that I never watch and couldn’t be bothered about. All in all it was a fun thing to do, and interesting to see how they put together a live show such as this. I was also surprised that the audience was not larger (less than 200 people). Having had the foresight to Tivo the show, when I got home I watched and saw that we made it on camera several times (I posted a crappy video clip here in case you are interested).