In the Sound Factory episode of MTV’s True Life a Long Island bartender wanted to become a Manhattan bartender as his first step towards his dream of “making it.” Once in Manhattan, he was confident he would be discovered. Discovered for what? Nothing apparently. His aspiration of fame was profound but oddly simple.

When, on an episode of Punk’d, Nichole Ritchie was interviewed on the red carpet and asked if she’s famous, she responded that she was, she was going to be on the reality show Simple Life. Asked when her home video would be appearing, a reference to her co-star Paris Hilton’s sex tape, she naturally turned away in a huff. (Though rumor has it that a Baywatch actress’s video has been offered to a tabloid and last night discussion of blurry photos of a “topless” Britney Spears appeared on the Net.)

When one considers the social achievement of youth, their aspirations and the expectations of those around them are an important factor. Apparently, many youth today aspire simply to be famous without concern for how they might get that way. Reality TV has focussed on three classes of subject: (1) “real” people, such as the Loud family, (2) genuine celebrities, such as actual musicians, actors, and athletes; those who did something that drew the camera to them, (3) and this new class of hyper celebrities that the camera focuses upon seemingly of its own accord. There’s always been an arbitrariness with respect to where the camera’s gaze settled, but it also feels as if we’ve recently crossed a threshold. Does Howard Stern’s “Wack Pack”, including a man with a cocaine induced mental impairment, merit the attention of the camera? Do Rich Girls?

Heaven knows what this means for the masses of youth that are socialized by this circus. Fortunately, ReplayTV permits me to crunch 60 minutes of such silliness into 15 minutes of viewing.

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