reality TV, the good kind
October 17, 2012
Yes, it does exist, I think, and no, I did not watch the debate last night.
Instead, I’ve been quite immensely pleased with SyFy’s creative competitions. This season’s group on Face Off is fantastic, I think. Friendly, good work ethic, professional. They packed all the drama into the first episode when the narcissistic asshole walked off, and it’s been supportive group hugs ever since. (Aside: something very similar happened at a writing workshop I was at once, and it was spooky seeing the same dynamic play out here. Turns out, there’s a certain kind of self-important personality who, when confronted with and criticized by authority, simply cannot handle it and turns tail. Just fascinating.)
Hot Set is kind of a hot mess, mostly because my brother’s a set designer and I’ve spent every episode thinking, “This would drive Rob absolutely batshit insane.” But like Face Off, the show still offers some good creative lessons. Especially last night. Word of advice: If you ever hear yourself saying, “I just have to hope they won’t notice that,” or “Surely no one will notice that,” that thing will be your downfall and you must stop whatever you’re doing and fix that right now. This is true of building sets, writing books, designing costumes, anything.
Back to Face Off, I’m so glad Nicole got a second chance, because I don’t think she should have been booted off in the first place, and then because of what she said last night when Glen asked her why she thought she was doing so much better now than before — she’s won the last two challenges. And she said, basically, that before she was rejected, she kept trying to do what she thought the judges wanted, but now she was doing what she wanted. I actually shouted at the screen, “YES!” With her second chance, she has nothing to lose and she’s putting her heart into it. This is also true of any creative endeavor: you have to create from your heart, do what you want, create as if you have nothing to lose. This is what will separate you from the crowd.
And switching gears entirely: I watched live online (barring the twenty second delay for the possibility of utter disaster) as Felix Baumgartner set the altitude record for parachuting, at 128,000 ft. Breaking Joseph Kittinger’s record of 102,o00 ft, set in 1960, which I wrote about in a short story. There’ve been a handful of attempts to break this record over the last ten years or so, and this was the first not only to succeed, but to even get off the ground, literally, so I was happy to get to see it. But I really hate the jokes going around about how “an energy drink has a better space program” than the US now. Because really, NASA’s got exploratory probes in every corner of the galaxy, we’re doing complex mineral analysis on Mars, we’ve mapped Mercury, we’ve got satellites entering interstellar space. The U.S. space program is doing more and learning more than it ever has before, and that rocks.