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Alice Singleton Headshot

Hey FOX! For an Extra Month Severance, I'll Cut Off My Own Arm...on Your Network!

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The scamps at Fox, Satan's idea-meisters, have purchased their "next big reality hit" a ticket on the express train from Hell and straight into the nation's pop-culture-reality-bites-down-hard culture. According to Lisa de Moraes, Fox's Rumpelstiltskins are spinning our crappy lives into their golden eggs with Someone's Gotta Go. Think Hitchcock's Lifeboat, but with commercial breaks and a lucrative licensing agreement hanging from its rudder. Quote Fox reality-show nutsack Mike Darnell in the greasy-ease finding suckers on both sides of the conference room table waiting for their close-up: "They want to be on TV. Who knows? There's never a shortage." And there you have it, boys and girls -- if you build it, they will come. Even if it's built on a landfill of fire, brimstone and nuclear waste that is the Fox development team.

I've got a problem with this creative abortion -- 1,359 problems, actually. That's how many resumes that I sent out over a nine-month period in 2008. One of the lucky ones, I had so many "face time," web and phone interviews that I was too weary to count until tax time a few weeks ago when I sat down, went through my calendar and organizer and assessed the damage. Yep, I was lucky all right, because I have friends that have doubled my "down time" (some are on the way to tripling it) that haven't had anywhere near the interviews that I went on until I finally found a decent position, a hair's breath away from foreclosure and homelessness.

This is an economic catastrophe where, if you're not vigilant, you can lose everything, especially your will to stay tethered to this planet. I was let go from my job at a media conglomerate in early Spring '08. Did I think that it would take almost ten months to find a job? Any job? I'm educated, witty and an expert in almost every software in and out of the box. My have contacts and referrals are bountiful -- my rolodex is held together with rubber bands. I've had great successes in all my employment endeavors, and I can turn the world on with my smile! Whistling while I worked, then some board of dudes (yep, all-boy, all-white, all-wealthy) sat around a conference table and selected me and my fellow co-workers for shit-canning to (unsuccessfully) cover their toilet paper allowance for the executive latrine. From my first job in middle school, my bouts of forced separation from the workforce had been short, as I could always get a temp job to tide me over.

But not this time around. More education, experience, business successes and references means absolutely nothing in this job market, and perhaps may work against a person "of a certain age." Going into the helicopter blades of unemployment, I began to notice that the much younger "worker" had the edge, even if they had no worthwhile experience. "Shallow" was the name of the new J.Crew sweater color. Will you be the chosen candidate based on what you can bring to the position? Will you be an asset and you grow the business? Or, do you look and sound like someone I'd like to go for lunch/dinner/whitewater rafting with? Yes, one interview with a twenty-six year-old at a small ad agency asked me how I would feel about participating in the company's annual rafting trip. We never got to the duties and the responsibilities of the position. She was only the "screener" for her middle-aged bosses who trust her to make the decision on a "good fit" for the Account Executive position. This is letting your math-challenged teenager loose on your income taxes -- you may get lucky, but start the hunt for a good criminal defense tax attorney 'cause you'll eventually need one. (BTW, I would have loved to go rafting.)

"I don't think you can find anything more relevant and topical than people in financial difficulties," opines David Goldberg, CEO of Endemol, and one of the "bosses" who will toss the Christians to the lions.

Well, Dave, baby -- you got that right. Except for millions of people currently and soon-to-be devoured in the lion's den of financial ruin," this" is not a show, "this" is really happening -- nothing more "relevant" than watching your life disintegrate before you. It hurts like hell to be unemployed, facing ruin at every turn -- losing your home, your social safety-net, possibly your health and life's savings and work. In these times, when life hands you lemons, the only punch you can make may be hemlock. We have citizens shooting and killing their entire families as their employment prospects, bank accounts and homes disappear; tent cities boom across the land with once-sheltered families living out of their cars, making new "homes" out of old camping equipment. What's in the pipeline for next season -- Gimme' Shelter, a "reality show in which families compete for mortar and brick dwellings? (Note to Mr. Darnell, et al: I've trademarked this creepy concept. Don't even try it, BUT, I am "taking meetings" for my idea of the newly poor selling their pre-teen kids' reproductive tissue to the highest-bidding infertile couple in order to make the family COBRA premiums -- call me!)

So...Messrs. Darnell and Goldberg build their dream homes on the backs of those that may lose theirs, masters of domains crafted on suffering, confusion and probable destitution of their fellow Americans. Will the rest of us watch this pile of poo? Well, you betcha'. Take it from me, you get in a lot of television when you find yourself, er, stagnant. It's one of the few things that you can engage in that's free. As with "real" reality, this is a one-sided deal. Goldberg says, "the boss is untouchable...(the boss) can be the butt of a lot of anger and frustration but the boss cannot be fired".

Yeah, don't I and the teaming millions know that's the gospel truth. Finally, a reality show that's "really" reality? What a concept you have there, Messrs. Darnell and Goldberg. Please burn in Hell.