My husband is obsessed with sports. My brother-in-law is obsessed with movies. They both hate to shop and could not tell you whether Balenciaga is a fashion line or an island in the South Pacific. So why are they completely addicted to Project Runway? Last night while we were watching, my brother-in-law told me what he loves about it: the public shaming.
That's when the judges confront the designers every week, before they cut someone loose, and give them a little tough love. Minus the love.
The formula is the same on other "reality shows." I'm not sure what in human nature compels us to watch another human being shamed in public. But it obviously has appeal. Look at the ratings.
Hopefully by now we've learned that most of these "reality shows" bear only a passing resemblance to "reality". And what is politics if not the ultimate reality show? Especially this year.
In 2004, Karl Rove should have won an Emmy for the Swift Boat campaign. The Republicans have mastered reality programming. And America is watching -- the same way we watch American Idol.
The designers on Project Runway are competing to get a fashion show. John McCain and Sarah Palin are competing to get the most important jobs in the world. So why do we allow them to avoid the tough talk that is given straight to a reality contestant? Why is Kim Kardashian subjected to public shaming on Dancing With the Stars, when Sarah Palin isn't?
It's a sad truth that right now, the McCain campaign is less real than a reality show.
If politicians heard straight talk from reality show judges, here is what Sarah might hear from Heidi Klum:
"We asked you to define the Bush Doctrine and you couldn't. We asked you to talk about the bailout plan and you couldn't. We asked you to name a newspaper you read, and you couldn't. We asked you to name a Supreme Court case and you couldn't. We asked for answers and you give us nonsense. We asked for new ideas but you and McCain give us the same old ideas of George Bush. Without a script, you have no idea what you're taking about. The rest of the time you give us lies. You claim you said "no thanks" to that Bridge to Nowhere? We say, "no thanks" to you."
"Sarah -- you're out. Auf Wiedersehen."