I am a television lover. From my earliest days watching “Sesame Street” and “Wild Kingdom” to my love of HBO original programming, to my current attempts to find summer shows, I have spent many an hour on my ass in front of the “boob tube.” It is popular to look down on television and the people who watch it. “I don’t own a television” is a loaded statement. It is both a big pat on the back by the speaker and a criticism/put-down of us who do own them. Another common insult I hear is the self-congratulatory “I don’t have time to watch television” (subtext, “You lazy fuck”). Watching television is something people feel they need to apologize for. It’s a “guilty pleasure.” Mothers I know either proudly proclaim that they do not let their children watch TV, or guiltily admit that SOMETIMES they do, always followed by a qualifier about how LITTLE they let them watch and how high the quality of the shows they select is. I usually have the TV on during the day when I’m with Baby V. I almost always watch some DVRed shows while she naps. Now that she watches TV herself, I am careful to avoid anything violent or scary while she is awake. Other than that, I don’t worry about it.
I have noticed that people’s kids tend to be like them. Musicians’ children tend to be musical. Athletes children tend to be athletic. Assholes’ children tend to be assholes. That’s right. I just called children assholes. Because let’s all admit it. Some kids are as insufferable as their pretentious parents. I feel for them because I know it isn’t their fault. They are either imitating the behavior that has been modeled for them by their caregivers, or they have been so neglected that they act out. Maybe my kid will be just like me and maybe that is a bad thing. I hardly have perspective. It is very likely that she will enjoy watching television like me. Odie doesn’t, so it could go either way.
This is all a rather long-winded introduction to what I WANT to talk about: “Work of Art; the next great artist” on the Bravo network. I know two people who auditioned for this show. When they told me about the audition, I thought, “What a stupid idea for a show.” I was wrong, however. It’s like “Project Runway,” another show I thought sounded like a lame, boring premise, but ended up surprising me with how interesting it could be. The artists’ process can be compelling. It is fun to watch creative people create.
Now I tend to be critical of “artists” (pronounced “ar-TEESTS”) because I have had experiences with some very self-important, pretentious and downright snobby “ar-TEESTS” who thought they were so much better than me because of their talent or their MFAs or their interest in some person who shoves sweet potatoes into his rectum and then poops them into a bowl and calls it performance art. True story. These people seem to LOVE telling other people, peons like me, that we just “DON’T GET IT.” We are deficient because we don’t see the ART.
Back to “Work of Art.” Like all reality television, it’s interesting because of the personalities (and personality disorders) of the people on the show. The July14 episode (Episode 6) really affected me because it dealt with two things close to my heart: art I think is stupid, and people I hate. The ar-TEESTS were split into two groups and charged with creating an “installation piece” (I have no idea). The pieces were both ugly and pointless. What bothered me was how one team’s ar-TEESTS failed to get along because the popular kids and the follower ganged up on the loser. Having always been the loser in these scenarios, I got upset and wanted to punch Miles, Titty-balls (can’t remember her name), and Peregrine Falcon in their smug faces. I did some on-line reading and most people just LOVE Miles because he is conventionally attractive (if you overlook the ten pounds of luggage under his eyes) and quirky (look how he wears those unflattering oversized glasses! He must be REALLY INTERESTING AND TALENTED). Erik, the unschooled artist with open car door ears, told Miles OFF and I almost stood up and cheered. He accused him of being an actor and playing a role for television. The tortured artist. He called him a fake and a phony and I LOVE Erik for that. Naturally Erik was voted off. He should have been voted off because his art isn’t good (it isn’t), but he was voted off because he wasn’t one of the cool kids and that pisses me off. I hope that Miles’ true colors will soon come to light. I’ve known dicks like him all my life and it would be super satisfying to see him exposed. But he’ll probably just win the damn show. He is a “talented artist.” The problem is not him, it’s ME not understanding how a guy sleeping on a makeshift bed in between two concrete anuses is ART.
I identify with Erik. My mother-in-law and her husband are artists. I went to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art with them about a year ago because my mother-in-law wanted to push Baby V around in the stroller and I was the bitch who wouldn’t let her because it was 104 degrees outside. So we compromised and went to the museum for the air conditioning. We were walking around looking at the “modern art” stuff and Mama Odie asked me “What kind of art do you like to look at?” I was tempted to say “television.” I was tempted to ask, “People LIKE to look at art?” But Mama Odie is completely literal and every one of my ironic comments is met with blank stares or, worse, a response to what I was saying as if I were 100% serious. I felt like Erik on “Work of Art.” Like I’m this outsider who isn’t part of the art school world and that I am somehow less than them because of it. I told her the truth. I don’t “look at art,” as a practice. It just doesn’t interest me. Shrug.
But a television show ABOUT art, now that’s right up my alley.