Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Reality TV and "Super Hero syndrome"

In the past few weeks I've been contacted by two different production companies about two completely different shows.  One is a newer show I'm not supposed to discuss and the other was Next Great Baker.  It got me to thinking about the past few years and the rollercoaster ride they've been. ( believe me, I could go on and on about that, but I'll get to my topic)  As many of you know I've done three "Ultimate Cake off'"s, a small christmas special and thats about it....  I'm fortunate enough to have won all 3 cake off, s and I can't deny that my appearance on them is at least part of the reason why I'm asked to do events, why I am able to call upon so many talented people to do KC Cakefest, and on occassion, I even get an order out of the deal.   I can't really even say I'm proud of the work we did on TV, and I don't for a second think it was all of my own doing.  But most of all I try to remember that it didn't then and doesn't now define who I am... 
     I can tell you first hand that reality Tv for the most part is total bullshit.   The producers of said shows have a very narrow and limited scope of ideas and believe that there is a very small window of choices of subject and story line that "sells" to todays TV watching market.  The term repeated so often is "DRAMA", which to a modern day TV producer apparently means people in uncomfortable situations, being pushed to the brink ( and frequently far past it) with little emphasis on whether the person/ people have any real talent, the story is relevant, or whether or not there's a mili-amp of positive energy produced inside the heart and soul of the viewer.  I'm offended by the idea that the only thing that we the people want to watch or take part in is a version of Jerry Springer, combined with baking, or beauty pageants, or what happens in a swamp.    Don't get me wrong, there are a few shows out there that actually have a positive vibe to them and rarely if ever have the negativity that stains TV today.  Shows like Man Vs Food, Mythbusters, and...  well...  it's hard to think of them as they're so rare, But I like both of these shows! 
           Man vs Food is a pretty cut and dry show.  The always enthusiastic host Adam, travels the country searching for challenges in diners, delis and resturants, and always ends with him undoubtedly shortening his life by downing a massive sandwich, steak or pancake!  The idea is simple, but what makes the show great is the constant smile on Adam's face, the local flavor and good people he meets, and the fact that even though the show is ultimately about him taking on some sort of glorified Hotdog eating contest, it gets deeper than that due to the good natured people he gets involved with.  He samples not only the local food, but gets to do even better... meet great people.
    This brings me to my first point.  I've done Tv shows, and in the following years I've been courted by this production company and that.  I've had people dedicate large amounts of time and energy into "making it happen" for me.  I've been approached with show ideas that on the surface seemed really great, only to find them hollow and essentially a clone of some show I've already seen a million times, just with a different spin.    I've come to dred the idea of casting agents, producers and networks, yet I owe so much of my "success" to them.  Would I be where I am today had I never done TLC?    The best part of the last 2-3 years has been the people I've been lucky enough to meet.  Many of them I would never have met, had it not been to three measily wins on TLC.  I've traveled, done exciting events, the best and proudest being hosting KC Cakefest, and all the while meeting new, really great and energetic people.  I"ve never felt like I was worthy of the excitement people have for you when they've seen you on TV.  Even though it's been a while, I still get it.  Just the other day at WalMart, I was on my way out the door when an elderly lady in one of those loaner wheelchairs asked me if I could help her.  I stopped and as she requested, pushed her through the theft detectors, past the greeter and to the side so she could wait for her husband who was parking the car.  At first I didn't think anything of it, but as I pushed her along, she said "Thank you Mike"...  I know you're a celebrity, but I didn't want to sit in everybodies way."  I was just happy to help a very sweet old lady, but the fact that she knew my name and thought so highly of me really did make something inside glow.  I chatted with her for a while and shortly after her husband arrived.  He told me how much she used to like to bake, and how she's been to my website.  I'm still excited to have met them and as I walked out of the store I couldn't get over how excited she was, and in turn how good I felt.  It's that type of energy that I live for.  To share a moment with a stranger, to feel the bond of energy if only for as long as it takes to push a wheel chair.  I felt and still feel very lucky.

         And that brings me to my second point ( yeah, I have two! LOL)  In the time since TLC I've met and spent time with so many of the people that have been on different TV shows.  Many of them I'm very proud to call friends, some are a bit harder to "get", while others look to their Tv appearance as some sort of magical event that changed them at the molecular level, and these are the ones I have a tough time with.  They seem to feel like the TV camera beamed some sort of radioactive radiation at them, or maybe they were bit by some crazy venomous producer, that transformed them into a super hero, flying over mere mortals bakeries, flinging buttercream at those beneath them with a ZAP, BOP, BOOM!  They've convinced themselves that they are better and more interesting than anyone else.  Their opinions are no longer such and are by nature of their super powers undeniable facts, and no one can say otherwise. Ater all, They were on TV!   What the hell??  
         TV is at best a fleating moment.  Yes the ride may take a while to come to a complete stop, and sometimes you may catch a ticket to yet another ride, but the idea that it defines you at the place it matters most or creates a super hero out of you....  No.  (I wish!)  I may be goofy, but I feel that inside me is the little Mikey that used to ride his bike barefoot on summer vacation wearing nothing but his shorts.  That used to sword fight with sticks at the bus stop, and best of all looked at the world with wonder and amazement.  I try very hard to keep in touch with him, after all, he created me.  As an adult ( yuck) I do what I must.  I work.  I pay bills, I'm a dad ( which actually plays well with the inner youthful Mike) but I always try to look at myself from that point of view and my inner child says "yeah, you did some TV, now what?"  Perhaps it's logical that the things I do that are the most rewarding are the things my three kids enjoy most and are most impressed by.  I love to talk to people, learn and try new things.  I'm still trying to find my place in the world, and maybe someday I will.  I'm not concerned about not really knowing where I'm going...  I've got some exciting ideas and plans, and the journey will be a blast, although every now and then that  Mikey inside me does ask, "are we there yet?"

Peace N Love Friends!  I'm off to decide what to do about my latest TV goofiness.  To do or not to do?    thinking not...

1 comment:

  1. Always humble, honest, and down-to-earth. That's why we love you. True, we may not know you if it weren't for TV shows(well, and cake carving class :)), but it's your personality, and the fact that you stay true to yourself, that makes us love you! The story about the lady in the wheelchair warmed my heart. Those are the things that make life exciting. Much more than any drama-filled tv show. I will always remember that story, but honestly, I've already forgotten what happened on your episodes of Ultimate Cake Off. Thanks for starting the blog! I really enjoyed reading it!