When I was a kid I remember my family and I would sit around the tv and watch Star Search. We would watch 2 people battle it out and then wait anxiously to see who the judges gave the most stars to and declared the winner. This was reality tv in the 1980's. When I used to watch that show I never believed that that could be me one day. As much as I would have loved to be a teen popstar ( I still do!) , the dream didn't seem attainable. So I stuck to singing Madonna songs into my hairbrush microphone and handing out my "autograph" to my friends and people I met (kinda douchey now that I think about it!)
Back in the day you heard about people being "discovered" in malls and subsequently becoming massively famous and ending up on the cover of Tiger Beat. I still felt this could never happen to me, so I stuck to singing Karaoke and putting on dance shows for my family in the living room.
Fast forward to June 11, 2002- the debut of American Idol. I tuned in like most people did just to see what it was all about. I laughed at the bad singers, cried at the emotional back stories of some of the contestants and tuned in every week to see if my favorite made it to the next round. Lucky for me my favorite was Kelly Clarkson, the waitress who's apartment had just burned down. I cried as she sang "A moment like this", bought her album when it came out and thought about how lucky she was to have her dream come true.
The next year I tuned in to see season 2, and then season 3 and 4. Pretty soon I realized that the majority of tv shows that I was watching were reality shows. Now we have American Idol, X-Factor, Masterchef, So you think you can dance, The Apprentice, Making the band, Biggest loser and America's Next top model, just to name a few.
Yes we have trashy reality shows that do nothing but showcase people who are famous for nothing, and those shows become our guilty pleasures. We dont tell people we watch them but we do watch them, even if all we do is watch them to criticize them, we are still watching them. Its like how we all look at the tabloids at the cash register as we are waiting to buy our groceries. We may not buy them and we may hate tabloids, but we still look. These days everyone has a chance to be a voyeur, to get a chance to see how the other half live, to see the good, the bad and the ugly.So the fact is reality shows are here to stay, love them or hate them they are a part of our culture.
All of a sudden I start to realize that those days of kids singing into their hairbrushes in front of their mirror pretending to be Madonna are now over. Now there are people of all ages, backgrounds, sizes and life situations waiting in line to show the world their talent. An opportunity to be in front of powerful people who have the ability to make their dream come true. Wow, how much things had changed, it made me wonder what was next.
2008, Scooter Braun opens an email he received from a friend, in the email is a link to a youtube clip. He opens it and watches a young kid singing. He is impressed, he watches more videos this kid has posted. Scooter decides that he needs to meet this kid and he will do anything he can to give this kid a chance. He brings the kid in, surrounds him with the best people to help him, has him perform small gigs all around the USA. Then this kid decides to get on twitter and start letting people know where he will be performing each day. The first day a couple of people turn up, then a couple hundred people turn up, then a thousand people turn up, and then, on August 31, 2010, this kid sells out Madison Square Garden, in less that an hour. I know you all know that I'm talking about Justin Bieber here. Again, love him or hate him, he is here to stay. This kid didn't have to wait in line to audition for American Idol. All he needed was a laptop, internet access and a twitter account to become the huge star he is today.
Reality tv, social networking, you tube. This is our culture. When its used for good, this is how the everyday person has the chance to make their dream come true. So I guess my question is: with so many different channels and platforms and opportunities to make your dreams come true, why aren't you doing it?