Monday, March 25, 2013
SATIRE: Reality Television, Stage Mothers, and Teenage Fame
Hello, everyone. My name is Bobby Keniston, and welcome to Theater is a Sport, a blog about anything and everything having to do with live theater. Thank you for stopping by and checking out my thoughts.
Today was a good day on the playwriting front, because my latest published play, Betty Lou Twinkle's Tabloid Scandal became available to license from Brooklyn Publishers (https://www.brookpub.com/default.aspx?pg=sd&st=BETTY+LOU+TWINKLE'S+TABLOID+SCANDAL), and it always feels nice when a new work is made available to the public.
Now, I'm not one to use this blog just to promote and shamelessly plug my own work,
but, Betty Lou Twinkle's Tabloid Scandal is fresh in my mind, and it cotains some of the manic energy I used to have when I wrote satires in college. It was nice, while writing it, to reconnect to that energy, and I am proud of the finished result, and hope it finds a wide audience.
One of the great things about Brooklyn Publishers is that they offer a script preview right on their website of all of their plays, so you can read a good amount of a play and make up your mind even about whether or not you like it and want to do it. All you do is go to a play's particular page, for example
and click on the button reading "Script Preview", and up pops a convenient PDF for your perusal of about 70% of the script or so. If you like it, you can add it to your shopping cart right there and then. How 'bout that?
But, seriously folks, this is a blog about education and not self-promotion. So let me tell you a little bit about why I wrote Betty Lou Twinkle's Tabloid Scandal, which is now available for purchase and licensing at Brooklyn Publishers. Here are the top reasons why I wrote it:
1. I AM SICK AND TIRED OF SO-CALLED "REALITY" TELEVISION
Don't get me started. I was talking to some students today, hearkening back to the days when the only "reality" tv shows were The Real World on MTV and Survivor. Now, networks, instead of noticing that these were popular for their uniqueness, decide, instead, to shove as many reality shows on television as possible. People liked The Osbornes? Well, heck, let's give any other washed up psedo-celeb their own show! And then, snowball effect being what it was, suddenly you didn't even have to be any kind of celeb, as long as you were outrageous--- these shows would MAKE you a celeb, as long as you are a depraved, ridiculous human being... yes, folks, Snookie was paid good money to speak at PRINCETON. PRINCETON! Oh, it makes me worry, and makes my skin crawl.
2. I AM TIRED OF TEENAGERS BECOMING SO FAMOUS AND PRETTY MUCH LOSING ALL SENSE OF YOUTH AND INNOCENCE, AND THEN ARE THROWN AWAY AS SOON AS THEY ARE NOT POPULAR ANYMORE
Don't get me started. It's not right.
I remember a number of years back, I wated the remake of The Parent Trap that a featured a cute, talented little girl named Linsay Lohan playing the role of twin sisters. Although I don't typically enjoy remakes, I remember being impressed by this little tyke--- she showed a great deal of promise and talent. She created the two sisters and made them different enough to be believable (including pulling off a pretty good British accent). Now, of course, Miss Lohan has been in and out of trouble with the law, and is looked upon as a big joke.
It makes me sad. Who puts their kids through that? And more to the point, why? There are plenty of child actors who have appeared to grow up well-adjusted (Jodie Foster for one, Elijah Wood for another). It must have something to do with parenting.
But to take people like Lindsay and put them on a pedastal and then delight in their falling off of it... it's just sad.
No wonder they go a little cuckoo.
Which leads me to....
3. STAGE MOTHERS, or PARENTS WHO LIVE VICARIOUSLY THROUGH THEIR KIDS, or, ANYONE WHO EXPLOITS KIDS FOR THEIR OWN GAIN
Sorry folks, but this includes Ellen, too.
Think of it: teenagers are already going through tremendous physical, chemical and emotional changes. I know a great deal of talented teenagers, and, as a teacher, I want to nurture it, encourage it, and help it grow. This being said, I don't want to throw them into constant media scrutiny and judgement and see how they fare. When you are going through so many changes as it is, it is simply unfair to be put under a microscope and judged by the public constantly. High school is hard enough, without making the WHOLE COUNTRY your scary hallway to walk down.
That's all I say about that.
Betty Lou Twinkle's Tabloid Scandal deals with all of these things, but in a funny, outrageous way. Betty Lou, our protagonist, has an overbearing mother named Darlene Rosepettle (a nod to the fierce Madame Rosepettle from Oh Dad, Poor Dad, Mamma's Hung You in the Closet and I'm Feeling So Sad) who has thrust her into the spotlight since she was a baby on the reality televsion show Divas in Diapers (which is a fictional show from my own imagination, but for how long?). Betty Lou just wants to be a normal girl and play soccer. But after she wins America's Future One-Hit Wonders, her mother hires her a fame mentor (named Versailles Waldorf-Astoria... get it?) who encourages her to create a tabloid scandal.
I can't tell you how much fun it was for me to lampoon all of these aspects of our popular culture that bother me so much. And even though the script is funny (at least I think so), I believe its message is a serious one.
Gosh, I hope this play finds a whole lot of productions, and maybe makes people laugh but also makes them think a bit about how they look at the notion of celebrty. Goodness knows this whole country needs and overhaul when it comes to that stuff.
In any case, thank you for reading my rant and shameless self-promotion.
I hope you are all having a wonderful day, wherever you may be.
Oh, yeah, did I mention...
See you next time at Theater is a Sport, and remember... it's not just a title. Theater. Is. A. Sport.