Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Walkin' in someone else's shoes

The new season of 30 Days starts tonight - if you’ve never seen it, it’s pretty interesting. It’s Morgan Spurlock, the guy who did “Super Size Me.” The premise of the show is that he – or someone else – walks in someone else’s shoes for 30 days.

There was only one episode last season that I thought was pretty worthless – one where a mother tried binge drinking for 30 Days to “teach her college age daughter a lesson.” It just didn’t work, because it wasn’t the person ‘living in the others shoes’ – and therefore the one that the show follows – who was supposed to be learning something. The homophobic guy who lived in the Castro for 30 days, the strict Christian who lived with a Muslim family, the high-tech New Yorkers who lived in a hippie-like commune, Spurlock and his fiancee living in Detroit on minimum wage, etc. – they were all pretty fascinating. Seeing these people who either opposed the ideas held by the people that they lived with – or simply had never been in that situation before – learning to adapt.

This season looks to be interesting as well. Tonight starts with someone who is very anti-immigration moving in with a family of illegal immigrants. There is one where someone who moved away from Christianity to become an atheist lives with a Christian family. Spurlock spends 30 Days in prison (although I heard he only actually lasted 28 and decided “he had enough footage.”)

They do a pretty good job of getting people who are ‘normal’ examples of whatever the behavior or life they’re representing and I think that’s why it works. Why it doesn’t become a big Jerry Springer disaster. The straight/gay episode for example – sure they had him go to the Castro, but as Noland and I said – if they followed one of our gay friends around to see “how the other half lives” it wouldn’t be much of a TV show. But they guy he lived with wasn’t a drag queen, he wasn’t clad in leather chaps, he wasn’t lispy or effeminate or anything else most other shows of this type would have required the person they picked to be. He was a guy, with a job and friends and a cat - who happened to be gay. And that’s what the episode really showed the guy who came to live him.

I hope that continues to be the way – that in the Atheist/Christian show for example – that the Christian family that they send the person to live with is a normal family with a house and kids and a dog or whatever – and is also Christian – I’m sure they’ll be someone who is very involved in their church, if they were just casual attendees – again, it wouldn’t be much of a show. But that they won’t be super-right wing, Focus on the Family, nut-jobs. Because like the straight guy who was to represent the point of view that thinks that all gay men are weirdoes – I’m sure the atheist is supposed to represent someone who thinks that all Christians are crazy-right wingers who don’t believe in science, freedom of choice, etc. claiming it all to be on God’s name – so it’ll be interesting to see if they find a good Christian family who is much more representative of Christians than those usually in the media.

They also have an episode however, that is supposed to be a pro-choice/anti-choice pairing. I’ll admit – I have my bias (I’m sure you couldn’t tell that) but I’m not really sure how that will work without it being extremist. Apparently someone who is pro-choice has to be anti-choice for 30 Days – so what will they be doing? Bombing medical clinics? Picketing girls picking up the birth control pills at the local Planned Parenthood? It’s definitely a divisive topic – but not really something that you live in day after day like the others. I could see it slightly more from the other side – an anti-lifer having to work in a clinic and see the pain and torment these women go through having to make that sort of decision, but even then it doesn’t work very well.

So anyway – I’m curious how it’ll all work out. And you should be too!


musicalnuke said...

"if they followed one of our gay friends around to see “how the other half lives” it wouldn’t be much of a TV show"????!!!!!
Jennifer Louise Bell Newman!
Why, you'd better take that back. Our lives are fabulous, and you don't spend every moment with us, so how do you know our lives wouldn't be much of a TV show? Well, I never...

divebarwife said...

You are right - I have been throughly chastised! I had forgotten how exciting Buffy marathons and Drum Corps shows ARE right - that is fabulous!
Can I follow you around?