While at Muse 2011 a few weeks ago, I started talking with some folks about online blogs and journals. Several people told me that online magazines or other similar websites are great ways to get writing experience. Basically, these sites hire you to write essays about subjects of their choosing. The more popular your essay is, the more traffic you get to their site and the more they will pay you. There’s no way a writer will get rich this way and s/he probably also won’t be discovered (ala Julie and Julia), but it’s a nice conversation starter with agents and publishers. Any time someone pays you money to write – regardless of the amount or the venue – it adds a stamp of legitimacy to your writing.
That’s great and all, but what subject do I know well enough that I would be comfortable writing essays about it? Well, I did a little sleuthing and found a site that was recommended to me that is looking for a quirky/offbeat columnist to put a new spin on writing about Reality TV.
Granted, Reality TV is not my favorite genre. It’s no Supernatural. But, I’ve watched enough Survivor, Top Chef and America’s Next Top Model that not only am I ashamed of myself, but I can also dream up countless 500 word essay topics. With my finger’s crossed and my DVR set to record the Survivor finale tonight, I submitted the following application for the columnist job:
Q: Why are you qualified to write a column on Reality TV?
A: I’ve been watching Reality TV since the first season of The Real World on MTV – the Big Kahuna from which all current reality programming owes its existence. Sure, some people trace the roots of this genre to the documentary about the Loud family in 1973, but those people are wrong.
First of all, “An American Family” originally aired on PBS and it just isn’t possible to blame that upstanding channel for the horror that is the Real Housewives of Plastic Surgery, USA. Secondly, let me repeat that the Louds aired their dirty laundry back in 1973. From that point until Julie, Norman, Kevin and the gang stopped being polite and started getting real, Reality TV simply didn’t exist. You can’t credit something as starting a trend if it took 20 years for the kindling to take the flame.
Even so, we’ve come a long way baby from the days when six stereotypes masquerading as young adults were plucked from obscurity and dropped into a loft in SoHo. The world of reality TV has expanded into various sub-genres: the game show (Top Model, The Apprentice, Project Runway), the social experiment (Big Brother, the Bachelor) and my least favorite, but sadly the most popular, the stalking of non-celebrities that turns them into celebrities (Laguna Beach, Jon & Kate plus 8, Kardashian, Inc.) I was there in the beginning and I’ve been there for every torch snuff, bad model weave and skanky rose ceremony since. I know my stuff and am happy to share.
Any thoughts? Too quirky and offbeat or just right?