Slezak's beef with the NY Times TV department

Grease_l Generally speaking, I don’t like to criticize the work of fellow entertainment writers; first off, it depletes the karmic piggybank, and secondly, I’ve spent so much time defending my love of Fergie, American Idol, and Being Bobby Brown (among other things), that really, who am I to judge? That said, The New York Times‘ TV critic Alessandra Stanley published a piece today (click here to read it) that really annoyed me, and I couldn’t keep it to myself.

Like me, you’ll probably have to read Stanley’s piece two or three times to figure out what it’s about. (My favorite sentence is this doozy: "It’s that reality television aims for younger viewers, 18 to 34, while subliminally underscoring and cementing their fealty to the relaxed-fit generation.") But I think her point is this: Reality TV is cruel because Baby Boomers are using it to abuse younger generations. (Exhibit A: Grease: You’re the One That I Want, pictured, in which young people audition before AARP-aged judges for roles in an old musical that mines multiple strata of nostalgia.) Or maybe she means that Baby Boomers have hijacked reality TV and are feeding their pop-culture crumbs to youngsters. Or maybe, as she puts it, "Whether it is a firing by Donald Trump or a personal attack by Mr. Cowell, each rejection is a symbolic re-enactment of an inter-era struggle in which the bullies always come out on top." Oh boy!

Worse still, Stanley contradicts her own theory by saying that "younger viewers identify with the supplicants begging to be tapped, not with the authority figures who determine their fate," then pointing out that on the new season of The Apprentice, Donald Trump has hired his two non-Boomer children to serve as co-judges. Before she finishes, Stanley tries to tie it all in to Barack Obama’s presidential campaign, High School Musical, and the corporatization of YouTube.

If I ever got 30 seconds to bend Stanley’s ear, I’d tell her this: Sometimes, TV is just TV… or occasionally, it’s HBO. And that’s not going to change — no matter how much highfalutin’ philosophizing people do about it. So please, for the love of Paula Abdul, stop trying to beat the fun out of my favorite programs, especially Idol. Thank you. That’s all.

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  • Karla

    Wellsir, there’s a premise in there somewhere – and plenty to say about reality TV and the generation gap and zzzzzzzzzzzz. Oi?
    But I can’t think right now because I need some sort of baby boomer liquid refreshment that I will make my Gen Y son go out and buy for me while I pretend not to know how to work the TiVo. Oh, and while I cruelly taunt my underlings. And glorify 80s popstars.

  • Jenny

    But, Slezak, you have to admit that this:”Baby boomers will watch “Law & Order” and “CSI,” bankrupt Social Security, deplete Medicare and go noisily, dementedly into gated retirement communities with their shriveled, arthritic fingers still pushing the levers of culture and clutching the remote.” is one of the best sentences ever commited to HTML.

  • anne

    Oh my! That was so bad! I couldn’t even finish it. What was her point? Was she attacking the Boomers, or the supposedly dulled minds of the younger generations? That’s what happens when reporters, and high and mighty papers, feel they must always provide groundbreaking-to-the-point-of-uncomprehension articles.

  • Lloyd

    Calm down, Slezak. You got more worked up than Ms. Stanley did. I usually enjoy your slightly off kilter and (dare I say) wacky observations about all things entertaining, but I have to say that it gets a little old having every single fresh new pop-culture phenomenon co-opted by people twice my age. I am reminded of Homer Simpson when he worked the stage at Hullabalooza: “And remember… don’t trust anyone over 30. And now, PETER FRAMPTON!”

  • daisyj

    Wow. I want to argue with this, but the whole thing lands so far from reality that there’s nowhere to start. It’s like someone plugged in the Random BS Generator, fed it the keywords “reality show”, “baby boomers” and “generation gap” and let ‘er rip.

  • cranky

    I think it’s a mistake to analyze reality TV too carefully. It’s really just a modern-day version of the good old fashioned circus freak show, the kind that Great-Grandpappy used to attend. And we love it. That said, I do hate the “Grease” show, mostly because when I see a promo for it I go around singing “You-da-wanna-nana! Youa wanna-nana! Hoo Hoo Hoo! (honey)” like some kind of mental patient.

  • Kati

    The Angelina Jolie story (she was cranky at the Globes, and thus the whole world now hates her!) several days ago was equally ridiculous.

  • Stephanie

    Right now as it stands, reality television is so bad and pathetic that it is funny. Some of the shows like Idol and Extreme Home makeover are not that bad except I have always believed that real reality shows were programs like “Life in the E.R.” and Nature, not this. BTW: I wish Y.T.O.T.I.W would focus on the theatrical stage play rather than the movie. The original “Sandy” was not Olivia Newton John, it was Carole Demas and Barry Bostwick was Danny.

  • Bevvy

    Hey – Good use of the word, ‘strata.’

  • bb

    This is akin to Hollywooders spouting political philosophy. People will watch what they wanna watch and think what they wanna think and vote the way they wanna vote. All the rest,”journalism” included falls under the headin of entertainment.

  • Nancy Walker

    Idol is just a truck load of fun! And it has given us Kelly, Carrie, Jennifer, Bo, And Chris who is doing quite well. I also enjoy the first weeks of pure laughter. All of us can use a good laugh. The people who go on this show know what they are in for, so why knock it?

  • t3hdow

    I’m glad I wasn’t the only one who’s head spun after reading that doozy of an article. So…the writer hates reality TV because it symbolizes a dominant gap between baby boomers and the current generation of teens/young adults? And…this affects society how? She may have had a goal in mind writing this, but the article’s way too ambitious to be coherent, let alone make readers debate about it.

  • Geoff

    Completely off topic —
    –is anybody else annoyed over EW’s Oscar predictions for Best Actor? They have DiCaprio on there, but it’s listed for “The Departed.” What fools.

  • Cert

    Actually, she’s got a point. She’s saying that baby boomers have kept control of the pop culture, including taking over things like reality t.v. that are suppose to belong to the younger generations, who are willing to do anything boomers order to get on t.v. And with hip hop and rap in decline, there’s some truth to it. Why do the boomers rule reality television?

  • Joe C

    As someone who came up after the baby boomers, I do enjoy watching them get bashed. Guilty pleasure of mine.

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