There are a million reality shows on the naked television. We're going to watch them all, one at a time.
If you've read "Reality Bites" more than once (unlikely, I know), you've probably figured out what a big fan I am of COPS. It's arguably the first reality show -- in the format as we've come to recognize it, that is -- and is at least somewhat egalitarian in its depiction of criminals of all races and creeds unsuccessfully attempting to flee "the men and women of law enforcement" before getting pepper-sprayed and whacked in the kidneys with a side-handle baton.
The drawback to longtime viewing, of course, is the number of episodes set in Cleveland or Buffalo or other AFC shitholes. Does crime happen in these places? Of course (have you *been* to Cleveland?), but it's so depressing. You can only watch some mulleted walking liver failure in a Sabres jersey scream, "That's my friend's weed!" as he's driven away to central booking so many times before pining for another episode set in that most joyful of felonious destinations, Las Vegas.
truTV heard my prayers. Enter Vegas Strip, from COPS co-creator Morgan Langley. My only complaint is that the show's been on since 2011 and I'm just now hearing about it.
It's hard not to love a show that opens with a white guy in a Michael Vick jersey jumping on the hood of a pursuing squad car and than sheepishly admitting, "I got warrants" as they slap the cuffs on. Or one that follows up with the collar of a drunken Australian (he tells officers he's drunk and Australian at least three times) who turns out to be an MMA fighter who then proceeds to slap one of the (male) officers on the butt.
That's enough to earn you a tasering in most places (I also credit the cops for not pointing out the guy pissed his pants), but Vegas is one of the last places on earth -- along with New Orleans, Munich at Oktoberfest, and my backyard during Texas-OU weekend -- where you can walk around in public completely shit-housed and not be immediately thrown in the tank for 24 hours. They actually escort Crocodile DonePeed back to his hotel with only a ticket and a damp pair of trousers (in Australia they call them "leg-wazzas") to commemorate his evening.
Some dudes have to run, of course (I always wonder if the presence of cameras exacerbates this). It's interesting, the mindset of one who thinks they can outrun the army of po-po out on the Strip on a Friday night. It reminds me of Bill Hicks' words about my beloved TV show:
Later on in Rant in E Minor, Hicks opines on the true nature of COPS. Specifically:
I'll tell you who the threat to the status quo is in this country: it's us. That's why they show you shows like fucking COPS. So you know that state power will win and we'll bust your house down and we'll fuckin' bust you anytime we want. That's the message.
I don't necessarily disagree with the sentiment, but surely we can make an exception for Vegas, right? Right?
I'd also like to single out officer Josh Haynes, who looks like Toronto mayor Rob Ford if he substituted Muscle Mass for crack. He gets the pleasure of interrupting an argument between a hooker and a dude dressed like Spider-Man. Unfortunately, your friendly neighborhood wall crawler is also a meth head. I guess that explains why he can jump so far.
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On a not particularly related note, the last time I was in Sin City, I bought this T-shirt:
Yes, that is Benjamin Franklin as Spider-Man, shooting dollar signs for webbing. Is it time to anoint Las Vegas as the greatest history in human civilization? It might be.
And is Vegas Strip, like most (all) reality shows, completely fake? Like Fox Mulder, I want to believe, but they let the stand-up comedian with a baggie of weed go because he told a joke that made him laugh and -- come to think of it -- the *only* guy they arrested was the one who ran. That seems unrealistic even by Las Vegas standards. So, probably fake. However, like the LVPD giving a pass to Antipodean alcoholics, I'm going to let it slide this time.
And cheaper than actually going there.