The celebrity world was rocked yesterday by news that country singer Mindy McCready's sex tape was about to hit the streets. Okay, maybe "rocked" is the wrong word. How about "briefly distracted from Kate Gosselin's behavior on Dancing with the Stars?" Time was, a sex-tape scandal was cause for much indignation and clucking of tongues, now we can hardly be bothered to check out the obligatory pixelated YouTube clips.
[By the way, here are some clips.]
So what happened? Have we really become so cynical that the prospect of seeing the (sort of) rich and (kind of) famous awkwardly get their freak on no longer interests us? In a word, yes. Oh god, yes.
I'm no fancy big city pop culture writer, wait...actually, I am. So I can point out two distinct factors leading to our newly jaded outlook. The first was the release of the Pam Anderson/Tommy Lee sex tape. Not because we were surprised two creatures with a complete lack of superego would actually made one, but because it set such a high standard for all that would follow. Anderson was, at the time, one of the most desired women in the world. Having the veil lifted from that particular fantasy was a watershed (or...something shed) moment for males everywhere.
Plus, as far as locations go, it's hard to top: Lake Mead? Hawaii? The elusive BJ while driving? Compared to that, these poorly lit, stationary-cam motel room tapes that seem to be de rigeur nowadays simply don't stand a chance.
Second, and I don't know if you're aware of this, but there is a shitload of pornography on the Internet, much of it free (or so I'm told). And the momentary charge one gets from seeing "that rich girl from that reality show on that cable network" going through the missionary style motions, her face dulled by boredom and/or narcotics, can't really compete with some XXX actress pretzel-twisting herself for your lascivious amusement.
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Not only that, but it's obvious from the caliber of "celebrity" in most of these recent sex tapes that none of them have -- in this country, anyway -- been leaked by accident. McCready has been in legal trouble for the better part of a decade; Amy Fisher found out 18-year-old notoriety didn't pay too well, and Kim Kardashian barely registered on the pop-culture map before tape of her "performance" with singer Ray J went online. There was no place to go but up for any of these idiots (or Dustin "Screech" Diamond, or Tonya Harding, or Fred Durst), so engineering controversy over a "stolen" sex tape probably seemed like a safer bet than waiting for royalties from Celebrity Rehab reruns.
My proposal is a modest one: why not just create a dedicated channel to host these tapes? The benefits are twofold: interested parties won't have to hunt through dozens of spyware-infested sites in order to "flog the dolphin," and the celebrities themselves can put a little coin in their pocket. Cable providers shouldn't have a problem with it, since they already make gazillions of dollars a year piping dirty movies into homes and hotels.
Next, we'll discuss how the best way to jack up TV ratings is to abandon any standards of decency. You thought ratings were impressive when Ross and Rachel got together on Friends, how big would they have been if they really "got together?" Sure, your FCC fines would stack up with alarming speed, but think of the ratings! A 100 share!
"Must See TV" indeed.