Freak Eye for the Easily Scared Guy

March 7th, 2004  |  Published in Uncategorized

So, I’m sitting here catching up on my e-mail, celebrating the fact that Ben has slept as close as you can get to “through the night” with a six-week-old baby for three nights in a row, and watching SciFi’s Mad Mad House out of the corner of one eye.

It’s a reality show, so we’re already in dangerous territory considering the semi-official ban we’ve imposed on those. But it’s on SciFi, so we’re giving it a break.

The premise is that there’s this house and it’s populated by an assortment of people-who-are-weird. One’s a witch, one’s a voodoo priestess, one’s a “naturist,” which seems to mean walking around nekkid and eating only raw food because in nature, apparently, there is no fire. Oh, there’s also a body-mod dude (who makes me think of Queequeg), and there’s a “vampire.” The other side of the cast is a collection of “normals” who have been brought to the house because being around all the “alts,” as the weirdos are called, will freak them out so badly that they’ll gradually have to be winnowed from the house.

The winnowing involves wallering around in blood and other stuff with a touch of the sort of interpersonal nastiness that makes the reality tv world go ’round. They’ve already started psychoanalyzing the chubby girl.

madhousevamp.jpgThe “vampire” looks sort of like Butthead, only in Marilyn Manson drag. Seriously. Imagine every Saturday Night Live skit with Chris Kattan as the little basement-dwelling gothboy and you’ve got this guy’s vibe.

And Avocado, the fire-shunning “naturist,” makes smoothies with a blender.

I’m left with the sense that if I were put in that house, I’d end up feeling responsible for maintaining the weirdness the “alts” are trying to project about themselves. I mean, there’s the Zaphob Beeblebrox quote, a sort of preemptive counter-cool, “I get weirder things than you free in my breakfast cereal.” Then you just end up being threatened with blood-drinking or consumption by some eldritch power and you’re a big, fat spoilsport (and having crashed a seance, lemme tell you, it’s no fun being the Grinch to an erstwhile medium).

Or there’s just playing along so the blender-using naturist and Queequeg the Pierced can maintain whatever fragile sense of self they need to get through the day.

And on top of that, how is it that a death-worshiping vampire and a life-affirming Wiccan cohabitate in some sort of Axis of Weird and even gang up against the normals? Shouldn’t they be fighting all the time?

I should also toss a few darts at the Normals, but I’m not sure what to say about a group of people who’d knowingly sign up for a reality show that plays on their apparent inflexibility and lack of imagination. The producers picked them for their likelihood to just not be able to deal with a naked Queequeg lookalike with mangled earlobes or a Wiccan with big boobies.

Oh, we also just got to see inside the deliberative process, wherein the Alts try to decide who to throw out. In classic altie-cultie fashion, people who aren’t instantly freaked out by them are “walled off” and “unaware.” So if you don’t maintain their sense of specialness for them, they just decide you must really not get them and kick you out.

Here’s the rundown of reasons they’ve tagged normals for eviction:

  • “You lack in patience.” (Avocado)
  • “Didn’t give of yourself.” (Queequeg)
  • “You didn’t share your microcosm that’s inside of you with the macrocosm of everyone else that’s here.” (Butthead the Vampire, who’s leading in the polls for “most stupid of the lot.” Truly the Jai of the Alts.)
  • “I don’t feel that you are contributing fuel to the fire of transformation that burns in this house.” (Wiccan)
  • “You must go back and reclaim your past in order to move forward and claim your future.” (Voodoo priestess, explaining why the token black guy is getting the boot. Evidently not digging voodoo is an act of cultural betrayal.)

Executive Summary: This is like being kidnapped by goths and forced to attend a scary haunted house where they get mad if you don’t scream over sticking your hand in a bowl of peeled grapes they’ve told you are eyeballs.

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