Tuesday, September 27, 2005

If Danny Bonaduce Falls On National Television, Am I Obliged to Watch?

Alright, I’m trying again today. I felt rather defeated by yesterday’s bloghap, even though it was my own damn fault for not writing it offline in the first place. I’ve done this before, of course, but this post was longer than usual, and far be it from me to make a mistake one time and learn from it. I’m the kind of gal who likes to repeat my mistakes a few times before moving on to new ones.

So, Danny, my Danny. I watched the first two episodes of Danny's reality show, which was excruciating on so many levels. His life is upsetting. He’s a drug addict, an alcoholic and a sex addict married to a nice woman with the seeming patience of a saint who loves him (although she apparently doesn't really like sex). Nothing surprising there, I've known lots of those. But what is so disturbing about Danny is his total disconnect - he is so not stupid. He seems to have a certain level of self-awareness insofar as he knows he’s an addict, he knows how he’s perceived by the public, good and bad, he admittedly suffers from severe self-loathing and knows he’s basically fucked up. But at the same time he just does not seem to be, well, in his body, is the best I can put it. He obviously loves his kids and seems connected to them, although he doesn't seem to understand the thing about “modeling” in parenting - he thinks if he teaches them “not to do what he does” they’re good to go, not seeming to understand that behavior is what's taught. He painfully admits that he really doesn’t know who he is.

As upsetting as anything though, is the whole idea that this is on TV, much of it taking place in his couples therapy. Danny seems to be an example of a new archetype that believes themselves not to exist if not televised. We live in an age of celebrity. This is not a revelation. I have said repeatedly that anonymity is underrated. It is my sense that Danny truly believes he will be helped by televising this, and for all I know he may be right. I think actually the much easier road to say that reality TV of this nature (or in general) is exploitative, and without value. It is what it is, and in this case it’s not much different in quality than anyone who’d allow a documentary to be made about their lives. I myself might rather televise my therapy sessions than drink a testicle milkshake, or get an eXtreme Makeover (Entire Body Edition). I would have to argue that the Danny show has more inherent value than anything ever presented on Jerry Springer (including those absurd moral speeches he gives at the end – “I think we can see that cheating is horrible, but just in case, we’ll have another episode about it tomorrow, featuring fighting midgets”) or Girls Gone Wild (or, Do My Breasts Exist if They’re Untelevised?). Personally, I think Danny would best be helped by quietly moving to the country and finding a group of Famous Anonymous, and probably every other 12-step group known to man. Instead, he puts the choice in our hands whether to watch or not, and for me it’s a hard one. Say what you will, but part of me wants him to be right just so he does get it together, and for better or worse, I’m going to tune in to find out.

But we already know I need TV Anonymous.


Teodoro Callate said...

Well, we know from the publicity rounds that the episodes will become very, very difficult to watch, as they will feature a suicide attempt, more violence, and much, much more substance abuse. This is not a pretty story. (I'm not giving this away...Bonaduce is talking about this openly.) So steel yourself for some tough episodes.

And we also know that he comes out of this...at least for now...at least at an "OK" level. The guy is alive and actively doing a PR tour. So, okay.

But this is definitely a complicated thing for me, too. I don't have the anger towards TV for exploiting people in this situation. But watching a real person actually fall apart...in so many ways, so completely...is not easy to do.

Testicle Milkshake. I was NOT in a band called Testicle Milkshake.

Anonymous said...

I've been watching and I dont like it one bit- I'm thinking- God- look at him be such an a-hole & so utterly destroyed. So I switch the channel- then I come back to see if he's still totally retarded- sick- perspiring- drinking- injecting & screaming at a producer who is suppose to be "behind the scenes"- ugh