26 August 2011

Project “Find Yourself”

Have you ever found yourself watching mindless television programs that seem to be a complete waste of time, but you can’t pull yourself away. I try to avoid Toddlers + Tiaras for that very reason. Throughout the episode, I can’t help but gawk at the monstrously expensive glam gowns, coaching time, and attitudes of these babies. I shake my head throughout the entire episode at their tantrums and their obliging mothers, but can’t seem to get myself to push the power button until the credits roll. Thus I attempt to avoid shows like T+T that add no value to my life.

Most television today has only one purpose - entertainment. The Office is one of the shows I watch that probably fits into this category. Lately, I’ve had only a couple hours per week of discretionary time on my hands. So in order to justify watching an hour of television, not only do I use the DVR to eliminate commercials, but in some cases I make that time into a personal counseling session.

Take, for example, The Glee Project, which I started watching mid- summer. As I have admitted before, I am a Glee viewer and will probably continue to be until my discomfort with show themes becomes greater than the value of their music. Only a business major would resort to television economics! Anyway, this summer, when I was job searching, I set up the DVR to program new episodes of SYTYCD (Yay, Melanie), Drop Dead Diva, Lark Rise to Candleford, and Glee. Or so I thought… What actually began recording was The Glee Project on Oxygen.

The Glee Project is a reality contest where a group of teens sing and dance in competition for a guest role on the next season of Glee. Like Glee, the Project is pretty mindless entertainment with good singing and controversial issues interspersed. I watched a few episodes. Contestants were eliminated one by one, chosen to leave the competition by the director Ryan Murphy after he analyzed whether he could write for their voice/personality/body type/religion/sexual orientation. (Side note: if you don’t like Glee, there is a direct correlation to your potential dislike of Ryan Murphy.) As Mr. Murphy analyzed each singer, he would encourage them to figure out who they really were and then show him more of that person. Often I noticed that the singers, who obviously REALLY wanted to be on Glee and further their careers in doing so, would aim to please and readily morph into what/who they thought the directors wanted them to be.

Then Episode 7 happened. Contestant Cameron Mitchell is known for his song writing and guitar playing abilities. He rocks a suspenders/round glasses/bed head nerd look and sings like Chris Martin or an alternative Jamie Collum. In episode seven, Cameron was selected to be in the bottom three and perform for Mr. Murphy. He had struggled through the weeks in trying to be a competitive force to reckon with while still being true to himself and his religious beliefs. Cameron had chosen not to take some of the director’s notes, and because of the identity v. Glee struggle you could tell that he was less invested in his acting. By the end of his last chance performance for Mr. Murphy, Cameron admitted tearfully that Glee probably wasn’t for him. I hope I was not the only one who clapped for joy with Cameron’s discovery! He’s a born musician and will have a very successful career, but not with Glee. That just wasn’t a cohesive relationship! Mr. Murphy was disappointed with Cameron's loss because he felt like Cameron's personality and beliefs were not represented on the show and needed to be written. I have the greatest respect for Cameron’s decision.

So I thought: if I stood in front of Ryan Murphy and he asked me what made me unique, what would I say? A long internal struggle ensued, where I debated whether or not I would stand out in a crowd of talented people. Have I made a compelling story of my life? Do I live boldly and courageously? I'll spare you the whole conversation...

Conclusion: There are many things about me that make my story different and, dare I say, fascinating. Because of how I present myself I don't think I stand out in a crowd, nor do I feel as courageous and bold as I wish I were, especially surrounding my spirituality. Which is probably why Cameron's choice and self-awareness was so compelling. I think there's something so attractive about being confident in who you are, who you've become. It's definitely a value I'd like to develop, so I'm now collecting inspirational role models. Any suggestions?