Monday, November 12, 2007

Hey Mom - Songs For Project Runway...


My mother, a reality TV junkie who literally has never seen a reality TV program she does not like and has not watched, can attest to the fact that I hate HATE hate reality TV. I know, I know, you're sitting there agreeing with me but wondering why I'm wasting my breath uttering an opinion that was en vogue maybe three years ago when reality TV was at its apex (quantity-wise, not quality-wise). And you guys have no idea how much shit (sorry, ma!) she has given me for my newfound devotion to Bravo's Project Runway. I plead the fifth about Rock of Love and The Pickup Artist.

"It's just like American Idol, and you HATE American Idol," she always argues, and at first, I did not have a satisfactory know-it-all answer prepared. And I couldn't quite put my finger on what, for me, sets Project Runway apart from the drudgery that is AI. It's not that the contestants on Idol have bad voices (for the most part, anyways) -- it's just that the show celebrates the mediocrity, particularly in its songwriting, that has become mainstream radio. Chris Daughtry, Carrie "Jesus Take the Wheel" Underwood, Clay Aiken... Catchy? Sure. Disposable? Without a doubt.

The fashion world, as represented in Runway, at least, is different. One notable difference? The contestants are judged and eliminated by industry professionals (not a "Paula"-type figure among them) in a straight-forward manner. There is no number for regular, Levi-wearing, band T-shirt-wearing slobs like you and I to call. And this, I realized, represents one of the chief ideological differences between the two shows: Idol isn't about finding the best or most original singer, it's about finding the one with the most appeal to the biggest number of viewers.

Plus, Runway's contestants don't strive to be likeable or make you cry, a la Idol (or the uber-offensive Extreme Home Makeover). The show's villains (like last season's winner, Jeffrey Sebalia) are fun to watch in action, but the really interesting and compelling part of the show is watching the intricate, sometimes unbelievably wacky outfits coming together. Those without talent get cut, and can't survive on charisma and audience adoration to put them through to the next round.

Anyways, the show is back with a new season (this is #4, if you're counting) on Wednesday night! Check your local listings for more information, I suppose.

LISTEN:
Sam Cooke: "Touch The Hem of His Garment" [MP3]
The Flying Burrito Brothers: "High Fashion Queen" [MP3]
The Wedding Present: "My Favourite Dress" [MP3]
Of Montreal: "Suffer For Fashion" [MP3]
Sufjan Stevens: "That Dress Looks Nice On You" [MP3]
Liz Isenberg: "I Want to Sleep in My Party Dress" [MP3]
Wake The President: "Sorrows For Clothes" [MP3]
Spoon: "Lines In The Suit" [MP3]

ON THE WEB:
Project Runway's website

12 comments:

Lawson said...

y'know I too found myself a huge Project Runway fan after publicly deriding all reality tv! Thanks for giving me a smarty pants rebuke to those who call me a hypocrite!

btw, you might like to have a squiz at something i wrote on 'suffering for fashion' on my own blog: http://contempblog.blogspot.com/2007/11/suffer-for-fashion.html.

cheers!

Matthew said...

Ginny, you have tainted those songs by associating them with that dross. Shame on you.

Ginny said...

hey, it's not art, but it's not bad entertainment!

Matthew said...

I think that's the problem with all of this stuff. It's all mildly engaging if you drift into it. I used to live with a guy who watched all the soaps - all of them - and it's amazing how easy it is to be sucked into something that is essentially rubbish.

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