Monday, September 17, 2012

MTV Plans Occult Reality Show

Reality television is considered by many to be the scourge of popular culture. It's easy to see why these shows are made - they're cheaper than paying scriptwriters and despite their overall awfulness they get high ratings because an enormous audience will apparently waste hours and hours of their lives watching a virtual train wreck in action. Exposure to these shows has not dampened their popularity, and as a matter of fact seems to have increased it if the network programming guides are any indication. Their quality has at the same time dropped considerably. The original Survivor, thought to have kicked off the reality television craze, was actually extremely well done, in part because at the time nobody knew how the format would work and the producers pulled out all the stops to make sure it was good. These days, though, it seems as if all producers have to do is plop a camera in front of something unusual or bizarre and the audience will just keep on watching. And to most people, occultism perfectly fits the definition of both "unusual" and "bizarre."

That brings us to today's article. I grew up in a distant past called the 1980's in which MTV - Music Television - played music videos. One might think of that as a no-brainer, except that since the 1990's the network has played anything but. MTV has announced that they are seeking occult practitioners for a new reality series that I can only imagine will be terrible to an epic degree. One does not need any sort of paranormal ability to note that the signs are particularly bad.

MTV put out a national casting call at Reality Wanted™ online on Sept. 10, 2012 seeking occult enthusiasts for their “True Life” television series. The casting call calls for anyone who practices Wicca, Satanism, alchemy, astrology, ESP or other mystical sciences” or those who feel they can “tap into unseen spiritual forces.” Those who are interested in the study of “the Kabbalah or Esoteric Christianity” are also invited to participate; the show is presently seeking males and females ages 17-29 who take their occult practices seriously, regardless of societal views. The casting call will remain open for a one year period and closes on Sept. 10, 2013.

The first big red flag for me? That they're seeking occultists aged 17-29. While I realize they're trying to target the show to people in that age group, for the most part twenty-something occultists are inexperienced drama fiends. It's very difficult to become proficient at magick in a few years, and doing so requires more discipline than most twenty-somethings have. According to astrology, after the Saturn return at around age 29 people tend to settle down and approach their lives and by extension their practices more seriously and rationally. Whether or not this is the mechanism behind it, this basic observation seems to pan out in the magical community. There are of course exceptions to the pattern, but my guess is that such folks won't be turning up on MTV.

The second red flag might just be a terminology issue, but if so it shows some ignorance on the part of the producers. People who call themselves Satanists - that is, LaVey Satanists - for the most part are not occultists. They're atheists who like acting spooky, and many of them don't believe in spiritual forces at all. Setians and Luciferians are a different matter, but that's not what the casting call says. My guess is that the kind of Satanist who's going to wind up on a program like this will be the sort who thinks that occultism is bullshit and just likes messing with people. The producers are certainly not going to find any members of the "Great Satanic Conspiracy" for their show because no such thing exists, except in the minds of paranoid evangelical Christians.

So the upshot is that when this show comes out it probably won't portray the "mystical sciences" in any sort of positive light. Most likely what the audience will take away is that we're a bunch of deluded kooks - which is really too bad. On the other hand, deluded kooks make for a better train wreck, and it seems like that's what the reality television audience is dying to see.

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