I was surfing on one of my favorite websites a couple of days ago, a snarky television commentary called http://www.televisionwithoutpity.com, and noticed a poll on the sidebar. Apparently filming of MTV’s reality show “Real World” has recently shut down in Philadelphia due to union issues, and they are contemplating moving to a different city. The folks at TWoP were polling their readers to see which city readers thought should host the next Real World. One of several choices was Salt Lake City. I naturally voted for Salt Lake, because hey, I’m from Salt Lake, and I have hometown loyalty. Once I voted, I could see the results, and Salt Lake was far and away the leader. Twenty-one per cent at that point. I thought it was funny and moved on. I just went back and saw that Salt Lake is still ahead with twenty per cent of the votes. My reaction? Amusement combined with a gnawing feeling of dread. I’ve made a decision to post a public service announcement.
To all MTV big-wigs who read By Common Consent: Please don’t pay attention to that poll on TWoP. It’s very un-scientific. Very unreliable. Utah is boring. Please go away. Thank you.
To all other people who read By Common Consent: Whew. That was close. See, the second time I saw that poll the reality of a Salt Lake “Real World” hit me. I caught the vision. My hometown, object of both my love and annoyance, would be the butt of one great big joke. Hey look, the Real World kids can’t get a drink anywhere. Hey look, the Real World kids are trying to have sex with Mormons, and it’s not working. (Or worse yet, it is.) Hey, what’s that smell? It’s the lake?
I have complicated feelings about Salt Lake. I’m a Utah Gollum if you will, only with more hair and integrity. I’m annoyed by the politics; I’m annoyed by the insularity; I’m annoyed by the driving; I’m annoyed at the lack of ethnic food; at times I’m annoyed that it’s peopled with blond Scandinavians who have been in-breeding for 150 years. But, I love that place. I love the mountains; I love the creepy old irrigation canals; I love that every kid takes piano lessons; I love the neighborhood games of kick-the-can in the summer; I love that people smile and say hi, even when they have no idea who you are (besides the possibility that you’re a seventh cousin). I’m afraid the charms are too subtle for the outside world, who would stop at the “hey, this beer tastes watery” and miss the rest.
As one who feels a certain amount of kinship to those guerillas who kept Johnston’s army at bay, I say to you MTV people, for both our sakes, please stay away–this is not your kind of town.