Sunday, December 09, 2007

Student Congress? On MTV??? Starring ME???

I continue to be in love with this team of mine. This week, for the first time in my 8 years of coaching, my team won a Sweepstakes award. There's a little bit of an asterisk attached to that--the strongest team in Southwest Washington was hosting the meet, and meet hosts traditionally recuse themselves from their own sweepstakes trophies. And most of those sweepstakes points came from novices...but the novices did absolutely clean up. So we were meet champions. I will makes sure to tell my principals that, and to leave out the asterisks! Kids were elated. I liked them even more on the ride home. The bus broke down on the side of the freeway, delaying us for over an hour while we waited for a replacement bus. Incredibly, there was no whining, no complaints...everyone just hung out together. A kid broke out some iPod speakers and we listened to 80s era music, sang, chatted, and had fun. This crew is really, really special.

But that's not what I'm writing about.

MTV was at this weekend's meet.

They are profiling a kid from a rival school for their show Made. Apparently, a ditzy cheerleader wants to be taken intellectually seriously, so they're re-making her by having her join the debate team.

That's all well and good...more power to her. But I'm a little bummed out with a lot of the process and with MTV in general.

First off, the concept of the show is that they bring in a coach--somebody good-looking and ever so painfully-hip--to help the kid. So instead of the school's excellent coach, they've brought in some dude in his mid-twenties. I overheard him describing Public Forum postings to the camera operator, and describing them incorrectly. This kid can make herself simply by walking into the actual coach's office after school. But that won't do, of course...he's in his fifties and doesn't have slick, spiky hair. Instead, MTV has brought in a less-qualified, more-hip outsider.

Second, as my wife points out, the fact that a kid who wants to be taken intellectually seriously decides the way to do that is to call MTV...well, that's a pretty comical premise to begin with.

Third, MTV and/or Hip Spiky-Haired Coach have decided that, for yesterday's meet anyway, that the kid should compete in Student Congress and Interpretive Reading.

Seriously? Congress? This is intellectually serious? Or this? Or this? This?

And interpretive reading? Please, NOT interpretive reading! This make Congress look like a MENSA meeting.

Gossip is that the NFL has gotten involved, as they should, as this could be priceless advertising for their organization. They're encouraging the kid to do Public Forum, which she will at the start of January. So I see the storyline developing. They're starting her out with these gateway events and will have her debate PuFo later on.

Anyway, here's where I jump in. I was coerced into being PO for an hour of Congress yesterday, and while I was there, the Made girl (I'll call her "Jamie") gave her only speech. One of my kids wound up stumbling into the role of antagonist. My kid gave an earnest but somewhat rambly speech in favor of a resolution illegalizing hate speech, and Jamie gave a decent-but-not-great speech against the resolution. There was a brief question period between the two of them, and the camera desperately whipped back and forth between my kid and Jamie. Then, there was the vote. The resolution was defeated--Jamie's side got the vote. I'll probably be on MTV saying "The resolution fails."

I'm worried that they'll edit the footage to make my kid appear to be the villain. With music and with clever cutting, they can make anyone look like anything. And if I were directing this episode, it would be very easy to cast my kid as the bad guy, the bumbling guy, or the smug guy who hates the protagonist.

So, on the van ride home, I asked my kid if he'd seen Made. He hadn't--he doesn't have cable. I explained to him the concept and the notion that these show producers might not have his best interests in mind, and that he should think about that before he signs any release. Additionally, my wife and I are taping a couple of episodes for him so he and his mom can see them before making any decisions.

Saturday, however, I started to think they might be taking the show in a different direction. MTV interviewed my kid and his Public Forum partner...but they exclusively asked them about one of Jamie's teammates, Juan. Juan is a good-looking, brilliant, telegenic, sharp kid, competitive at the highest local levels of debate. One of my female debaters, after facing Juan in LD on Friday, could barely keep the saliva in her mouth. "That kid is the Shakespeare of debate!" she gushed. So I'm now wondering if they're going to try to make this show about Juan accepting Jamie or taking her seriously.

In any event, I'm very wary of this. I'll sign the waiver for myself--I didn't say much besides "We now have time for questions...Senator Johnson?"--but I'll encourage my kids to watch the show and think it over seriously.

Stay tuned. The camerafolks will be at next week's meet too.


Paula said...

Do keep us posted! I'll have to watch the episode when it airs. Hope your kid comes out looking good. As for the concept and the spiky-haired hip coach, uh--this is debate, dude.

I remember you all singing Christmas carols in five-part harmony on bus rides this time of year. The memory makes me smile.

Young Ref: The blog for Basketball Officials said...

Thanks for your comments on my blog, great to see yours.

Do keep us posted on this!

Brooklyn said...

I was on MTV once for a "duets" piano thing with Vanessa Carlton, but I only got a very brief appearance in the final cut because I didn't cooperate with the interviewer who repeatedly tried to lure me into talking about how 'hot' Vanessa was and what my girlfriend would 'think' about that.

And also when asked on the form "If on a scale of 1-10 [with Vanessa being a 10!], how well do you play the piano?"

I said "72".

Gotta love MTV.

BTW remember when we were in Junior High and they played music videos? That was cool.

TeacherRefPoet said...

Yeah. I just checked out pictures of Vanessa Carlton, who I had never heard of. She's certainly good looking, as all women in their 20s are, but I'd put her in the middle quintile of women her age. Why the hell would they want you to say she was "hot"? They're weird.

When was this?

stevehamann said...

Nothing will beat the $100,000 Pyramid appearance.

gold_e_lox said...

This is interesting to me. I only read an OO and flowed at Pacific (My CX partner couldn't come, so i watched a few debates with my boyfriend the parli man. On the NFL (National Forensics League) homepage, there is a picture of Cheerleader and an interview. For some reason, she thinks Pacific University is in Tacoma, Washington. (? how did she get that?) I am interested about this coaching 20s as opposed to a nice solid coach. i enjoy your blog. Northwestern debaters are characters, aren't they? :-)
well, back to my endless search for Hegemony bad arguments....