Saturday, October 17, 2009

Not Ready for My Close Up

So I was watching “Trading Spouses” last night and I came across this high-strung Vegan mom. I didn’t get to watch the whole episode, but with the way it was edited, Vegan Mom came across as a nightmare.

Some gems:

1. She forces people at a dinner party to watch a video about cruelty to animals, then the producer cuts to a scene of her shoving a dog’s face in his own pee and giving him a swat. We had seen this earlier, but the producers wanted to make the connection for us in case we were, well, blind.

2. She extols the virtue of a tofu burger: “These help prevent cancer, meat burgers cause cancer.” Cutaway to her lighting up a cigarette.

3. They show one of her kids saying he isn’t looking forward to her coming home because he’ll probably get in a lot more trouble when she does. Ouch. This could have taken place right after he says he misses her, but we'll never know.

Anyway, although I did not care for Barbara in the least, it got me thinking about how someone would “edit” me for prime time. Scary.

During my 9 years as a stay at home mom with little kids and little help, I was often glad Dateline wasn’t there to catch me hiding in the bathroom with a Diet Pepsi and Little Debbie’s or needing to put myself in Mommy Time Out. Living in a 5 level split with no bathroom on the main level made potty training F-U-N. Let’s just leave it at that and say a lot would happen on any given 12+ hour day—definite highs and lows.

Now that the kids are 8 and 10 and my husband has a fantastic work schedule, I have a lot less stress, but I can see how I could still be edited in a not so flattering way.

Take yesterday. Jake and I were enjoying a lovely Friday afternoon. He finished a puzzle as I cooked tacos. We laughed, we joked, we bonded. As soon as Tom walked in the door and started breathing my air I became a total…crab.

I plunked the tacos on the table with a gruff “Let’s Eat NOW!” Anyone who knows what happens when mom is hungry will hop to it. But there was more to it than that: I had a cold, I was bored, I couldn’t seem to get anything done, I had ordered a $5,000 shed with vinyl siding and I don't even LIKE vinyl siding, and it won’t stop raining. Somehow this was all Tom’s fault.

It wasn’t a big moment, just one of many moments, big and small, that make up a day. And I was glad when it passed.

Of course if I were to go on one of those wife swapping shows, there is the possibility that I could stay nice for the duration because I'd be with strangers. Isn’t it a sad fact that we are uber polite to those we don’t know, but we turn like caged lions on those closest to us? Or is that just me?

Anyway, I’m glad I’m not on one of those shows. I certainly don’t think it will help prove the integrity of the whacked-out family of the Balloon Boy of earlier this week. Not only were they on Wife Swap, but you have the little gem of the parents basically ignoring the kid as he pukes repeatedly on national tv.

I guess the beauty of real life versus “reality show life” is that we get a chance to get better and to start over every day, for His mercies are “New every morning. Great is thy faithfulness.” I'm glad to choose a Divine Do-Over over being preserved in cable tv glory for all the world to see.

Plus, I have a really pointy nose. And no one needs to see that.


Heidi said...

I've thought about this too - how I would be would I come across if someone caught me on camera? I can be snippy and give withering looks...sadly, or happily depending on what you're after, I'd probably be the perfect candidate for a reality show.

Great post!!

Anonymous said...

I would definitely not look good in sound bytes.

Just this morning, I was talking to Emma who was speaking disparagingly about her orthodontist (who in hindsight is responsible for 6 extra months in braces). I was trying to speak on his behalf and encourage her to be respectful of his efforts to divine whether or not her already 5 years late teeth would come in without surgery and lots of extra tugging.
I caught myself saying... "well, at least I hope you don't speak like that in public!"

It is a paradox that home is supposed to be at once the placed where you are most loved and the place where you are free to act 'unlovable'. In some sense the most successful homes are the ones that make the paradox appear to be perfectly reasonable.

Anonymous said...

P.S. I always wished I had a pointy nose!!

Lynn Kellan said...

Hi Anna,
I would be edited extolling the virtues of reading and education, cutaway to me staring at the TV. Then I'd pontificate on the value of connecting with your kids, cutaway to me staring at the computer screen while my kid tries to talk to me.

Funny, but I didn't understand the gift of Grace until I became a parent...and don't worry, it'll stop raining in July.

Vodka Mom said...

"cut to her smoking a cig" made me laugh out loud.


L said...

If I were on a reality show, I could save the editors time by providing those contradictions simultaneously. One of my current faves is reading health books while stuffing my face with candy corn.

Ann Imig said...

That's a good perspective to have...

It's all in the editing.

I think I'll use that in my defense from now on. ;)

Thanks for stopping by my blog!

Christy said...

I love the image of you hiding eating little debbies and drinking diet pepsi! hehe! Makes me want to do the same RIGHT NOW! :)

Loved this post Anna.

Mwa said...

I'm sure they could edit anyone to seem horrible. That Vegan mum does seem extreme.

Glennon said...

Anna you are so PRETTY!

Miss Mustard Seed said...

I'm aure anyone can look like a terrible and annoying person when they are edited. We all have our hypocracies and the like. I totally agree that if you caught me during certain parts of my day (life) there would be a lot to point at. Great post.

for a different kind of girl said...

Twenty minutes ago, my husband and boys returned home. Ten minutes into that, I snapped at my husband after not seeing him all day, over something mundane and utterly unnecessary. Then I read this post...

I get it, so I apologized, and for the inevitable time when I feel like snapping again, I'm going to remember this. I'm also going to be thankful that tomorrow, I'm going to color my hair because I would want to be ready for my close up if ever a reality camera was turned on me!

Stimey said...

This is a hilarious post. I can't possibly imagine going on a show like that. I can't quite imagine what I would look like. A crazy lady, that's for sure.

caren said...

Your photo is beautiful! I do the same thing to my husband so please don't feel you are alone. Can't really understand why people would want to switch places much less do it on TV.

EatPlayLove said...

I don't quite get why people want to put themselves out there like that. Lovely photo by the way.

bernthis said...

I could never ever do a show like that. YOu can't win. You'll never end up looking 'good" it's too boring

Gretchen said...

I think at home, people feel more comfortable to be "themselves" because they feel unthreatened and also know they will be forgiven. Sadly, the public eye is not as forgiving.

A few years ago, I signed up for Wife Swap and got a 2nd interview. After talking to my husband, we agreed that it wasn't a good idea, that we'd probably be portrayed as Jesus Freaks or conservative nutjobs. After all, showing people in their normal selves doesn't make for good T.V., now does it? Of course not.

The only way we could've gotten a decent spin would be if we were paired opposite some criminals or reprobates or people who bit the heads off birds or something. I'm sure we would've been paired opposite some Muslims or a lesbian couple or something and then we'd look like narrow-minded lunatics for standing up for our opinions.

Because, you know, not EVERYONE'S opinions in America are protected, only the people who don't object to anything.

Just kidding.

Kate Coveny Hood said...

Anna! You're gorgeous - please. But I hear you about not liking the idea of how producers would edit your everyday life to make you seem interesting... I've thought about that before while watching Project Runway. I wonder if they precede that "she's kind of a joke" with "I think she's a wonderful designer, but the others don't appreciate her - it's like she's...." I would be very paranoid.

Debbie @ The Shabby Bungalow said...

These type of programmes make me laugh - I would never dare go on one!!!! They are very interesting though to see how other people live their lives :)