Volume 96, Issue 12
Wednesday September 18, 2002

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Becoming someone else

Almost Famous
Megan O'Toole
A&E Editor

Just when I began to think that television couldn't get any worse, it sank to a new low.

It was probably my mistake for expecting anything more than superficial tripe from MTV, America's pay-to-play music channel that features either Britney or the Backstreet Boys a minimum of five times a day.

MTV is not the place for small time, independent rockers. It's not even the place for larger scale artists with integrity. And with its show Becoming, this candy-coated station has taken things one step further: it now rejects individuality and encourages unhealthy obsessions.

Think I'm being over dramatic? If so, you obviously haven't seen the show – and if you haven't seen Becoming, consider yourself lucky.

On each episode, one (or several) winners are chosen from thousands of hopeful applicants. These "winners" – if we have to call them that – are then "transformed" into their favorite pop stars. For example, N'Sync would be re-created by five boys with a dream... a dream of being someone else.

The producers of Becoming work their magic with makeup, dress, hairstyling and choreography to ensure the kids featured on the show are as similar to their idols as is humanly possible.

The winners are put up in a fancy hotel overnight and given lots of free swag. They're chauffeured from hotel to studio and back again in stretch limousines. In essence, they're treated like true stars.

But, here's the catch – it's only for one night.

The scariest part of the show is the "wrap-up" segment in which the winners invariably attest that Becoming has provided them with their "greatest day ever." It's also in this segment that these so-called "winners" admit to a rather fiendish desire to live their idol's life forever.

Is it just me, or is there something fundamentally wrong with this premise?

It's one thing for MTV to glamorize empty stars, but it's a whole new ball game when they actively celebrate the loss of identity – the loss of oneself.

This is a call for all members of the MTV generation to wake up.

Becoming is disguised as a game, but it's really more like a virus – one that has the potential to destroy youth culture.

What we need is a show that helps young people become themselves, rather than someone else.


Editor's note: If you disagree with Megan's views and think it's healthy to want to assume the identity of another, let her know by e-mailing her at: gazette.entertainment@uwo.ca

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2002 THE GAZETTE