We think poor Paddy Chayefsky is continually rolling in his grave, as his prophetic vision of televisionâ€”Networkâ€”increasingly appears as a tame apparition. Sybil the Soothsayer must have a serious headache after she learns that TV producer Mark Burnett (Survivor) has created a new â€œrealityâ€ program pegged to the upcoming Presidential election.
With Murdochâ€™s MySpace.com as a partner, the show called Independent will feature $1 million in prize money (which can go to â€œlegitimateâ€ candidates or other causes). According to USA Today, â€œPotential candidates will audition for the show by submitting a video. Once the contestants are chosen, they will set up MySpace profiles to serve as their campaign headquarters.â€ Burnett and Murdoch hope that the show â€œwill engage younger voters in the political process.â€
But what will MySpace and Fox do with all the user data it receives from viewers and users of its Independent site. Isnâ€™t the show just another attempt at getting young people to stick their interests, bookmarks, and other personal information into the MySpace data mining operation? We think so. Besides, the campaign for president should be serious business. Murdoch, Burnett, and Fox should be spending their considerable wealth encouraging people to understand the myriad of issues besetting the nation. But, since our politics is fashioned so much like show business, the new Independent show (which doesn’t have a TV partner yet) is likely to be the first of many spin-offs. Hey, Bud.TV. Perhaps our current President can be on your Replaced by a Chimp show?