Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Panic on the Pacific

Folks, we have a major crisis boiling over here in San Francisco, so big it crosses the Rockies and nearly touches the Mississippi River Valley. Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, collapsing global financial and health systems, planes falling in Buffalo and the Hudson, Zimbabwe imploding, Chavez proclaiming himself dictator for life -- none of these can compare to the stature of this one.

A San Francisco family lowered themselves to appear on reality TV and now they are being accused of being snobs. Here's the short and skinny (pun later plumbed) of it. A couple of weeks ago, Stephen Fowler and Renee participated in the "reality TV" show Wife Swap (the only one of that genre that I ever watch). Renee -- a certified life and destination coach -- headed off to a red meat, Red State family to impart the wisdom of organic food, exercise and the learnings from her various advanced degrees. Meanwhile, Gayla Long left Missouri to spend a couple of weeks with Stephen, British-born green businessman/venture capitalist. The clash of Red and Blue State values was nothing new, but Stephen went further than evidenced in the featured videos.

It's sparked an anti-Stephen website, eggings of their home, obscene phone calls, and a viral wave of Stephen bashers. I have to admit I've been really conflicted on all of this and initially sided with sweet albeit iinarticulate Gayla who was the object of insults on the order of "You are undereducated, overweight and over opinionated." About a third of my family could pass for the Longs. Hell, the Longs may be a part of my family. Another third are just like Renee and Stephen, scattered from Lucerne to L.A. to St. Louis. And about 80% of my friends and professional colleagues are just like Stephen and Renee. I've probably stood in line behind them at Whole Foods, Savor, the SF Symphony and Rainbow Market. But, of course, I say, I would never say anything on the order of Stephen since I'm such a sensitive caring person, even though I probably agree with him on every point. But, at the same point, fear that a person a notch or two above me on the GRE results or economic scale would look at me as Gayla's counterpart.

At first I saw Renee and Stephen as the worst examples of the "old economy". Did they agree to the reality TV contract because they needed to replenish their Goldman Sachs and Bear Stearns vested portfolio? Even the lethargic SF Chronicle has picked up on this. After reading about this on quite a number of blogs, I've done a near 360. I've come to recognize that every one on this reality show was keeping true to the script and the characters they were expected to portray. I've also been following Renee's site and have become addicted to her podcasts. She's pleasantly free of New Age psychobabble. My only problem with her is that she asks us to accept and love ourselves just as we are before starting our exercise and weight loss routine. I just can't do that right now. As anyone who has seen me lately I am in a state of grotesque morbid obesity (a.k.a. seven pounds overweight).

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At 3:58 PM, Blogger WAT said...

The opening paragraph of this post is brilliantly written and absurdly funny. Almost tragic.


At 4:18 PM, Blogger Ladrón de Basura (a.k.a. Junk Thief) said...

WAT - Only in San Francisco would you find people who would get into shouting matches over which spot has the best artisan bread or vegan cookies (just watch one of our local restaurant review shows).


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