The Theory of Chaos

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Jesus didn't make it through the Eliminator

Since I loved American Gladiators growing up, and wanted to see just what the networks were going to weather the strike with, of course I was going to check out the new version. Most of the contenders are garden-variety reality-TV narcissists, struggling to brand themselves in front of primetime eyeballs, but I admit I've developed a TV crush on indomitable soccer mom Monica, who grins, sees this ordeal as the ludicrous game it is, and resists the pressure from all quarters to become a nasty smack-talker crowing about phony glory. Her mix of adrenalized go-getter cheer and ropy dancer's muscles seem poised to make her the ladies' champion.

The one who really fascinates me, though, is
Andy, the youth minister who's ripped like Carrot Top. The moment anything goes wrong on his sunny mission to prove to America that Christianity can kick some, you can see the raging, paranoid passive-aggression trying to tear out of that thin smile on his face. I'm almost sad that he got knocked out of the semi-finals, his Jesus power apparently not enough to overcome a scrappy high-school wrestling coach with Roadrunner speed. The true dirty thrill of these new personality-oriented game shows is that we get to watch peoples' carefully-constructed self-images come totally unwound.

And here was the other thing I couldn't help noticing: During one of his interview segments, he said that one of his goals in competing is to teach people that "
Christianity really is for everybody!" Can you imagine a primetime network show airing an interview segment where a contestant said that his reason for competing was to teach America that "Islam is for everybody!"

I'm just askin'.


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