In the 1960s, Andy Warhol was developing his theory that in the future everyone will be famous for exactly fifteen minutes; better known as the '15 minutes of fame'. In the 1990s and early 2000s, trends in pop culture were easily recognizable by a small, yet powerful group of media conglomerates that 'controlled' the industry. The television, music and news industry each had their 'big fish' that could effortlessly influence the likes and dislikes of American pop culture and society. Today viewers, subscribers, readers and audiences seem to have options and choices to satisfy their an insatiable appetite for entertainment, news, gossip and drama.
This is not a history lesson. And Warhol's insight is not a blind prediction as evidenced by today's fast track of multimedia and information. At the end of the summer, I published "A Seasonal Review Of Your Boob Tube (or Part 1 of the Andy Warhol Philosophy, Revisited)". I would like to conclude this essay with a brief synopsis of today's concept of 'fame' by highlighting the effects of subgenres and subcultures and how they have augmented trends in entertainment and society; and what better subgenre to use than television housewives?
ABC's Desperate Housewives may have arguably re-opened the floodgates for unhappy, catty, manipulative women or ambitious, successful, powerful women (depending on who you ask) trying to fulfill that missing piece of their puzzled lives. Managing careers, husbands, children and all walks of life that accompany this gave the reality television formula a run for it's money with its debut in 2004. Until reality tv got smart.
The onslaught of Bravo's Real Housewives franchise has become a sizeable force with series in Orange County, Washington D.C., New York City, Atlanta and Miami just to name a few. But the buck didn't stop there, as apparently more wives had slightly different stories to tell. VH1's Basketball Wives currently films in Miami with a spin-off series in Los Angeles. This series tells the story of women engulfed in the world of professional basketball and how their lives and careers are affected as such. While Mob Wives (also on VH1) tells a story of women who's husbands and families are involved in the mafia. The sub-genre stretches across networks that tell of wives of NFL stars (VH1's Football Wives), wives of America's soldiers (Lifetime's scripted series Army Wives) and wives and girlfriends of hip-hop stars (VH1's Love and Hip Hop). All at the producers luxury of not having to pay writers or actors and the low attention span of as little as a six episode season. Housewives have been, and will remain, through primetime and daytime dramas and docu-dramas an unapologetic, undying archetype. And somehow viewers want more.
With a mass appeal to women 18-49, impressionable girls 12-24 and gay men, housewives set a trend that can perpetuate more trends within a group of people who follow similar beliefs and lifestyles or - what could simply be called - a subgenre. And with producers allowing a revolving door of protagonist and antagonists without the one time worry of losing it's following, this sub sect of fame (or infamy) comes at a microwaveable convenience and 'easy bake' life expectancy. Will the likes of Jill Zarin (RHONY), Danielle Staub (RHONJ) or Desean Snow (RHOA) stay relevant after their departures from the series? Or was Warhol's theory correct? And because of our need to consume so much media so rapidly, will we even care? Or will we sit back and watch on our multitude of electronic devices as subgenres and subcultures begin to rule the world?
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