Saturday, August 13, 2005

This Is So Cute... Not!

MTV has a television series called High School Stories: Scandals, Pranks, & Controversies. (website here) The show, about to begin its third season, describes itself as follows: (emphasis added)
Take inside look at the outrageous antics of high school students all across the country. These stories are true-to-life reenactments of actual high school scandals, pranks and controversies starring the troublemakers and class clowns that made it all happen. You'll also see what happens when seemingly innocent pranks get out of hand and the students involved have to deal with the consequences on a brand new season of High School Stories.
Here is a sample of the type of nonsense stories that the crew from MTV is planning to re-enact: (again, emphasis are added)
An upcoming episode of MTV's "High School Stories" will feature a senior prank last year at Bret Harte High School. [Ed's note: The school is in Angels Camp, California.]

Santa Monica-based Remote Productions will be in Angels Camp for about five days starting today to tape the show about real-life pranks, scandals and controversies at high schools around the country.

Last year, about half the seniors at Bret Harte High School managed to get out of class and convene on the football field.

They had snagged a number of slips that teachers and administrators use to summon students to the office and used them to excuse themselves from class, Principal Aaron Rosander said.

It just happened to be on Secretary Appreciation Day, so Rosander and other administrators were in a catered lunch with the secretaries instead of out monitoring the halls, he said.

"No harm done, and we got them back in class in no time," he said, laughing.

Apparently, someone told MTV about it, but Rosander hasn't been in contact with producers of the show so he was unsure of the producers' plans.

Taping will take place at Bret Harte High School starting at 11 a.m. on Monday and Tuesday.

Casting agent Cheryl McIntire, out of Jamestown, is still looking for four to nine more extras to play the role of high school students in the show. She already has four guys and two girls, so girls are needed to even out the genders.

Extras should be between the ages of 18 to 25, because of legal hoops production companies must go through to tape anyone younger, she said.

The show will bring some national attention to this corner of the foothills, said Lisa Reynolds, the executive director of the Calaveras Visitors Bureau.

"I think something like this is positive and fun, and especially showing the younger generation is a good thing to represent Calaveras County," she said.

The impact could spill over to Tuolumne County as well, Tuolumne County Film Commission Executive Director Jerry Day said. Most of the hotels in the Angels Camp area are booked for people attending an Eagles concert at the Calaveras County Fairgrounds this weekend, so film crews may have to come south for a couple days.

"From a financial standpoint, (the impact is) not a big one, but it will be a television show about Bret Harte," he said. " - I think it's good exposure certainly."
When I read this, I was tempted to chuckle about this along with everyone else. And then I gave the program's concept some thought...

It appears that now we have a show that informs kids all over the country how to pull these pranks, and, more importantly, shows them the mistakes that caused the original perpetrators to get caught.

The show can be thought of as a "how to" instructional video for disrupting class. I can imagine all the "copycat" types of incidents that this program will inspire.

"How cute," I can picture some kids saying, "lets do something similar so that MTV will come here and film us."

One can only wonder what types of "scandals & controversies" the show is planning to re-enact.

As for the videotaping of the prank at Bret Hart High School, I'm not surprised that the Calavaras County visitor's bureau is enthusiastic about the whole enterprise. After-all, their viewpoint is that any publicity for the area is considered to be a good thing. Maybe they want to be famous for something besides their
annual frog jumping contest, which is based upon Mark Twain's short story The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County. (Read Twain's tale here, scroll down. And for the record, I've always like the contest.)

I am disappointed that the school is not only cooperating with the show's producers, but seem to be facilitating their efforts. I guess the local school administrators probably think that it's "no big deal" that the school day was disrupted and instructional time was lost.

In this current atmosphere of increased accountability and raised expectations, those of us that have to work in the schools don't need any additional distractions from the business at hand, which is preparing our students to cope with increasingly high academic standards. Our kids can't afford it.

The folks that are producing this show don't have to worry about the "consequences" of their actions. After-all, they don't have to be accountable to the parents, or to the kids.

Thanks for nothing, Music Television.
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