Do you remember when A&E meant Arts and Entertainment?
It seems that lately the Arts and Entertainment network has decided to leave the Arts behind and focus on the entertainment half of their name. What do I mean by this? Why the explosion of “reality” TV shows that air on this network? A friend of mine who worked on Forty Deuce explained about reality tv, “We take the truth into a dark room, strap it into a dentist chair, and get hard to work on it.”
I remember fondly the days when A&E was the channel on which I could watch Pride and Prejudice. My evenings were filled with romantic forays into the English countryside, my wife cuddled close to me, watching very nice people encounter romantic complications. It was wonderful, the warmth of good dialogue and the person you love. What more could one ask for? But now…oh now…how the world has changed. A&E’s line-up looks more like a police line-up than a romantic one. How can one cuddle and coo soft words into a loved one’s ear when watching Dog the Bounty Hunter? One does not think of Sonnet 116 when watching Inked or Intervention.
What am I supposed to watch with my wife? What show touches upon the deeper truths of human existence? Does A&E have such an offering? Luckily, yes they do. They have provided me with the beauty that is Rollergirls. I am not kidding, this is great TV. Not because of the “sport” or the monolithic theatrical struggles that take place in the “wooden oval”. No, there is no Bach fugue playing here, that would be Rollerball not Rollergirls.
What makes Rollergirls entertaining, and even a profound commentary on the “common life”, is the conversations and attempts at philosophizing that the competators give. Most of the “girls” are working class, and struggling, individuals who desire in some way to be great. To paraphrase Lunatic, “it gives my life a kind of purpose, no matter how pointless that purpose is.” The young women of Rollergirls seek to escape the banality of normal existence and, for one brief moment, to feel adored. I would say “heroic”, but I think that might provoke laughter. The funny thing, no matter how vulgar and scripted the contests the Rollergirls participate in, no matter how unatheletic these atheletes are, they truly do seek to be successful and to feel they are accomplishing something.
For a member of the Holy Rollers, it is better to get punched in the eye for pennies than to make minimum wage selling DVDs all day. In fact, that is just what most of the girls do during the day, they work at dull service jobs. For the Lonestar Rollergirls in Austin, TX, this is their Fight Club where they struggle against the mundane and seek something more. Sure that something more is to beat the snot out of one another while others watch, but a lot of other people get paid a heck of a lot more money to do similar activities.
Just one question though…
Who would win in a fight between Johnathan E and Miss Conduct?