Last night, I went to see Kermit Ruffins and made an unpleasant discovery: The Real World has found Vaughan’s. MTV’s The Real World is one of the pioneering reality shows, one that throws seven complete strangers together in a house for several months to see what happens “when people stop being polite, and start getting real.”
Except usually this “real world” has come to involve an obscenely expensive mansion full of alcohol-fueled 18-25 year-olds looking for their 15 minutes largely insulated from the things that make life “real” – jobs, responsibilities, ties to a community, etc. Throw in hot tubs, body shots, cat fights, and hook-ups, and you’ve got a reality that looks more like a constant Springer show.
New Orleans is currently in the throes of its second run on The Real World, and if you’ve been out in the city recently, you’ve probably run into them. Last time I saw them was at the Soul Rebels’ Thursday night party at Le Bon Temps a month ago. That I understood. Uptown seems more the scene for Real World kids, and Le Bon Temps is a perennial favorite among the younger scene of this city. But to me, Vaughan’s is a New Orleans gem, untouched by the outside world. Last night, the outside world was invading my cool New Orleans dive bar scene.
Kermit was loving every minute of it; he’s likely going to be on national television. For a New Orleans’ musician, that opportunity is rare. But it meant the set included more cheese than usual (cue another rendition of “Halftime (Stand Up and Get Crunk)”), and the break between sets took forever because some of the Real Worlders were outside.
Still, it was interesting watching the scene play out. There was a suited producer giving them cues (make sure you go get some red beans and rice, and get it on film!), and a whole gaggle of friends/followers trying to get on film. The cameras, lights and microphones definitely change the feel of the place, and you could almost smell the arrogance on these kids. But they weren’t tearing the place apart, falling over drunk, or starting fights.
Even though it feels like an invasion when you run into those tell-tale cameras, I tell myself this: it’s great press for the city. They were having a great time to one of the best performers in the city in a bar that’s not on Bourbon. When it comes down to showing a different side of the city, I hate to say it, but these seven strangers to New Orleans have a great opportunity to do so.
Let’s just hope the producers keep that in mind when editing the footage for airing.