In many ways, the rise of the Internet was like the rise of the wild, wild West. Both phenomena drew thrill-seekers and fortune-hunters by the thousands, eager to make a buck off an untamed environment ripe for exploitation. Both saw a rapid and dramatic fallout when it became clear that expectations far outweighed reality. And finally, both eras were dominated by heartbreaking and often debilitating bouts of syphilis on account of whores. Swear to God, if you really wanted to make a buck in Silicon Valley, best thing to do was open a store hawking cold-sore creams.
This is not to say that no opportunity remains. Handfuls of cantankerous prospectors continue to rape the land, and occasionally, something spurts out that they can sell (think Texas oilmen). Ditto for the net. Every now and again, some intrapreneur (I just patented that term, so don't even think about it) strikes it rich: the YouTube guys, the MySpace eunuch, those dudes who made hilarious sketches on Lonely Island so frat boys can now sing "Dick in a Box." And upon each such success, we all go outside and dance a frantic little happy dance. Then we go back inside and take Champions League Soccer off pause.
But you know what the problem is with these breakthrough successes? They inspire imitators. Or if not imitators, then at least delusional fucks who for some reason think what they got the world gots to see. Think George W. Bush figuring he, too, can be an oilman. Think ManiaTV (slogan: Fuck Television by Imitating It Poorly) believing that anyone wants to watch Dave Navarro talk about the human condition. And let us now add to this dumpy pile of failure and sadness a local web show called KollegeTV.
"It's about Frisbees and all-nighters, evil professors, and anxious phone calls from Mom," the website hypes, struggling hard not to vomit in the process of spewing cliche. "Yes, it's about beer and spilled bong water. It's about bicycles, and music, about leaving home, and off-campus hovels, and iPods and Facebook and laptops and heartbreak at three a.m. Can we scrape together enough cash for pizza? That's what it's all about."
Because if there's one thing college kids are guaranteed to love, dude, it's being told what their experience is "all about."
Filmed in Boulder, with many of the shots littered across the campus of the University of Colorado, the series comes to us via www.kollegetv.com, with two-to three-minute episodes following the exploits of four college students: a rich, smart kid who can't act; a shy, nerdy guy who can't act; a jock girl who can't act; and a Bouldery, outdoor chick who also can't act. Imagine two of these characters in a coffee shop, okay? Cell phones and laptops abound, because let's face it, that is soooo the college experience now. One of the characters is describing another character and says he is kind of quiet, to which the other responds, "Sounds like a serial killer." Then — get this — the describer responds, "Wouldn't that be awesome?!" That's the actual punchline.
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Hey, Hollywood, I think we just solved that little writer-strike problem!
Because my conscience is beginning to take over and I'm starting to feel bad about completely ripping apart someone's creative efforts, I watch another episode (the show just started last week, and there have only been a handful to date). No sooner do I catch sight of the rich kid playing Guitar Hero and shredding on the floor like some lost clip from Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey (that's right, the second one, which sucked) than I'm completely aghast. This scene that claims to be just like college does little more than reduce the undergrad experience to moronic clips of contrived stereotypes that bounce around un-comedically, engaging in whatever phenomena Newsweek says the kids are crazy about these days, as the sound quality rises and falls as it pleases.
Also, how can you shoot a program about college life at CU and not make one binge-drinking or date-rape joke? They're right there for the taking.
Except for the jock girl, none of the actors are students. One (who's also a co-producer) is actually 127 years old, and the others are all twenty-to-thirty somethings trying to make a buck off the college experience. Which is why KollegeTV rings so hollow and why it will most likely suffer the fate of so many earlier intrapreneurs, crashing and burning while trying to reach for a golden ring that was never there in the first place. Then again, George Bush went on to become president after his wildcatting failure. Maybe these guys will wind up on ManiaTV.