TODAY IN NETWORK AWESOME MAGAZINE
“This is the true story... of eight strangers... picked to live in a house...work together and have their lives taped... to find out what happens... when people stop being polite... and start getting real... The Real World.”
You know what it is. With one measly sentence, the world was introduced to what would become known as “reality TV.” And what better place for the format to debut than MTV (Music Television), a station that until shortly before The Real World's 1992 debut, primarily played new wave music videos? Well, that's what the show's co-creators Mary-Ellis Bunim and Jonathan Murray thought, anyway. We have them to thank (or blame) for 20 years of sex, booze, and bitch slaps (not to mention my favorite reality TV image, Survivor champ Richard Hatch's pixelated penis.) But the truth is, the network that today drags TV down to new depths with trashploitation shows like My Super Sweet 16 and, of course, Jersey Shore, was once a magnet for young (and weird!) artists with fresh voices...
There’s an old joke about the problem of writing in space. Traditional ballpoint pens can be used only with difficulty on a rocket or space station -- there’s no gravity to pull the ink toward the tip of the pen, so there’s a lot of shaking and frustration involved. As they were both sending men into space in the same general time period, NASA and the Russian space program set out to solve the problem simultaneously. NASA threw several million dollars worth of research into developing a kind of Space Pen, which utilized complex engineering in order to funnel the ink in the proper direction. It went through several trial phases, experienced numerous setbacks, and ended up being behind schedule and over budget, but NASA eventually found itself with a working Space Pen, which it made standard issue on all subsequent flights.
The Russians used a pencil...
Joe DeMartino is a Connecticut-based writer who grew up wanting to be Ted Williams, but you would not BELIEVE how hard it is to hit a baseball, so he gave that up because he writes words OK. He talks about exploding suns, video games, karaoke, and other cool shit at his blog. He can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org and tweeted at @thetoycannon. He writes about sports elsewhere. The sports sells better.
Not long ago, I attended an exhibit featuring the work of comic book artists from the 40s, 50s and 60s. Not knowing a whole lot about comic books, I found myself awestruck at the wall-sized prints depicting Captain America beating down a gaggle of Nazi soldiers. Captain America first appeared in 1941 by Timely Comics (who would later become what we now know as Marvel)  as an over-the-top tool of propaganda. In fact, in that very issue, you will find Captain America socking der Fuhrer right in the kisser.
Of course, comic book artists weren’t the only folks using their medium as an exploitative platform. Disney famously made Der Fuehrer’s Face in 1942, an anti-Nazi propaganda film starring Donald Duck which won an Oscar [and which you can watch on Network Awesome - ed.]  Still, not everyone could afford a trip to the theater and not every household owned a television. Comic books, for that reason, had a somewhat larger pull than the more advanced mediums of the time. And even more, they knew exactly who they were reaching out to: the future of America. Future soldiers. Future leaders. The young men who would want to suit up for the red, white and blue were the ones holding those thin pages, staining their fingers black.