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Burning Man: the ultimate "reality TV" show
by Christopher Strider Cook

You must be as tired of it all as I am. "Reality TV": Survivor, Big Brother, Temptation Island, and the host of other knock-offs. But what's with the Burning Man connection? Brittany, that whiny freak with the pink hair from the first season of Big Brother, and that mega-bitch Jerri from Survivor: the Australian Outback both count Burning Man in their acting bios. Hell, Jerri's even on the cover of this month's Playboy wearing a Burning Man pendant around her neck. Hello? Was that an authorized use of the Burning Man trademark? Did Burning Man, LLC get a cut of cash from that?

But really, it doesn't shock me so much to hear about the tie-ins. Let's face it, Burning Man itself could have been the original "reality TV" game show. Sure, it would have only been CNN and all the winners would get is to stand in line for a Reno buffet on the way home. But ever since the MTV "desert rave" rumors started up, there has been an ever-palpable feel of television ratings in the air. Last year's fireworks extravaganza of a Burn was as much about sweeps week ratings as it was about the ever-evolving pyrotechnics. The producers of Survivor should come out here to get a better understanding of what an immunity challenge should really be about and if watching all of Pepe's lame-ass opera doesn't qualify you to wear that damn necklace, then I don't know what should.

Burning Man as a reality TV show just think of the possibilites! Why, just yesterday I had to vote a member of my camp out (and to the first aid tent for a nice soothing I.V.) because he failed the Piss Clear challenge. Not only that, but the television audience (why yes, that is a satellite uplink in the RV why else do you think that Media Mecca requires video camera registration?) thinks that my girlfriend might be tempted by the tan Cuban boy in the silver hotpants and black wings, who's camping right next door to us. Luckily for me, I've seen him hanging out with the Piss Clear senior staff, so I'm not too worried. [Editor's note: His name is Jorge and he's actually Puerto Rican.]

Black Rock City's own unique challenges are even more threatening this year. How's this for a change: during the day, it's actually hot! And at nighttime, it's freezing ass cold! Oh yeah, and there are violent duststorms! And wait here's another kicker, if you don't drink enough water you could die!

But of the more exciting and interactive tests of skill this year is the newly-remodeled and rebuilt Thunderdome, where the last surviving participant gets to go free while the rest are fed to the Aesthetic Meat Foundation, whereever they are. And just like the television drek, not all of Burning Man challenges are physical. Some of this year's intellectual pursuits will be M*A*S*Hcara's gender identity mix and match, the EL-wire circuit design competition, and the M.C. Escher-inspired, SRL-sponsored "How Does Mark Pauline Count to Ten".

So anyway, back to the real reality. Back to Jerri and Brittany. Are they here? Have you seen them? Because hey, we've got a few copies of Playboy that we'd like to have autographed.



2002 Piss Clear
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