If you liked watching the My Super Sweet 16 MTV reality brats throwing tantrums about their stupid mom giving them their fancy car at the wrong fucking moment or their beleaguered dads wearily canceling their credit cards, then you're going to love Exiled, in which the same shitty kids learn things about dark people and muck around in cow poop. Or at least MTV hopes so! And they hope everyone will learn from the experience. Something good about difference and poverty, yo:
Ian V. Rowe, vice president for strategic partnerships and public affairs at MTV, said viewers can make a similar leap. "We see ‘Exiled!' as a teachable moment," he said, adding that a straight documentary would not bring in as many viewers. (In the second quarter of 2008, according to Nielsen figures provided by MTV, "My Super Sweet 16" reached 24 million viewers between the ages of 12 and 34.) Noting that the Americans are paired with someone their own age in the host society, he said, "Usually when young people are exposed to issues, especially through the eyes of their peers, they sense injustice and they want to know what they can do to fix it." Each episode will have a Web page highlighting specific issues of the host culture and ways viewers can become involved.
Ohhh that's so nice. And how did Felicity von Whitemercedesbritches deal with the whole sitch?
Ms. Tillander was game even without knowing the details. "I was like, ‘O.K., I'm down, I'll do anything,' " she said. "I thought it was going to be something cool to go to, that they were not going to send me some place bad." (Her father said that she was expecting Maui or Rome or "as a worst case, China.") Her stunned reaction when told she would leave the next day for Kenya was not faked, she said. Nor was her profound unhappiness when she had to walk several hours for water and help make a hut from a messy paste of cow dung. (She refused to touch it.) But eventually she made the best of the trip, sharing dance moves with her hosts and discussing the role of Masai women. She called the experience "a blast," but also "kind of like a wake-up call."
Hm. You know what's actually not a blast? Presenting cultural experience and charity work as punishment. Why not just come right out and call the show Haha, Sucker. Welcome to Awfulsburg, Population You and Like A Thousand Starving Africans. Who Doesn't Want to Clean Their Palatial Bedroom Now? Oh Just Kidding, Mommy Loves You. Here's Money. [NYT]