By John Latta
We expect young people to grow up with dreams.
But there comes a time when reality has to intrude. Sometimes it will refashion a dream; sometimes it will crush it. Sometimes it will help a dream come true. And once in a blue moon all of the dream and more comes true. Think how many kids plan to be NFL heroes, rock stars or movie idols.
Television and movies help shape the dreams of young people. But Hollywood doesn’t really like us to let go of the images and ideas it has created and has so much control over as we age. And so, for a lot of people, the America we see around us is half real, half myth. We look out on the Great Plains and see not only endless prairie but also cowboys and Indians from western movies and television shows. Roll through San Francisco and see a fabulous city with Dirty Harry out there somewhere. Occasionally I get the feeling we’re performing our lives rather than living them.
Shows about quirky detectives aren’t reality any more than shows about lawyers being brilliant in court, surgeons savings lives in a heartbeat in emergency rooms or dysfunctional families laughing their way through sanitized problems. Movies, even movies about history, don’t portray reality. What you are seeing is not art imitating life – it’s Hollywood making money. Ah, you say, we all know it’s not real, it’s acting. Yes, but the product Hollywood keeps turning out for millions of American viewers every day has an effect on the way those viewers see and think about the real world around us.
Now we have reality television. We watch national talent shows, people pretending to survive, girls trying to win bachelors, Donald Trump enjoying playing God and fun groups of attractive, young, people trying to win races and conspiring to be the last person standing in front of the camera. Every one of these “real” people is acting.
But there is no trucking reality show.
I wonder why? The bottom line has to be that Hollywood couldn’t make a buck off such a show. Maybe trucking isn’t sexy enough to sell to the American public. But it could be. Hollywood could make it so. Begin with the idea that reality is not required for a reality show. That means the producers don’t have to deal with real life on the road. They simply make it what they think the public will buy, portraying trucking as a glamorous, dangerous job (with real dirt just to add some flavor) where every contestant/driver dresses fashionably sexy and looks good under lights.
These contestants will be so real it will have taken months of searching and hour after hour in wardrobe and makeup to get them ready. And years from now we’ll remember “the icy descent in the Rockies in the middle of the night without brakes” episode and the “how the blond rookie made it from L.A. to Boston legally in under two and a half days” episode.
And does the victor win a job with a big fleet at 37 cpm? No, they get to do a couple of years on a daytime television soap opera or turn up as a sidekick on a sports talk show trying to fight off oblivion.
You work hard in the real world (with no camera crew following you), but a trucking reality show, or a prime time trucking drama, would continue to distort the industry’s image of your labor. And that affects you directly. For example, it makes it harder to destroy the stereotype image of the industry, to ease the public fears of big rigs and to recruit legislators to our side.
Think of the old Louis Armstrong classic “What a Wonderful World.” Now that’s a view of the world! A little na