Is…is this thing on? Hello? What do you want me to say? “Testing?” Are you serious? Isn’t that a little cliché? Nah, nah, I’m just kidding. Okay, you ready? Testing…testing.
Everything’s okay? Is it cool if I smoke in here? Yeah, yeah, I know it kills you—thanks for pointing out the ironic, Chet.
All right, boys, let’s get this show on the road. Yep, my notes are right here. Rolling, indeed.
I have no idea what I’m getting into. I need some money, I pitched an idea, and they accepted. People love it when other people suffer. They wanted reality TV, but I convinced them that a movie adaptation would be so much better.
What was my pitch? My life is out of control. I need clarification. I need to get things sorted out. So what I’ll do is, I’ll head out to the desert, and I’ll stay there for three months. Without food. I can’t live without water, so they’ll drop that off. I tried to convince them that I could find my own water, but they told me I was being stupid, and if I tried that, I would be dead within three days, and that would make a shitty movie.
They were skeptical at first, but if you get enough shifty lawyers, you can actually sell the rights to not only your life, but your death. And you have no one to blame but yourself—that’s where the shifty lawyers come into play.
They were. They wanted reality TV, but there’s no way that the censors would allow America to watch someone die on television. Besides, wouldn’t it be better to have it up on a big screen, where people will pay ten bucks a seat to see it, munching away on twelve dollar popcorn, drinking six dollar sodas, and chowing down on three dollar candy bars?
Sold yet? They were.
Let’s start here: My name is Robert Wilkins. People don’t call me Bob. People don’t call me Robbie. They call me Robert or Rob. My fiancé calls me Bobby, but she’s the only one that gets away with that. And technically, she’s my ex-fiancé. After she found out I was willing to go out into the desert and risk my life for some money, she decided that she didn’t want to be my fiancé anymore. She decided she didn’t want to be my wife, either. See how that works?
This is an audio soundtrack that will be used at the beginning of the movie. As I record it, I am sitting comfortably in a recording studio with a bottle of water and a pack of cigarettes, and I can’t even begin to fathom what it will be like to struggle through three months in the desert. As you hear it, you will more than likely be sitting in a theater (or perhaps at your home, if it’s been release on DVD), and from what I understand, you will be seeing images of Amarillo, Texas—my hometown, Los Angeles—where I have lived for the past month while working out all the final details of this gig—and finally a shot of the desert—the place where I will more than likely die. That’s what they tell me, anyways. It doesn’t really matter to me, to tell you the truth.
They aren’t allowed to talk to my family or show images of my childhood home (where my parents still live). That was part of the deal.
I grew up pretty regular, I guess. I had a mom and a dad and a brother. They all loved me, and I got enough hugs to ensure that I grew up into a sane, socially acceptable member of humanity. By all rights, I should have grown up to be normal. Sorry, mom. Sorry, dad. Sorry, brother.
I lost interest in college about three weeks into it, and by the end of the semester, I was in danger of failing out. I told my family that I just didn’t have enough direction. I said that I would be going back as soon as I realized what I was going to do with my life. I argued that it would be a waste of time and money to do the advanced education thing at this point in my life.
None of them really liked this plan of action, but in the end, they all supported me. What they probably knew at the time, and what I had no idea of, was that I wasn’t going to find my direction by stumbling around in the real world.
See, in my head, it went like: work for a year or two, find what I really love, go back to school, make something of my life.
Seems like such an easy plan, right?
I wasted the first year after high school working the drive-thru window at a burger joint. I stayed high most of the day, drunk most of the night, and didn’t get one step closer to figuring out what I wanted to do with my life.
The second year, I realized that one thing I didn’t want to do with my life was spend it working fast-food. I decided to move out of my hometown, maybe travel the country a little, getting cool little jobs in cool towns and discovering the American Dream. I was reading entirely too much Kerouac back then, in case you couldn’t tell.
Long story short, I never found the American Dream. I ended up bouncing from one shit job to another, in one shit town or another. Then I met Alex.
She had just graduated from the university, and was still working at the same dead-end job she had worked while putting herself through school. She had a passion for life; an intelligent innocence that kept her in love with the world, but not tricked by it.
I fell in love with her almost immediately. Sure, it helped that she was smokin’ hot, but there was more to it than that, you know? After work one night, I asked her if she wanted to go for a walk. Normally, I would have asked her out for a drink, but I was broke at the time, so I couldn’t be spending any money. For some reason, she agreed, and it turned out we had a lot in common.
You may not realize it from this soundtrack, but I’m actually kind of an interesting guy. Kinda funny, kinda intelligent, kinda fun. We hit it off, started dating, got engaged.
Happily ever after, right? Obviously not.
She got a better job shortly after we moved in together, and I actually got promoted up to management. This isn’t saying much, really, as I worked at a home repair supply place—not Home Depot, but what Home Depot would be if it ever got into a serious car accident—but it was better money than I had ever made before, and that was nice.
And then one day, it wasn’t nice enough. Alex started telling me that I needed to go back to school, and I knew she was right. But the thing about going back to school is, it gets harder every year that you don’t do it. And the thing is, I was no closer to having direction—I still didn’t know what the hell I wanted to do with my life. So I stalled.
And then there were fights. Nothing major, but enough to make it where I cringed every time I saw a commercial on TV talking about how early registration is going on, but I better hurry.
And then one day I’m walking home from work (my piece of shit car was broken down, and we couldn’t afford to get it fixed for another three weeks), and I see this huge line of people standing on the sidewalk in front of me.
“The hell’s going on?” I ask one of the kids standing there. He looks like he’s maybe eighteen years old.
“Making Reality,” he said, looking at me like I was crazy.
“Making. Reality.” He said it real slow, like how people do when they’re talking to foreigners and retarded people.
“Kid, what the hell are you talking about?” I don’t know why I even bothered asking again—usually, I would have just shrugged it off as something to ask Alex about later, and gone on my way.
“It’s this new reality show.”
“Oh, uhg.” I started walking away, disgusted—reality TV is one of the worst plagues to hit the world since Biblical times, in my opinion.
“Don’t you even want to know the premise?”
“They’re letting the people pick what it’s going to be about.”
That stopped me in my tracks. “What do you mean?”
“This line here? What we’re all waiting for is our chance to go sit in front of a camera for three minutes and describe an idea for a reality TV show. If they pick your entry, you’re automatically guaranteed a place on the show. ‘Making Reality,’ get it?”
“I get it,” I said, taking my place in line behind him. “What’s your idea?”
He was holding a notebook in his hands, and he immediately cradled it up against his chest.
“I’m not telling you that! You’re just trying to steal my idea!”
“I’m not trying to steal your idea, kid—I got my own. What happens is, you get a bunch of douche-bags that think being on TV is important, and you trade them places with people in the real world. And then you just sit back and watch them crumble into emotional piles of shit.”
“Fuck you,” he said. We didn’t talk too much after that.
It was supposed to be a joke, you know?
I was gonna walk in and say something about how they should give the contestants guns and then give them the task of hunting down the goofy-ass chucklehead executives that decide what programming goes on TV. Or maybe something about how we could get a bunch of fat kids and then another group of people comes in and rags them out until they start crying. Last fat kid to cry wins.
Just a joke.
Two hours later, I’m sitting in the little room, staring at the little camera, and I suddenly realize that I’m not going to make a silly suggestion about TV executives or fat kids. I had somehow managed to fool myself into thinking that I was doing all of this as a joke, maybe something to tell my friends later. But people don’t wait in line for two hours to play a stupid joke that won’t really even pay off.
Logically, I knew that, but the entire time I was waiting, I believed that that’s exactly what I was doing.
And then the little man behind the camera goes, “State your name, and your idea for Making Reality.”
“Robert Wilkins. That’s my name and that’s my idea.”
The little man chuckled a little, and the woman behind him sighed in exasperation—they had been doing this shit all day, and apparently had heard quite a few lame jokes for shows, as well as “legitimate” ideas that were just as bad.
“Mr. Wilkins,” the woman said, “I’m legally obligated to allow you three minutes to explain your idea, but if this is a joke, I would prefer that you stop wasting our time.”
“It’s no joke. Here’s my idea:”
And then I told them my idea.
Sold yet? They were.