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Jun 2, 2002 - 6:36:00 AM
HOLLYWOOD—I'd like to take this opportunity to tell you that I'm dying.....dying of laughter, that is, over the televised antics of long-time neighbors, Ozzy Osbourne and family, just being themselves at home, on the hit MTV show The Osbournes. I'm not surprised by its success. These people make the Munsters look like Ozzie and Harriet. The Adams Family is bland by comparison. It's a New-Millennial harmonic convergence of so many things, and the ironies are rich and deep. You can't make up stuff like this! It's not really a sitcom, and it's not reality TV, exactly, though it does borrow from both. It's L.A. cinema verite` on acid. A cartoon come to life.
Turns out America's "favorite family" is a bunch of foul-mouthed Brits, headed by a working-class hero forever stumbling over opulent surroundings seemingly as foreign to him as the surface of Pluto. The Beverly Hillbillies with tattoos, if you will. Part of the show's appeal stems from the social implications of juxtaposing "those" people and "that" environment, with the resultant culture clash providing delicious editorializing; a blue-collar thumb-nose at a materialistic and hyper-consumerist society, even as it makes them rich. Something of a hybrid, as it were. In addition, the show works on a "family values" level, despite its censored language. If you (can) look past the lifestyle trappings...VOILA! ...It's Leave It To Beaver. It's mainstream. At home, the Prince of Darkness is Homer Simpson with an English accent, at once both ignored and adored by a family that regards him as a bumbling buffoon who just happens to have made them wealthy. He's Al Bundy with money. But away from home, he goes from goat to god, from Ozzie to Ozzy Osbourne. And though, much like the distant rumble of artillery, we're only afforded quick teases of concert footage, it is apparent that, ultimately, it's his powerful music that really establishes the legitimacy necessary to pull off the TV show. Without that, it's the Partridge Family. Ozzy's musical credentials (probably unknown to most viewers) are impeccable. That not only affords him depth and gravitas, but also further affirms the primacy of rock music as an intrinsic and primordial force in the human experience, the culture of which compels even suburban couch potatoes to indulge in its excesses, if even for only 30 minutes per week. The Sirens of Ulysses, and all that.
Photo courtesy of "Meet the Osbournes" at mtv.com
Psychologists will whine endlessly regarding the widespread popularity of the Osbournes. But it was a confluence of variables that we watched coalesce before our eyes, something straining to be born, despite the improbabilities; an irresistible, unrelenting force that would not be denied. The Perfect Storm, as it turns out, is the Blizzard of Oz.... Cheers, Govn'r....
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