Betty White has never not been famous. From her 1950’s show Life with Elizabeth to a 2006 stint on The Bold and the Beautiful, White has been working steadily for over 63-years. But one simply hilarious Super Bowl commercial launched a Facebook page, which in turn spawned a Saturday Night Live gig and opened up a whole new audience for the 88-year old actress, who’s now more culturally relevant than ever. As part of this new found mega-fame, and as promotion for her new show, Hot in Cleveland, White appeared on The View today. Her remarks should inspire an entirely new social movement.
She and the gals talked about all types of topic: yes, White and Rue McClanahan spoke on the phone often, and the fellow Golden Girls’ death was very sad; today’s television audiences are more jaded than when White began 63-years ago; and she considers Sandra Bullock a “life-long friend” after working together in The Proposal. It was all very sweet. Then the topic turned to reality shows. White showed some teeth.
“I can’t get into them,” she replied when asked about the genre. “I can’t worry about somebody out on a desert island, starving and being threatened by a snake when I know there’s a whole camera crew there watching them.” Elisabeth Hasselbeck, who got her start on the seminal reality show, Survivor, definitely rolled an eye or two, but White’s right on the money.
It has been said before and it will, sadly, be said again: if popular culture measures the ebb and flow of a society’s eminence success, reality shows are a harbinger of utter destruction. I mean, on what planet other than ours are people like Heidi Montag and Snooki famous for doing nothing. Nothing. Seriously. I don’t want to be a hater, and I’m sure those specific girls are perfectly lovely. Their fame and fortune, however, keeps talented, creative people off the air. And that can’t be good – for anyone.
How wonderful would it be if White’s improbably colossal celebrity power helped inspire a new generation of comedic entertainment, and route reality shows out once and for all? She’s an icon, and her wit, wisdom and progressive resume – girl power-fueled Mary Tyler Moore, the gay-friendly Golden Girls, and even the game show Password got a little saucy – should serve as a bar for today’s televisual culture. Reality shows, with their caricatures and uncensored buffoons, are rarely as progressive.
Post Script: While I’m talking about progressive television, let’s throw in some Roseanne: that show was fabulous, and just as homo as Girls. Yes, we have Glee, Modern Family and other GLAAD-approved series, but there’s always room for more.
Here’s an example of The Golden Girls‘ open-minded ways. And some Roseanne, too.