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Fall '03: "The Next Joe Millionaire"

As the world grinds along its yearly course, there are a few things that remain utterly certain in this increasingly chaotic universe -- action and reaction so rote and well-worn that those looking for security can take comfort in them as if they were required by the physical laws that make day follow night.

Children will grow, flowers will bloom and bowel-crampingly shameful hit television series will have sequels.

Fox, in an apparent bid to claim Signs of the Apocalypse I through IV for itself, has started airing the inevitable follow-up to last year's most-watched reality program, Joe Millionaire. After test-driving various titles -- The Anna Nicole Show: The Next Generation, Podunk Jim and the Shrieking Harpies, and Lowering the Bar: Let's Roll Around in Our Own Filth, the programming geniuses down G'day way decided to go with The Next Joe Millionaire.

Only they had a problem: the first Joe Millionaire was last year's most-watched reality program. It's tough to find folks to humiliate when several million people watched you do it to the last batch that was unfortunate enough to stumble into the studio. And so Fox went where all American companies go when they want to find people that they haven't already alienated: the other side of the world.

This is may seem counter-intuitive -- Europe hasn't been all that enthusiastic lately when America says, No, trust us, this will be great -- but if you're looking for people who have little or no idea what passes of culture in the U.S., the Continent (which seems to think it has a culture of its own) is the place to be.

But Rupert Murdoch is nothing if not evil -- that's Fox's new slogan, by the way: "Nothing If Not Evil" -- and so the new batch of shrewish golddiggers had to swear out affidavits and take lie detector tests, stating for the record that they had no idea what they were getting into. One suspects the current Mrs. Murdoch feels roughly the same way. But a shot at a pretend eighty million dollars is a shot at a pretend eighty million dollars, and right now on Fox, you can watch Cowboy Joe -- he's got a song on the Fox Web site; no, really -- thin his heard of Eurobabes before delivering what will be another crushing blow to trans-Atlantic relations come sweeps. Europe will no doubt react with the same good-natured chuckle that followed the firebombing of Dresden.

But what if The Next Joe Millionaire is also a hit? With the Northern Hemisphere pretty much drained of dupes, the network is going to have to find women from the parts of the globe that have long avoided the touch of technology, cynicism and Fox: some place pristine and beautiful, in other words.

But with greater spatial distances comes greater cultural differences, leaving the first episode of Yet Another Joe Millionaire Still -- You People Really Do Lap Up the Crap, Don't You? inevitably going something like this:

I understand he has many, many head of cattle! It would be exciting to be married to a man would could slaughter meat every harvest moon. I long for a day when my teeth refuse to fall out.

Silly, backwards woman! Cattle! In my country, we use a symbolic representation for wealth, making trade convenient and barter a thing of the past. I understand he has many giant stone disks!

What's a cattle?

Are you sure he is wealthy? He's awfully thin for someone who claims great wealth. And his muscles look grotesque and well-defined, like a farm hand.

In the publicity graven image that the Great Fox provided to the elders of my village, he could not even afford a shirt.

It is not "Great Fox," merely "Fox." It is the name of the network. It is, however, "Great Murdoch."

What's a network?

It is a cabal of warlocks, practitioners of the darkest magicks. I have heard they eat the minds of their victims!

Bah. Superstition. They merely cause the mind to sleep forever.

These details do not interest me. I want to know of this man's supposed wealth. If he can support it, I look forward to a dysentery vaccination.

Ah, so that is your secret to staying so thin! I am envious, as I only have intestinal parasites.

You waste your envy, good lady friend. The distended stomach look is out this year.

Hush, you gibbering monkeys! We are here to talk of this man and his fortune. The Great Murdoch bade it so, and his all-seeing eye is upon us even now.

[Sotto voce] Bitch.

I know not what motivates you women, but I am drawn to a man by feelings that transcend petty material matters. It is love that I seek, not gold. Rich or poor, we must be spiritual partners, bound by things greater than what we can touch.

You are full of gazelle excrement.

I am confused. Why does he not just take us all as his wives? Why not have sexual congress with all of us and then banish the ones that do not please him?

Which is, I'm pretty sure, just what Fox is planning.


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