The writers strike has of course been good for reality TV, and it’s been good for Web programming as well. Here’s a video concept that seems perfectly suited for the strike–the intersection of reality TV and Web video. It’s called ModMyLife.
ModMyLife sees video volunteers–actors, comedians, ordinary Joes–subject themselves to the whims and orders of people watching them from home. It reminds me of Burger King’s Subservient Chicken program from a few years ago, where users could command a hapless guy in a chicken suit and garters to do all sorts of humiliating things. (What I enjoyed about Subservient Chicken was that the bird was capable of responding to obscure and, frankly, obscene requests you never thought would be written into the program, such as, well, I can’t really say in this space. Try it yourself.)
The New York-based Mod squad are capitalizing on the Hollywood lockout to drive eyeballs to ModMyLife. "TV Sucks," reads the home page. "Reality television keeps getting worse and worse… with no end in sight. We’ve come along with a product that’s just as bad, but at least you get to control it."
The site’s "Modstars" do their thing at 8 p.m. ET each night, crawling around New York’s hotspots as cameras catch the action (though "action" is at times a bit strong for what they do). Registered users email suggestions (known as "mods", as in, to modify someone’s behavior) from remote locations, such as try to hail a cab to California, chat up a store mannequin or approach strangers and ask where the sex party is.
Interactive as they may be, the results can be hit or miss–alternately tedious and funny. The ModMyLife shenanigans fall somewhere between Borat without the Kazakh accent and Jackass without the horrific groin injuries. Depending on your tastes, it may or may not pass the time until new episodes of The Office come back.