Looking At Utopia With Stars In Our Eyes

If you’ve wondered why this blog appears to have gone quiet in the last week, it’s because I’m travelling on a trip that has taken me from the White House to Miami’s Winter Electronic Music Conference to West Point. Meanwhile, nothing much seems to have happened in the Burning Man world during this time. That may be about to change, with a rival civilization springing up to challenge Burning Man’s supremacy as a temporary city.

utopiaFox TV has begun casting for a new reality show, called Utopia. The show is being produced by Dutch TV maestro John de Mol, who has won 25 Emmy awards for his contribution to the medium. He created the Big Brother show where people live together in a house with cameras on them 24/7. There they perform all manner of bizarre antics and entertainment for the home viewers, trying to avoid being voted out. What kind of antics? Well, the show’s most famous and controversial moment in Australia was a “teabagging incident”.

If you think you have what it takes for reality TV, then you might enjoy dedicating a year of your life to this new show, Utopia. It has debuted on Dutch TV already – so strongly that it triggered a bidding war amongst American networks looking for “the next big thing”.

The debut exceeded expectations, ranking as SBS 6′s highest-rated nonscripted premiere in six years. It won its time slot and pulled a 25.2% share in adults 18-49, improving the network’s market share in the time period by 500%, and drew almost 1.6 million overall viewers compared to SBS’ average viewership in the slot of 300,000…and nearly 100,000 people downloaded the app after the first episode

John de Mol also created Deal Or No Deal, Fear Factor, and The Voice – but he says “this is the purest form of reality that I have ever produced in my career”. The Hollywood Reporter called it “the most ambitious social experiment on television”

The premise of the show is “start your own civilization”, and see what you can achieve in a year. The location of where in the United States this will be remains a secret; it is unlikely to be the Black Rock Desert. Still, radical Burner skills of self-expression, self-reliance, participation, communal effort, civic responsibility, and immediacy could all be useful in this new civilization. Some creativity would be required to demonstrate how a society could be built entirely from Gifting: surely someone would have to have access to more resources than others, in order to have more gifts to distribute over the course of an entire year. Decommodification also seems like a challenge, when you are a wannabe star in a mainstream reality TV show broadcast around the world. Something tells me Fox will find some sponsors for this. I find it hard to believe how a TV production crew on  a set they construct from nothing over a year is going to “Leave No Trace”. Still, Burners are nothing if not ingenious, so this could be a fantastic opportunity for The Burning Man Project to test how their principles work away from a rocket testing site in the Wild West – perhaps a useful exercise before they start their own brand-licensed colonies.

Gretchen Miller is doing the casting, and she says they have already received applications from some Burners. You can contact her here.

UTOPIA is a bold new unscripted series that moves 15 everyday Americans to an isolated, undeveloped location – for an entire year – and challenges them to create their own civilization.

With cameras following the pioneers 24/7, viewers can watch their society unfold, both weekly on FOX and also online. As they observe the inhabitants living together, and building their new existence, viewers themselves will have the chance to become a valuable and powerful asset to the community, and ultimately to question whether Utopia remains an elusive but alluring fantasy, or whether the pioneers have truly realized their dream

We are looking for those strong individuals who will create this new world on live television to see if they have what it takes to work together and create a new society from scratch.

We need people from all walks of life and skill sets to contribute to this new community being founded.  I am familiar with Burning Man and have attended in the past. Attendees have such a great sense of community and ideals which I think will be a great asset on the show. We are looking for artists, tradespeople, activists, contractors, doctors. lawyers,inventors, chefs, firefighters etc.

Please check out the show’s website at http://www.fox.com/utopia/.  For anyone interested in applying they can go to http://www.utopiatv.com  and fill out the questionnaire or contact me directly.  The show’s trailer can be found here: http://youtu.be/xfnaDbmFpP4.

John de Mol says:

“Utopia is a positive and constructive program that gives people the opportunity, if you can start all over again, start from scratch and create laws and make decisions, will you be able to build a society that is better than the one we have; will it be chaos or happiness…Big Brotheris a competition among 12 people who don’t have the worry about money, their fridge is always full, it’s a totally different setup.” He also noted that the cast members on Utopia, which requires a lot of skills, tend to be more upscale

Pro tip for budding social engineers: wear a Stetson.


5 comments on “Looking At Utopia With Stars In Our Eyes

  1. Kudos upon the White House and the Winter Electronic Music Conference and Ultra Festival. Very much obliged, again. burnersxxx, for your blog and your permitting open commentary upon it.

    A large happening in the Burning Man world this week is the Global Leadership conference at BM HQ, a gathering of the regional representatives, whom are to control the regionals groups and events for the Project, many of whom, by appearances, have signed the secret strict agreements, extending the Project’s control. Though I am a common person, I fail to discern the manner upon which this is not conflict of interest in regards towards Marian’s and Larry’s control of the 501(c)3 Project, as President and Executive Director, as per Corporate Wiki and their flyranchproject.org site, in conjunction upon their domination of the Project board, in conflict upon the payments directed towards their Decommodification LLC for their Burning Man(TM) trademarks and logos. Of which, the payments from the regionals for their Burning Man(TM) trademarks remain to be determined, as of early March.

    Apologies in regards of my other comment upon your Building Community Through Co-opertive Living post, I forgot the flyranchproject.org site was in existence for several months prior This site does provide information upon their 100 year plan, and towards where the ticket and car pass revenues are to be directed, in addendum to being directed towards their pockets for their Burning Man(TM) trademarks, as opposed to being directed towards the cancelled CORE art projects and man base, saving, by appearances, over $300,000.

  2. I remember when the call out came for a survival show that was to have small groups of people surviving off their own skills in the woods. The show sounded intriguing. People with diverse skill sets working together to create a livable situation in a harsh climate. What it ended up being was Survivor. A show where most contestants sit around eating the supplied ration of food, forming uneasy alliances and voting off the most capable people because they’re a threat. The opposite of a utopia. I wonder what this show will become.

  3. Wonder if the BOrg will see this a violation of their IP. Would be entertaining to see the BOrg lawyers face off against the Fox lawyers. Maybe it would make a nice TV series?

    • perhaps that’s why they’re looking for lawyers in the casting. I mean, how can you build your own benevolent civilization without threatening to sue weaker rivals? Maybe we need an 11th principle, “monopolization”…

    • Nomad, it is pleasant to read your commentary once again. Did you, perchance, view the article in the SFBG sending kudos towards the reporting upon burners.me, http://www.sfbg.com/politics/2014/03/10/burning-man-well-not-exactly-least-not-yet , of Larry’s final reply towards you and Tanya upon their Burning Man Transitions to a Non-Profit blog post, where his statements of

      “It has been asked if we intend to reveal the financial records of Black Rock City LLC. The answer is yes; that too will happen at about the same time as the Burning Man Project reveals its information—these two entities will then become a clean well-lighted suite of rooms thrown open for inspection,” Harvey wrote. “But I cannot guaranty [sic] that even this amount of disclosure will satisfy everyone. Even then, I suppose that some will look for skeletons in closets, or search for sliding walls that might conceal a dungeon.” and “Furthermore, we have not relied on licensing this intellectual property as a source of revenue.”

      are misdirections away from, No, we will not give any information upon the payments towards us that have been made, and, we intend upon licensing this intellectual property as a source of revenue in the present and in the future, ‘relied’ being solely a past tense word. View the SFBG article for the precise wording upon which I summarize.

      I remain in awe of their audacity, by appearances, and by simple maths upon their afterburn reports and statements, upon their $28 million to $45 million seven annum cash out of 2010 – 2016, as described in my comments upon the Clarification of Decommodification and Building Community posts. Resulting in, upon averages, each one of the six former BRC LLC share owners receiving more cash than they paid in art grants, including the temple, over the entire history of Burning Man, which was under $5 million.

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