Mr. Brown goes to town

the inimitable mr. brownReality TV might be the institutionalization of Warhol’s 15 minutes of fame, and I want to make sure to see all of them. While jonesing for more Queer Eye lately I’ve adopted MTV’s Made as a surrogate. The premise, of course, is that a youngish person (typically high school) has the opportunity to attempt identity change with the help of an MTV-appointed trainer. The results are usually successful, with drama kids turning into prom queens or girls becoming extreme sports athletes.

A recent episode of Made showed the transformation of a Louisiana State University student from geek to player, the story of Mr. Tony Brown. Once a nobody, never having had a girlfriend, MTV gave Tony a complete makeover and the impetus to extend beyond his small social world. The physical transformation is quite striking, which raises a lot of questions, the most pressing being: can a person’s physical appearance and a few tips on behavior really change them at a fundamental level?

This is the axiom on which so many reality tv shows rely. Of course one must always keep the Hawthorne Effect in mind when evaluating "reality;" having an MTV camera pointed in any social scene will make people act funny, usually in the way that MTV wants them to act. If the experiments presented by Made are validated within the one hour of programming, most people will believe that things really can be better, but with the absence of cameras, will life remain in its altered state, or will Tony regress back into his geeky roots?

Of course being on television gives you more than the requisite 15 minutes. Tony has become a sort of campus celebrity in the aftermath of his performance, and will probably continue to get attention for quite some time. But we can do much better than following Tony Brown’s media coverage as he maintains his very own weblog at! Assuming that he continues to update in his newfound fame, we’ll have a chronicle of his progression our of the spotlight and back into the real reality. I plan on checking back in on Tony’s progress just to see what kind of change persists after one is "Made.".

13 thoughts on “Mr. Brown goes to town

  1. Welll… I dunno. In this case, it’s a situation in which his looks are not the only thing that could stand a re-make. From reading his web site, Mr. Brown seems a bit on the full-of-himself side to a certain degree. I mean, he’s probably a nice enough fellow really, but he seems to have decided that part of “getting the ladies” , so to speak, is to be sure of yourself to the point of stereotypical frat boy absurdity, which is a little disappointing. And really, the difference isn’t that striking to me. He just looks a little less shaven now than he did before (and he’s not wearing glasses). Other than that, 30 minutes with a random guy in Banana Republic or Gap and $1000 will get you re-made as a current modern fashion plate.

  2. I just found this article while looking at my web statistics, and figured I’d make some comments… especially comments on the comments. lol

    My website has always been the way it is. Didn’t change it for the show, didn’t feel that it needed to be changed. My site is a way to keep me from being an ego-maniac in public. Yeah, its a shrine to me – can’t I have my shrine without being called full-of-myself? The people that know me know why my website is the way it is. 😉

    Secondly, most people didn’t know MTV was following me around. When people asked about the cameras (two small handhelds), we just said it was a documentary for a journalism class. A few people knew, like my friends, etc., but most people just assumed it was a class documentary.

    And finally an update on me… I’ve gone out on a couple of dates since the show aired, traveled quite a few places (New York, Slippery Rock, PA), and the show went international. I’m still single, though, but unlike before, where I wasn’t even putting myself on the market, I’m on the market actively looking…

    I’ve found some good ‘prospects’ (one in particular which I had a GGGGGREEEEAAAATTT night with last week), though. 😉


  3. At first I thought you were joking about the existence of a show with such an insidious pretence. But I see you were not.

    Your question:

    can a person’s physical appearance and a few tips on behavior really change them at a fundamental level?

    In your mind this is a question worth asking. Let me restate the question, contextualized:

    can a fearful image-conscious member of the MTV generation living in the dying decades of the American Empire artificially prop up his self-importance by mimicking the image and values of those seen on TV?

    Much more interesting question. Of course he can. Any basic insight into the human psyche tells us that self-importance/self-confidence are self-feeding. Chicks dig confident guys, guys are made confident by being digged by chicks. These positive feedback loops do indeed have a life of their own. They are real within the social construct, but have nothing to do with the larger “reality”.

  4. i would like to see the man who averaged all playboy centerfold nudie acts into wonderful flesh-coloured amoebas of prints take mr.brown photos and average them for us to give an approximation of changes occuring to him at the fundamental level.

  5. i think tony is REALLY HOT now!! tony, if youre reading this, pleasr email me. i would like to talk to you 🙂

  6. i think u r hot as hell and sexy. u r so cool i love u so much. i got pics of u on my wall and i jack off to them every night

  7. wtf ooo my god i love ur geeky hair and annoying voice i want u to come ova my house and bust all in my ass hole and i want to lick ur little hairy nuts

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