Thursday, January 3, 2008

The Random Interview: "My High School Years Were Stolen"

Today, we have a special interview with Martin Jameson. Martin is 32 years old, a store owner in Escondido, CA, and graduated as part of the Class of 1993 from Bayside High School in Pacific Palisades, CA. You may recognize the school -- Bayside High was featured in one of TV's earliest reality shows, "Saved By The Bell".

Random Babbles: Thanks for joining us.
Martin Jameson: Thanks for taking the time. I stumbled across your blog and noticed your love for pop culture. I've had to get certain things off of my chest for almost fifteen years and I think this is the right way to go about it.
RB: Then let's get right to it. What do you want to say?
MJ: My high school years were stolen from me. It's really that simple. People say that those are the best years of your life and mine were miserable.
RB: A lot of people hated high school, but--
MJ: No, you're not understanding. I, and hundreds of my classmates, to be honest, didn't have the opportunity to be happy. As far as the administration and teachers were concerned, there were only six students in the school. If your name wasn't Morris, Slater, Powers, Kapowski, Spano, or Turtle, you didn't exist.
RB: It makes sense that the cameras would follow a cross-section of the student body: a rapscallion, a jock, a nerd, a beauty queen, a brain, and a spoiled rich kid.
MJ: This wasn't the show's fault; this was the school. It went down like this. During the summer before my freshman year, the Morris, Powers, and Turtle families moved out to the West Coast from Indianapolis. The cameras had been with them for a year and their parents (along with the Spanos -- Jessie wasn't on camera in Indy, but she and Zack were apparently childhood friends) wanted some Hollywood exposure. Richard Belding, attention-hog to the extreme, came with them as a package deal to become principal of Bayside (RB Note: Many people may not know this history; it's explained here). Everything just went nuts from there. Belding catered so much to them. Kelly had been cool through middle school, but when Zack decided he wanted her... How do you pass up that kind of attention? When Slater’s military father was moved from Berlin to California, the clique was set.
RB: And they were a clique? Totally shutting out everyone else?
MJ: You watched the show. Did you see them socialize outside of the group? Maybe Morris and Slater would pick on some nerds or hit on some new hot student, but that was it, outside of the really weird fight between Jessie and Kelly and some girl named Tori that led to us having two senior proms. And it’s not like I had a date to either one – all of the girls held out that Zack would ask them. Anyway, they were so full of themselves – totally unapproachable. God forbid you try to sit in the middle booth at The Max. They held that thing open at all times in case the important kids decided to come in. Max actually said that to me once. Important.
: And you said Belding just kowtowed to them?
MJ: Non-stop. It may have looked like the Morris crew kept screwing with him, but he really liked it. Anything for camera time. It’s a wonder that he didn’t follow the kids to Cal U after their graduation. I can’t imagine how happy he was when his attempt to get a show to keep filming Bayside succeeded because Sam Powers decided to go back to Bayside to teach. I think they filmed for another six or seven years after we graduated in total.
RB: And Belding’s, um, attention-hogging, as you put it, that’s what you blame for your lost years?
MJ: You wanted to win a school contest? No way. Star in the school play? Not a chance. A contest at The Max? Nope. Those six kids won everything, were given every opportunity to the exclusion of the rest of the school. For Pete's sake, the class time capsule featured only those six kids. And how did they turn out? Even with brains, athletics, whatever, they all tried acting. A bunch of primadonna child stars. Zack and Kelly Morris flit from failed TV show to failed TV show. Lisa Turtle has totally disappeared. A.C. Slater has been the biggest success, what with “Dancing With The Stars” and (laughs) “ESPN Hollywood”. Sam Powers made a sex tape, and Jessie Spano? Poor Jessie… She was on her way to being a doctor or a lawyer and she ended up naked in one of the worst movies of all time.
RB: And you’re a business-owner; happily married; you seem to be leading a good life in the long run. Shouldn’t you be happy?
MJ: Yeah, but you always wonder, “what if,” you know? Could I have starred in the production of Bye-Bye, Birdie? Could I have had a high school sweetheart like Zack and Kelly? Obviously, I’m a bit jealous, but I mostly feel… cheated. I met my wife at UCLA. I’m overjoyed I didn’t go to California University – when Morris, his friends, and their cameras, ended up at the same place with the “Beverly Hills, 90210” kids?
RB: Yeah, after you contacted me, I was talking to a colleague who went to California U and they mentioned getting sexually harassed twice within ten minutes by Screech and Steve Sanders. Whole other story. Thanks for your time again, this has been enlightening. The unknown victims of Hollywood.
MJ: Indeed. This has been cathartic.

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