So, the first full-length play I ever wrote bore the title Deus ex Machina. My one-sentence description of it was, "A satire about the influence of the media on teenagers." In it, an average American teenage boy gets picked to host a tawdry television show (some unholy mash-up of American Bandstand, Total Request Live, and a softcore porno), causes sexual awakenings in millions of girls across the country, dumps his innocent hometown girlfriend for a scheming temptress, becomes as greedy and venal as the producers of the TV show, and does nothing to stop the airwaves from filling up with more and more lubricious junk.
OK, I was an angry, elitist teenager who thought that pop culture was exclusively for idiots, and despite being a liberal Democrat, I wrote a play that might win approval from social conservatives (for its "pop culture is a cesspool of sex and violence! hookups will be the ruination of America!" message). But it was, at least, a fast-moving and darkly funny play, maybe even a good one -- it won a national contest. I say all of this as preamble, mainly because I'm really surprised I've never mentioned it on this blog before.
Anyway, the (somewhat pretentious) title came about because the literal meaning of "deus ex machina" is "god from the machine," and I thought that my peers were treating their TVs (machines) like gods. False gods, greedy gods, gods who demanded human sacrifices -- but gods nonetheless.
And now, I just learned that a new novel about reality television, by Andrew Foster Altschul, is about to be published -- and it's titled Deus Ex Machina. The Rumpus is promoting it right now as their book club pick (Foster Altschul is their books editor) -- go check out their interview with him and other coverage. Also mentioned favorably on Bookslut, it sounds dark and existential and cynical -- I mean genuinely so, whereas my play was sentimental with a veneer of modish cynicism.
Perhaps this speaks more to my own solipsism than anything else, but due to the good press and weird title-connection, I'm putting Deus Ex Machina on my list of books to read...