Several people, starting with Josef Adalian, have reported that MTV and Ashton Kutcher are planning to do a revival of Punk’d with Justin Bieber as the host. Now, since this is Punk’d we’re talking about, I suppose it’s possible that this is some elaborate practical joke — what could be a more perfect prank than to pull one on the viewing audience? But assuming it is true, I wonder two things.
One, if Bieber does wind up hosting Punk’d, would that help or hurt his image? I would instinctively think that it’s hard to maintain an image as a nice, family-friendly, non-threatening guy if you make part of your living by helping to play cruel pranks on people. But it didn’t seem to hurt Dick Clark or Ed McMahon. And part of the point of Punk’d is to convey the feeling that the host is on our side, against the celebrities. That helped Ashton Kutcher convey the impression that he was kind of like us, and not one of those Hollywood phonies getting punk’d. Even though he was, in fact, a Hollywood phony completely at home with all the other Hollywood phonies we saw.
Two, will Bieber-mania dissipate by the time the new version is up and running? It might. That’s the problem with trying to build a show around a teen idol. It’s like all those movies with Fabian that came out in the early ’60s after Fabian’s records had already stopped selling.