STDs and Life Stories: MTV’s Bizarrely Detailed ‘Real World’ Cast Contract

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Seven strangers, picked to live in a house, have their lives taped after agreeing that they might die, get raped and be exposed to public ridicule — and it won’t be MTV’s fault. It says so in the contract obtained by the Village Voice.

It comes as no surprise that housemates chosen to be on the cable channel’s reality show The Real World have to give up a slew of privacy rights and are subject to the various risks of everyday living. For the most part, the hefty 30-page contract that cast members must agree to is just hilariously detailed in the ways it removes MTV from responsibility. Cast members are warned that they might lose limbs, suffer humiliation and “extreme emotional distress,” and risk contracting a long list of STDs.

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More intriguing, however, is the extent to which producers claim rights to the cast’s “life stories,” which they also have the right to misrepresent. Additionally, participants are not allowed to engage in other media without the producers’ written permission — with a penalty of $1 million if this rule is breached before the show’s last episode airs. Even after their season ends, cast members are at the beck and call of MTV for years to come.

Other contract highlights:

  • You don’t have an STD, but must accept that other people on the show might.
  • You may be portrayed in “a false light.”
  • You can’t change your physical appearance without the producers’ permission.
  • You can’t be pregnant or get pregnant while on the show, and pregnancy would be a cause for dismissal.
  • You authorize the producers to have access to your school records, government forms and credit history.
  • You are responsible for long-distance phone charges made during filming.

MTV isn’t taking any chances, but for good reason. Now approaching its 26th season, the show has in the past faced many of the issues addressed in the document, including serious injuries, an unwanted pregnancy and a rape allegation. (via Village Voice)

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