Sunday, July 25, 2010

Reality Bites

What in the world is our obsession with reality television? It is such trash. It's like Jerry Spring trying to pretend to have a plot/competition.

Hubby is currently watching one of the "music television" reality television shows. It goes something like this: an attractive person gets paid crazy money to "date" a gazillion people to see who they are most compatible with. The catch? The competitors/daters have to live together and spend a ton of time in cameos slamming on the other contestants. Then the producers show the competitors each others' video footage where they are talking badly about each other. The cameras set up, get the bleep button and the black blob to cover indecent words/images, and watch sparks fly.

Some competition reality is about people who compete physically, like "The Great American Race." Some are about food. Some are about modeling or fashion.

Some reality is about "plot." For example, "The Family Jewels" about the Gene Simmons family, or the Ozzy Osborne follow the lives of a person with the assumption that the people being followed are such wild entertainment, that no competition or set up situations are even necessary. Anna Nicole Smith never failed to produce a train wreck.

The other kind of "realty" plot is where the producers tell story to glean sympathy, like "Extreme Home Makeover." Basically they take a story about a family having overwhelming hardships and then they throw a ton of money into an outrageous house in order to "solve" all their problems.

In the end, all "reality" television is such an oxymoron to me. How many people do you know that could ever really survive in the real world channeling the "characters" they play on television? Who really has unlimited time and unlimited money to compete for a person or a position, or to provide experiences that make the viewing public drop their jaws in awe of the stupidity/hysteria/sadness/brilliance of the lives of someone?

To me, "reality" television is just another way to package a sitcom or drama. In mainstream sitcoms and dramas, the lines are drawn so that the audience knows there is a definitive script behind them. But they still promote a particular lifestyle, lifted up to be emulated or avoided. "Reality" television usually is more about activities and lifestyle choices that should be avoided. However, the glossy packaging, along with the unlimited cash flow, make it appear as though this is "the American dream."

I hope that the "reality" television fad will fade away and die with this generation (along with rap music). In the meantime, we continue to remind ourselves that all the cash comes with some serious emotional trauma and all sorts of fall out we will never see on camera. And that if this is the "American Dream", maybe we need to set the bar for ourselves higher. We need to strive for something even better. We need to look for "real love and peace set in a real person's reality." We'll let the crazy, beautiful, rich, totally wigged out nut jobs keep their "reality" on television. We'll stay firmly planted in the real world.
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