by Geoff Cottrill
OK, its been going on long enough. I can’t stand it any longer. I’ve almost stopped watching TV as a result of it. Reality TV is reducing us to something that I don’t ever want to be. Reality TV is sucking our souls from us.
What is it about reality TV that has people so captivated? Why is it that almost every single night of the week the TV line-up is filled with these shows? There are housewives in Atlanta, Newport Beach, and in New Jersey. There are people who swap wives. They swap their families. There are nanny’s who come and discipline your kids. There are survivors on an island back stabbing each other for money. There are cop shows featuring bad-boy, bad-boy (what ‘ya gona do?) drunks. There are guys out at sea fishing for crabs. There are people locked in a house while George Orwell’s big brother watches their every move. There are talent-less talent shows. There are auditions to be the next great American star. There are people who can’t sing a note on these programs. We laugh at their failures so we can ignore our own. We watch a couple with 8 kids ruin each other’s lives while they give interviews to Entertainment Tonight. We watch bachelors sift through 20 women looking for true love. We then watch the rejected runner up from that show get her own so she can work through 20 guys of her own. After the season, the couple will be on Oprah. Everyone will cry. People who go on Oprah always cry. Oprah and her audience cry along. They will be featured on the cover of People Magazine. After the last edit from the final show they will find that they now need to face a new reality. A world away from the competition and the cameras. A real life. And, chances are their “true love” will fall apart. This will bring more People Magazine covers, more interviews on Entertainment Tonight. The cycle continues……and we’re caught up in it. We simply can’t get enough of the news coverage. The news coverage that is actually covering nothing at all. The empty news coverage that shows like Extra! Extra! pump out every night.
We sit and we watch. We leave our own reality behind, we clear our minds and we tune in almost every night. We watch someone else’s reality while running away from our own. It’s train wreck TV (the new and improved “Must See TV”). We drive by the train wreck and we know something terrible has happened. We are afraid to look but as we drive by we look through our fingers as we fake an attempt to cover our eyes. We can’t look away. This is today’s TV reality. We have little kids and their parents faking an emergency as the world watches the balloon float away glued to the TV as we hope the little boy will be OK. We then find the next day that this family has been on a few reality programs. It was all a hoax. They needed more time in the spotlight. So, they create a lie. They make the world believe that their young son is in danger. They do this because the need to be seen by the world. They can’t get enough of being in the public eye. Where does reality TV end and real life begin? Its becoming harder and harder to tell the difference.
What happened to us? Why are we so obsessed with the lives of some housewives in Atlanta, Orange County, or New Jersey? Why are we running away from our own reality just to watch someone else’s? I know what you are going to say. You’re going to tell me that these reality shows help you to escape. They help you forget for just a little while what your own world is really like. I don’t buy it any more.
Yeah, and the networks love them too. They are low budget. Any ya-hoo with an idea can get a reality show on TV these days. No experience needed. All you need is a camera, some people with 8th grade educations, some family drama, a good guy and a bad guy. Once you have these things you call up almost any network executive or Hollywood agent and get it on TV. Chances are if you have an original idea like filming a raving jerk of a real estate agent as he sells houses in LA and you have a hit show.
Art imitates life and then life imitates art. The cycle continues to repeat itself as time marches on until we will no longer be able to tell the difference any more. When this happens we’ll live in a world where it’s acceptable to cheat, steal, and lie just to win the game. We need to escape from this reality that plays on our expensive flat panel screens every night as we sit there glued to the TV, waiting for the next couple to be kicked off the race around the world. We’re coming to the point when being able to see the difference between true reality or made-for-tv reality that isn’t really real at all.
Andy Warhol once said that everyone gets their 15 minutes of fame. From what I’ve seen on TV the past few years I’d say that quite a few people have completely wasted theirs.
So, that’s my two cents on reality TV.
Hey, if you have the number of that network executive at NBC can you send it to me?
I have an idea about a guy who wants to be a writer someday……he can’t sing. He can’t sell real estate. He doesn’t have a big brother. He doesn’t hang out with a bunch of rich housewives. He won’t get arrested or show up on a “most wanted” list. He doesn’t have 8 kids. Sorry, no hot air balloons. No kids hiding in a box while the world watches the balloon crash to the ground. He lives a fairly normal life. He has a fun job and it allows him to meet cool people from time to time. He has some issues of his own but you’ll have to tune in to see them. Stay tuned for another new reality program coming soon.
As the Josh Joplin song says – its funny how life turns out, the odds of faith in the face of doubt, camera one closes in, the soundtrack starts, the scene begins….…..you’re playing you now. you’re playing you now. Take a bow. Take a bow.
There might just be something to this reality TV after all……..but hurry up. The 15 minute clock of fame is ticking.
Thanks for listening. Stay tuned.
Check out Josh Joplin on iTunes. The song Camera One comes from his album Useful Music. Enjoy.