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October 12, 2009 / Meredith

Reality TV – A Conflict In Terms

Remember the days when TV was for entertainment purposes?  Of course there was the news at 6:00 and 10:00, but for the most part TV existed purely for our enjoyment and was valued for being an escape into fictional circumstances.  People were hired to write scripts and actors were hired to play out what was written.  Cameras shot straight at a scene or glided along smoothly when movement was required. 

There isn’t a day in the week that doesn’t hold in the schedule a show, or more accurately many shows, that is “reality-based.”  First there were shows like Extreme Makeover and Extreme Makeover Home Edition.  Then came the competition shows like Survivor and Amazing Race.  I thought we hit the bottom of the TV viewing barrel when shows like Big Brother and The Bachelor(ette) came out, but alas I was wrong again.

For example, Tila Taquila?  WTF?  Who is she and why can’t she get a date (with either men or women – she isn’t picky) without holding a contest, the prize being her precious little la-la?  Got news for you, that la-la probably isn’t so precious when you get right down to it.  And what’s the big deal about Jon and Kate?  They have eight kids.  Oh my!  I predict future reality shows featuring the kids and their woes about how their parents screwed them up by putting them on a reality show as they were growing up.  I can’t forget to mention shows like Celebrity Rehab.  I’m sure I would want a camera documenting my most private and personal journey to becoming clean and sober.  Not.  Unless of course I was starving for attention and was so delusional I believed the entire universe actually cared.

Why does this crap fill the airwaves?  Because people actually watch these shows.  They watch them and talk about them at the water cooler the next day.  Radio shows discuss them.  There are shows on TV created especially to recap the crappy shows, filling our leisure time with not only crap, but crap about crap.

I just don’t get it.  First of all why are these shows on?  Second of all why do we feel compelled to watch The Girls Next Door paw the 150-year-old Hugh Hefner?  Why is anyone remotely interested in the personal lives of grown up Peter Brady or Danny Partridge?  Am I the only person who isn’t watching this stuff?  Most probably.  When I hear who is competing on Dancing With The Stars I have no idea who the “stars” are.  They’re all has-beens or never-weres.  And yet people eat it up like buttermilk pancakes at the Methodist fellowship hall on a fundraiser Sunday morning.

As I write this I realize I’m certainly adding to the problem.  These shows have gotten my attention and have inspired outrage.  They have succeeded in making some kind of impression in my life.  That makes me even more mad, because now I have to admit I’m powerless over the effects of reality TV.  Not only do I hate the shows, I hate myself for hating them. 

I’m off to read a book.  One with big words.

The End

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