Monday, August 24, 2009

Unreality Shows

The term "reality show" is a misnomer.

The ideas for such shows are couched in concepts we encounter every day of our lives, i.e. survival, mating, caring for family. However, those concepts are twisted, removed from the realm of the normal and believable, and catapulted into realm of fantasy and obfuscation. Reality is stripped away, leaving only a tottering framework, dressed up in promise, false drama, and senseless intrigue.

And people lap it up.

The reasons are legion. It makes some feel better about themselves, because they identify the participants in such shows as "lower" than them, or less capable. It makes others feel good about themselves, because they see similarities to themselves in the people on TV. Some enjoy the banter, duplicity, and ignominy that seem to spring from such shows. Some like nothing better than to root against others.

And the networks create more.

In the process of feeding the public's insatiable appetite for more "reality," it is as if the rules of society no longer apply, and guards can be dropped entirely in order to increase tension and bring about conflict. The shows go further, delve deeper, become more invasive, and serve up a brew of suggestion, intolerance, ignorance, and greed that causes people to move beyond the boundaries of decency.

And the crowd screams for more.

As is inevitable, as the net is cast wider, as the calls for more grow louder, the producers of such shows allow themselves a feeling of invincibility and invulnerability. To meet the demands of the public, and to continue to fill the coffers of their bosses, they push harder, to come up with new and even more interesting concepts.

Eventually, the tipping point is reached, when human decency, compassion, and above all, reason, are tossed away in the name of rating and dollars. Suddenly, these shows become rife with the worst of societal ills: racism, sexism, scandal, innuendo, greed, and pandering. And the detritus of these shows is strewn far beyond the shows themselves, but in those deemed unworthy to participate in them, and those who participate in them whose compliment of human frailties and hidden obsessions are allowed free reign.

The past few months have seen a host of horrors spun out by these shows, from suicide, to divorce, to murder. The "harmless" diversions have clawed their way back from their home in TV-induced "reality", to obtrude on our reality, trying to shake us awake and make us remember that nothing is at it seems, and the people on these shows are, in fact, people, not CGI-images or actors. They bring to these shows the sum total of their persona, for better or worse, and as it seems, more often worse. We can no longer allow ourselves to be entertained by the lowest common denominators of humanity.

As long as the public continues to prefer insanity and inanity to reason, can it be any wonder that those who seek to influence America by spreading lies and misinformation are having their day?

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