Reality TV – friend or foe?
May 2, 2012
The other night, they showed The Truman Show on TV. I love that movie and as it had been a while since I last watched it – I settled in for another viewing.
I used to teach it as part of the HSC, years ago when I had Senior English classes – around 2005/2006 – so I know it very well.
As I’m watching it, this time around, I realise that I really am seeing this film, all these years later, through new eyes. In the film we see everybody glued to their sets, even attending The Truman Bar, to watch this one man who was not performing, but was simply himself.
Was it through this movie that the idea was hatched for reality TV?
The Truman Show came out in 1998. The first two BIG reality shows to hit our TVs were Big Brother and Survivor and they both started a year and two years (respectively) after this movie was released.
So here we are now and look at how our TV viewing has drastically changed – especially the shows that appeal to our younger people.
I have to admit that when Big Brother first started, I did find it compelling – well, the concept anyway. To get an actual mix of people and put them together to see what happens – fascinating. Of course, the fundamental flaw (which doesn’t occur in The Truman Show) is that everyone knows they’re being watched. But still, who needs scriptwriters when you have real life, right?
But, unfortunately, this digital, reality obsessed (and apparently sex-starved) population needed more. So the producers started just putting in young, attractive (?), single people – with a sprinkling of ‘older’ here and there – to create a new type of Big Brother: “Let’s see who hooks up.” It got so bad, here in Australia, that it got axed a few years ago. It was no longer a family show – although it was being shown in the early evening – it just became one that was ‘on heat.’
And what notoriety did some of the female contestants, in the latter shows, end up getting? Oooh, they got to pose for men’s magazines. How classy. Validation? – check. Fade into obscurity with the gazillion girls who would do the same? – check.
Funnily enough, a new network has picked up Big Brother here in Oz and they’re currently asking people to register to be in the house…I wonder if they need a feminist…No, just kidding!
Let’s jump to a fairly recent reality show that’s (I’m assuming), still popular among the young ones – Jersey Shore. I watched my second episode ever today…for research. *wink*
For those of you who don’t know about this show – they’re a bunch of 20 somethings put into a house together and cameras follow them around. This is a photo of them:
Well, what can I say. This episode had Snooki (girl in orange) recovering from being punched in the face, when partying in a bar, in the previous episode. Later, we see another punch up between JWoww (this is the girl in white with the very large chest – which is out on show every time she goes out) and another girl in the bar…because the girl called her ‘fat’ – and it was ON for young and old. Snooki’s response to seeing the fight was: “I just thought, how can I get in there?” There were a few hook-ups…
….and that was it.
For the next episode, they previewed two punch-ups – one between Snooki and another girl she called a ‘Rhino who attacked me’ and another between one of the male housemates and some other guy, on the Boardwalk…and some more hook-ups.
Well, titillating stuff, I tell you. Morons who eat, hook-up and fight – who are being watched and worst of all revered – well, maybe not revered, but they’re famous, making more money than people who do good and for what? Just entertainment?
It’s such gutter behaviour and it scares me to think that these people can be a benchmark – in any way – to normal behaviour. I appreciate that, of course, there are people who think and behave this way, but:
Question #39: Where are the shows to counter balance this perception of youth?
I’ll leave you with the wise words of Snooki, who said on today’s show, “I can’t eat that – it’s alive when they kill it.” (insert cricket noise)
Hmmmm…I think there’s something in that for all of us…