What's Up With Reality TV?

"There's a big old goofy man
 Dancing with a big old 
 goofy girl...ooh baby
 It's a big old goofy world."
        ~John Prine~

Goofy World

“It’s a big old goofy world,” is an observation that is dead-eyed accurate.

Given the spectacle of so-called reality based television shows, those lyrics are a fitting epitaph to common sense. When it comes to entertainment we’ve crossed into the realm of the ridiculous.

To be fair, goofy doesn’t really begin to define the stupidity that garners attention these days. Forget the stagnating economy, creative bankruptcy has been declared by the backroom network boys and girls.

The common denominator in each regurgitated idea is to tap into an apparent latent voyeurism. Spy-cams are set up so that we can observe how ordinary people react in situations ranging from routine to absolutely bizarre.

Given the thirty-second blurbs hyping each show, evidently we cannot get enough of these surveillance series. We seem to enjoy watching others take risks or make fools of themselves; what does that say about the poverty of our lives?

Rather than experience the fullness of life, an obviously large cross-section of our society prefers to live out their hopes, dreams, fears and fantasies through others.

There are no boundaries...
There are no boundaries...

Enough Is Never Enough

What is especially alarming is the ease at which the general public accepts the outrageous. There are no boundaries, or at least there are no boundaries that anyone respects. Shame and humiliation used to be things to be avoided, but now they generate ratings and that’s what it’s all about because ratings measure the audience.

Higher ratings represent more households tuning in to watch; the higher the ratings the higher the advertising revenue. And that, friends and neighbors, is really what it’s all about. Keep the corporate cash registers ringing and everybody will be happy.

When greed is the bottom-line motivation we ought not to be surprised by anything that Hollywood churns out. It may be a toxic stench oozing out of sewer pipes, but if it captures a target market then all is well.

The problem is that increased profits simply stimulate the urgency to increase them even more. Enough is never enough. That is the nature of money.

If idiocy is the hot ticket item this year, then by all means jettison those old-fashioned sensibilities and package idiocy in eye-catching products. In the process never miss an opportunity to trash time-honored values of decency.

After all, it is the twenty-first century and we have achieved an evolved state of freedom and enlightenment; we are no longer bound by those archaic Thou Shalt Nots or other such nonsense.

Any Stop Signs?

Is anyone monitoring the decline in ethical standards? The concept of right and wrong is nonexistent. Anyone who honestly believes that there is strength and vigor in our moral fiber today needs his or her head and heart examined. Everything and anything is permissible. We wouldn’t even slow down for stop signs.

If it feels good, do it with gusto. If it feels good and you can make a buck at it, then set up a web-cam and charge admission; the weirder the better because absurdity is most definitely this year’s biggest selling model.

We are the proverbial frog in the kettle. Decades of an unrelenting assault on normalcy have dulled our senses and discernment. We don’t know where to draw the line or even if a line should be drawn. Our perspective is skewed.

Not to sound too preachy, but in the first-century, Paul of Tarsus warned us: “People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.”

The Healthy Choice

What's up with reality TV is this:  Making money hand over fist without regard to propriety or mores continues to not only be culturally acceptable, but in many cases it is deemed an admirable ambition. 

Yet even a perfunctory appraisal of truth determines that economic prosperity is no guarantee of contentment. Affluence is an empty promise that has no ability to address the deepest longing of the human heart.

It's a big old goofy world. Indeed it is. Calling make-believe reality is disturbing. To seek escape in the carefully scripted lives of others is goofy in the extreme. Instead of participating in the excesses of the amusement industry, we should switch off our television sets far more often than we actually do.

It’d be the healthy choice to make.

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Comments 11 comments

CJStone profile image

CJStone 7 years ago from Whitstable, UK

These lines shot out at me with particular intensity: "Enough is never enough. That is the nature of money. If idiocy is the hot ticket item this year, then by all means jettison those old-fashioned sensibilities and package idiocy in eye-catching products." I was watching Big Brother as I read them, which is particularly idiotic this year. Have you ever heard of a programme called The Year of the Sex Olympics? Look it up. It was a 1960s BBC TV play which predicted the whole Reality Tv phenomenon. It's scary to think that what was once science fiction has suddenly become reality.


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 7 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

Thanks, CJ. It is scary watching what was once someone's dreamed up fiction become the stuff of modern times. Makes one wonder what might be coming up around the next bend.


skye2day profile image

skye2day 7 years ago from Rocky Mountains

Hi It is me again, I love Americas Got talent and The Bachelor. I confess. The rest of them are not my cup of tea. America can market a toothpick. Anyway in fun and for reals I like your writing it flows and sings at me. this fan will be back for sure. You are gifted in writing no reality check you are blessed.


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 7 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

Thank you, Skye@day. Nice line, "America can market a toothpick."


Kovy77 7 years ago

I tend to agree with you. The truth is that there is nothing real about reality tv. Thats why I chose to not to watch any of it. Whatever happened to a drama that grips you the moment it start, or a comedy that has you laughing out loud from beginning to end. Those things for the most part do not exist.


donotfear profile image

donotfear 7 years ago from The Boondocks

You know, you're right. Reality television isn't all real. Speaking from experience, the reality television producers actually DIRECT the contestants, to some extent, depending on what show it is. (See my hub: Reality Show Reject) I was directed and instructed to repeat scenes over and over, until they got it right. The only part that wasn't actually "directed" was the interviews and the actual challenge scene. The rest was rehearsed. I'd also like to add this: contestants on these shows have NO RIGHTS to anything. Participants are used. Period. Once it's over, it's over and contestants have no legal rights to anything. And they're through with you, unless of course, your show is successful and you become popular. THEN they assign an agent, usually, so you can go out and make them more money. And yes, some contestants to come away with regular speaking engagements with a nice appearance fee. But there are so many more who come away with nothing, except the experience. What I guess I'm trying to say is that while the concept of reality tv is exciting and interesting, the kernel of truth is money, money, money for the network and production company. That's it.


Doug Pierce 7 years ago

Living vicariously through others is the order of the day. Thank you for this revealing look at America's moral and spiritual emptiness, and pardon me while I go turn off my webcam.


ASHWINSPGA profile image

ASHWINSPGA 6 years ago from Lion City ( Singapore)

The money offered at the end is just too much for people not to give it a shot. Even if it means making fools out of themselves and do despicable things like eating roadkill(FearFactor)

Winners are treated as celebrites. So if there is an audience there will be performers and a stage.

Great entertaining hub.

you got a new fan. cheers


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 6 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

ASHWINSPGA - Thanks for the visit. The money & the celebrity status definitely drives Reality TV.


richtwf profile image

richtwf 5 years ago

Excellent hub and enjoyed it very much.

It's good to be reminded sometimes of what's actually happening in our society and to see where it seems to be heading. Nothing is normal anymore and what was normal a generation ago is no longer normal now. Its meaning seems to shift as the next generation are more willing to accept more than what the previous generation would not. We are becoming more advanced technologically but our standards of humanity and morality seem to be going in the opposite direction. I live in hope that our society will wake up and not continue to gorge on TV to escape their reality of life.

Cheer for sharing these thoughts.

Great hub!


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 5 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

richtwf - Thank you for stopping in. I'm glad you enjoyed the visit. Your comments are insightful & much appreciated. Take care.

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