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~
“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.
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.
- Wanted Man
Wanted Man a.k.a. Ken R. Abell, seeks to be a blessing to others. He's a rake, a rambler, and a teller of tales who understands that there is strength in a story well told and well lived. To learn more, inquire or schedule him, visit this web site.
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