Reality TV - An Opposing Viewpoint
I submit that Reality TV has hijacked its “15 minutes of fame” and stretched far beyond our actual collective consent for nearly 25 years!
Besides making astornomical profits for media giants and advertising executives what other intrinsic value is there in Reality TV?
Just to be clear this discussion centers on the mostly negative variety of the genre.
Understandably, this kind of programming is strangely compelling and certainly temping to watch.
There is no doubt of the “sizzle” of a house full of strangers now “ roommates” arguing, getting in each other’s face, and even throwing blows!
Somehow this “ unpredictability ” of what’s going to happen next seems to captivate us. We are drawn in by its seductive grip and find ourselves forming a habit that is hard to break. In essense this formula is similar to the phenomenon of when we intently watch the aftermath of a terrible automobile accident except without the general concern we have for those involved.
Next up are our classic baby mama dramas, hate spewing cursing and fighting couples, and grandiose displays of poorly educated rebelling people in our society.
Then we have the competitions where “ aspiring hopefuls ” sing or dance to earn our text message votes. After that we learn to be prosecutor and defender as we tune into the judge shows.
Over the last couple of years we’ve hit all time lows with those self proclaimed super “celebrities” of New Jersey shore and step children of a former Olympic Champion Decathlete who tantilize us by being the next in line " Diva" sisters of fashion and hollywood glitz and glamour!
If that’s not enough rag tag crews scurry behind surprised cheating partners as they attempt to give couples their “moment of resolution” live on the street!
Again from a business standpoint we certainly understand the business model. There is no doubt that these are huge financial winners and even in some cases the participants are able to earn a windfall or even launch a career. In the case of the latter, there is some argument of benefit however our dialogue hinges on the value and return on the system as a whole.
We as consumers are giving the content creators and image marketers an easy road to follow. Because viewers continue to give these types of shows enormous ratings it essentially gives the industry a green light to feed us cheap and dumb downed productions that cater to our most base and primal instincts.
Do we not long for thoughtful and intellectually stimulating programming that challenge us to rise to our greater good?
Its high time Hollywood and other major producers of content for television rediscover the immeasurable value and benefit of positive shows that inspire, educate and challenge our society for the better.
Many may brush this suggestion off as being naïve and without plausible cause. To this I would only answer by saying take a look back in history and observe what television was like 50 years ago.
Certainly it was a more basic presentation and less aesthetically pleasing than today’s standards. However, that observation is secondary to the intent and purpose of its quality and production.
During those days, just like today advertisers and corporations were very much interested in profits. Not only was making money a priority as it is today, they enjoyed record profits for decades yet somehow do so without mass catering to the bases elements of the human experience.
Be assured during those times there were relationship destroyers, gossip propagators, cheaters, hostile neighbors who needed small claims court, shock promoters and everything else in between. The reality of drama and ugly was just as alive then as it is today.
This great platform of influence in our culture should be turned toward solving dramatic problems, inspiring never before seen solutions, reenergizing the spirit of the culture to make a real and positive difference in our lives.
For example why not have a reality show about the greatest teachers and students in our nation and how they are changing the trajectory of value and hope of a better and brighter future for the country.
What about a reality show that champions nurses, medical professionals and patients that are turning the tide toward a more healthy and sustainable population and health care system.
Of course at first these kinds of choices don’t seem to have the “sizzle” of a Jerry Springer show, but that’s because they haven’t been launched and had the change to grow advertising dollars.
A practical solution.
Think of the loud and clear message that would be sent to executives if we stopped watching. Well not completely but some measurable shift from the automatic profits that they’ve now come to rely upon.
This could be for example anywhere from 10, 5, or even just one percent of the national viewing audience going cold turkey! If that’s too wild fetched an idea, maybe half of everyone who watches regular cable programing obstained from a single program each day, each week even just one each month. It would be a start.
Any appreciative drop in ratings would help exploit a crack in the amour of the status quo. A blip on the industry radar would give chance to awesome high quality programming which would be generally set for the pre production white board chopping block.
That’s right, the audacity of an alternative stirred on by the people!
Imagine the deliberate, purposeful decision of choice over the present buffet of churn and burn Reality TV entrée, and not so yummy dessert!
What a magnificent statement and challenging vision that would set forth to the powers that be that there is an entire vast untapped market of opportunity out there to be conquered!
Could such a shift of the national viewing market send a clear message? A message that says we want better and we’re willing to pay you (advertising dollars) for it.
There is evidence to strongly support this case although it is in the minority. There is a growing group of successful networks; brands and programs, which have started leading the way here, just to name a few:
The Cooking Channel
The Learning Channel
National Geographic Channel
Arts & Entertainment Channel
These choices entertain us, inform us, inspire us and challenge us to grow our families, communities and our nation in the most positive ways! We need the will and the ratings clout to grow and expand them so that they are the majority rather than the minority.
Let’s have the character, courage and foresight to learn from those who have previously traveled before us
Those like Nobel Price winning playwright, George Bernard Shaw and renowned 20th century Poet and Author Oscar Wilde both agreed on the premise of Wilde’s famous quote which draws us to a conclusion.
In the1889 essay, The Decay of Lying - " Life imitates Art far more than Art imitates Life”.
The major message of this literary masterpiece was paraphrased - If you keep making art chaotic and with no intrinsic value, pretty soon that’s what you’ll have in your society.
I submit that the assertions of this discussion are worth giving some very serious consideration.
I hope you do too!
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