Reality TV: The Nadir of TV
Firstly let me confess that I have not really watched a lot of reality TV shows, (I have not been able to sit thru any one single episode) but what I have seen of this genre of TV programming has convinced me that reality TV is the nadir or lowest point of TV and caters to the lowest common denominator. It is this kind to TV that helps people feed their voyeuristic instincts. These shows are an attempt to grab eyeballs by showcasing the real life trials and tribulations of people, and distressingly successful they are too.
I think that a lot of these shows cross the line over into exploitation when you have a show like Biggest Loser Wins: take a bunch of morbidly obese people, perhaps with self esteem and body image issues, most likely desperate to lose weight, and then set them goals and targets, then follow them around like a blood hound, pouncing on all the emotional highs, lows, outbursts, tears, disagreements, petty jealousies, hostility that would inevitably develop from an artificial situation such as this. This kind of show exploits people’s preoccupation, even obsession with size and weight issues, the sense of failure of elation felt by the participants who have perhaps knowingly or perhaps misguidedly put themselves into this situation.
Perhaps my lack of knowledge of these shows is making me overly critical and perhaps there is something to recommend them? People may argue that these shows are also about the triumph of the human spirit in the face of adversity; a show case for the goodness of mankind as well.
But the camera seems to linger too long on the tears, focus too sharply on the squabbles and hostilities, pays too much attention to the personal failings and inadequacies to convince me. These shows, to me, smack too much of getting satisfaction from other people’s problems and shortcomings and perhaps deriving some sense of self righteous superiority when you see others in unenviable situations. Or perhaps it is about people deriving some solace from the fact that others have problems like mine too.
I also have serious doubts at how well the tears, the fights and the dramatic moments seem to appear at just the right times; from what I hear about these shows; they are a little bit too pat; leading me to wonder if there isn't perhaps script writer who is part of the proceedings.
The phenomenal success of these shows is, to me, a strong social indictment and leaves me wondering if I am only a miniscule minority who thinks so.