Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The Obsession of America...Reality or Tragedy?

Welcome to my newest of what I hope will be several more blogs. Over my 16 years since I graduated college, I have found myself becoming more and more private about my passionate opinions, though I suppose my closest friends might disagree.

The fact is that I would once share any opinion with anyone at any time, and now I limit most controversial discussions to times with my closest friends and family. I fear that has caused me to lose perspective somewhat, so I would like to use this blog as my outlet to hear other's opinions. With that said however, I do have limits to my personal acceptance of freedom of speech, and will not accept hateful or threatening remarks on this blog. If you want to participate in thoughtful and potentially passionate arguments on many important topics, then by all means participate...the more the better. If you just want to spew hateful rhetoric however, please take it elsewhere. From the looks of things, there are plenty of places on the web that are home to that kind of banter.

So, I thought I would lob a softball out there for my first topic, one which comes up for discussion often with my friends at work..."REALITY TV".

Over the last decade or so, what began with MTV's Real World, and CBS' Survivor has developed (or incubated) into countless shows claiming to be "reality" based, but are really a collection of circus characters displaying all the worst personality traits that people can possess. Many of these people are truly despicable, but many others appear to have been lured, exploited, embarrassed, then left for the second hand media to chew up and throw away.

Almost everyone I talk to about these shows agrees that it is sad, but WE (note the "BIG WE") continue to EAT IT UP!


Well, it seems obvious that Americans (and probably other nations -- though I have only lived in America so can only comment on that) are obsessed with the tragedy of our own. Yes, there is something cultural or even in our species that enjoys watching others suffer. Perhaps that would also explain how crowds gather around an injured person, or gaper's delays on the roads, or how crowds would gather in 18th century England and France to watch hangings and beheading like it was a football game (or dare I say NASCAR race) today.

Personally, I find this to be a sad commentary on the human race in general, but I am assuming that I am in the minority. I do watch some reality TV. I enjoy The Amazing Race, and have watched at least half of the seasons of Survivor, but will not tune into The Bachelor, WifeSwap, or - God help us- Rock of Love???

I am interested to hear what others think about this, so please join me in this conversation while I prepare a juicier topic for next time.

Game On!


  1. I have never been a fan of reality TV largely because they aren't "reality". It's Hollywood at its worst and that's all. Reality isn't nearly as exciting or dramatic as depicted on "reality" shows. Perhaps, that's why Americans watch them, because their own lives are boring and tragic in a worthless way and they desire to see people act more tragic than themselves in order to feel better. What's really sad is that we seek escape in television versus actually doing something about it, outside the house, in the "real" world.

  2. I agree that reality TV is in no way based in actual reality. Quite conversely, the "reality" that we are witnessing on these shows is merely the latest creative reality that some latest Hollywood "it" writer, or person off the street for that matter, has concocted. It is a sad commentary on our society that we are so enthralled with such mind numbing entertainment (and I use that word very loosely).

    What I do think this speaks to is our unhealthy obsession with others and their private lives. We live in a world today that has been made much smaller with gossip mags, blogs and the latest technological advancement that allows us to talk to someone without actually speaking to them or discern and scrutinize the most intimate details of their life almost in real-time. It is because of this that we now feel that we personally know everyone we see on TV and are entitled to every detail of their life no matter how small. This is how reality TV personalities have grown akin to movie, music and TV stars in terms of their fame for doing nothing more than just living their everyday lives (or a derivative thereof). It is unfortunate that "WE" care so much, but some of us do...too much.

    I would like to note that not all reality TV is bad. I believe that some shows have put a spotlight on deserving issues or people that have challenged us to give greater thought to an issue or maybe in some way, our own lives. These are the types of shows that should comprise the genre but lest we forget that reality TV is all about money. I guess this continues to prove that the almighty dollar still reigns supreme in America and until we demand better and affirm this with our viewing habits, wallets, and time, we will continue to get bombarded with this type of nonsense for years to come.