Recent comments by presidential hopeful Michele Bachmann have stirred up the discussion about gay marriage once again. While speaking to a group of high school…
I’ve never liked reality television. I remember watching the movie, “The Truman Show.” I got a kick out of it. But I remember thinking, “What if someone did that?” Well, someone did.
I’m too lazy to look back and see where reality television started, but I remember when Survivor came on. I watched a little of the first season. People jockeying for position to get the grand prize. Lying to each other. Being jerks on national television. Hey, it made for great ratings, who am I to judge?
Let’s skip to today. We have all kinds of reality shows. Jersey Shore, Auction Hunters, Storage Wars, 19 Kids and Counting, Here Comes Honey Boo Boo, 16 and Pregnant, Jackass, Four Weddings, Say Yes to the Dress, Cake Wars, Cupcake Wars, Big Brother, The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, Hoarders, Intervention, Hardcore Pawn, Miami Ink, Sister Wives, Toddlers and Tiaras, Ice Road Truckers, Whale Wars, Dog Whisperer, Deadliest Catch, several Amish shows, The Bachelor, The Bachelorette, American Idol, X Factor, COPS, Dog the Bounty Hunter, Extreme Makeover, Trading Spaces, Pimp My Ride, What Not To Wear, The Biggest Loser, Duck Dynasty, Undercover Boss, blah blah blah blah and blah.
I really don’t like reality television. I do watch Storage Wars, I will admit that. I did read some random article that said most of it was faked. I don’t have any real documentation to back that up.
I’m not even to my main complaint yet.
Why are we so fascinated with this stuff? Let me say this. I love watching people. I really do. I am guilty of sitting on a bench in the mall and watching families. There’s a ton of drama at the local mall if you’ll just sit back and watch.
But for some reason in the past decade, we have allowed the media to walk into our homes and record our faults. Worse, we watch that crap. Why? Well, I can tell you this – the advertisers are buying time slots. Because we are watching it.
My wife Allison loves some of the reality television. She started watching the Honey Boo Boo girl recently. She asked me to sit down and watch it with her for a few minutes. Listen, I can’t stand watching the Duggars for more than five minutes. But being a good husband, I obliged. Seriously. I couldn’t stand it for more than ten minutes. Why was I watching it?
Hey, here’s a clip:
Well, I know why. We put people on television who are a sideshow. Lord, if P.T. Barnum were alive today, he’d own half the market in reality television. Thousands watched when television cameras set up in the home of Ozzy Osbourne. And it sold advertising.
Why? I think for a couple of reasons. It gives us escape. We can watch others to make us feel better about ourselves. Maybe we identify with people who fight and have a worse life than we have. And also, it’s just brainless entertainment. You spend more brain activity eating pistachios and throwing playing cards into a tophat.
That said, I’m really, really worried about what it’s doing to us. It’s making us stupid. We aren’t watching History Channel documentaries. We aren’t watching the news or old classic movies. We’re not watching anything that is enriching our minds. We’re watching what Honey Boo Boo will say next when she’s asked about make up. Honestly. I watched her do some sort of hand movements for two minutes without any dialogue the other night. People must eat this stuff up.
Reality television is making us stupid. Or stupider. Is that a word? See? I’m even getting dumber.
I really want to say, “What is wrong with all these people on these shows?” But that’s not the right question. They don’t want help. The right question is, “What is wrong with those of us who dabble too far in watching these shows?”
There’s even proof that reality television isn’t reality at all. There are several great articles (well researched, I might add) over at Cracked.com that you should read. One in particular is called, “5 Secrets to Making Reality TV They Don’t Want You To Know.”
Watching other people wallow in their own hatred, ignorance, turtle catching, duck hunting, family arguing is leaving a mark on our minds and the minds of our children. Sure, we can say, “Oh, it’s just entertaining.” No, it’s really not. It’s showing us that we can be like that and it’s okay. We revere people on television, don’t we? And when we see them do something, we must think that it is okay to act like that.
Now, dear reader, I know you are immune to such things. But I fear your children are not. Make sure you explain to them that the people on television who use improper grammar, slap one another, scream at their mothers, allow feces to be dumped on their head are engaging in behavior that is really not standard for a growing society.
Explain to them that advertisers will pay money to see people act as stupid as possible. Please. Or we will all be in trouble.
So hey, if you’re watching that stuff by yourself as a guilty pleasure, go for it. Just be ready to separate the reality from reality. Because that stuff is not reality. Did that make sense? Probably not. I think I watched too much Honey Boo Boo.