Reality television has expanded into all genres of entertainment, and has gotten stranger and stranger. Of course this has been a delight for the media moguls and advertisers, for the simple fact that strange sells. And it’s truly a sad commentary on human nature. You’d think mankind would eventually grow up, and start having a glimmer of respect for himself and his brethren. Reality TV tells me this isn’t the case, and we’re as barbaric as we ever were. It may actually be worse than ever before, it’s pitiful at best.
When I was a child it was considered ugly and hateful to laugh at the misery of another. Now, instead of merely laughing at the victim, we help bring on their misery … and THEN laugh at them. That’s right, I said WE. If there wasn’t an audience for this garbage it wouldn’t exist. It’s not just watching a train wreck, it’s loosening the cross-tie and then watching the crash!
I believe the reality trend started with the bloopers and blunders type shows. Those seemed innocent enough at the time, and most of us could relate to the poor slobs and their embarrassments. After a few years of this vanilla television the producers started adding flavor to the mix. The more outrageous stuff they could come up with, the more the ratings soared. And that translated into revenue, which of course drives all markets.
Which leads us to the last few years of reality TV, in which it peaked with outrageousness. Hopefully we’re seeing the decline of this peak now, things seem to have tapered off somewhat.
For the most part, other than being incredibly stupid, I think most of these shows were harmless. The ones I believe may have a lasting effect are the ones involving children. The shows where families swapped mothers for six weeks or whatever. I watched a few of those and was appalled at the way the children were treated. The tears were real, and there has to be at least SOME lasting emotional scars.
I don’t know what the future holds for the entertainment industry, but it will have to be huge. The saturation point has been reached with absurdity and unbelievable. What else is there left to do in front of a TV camera? I shudder at my own question.