Why I Dislike Reality Shows
Posted August 20, 2007on:
I harbour an utter distaste for reality shows, which others may not understand at all and may even deem irrational (I myself wonder sometimes). I realise it ultimately is a question of “feeling”, related to my own sensibility, experiences, and also infirmities and complexes. And I have to get over my habit of using redundant adjectives, expressions and words.
It seems to me to be a constant tug-of-war between the audiences and the participants – the participants seeking to project a “fashionable” image inspite of the crushing pressures of the emotionally supercharged situations they are chucked into, and being subject to the intense and constant gaze of the camera, through which millions are peering into thier lives. And the audiences constantly hoping to see the participants buckle under the pressures, to squabble, scream, weep, throw tantrums, claw at each other – in other words, be caught with thier proverbial pants around thier ankles.
It really makes me wince to think of the impossibility of the situations these youngsters are thrust into. It is like crowding a pack of starving dogs in a cage with one juicy bone, and expecting them to win a popularity vote with thier fellow dogs while they tear at each other for the bone. And the audiences gathered around the cage roar in sadistic mirth at the desperation and indignity of the dogs’ swipes and whimpers.
And the fact that it is humans and not dogs, makes these situations infinitely more complex. Participants project a surface image of being friendly, relaxed, onseself, with it, and have casual conversations, intimate moments, crack jokes, be emotional and sensitive, be compassionate, helpful, and all that, and all the while have one eye trained at the ultimate prize and the other at the hidden camera monitoring your every twitch (that would certainly give me a psychlogical squint). Innocuous behaviour which pretends to be spontaneous, but is really an enactment. Every movement, every word that escapes the mouth, every act, every laugh, every tear, has an agenda, played out for the benefit of invisible prying eyes. And noone is under any illusions about these pretensions – not the enactors or the audiences.
But it is a game which must be played out, a game which seeks to bring out the base in the human spirit, because the stakes are so high – instant fame and riches, star struck dreams realised in a moment.
The resulting behaviour and human sitation seem to me to be so unnatural to me that I cannot help but shudder. On second thoughts, perhaps these situations are not so unnatural at all, because most human situations involve a mix of competition and collaboration. Social cohesion exists inspite of needs which are often in conflict. The drama of life is perhaps just made starker and more obvious when enacted on the stage.