Sweetie is really going to have to get his own blog.
According to Reality TV Magazine, there are now more than 200 reality television programs available in North America. Yes, there’s actually at least one magazine devoted entirely to reality television. Two hundred programs, some running two hours per episode, with no redeeming value. Those hours and hours of programs are pushing the work of real writers, actors and documentary creators off the air. Reality is cheap television. It relies on baser instincts and it leaves the false of impression of what is acceptable and civil behaviour.
What’s most scary about reality television is that it serves to distract and dumb down entire populations. It’s gotten so bad that from a country of 300-million people the best candidate the Republican Party can find to run for President is Mitt Romney. The same guy who recently complained about the problem of not being able to open windows at 35,000 feet in a passenger jet. His Republican predecessor wasn’t the sharpest knife either. Are we witnessing the end of an empire?
So here’s the question. Is reality television the cause or merely a result? This mental pablum is a relatively new phenomenon that seems to pander to a society of instant everything. I’ve rarely run into a person under 30 years of age who can actually cook. Microwave doesn’t count. In a world of instant instant gratification, instant solutions can’t be far behind. We elect governments which make no plans beyond getting elected next time… “Simple solutions for simple minds.”
Sadly this mentality of voyeurism and instant reward has gone past programs dubbed “reality” and has infected one of the most valuable tools in protecting democracy; news. I spent about two decades as a reporter and always understood the role of news was to inform and enlighten, to provide people with useful, accurate and balanced information so they could make informed choices. But in this day of reality TV, news seeks to be entertainment. If it bleeds, it leads is now the motto of most news operations.
A recent event at the Fox network in Phoenix illustrates the point. The local host was obliged to apologize because a car chase they had been following with cameras and helicopters ended with the pursued man blowing his brains out on live television. The host explained there was normally a 10 second delay and made the following apology, “That didn’t belong on TV. We took every precaution we knew how to take to keep that from being on TV and I personally apologize to you that that happened.”
Of course he and the others at Fox missed the point. Why in a city of more than a million and a half people is a car chase getting this much attention? How does it benefit anyone? What social value is being expressed? What are viewers to make of this information and how will they use it?
News programmers now hire companies to survey and find out what scares people most, then pander to that diet. It is a diet that endangers our liberties, our standard of living and our freedoms.
I’ve pondered the idea of applying for my own licence to create MBC – the Mouth Breathing Channel. It would buy up the wide range of programs populated by a heavily exploited group of the illiterate and toothless that actually require translation to scroll across the bottom of the screen to be understood. They undertake largely useless tasks of shootin’ gators, wrestlin’ wild boar, baggin’ ducks, holding on desperately to mounds of junk in their jam-packed homes, and dressing up pampered, overweight six year olds for “beauty” contests. I’d buy exclusive rights so they could not be shown on any other channel and in so doing, protect society from itself. A pretty noble goal I think.
The time has come for reality television to go. The time has come to get real.
Sweetie has watched a lot of TV over the past few months. And it’s starting to get to him. I think it was Honey Boo Boo who pushed him over the edge.