Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The Down Side of Keeping it Real

After several years without watching TV and coming back into the fold it seams that the nation has been gripped by an epidemic of reality television.


1.) The flattening of people. People are complex and multi-dimensional, but the so called reality doesn't have time for complexity of the human spirit only for Archetypes of people....the slut, the jock, the queer, the angry black person, the sensitive guy, the sheltered virgin etc. And yes as a counter argument it is true that written TV does have archetypes but I see the difference being in what people in real life try to emulate. Most people don't sit around emulate the archetype from something about Raymond because we know it is fictitious although we may still recognize certain attributes about the person. It is entirely true that this beef that I have is nothing more than a perception problem. That it just seems like people are becoming more one dimensional because I am noticing something that has always been there. But how would you get on a reality television show if you were not one of the archetypes....do you conform then to the archetype? It seems like I meet fewer and fewer people these days who surprise me with any depth to them at all.



2.) The diminishment of hope - there is no vision of the future. the only thing that is described or depicted is endless back stabbing for some competitive prize...now I am not an idealist I know that's what life is, but shouldn't we still have the visionaries painting a picture of what the world could be? Does anyone have any idea how much research was kicked off because of Star Trek? James Bond? Visionaries who gave us something to aspire too something to get excited about a new way to look at the world. Now we seem to jest passively waste time watching the new alliance on Survivor.


3.) The ruin of creativity - It is cheap for the networks to do reality. Turn on the camera, don't pay any actors, let people run around and repackage it as a brand. I am worried about our imagination. About our ability to dream and see the world not is it really is but as it could be. I worry that we will become a stagnate place to live where one day we will all be happy watching live feeds of traffic cams and be ranked #200 in every quality of life category in the world.....and folks we are not far off...


Its just kind of depressing....anyone want to buy my TV?

7 comments:

Rocketstar said...

Hey man, this is what a reply Comment looks like.

Unrelated to your post: Just to clarify, Reality TV is just another "genre" of TV. Anyone who thinks that it is truly REALITY is a moron. It is however as real as it can be, with true human emotion, behavior, interaction, thoughts and psychology. Compared to the shameful level of writing exhibited on "written" TV, I will take the "Reality" any day.

Reply to your comments:
"1)The flattening of people: ...but I see the difference being in what people in real life try to emulate."
----- Are you saying that kids as well as adults DO NOT try to emulate TV characters? I would disagree and claim that people try to emulate TV Stars MUCH more than some regular Joe on Survivor. I would contend that the impact on people of characters on "Friends" or "Desperate Housewives" for instance have a much larger impact on American behavior than a couple racing in the Amazing Race show.

The problem with this country and maybe the world is that we DO think that what happens on written TV is REAL when it is NOT. Does ER really depict what truly goes on in an Emergency Room? I say there is more harm in the artificial and untrue depiction of our world through written T.

"2.) The diminishment of hope - ...now I am not an idealist I know that's what life is, but shouldn't we still have the visionaries painting a picture of what the world could be?"
---- I hope that you are not contending that written TV has any vision based on any reality we understand. I agree that the only genre that does this is as you point out Science Fiction.

"3.) The ruin of creativity - I am worried about our imagination. About our ability to dream and see the world not is it really is but as it could be."
-- Same as above.

What I like about "Reality" TV. It displays the many facets of true human behavior. It forces the honest reaction to different situations and circumstances and records the human reaction, regardless if the situation is created or not, the reaction remains real. We observe humans reacting with other humans in an extraordinary environment. We are ablke to see the ugly side, the incredible side as well as a frightening side.

Is it 100% real, of course not. Do the producers need to edit and mismatch scenes to tell a more interesting and coherent story sometimes, of course they do but the human behavior and interaction caught on tape is real.

Brian in Mpls said...

I would disagree that it forces honest reaction since we have all seen reality we all know what they look like when they air on TV I would contend that all participants act accordingly knowing what they will look like and how they want to shape their TV persona....I think it is just as fake as written TV and not nearly as entertaining...if I have to even flip through another real world road rules challenge I am going to drink the blood of small animals

Granted it is just another genre but it will be the dominate one soon enough with the cost to produce a hit sitcom going up, advertising revenue going down the next best thing is to place a camera in front of a bunch of monkeys if that is what people are willing to watch.

I guess I see a difference with emulate and embodying something. you can emulate a role model set a higher standard to live up to ect.. but I bet you can pick the person on the real world that you embody the cast member that you are. And what I see in that is it becoming a self fulfilling prophesy if I want air time or people to notice me I have to be the biggest slut, meanest person etc.

As Real as can be? 20 Women picked to go to a castle and compete for a husband? I can't think of a reality show that is any less contrived then a written TV show.

Do you see any cast on a reality TV show that mimics the constitution of the population of this world? Granted neither are written shows.

I guess all these arguments that I have here suck, but I think it comes down to personal taste a sitcom is meant for you to embody the emotion. It is a joke a play that is put on for you, good dialog (Try just listening to a reality show without watching the people in bi-kinis) a sitcom is meant to make you feel the emotion as the audience where as I see reality TV as I passively watch other people experience the emotion. I don't know if that makes sense.

So the reality programs that I will stick to are on BBC, 60 minutes, Discovery and the History Channel

Rocketstar said...

"I would disagree that it forces honest reaction since we have all seen reality we all know what they look like when they air on TV I would contend that all participants act accordingly knowing what they will look like and how they want to shape their TV persona...."

--- I would disagree as many of the reality folks have said themselves that at first they are aware of the camera's but after a short while you no longer consciencly realize that they are there. When they are in your face 24/7, you actually forget that they are there after a while.

"As Real as can be? 20 Women picked to go to a castle and compete for a husband? I can't think of a reality show that is any less contrived then a written TV show"

--- Again, I think you are not understanding my point. For full disclosure, I do not like the "Bachelor" series, just not interesting. But regardless of the "unreal situation" these humans are put in, thier behavior, emotions and interactions are real. I can think of many,. many reality shows.... Survivor ( this is a contest of relationship management and manipulation), Amazing Race (a test of wills, teamwork and competition), Wife Swap (taking two vastly different family types and swapping wives to see how that experience chnages their outlook on life), Little People Big World (shows the plight of little people living in a world made for big people), etc... All shows regardless of type are not created equal...... Yes there are some bad ones but there are also some very good ones.

"Do you see any cast on a reality TV show that mimics the constitution of the population of this world? Granted neither are written shows."
-- It's apparent that you do not watch reality TV. Yes, most do.

"...is meant to make you feel the emotion as the audience where as I see reality TV as I passively watch other people experience the emotion"
--- Again, apparent that you don't watch reality TV. Are you telling me that Written sitcoms acted by people that are not truly going through the experience pulls at your emotiuons more than real people reacting emotionally to real situations? Try watching "Intervention" or "Little Poeple Big World".

I watch several reality shows, but most of the reality shows I watch are NOVA, NOW, 60 Minutes, Discovery, TLC, Untold Stories of the ER, 30 Days etc...

I think you need to get past the whole "It's not reality" and focus more on the real human interaction, emotion and behavior. I would have thought that your interest in human behavior would lean you more towards reality where you can watch humans like lab rats and study their behavior as they react to different situations.

Brian in Mpls said...

Ok this post should have just said. I hate the following...
Survivor
Real World
Amazing Race
The Bachelor
Flavor of Love
Bridzilla
Big Brother
Temptation Island
and
especially
The Carters

Theresa said...

Brian, that list does indeed suck.

Rocketstar said...

I think it's important to say that there are shows both written and reality that certainly suck.

It's also true that not all of either suck.

Simpsons, South Park, American Dad, Family Guy, Sopronos, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Reno 911 are funny written shows.

Jess said...

Reality TV sucks big, hairy donkey balls. Or, that's what I assume, anyway. I refuse to watch it.