TV Bites With
by Neena Louise
Reality television is here to stay, with all its delightfully
voyeuristic guilty pleasures. However, watching the latest
offerings, I can't help but wonder just how "real"
reality television is.
Everyone knows by now that many of these shows aren't terribly
"real", given that producers manipulate people and
events to make the programs more watchable, but my concern is with
the actual contestants. It seems reality TV contestants are
becoming terribly formulaic: you have the gay one, the black one,
the fat one, the old one, the airhead bimbo and the goody
two-shoes. And most have gorgeous bodies. THIS is reality? Looking
around, I see mostly average-bodied, sometimes-nice,
sometimes-nasty people. Some are good-looking. Some are not. Most
have a modicum of intelligence and are decent human beings. They
would probably not make for good (read: exploitive) television,
however, and therein lies the rub.
Reality television isn't real life at all - it's a beauty contest.
Most of the contestants on these shows (with the exception of The
Amazing Race) are such shallow airheads, I have to wonder
where the producers find them. Perhaps they fill out a
questionnaire and the ones that are the most vacuous and have the
best measurements win a spot on the show. Compare, for instance,
the first Survivor to Survivor Marquesas. On the
first one, most of the contestants were normal people with normal
lives, normal bodies and normal (not to mention diverse)
personalities. It made for GREAT television. Survivor Marquesas,
on the other hand, was filled with mostly muscle-bound morons that
couldn't string an intelligent thought together if their lives
depended on it (the less good-looking, more intelligent
contestants were ousted early on). I suspect the two
Bible-thumpers made it to the final because it appeared as
though they could form intelligent thought simply by quoting the
Bible. It was NOT great television. It wasn't even good
television. It was a complete snorefest.
The latest Big Brother is the most air-headed reality
installation yet. I'm not interested in watching nearly naked
women strut their thong-clad bodies around, or smear peanut butter
on their privates, or get naked with other hot bodies in a tub of
slime (puh-leeze!). If I wanted to watch such a witless
jiggle show, I'd turn to the Playboy Channel . Sure, it's great
for horny teenage boys (have you noticed the airtime ratio of
women to men is something like 4:1?), but what about the rest of
us? I want to watch reality television to see REAL people. The
kind of people I interact with every day. The kind of people that
have personalities I'm familiar with (or that at least have
a personality). The kind of people that could be me. Isn't
that the whole point of reality television?
And I can't help but wonder: where are all the minorities? Of all
the people I see and interact with every day, at least a third of
them are non-white. Why isn't this reflected in these so-called
"reality" shows? And not just because they are visible
minorities (like the insulting token black man/woman on most
reality television shows), but because ethnic diversity in America
is REAL LIFE.
Reality television shows should either try harder to find real
people to be contestants (maybe some that aren't wannabe actors),
or stop presenting themselves as "reality" and simply
call themselves what they are: silly game shows with pretty white
would love to know what you think, sound off on the
boards and let us know what you think!