Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Has Reality TV had its day?

What is it with the media and these so-called reality TV shows featuring celebrities? Personally, I see no appeal in the concept of a bunch of washed-up has-beens who refuse to get along holed up in a house or in the jungle. Look at the front pages of the tabloid press and you can read about the latest gossip from the “big brother” house. I even heard on the radio this morning about allegations of racism in the house making their way into what would have been called all those years ago before stricter hygiene laws came into being “tomorrow’s fish and chip wrapping”. Apparently it’s “bigot brother” now. Anything to sell papers I suppose.
Even the so-called “quality” newspapers are at it, albeit in a more subtle way. In the review pages you’ll get some pretentious journalist analysing the whole thing by spouting meaningless jargon from the pages of a psychology text book or making some bullshit statement about the celebrity in post-modern society and the impact of the media on the subconscious in an attempt to sneer at the contestants and assert their supposed moral and intellectual superiority.

I can see how some people (i.e. those with little better to do) get a voyeuristic sense of fascination about the whole phenomenon. It was a novel idea when it first came out, but surely “reality TV” has had its day? This piece isn’t an anti-“Big Brother” rant per se, but a criticism of the public fascination and the lazy journalism as a result of the media hype that develops around it. I’m not one of those moaners given to complaining about the falling standards in television. If I don’t like what I see on the screen I’ll change channels or switch off completely. Besides, there are a many other distractions to keep one’s mind occupied during these long cold winter nights.

In the words of eminent zoologist and professional “people watcher” Desmond Morris (whose excuse for watching such crap is the opportunity to study human behaviour):

“There is no point in feeling sorry for these celebrities because they are all volunteers and are being highly paid. Earlier versions of this kind of public entertainment, such as the clamping of criminals in public stocks to have rotten food thrown at them, or dangling them from gibbets to dance the hangman's hornpipe, as it was cheerfully called, were also immensely popular with our ancestors, but those unfortunate victims had not volunteered for their roles.”

So true.

Now if the TV viewers could choose exactly what celebrities they could put into the Big Brother house (or some remote desert island/jungle/nuclear waste processing plant), that certainly would be worth watching. Any suggestions?

6 comments:

Julia Buckley said...

It would be nice to think the Reality TV trend was coming to end. I suspect it's got some mileage left though. I'll be sticking to Radio 4.

CW said...

Julia
You're right - Reality Radio never quite captured the public imagination in the same way...

Antonio from Italy said...

Ciaran,
The news of what happened on UK Big Brother reached our land too.
What if all this thing was a set-up from the authors of the worst program on Earth just to receive more attention on what is old and boring?

Antonio from Italy said...

Hi Ciaran,
I'm leaving this comment to tell you that I put a small restriction to comments in my blog. An anonymous guy used to let insulting comments in my post so I set a new rule: those who feel to comment my posts need to be registered and logged in with the blog platform. If you want to say your opinion on my pages you have to register. It's easy, free and you can link your profile to your blog.
Sorry about that!

Anyway it seems you have put the moderation on your blog too...

Antonio

Caroline said...

Choose? I think the entire troupe responsible for infesting television with 'reality' should be abandoned somewhere like Stonington Island and left to experience reality first hand without make-up or a nail file between them.

Lorainne said...

I generally dislike reality TV although end up watching it occasionally just like I would watch a programme about wildlife. In regard to the Jade Goody racism row - whether she is racist or not is not the point - BB is supposed to be reality so should not be axed/edited because it has content many people do not approve of. Personally I think she isn't racist, just ignorant and stupid. Athough these qualities usually go with racism too.