August 15, 2012 by marissapags
Just when we thought this nation was making progress with the absence of Big Brother for a whole four years, the infamous reality TV show returns to our screens sending us a step backwards. Suddenly audiences become compelled to watch hours of pointless television where a group of average human beings do average humanly mundane things. It’s exciting stuff. The housemates cook dinner, they swim, they take showers, they talk crap and that’s about it. But the most astonishing part about this is, these imbeciles become celebrities overnight. But isn’t that the beauty of reality TV? Isn’t that why it’s so damn popular? I mean isn’t it all about hiring a bunch of people without any acting experience what so ever and throwing them in an environment where supposedly “unscripted” situations unfold. That’s what makes it popular right? The fact it’s all “unscripted”? Or perhaps it’s that fantastical idea that a nobody can become a celebrity within weeks, or an instant millionaire or a chart-topping star or even a master chef! It seems like more and more reality TV shows are popping up on our screens and why not? They don’t require big stars who are paid hundreds of thousands of dollars and they don’t need expensive sets therefore they are pretty flipping cheap to make. In fact drama shows cost loads more to make than reality TV shows however reality TV programs generate greater revenue. In their work ‘Reality TV: Realism and Revelation’ Anita Biressi and Heather Nunn explain that Reality TV shows are culturally quiet significant as factual programming had never really succeeded as a top rating genre (Biressi & Nunn, 2005). Audiences seem hooked on the playfulness and “real” drama of these reality shows. Reality TV breaks down the wall between the public and private sphere, the average citizen and the celebrity and more importantly media and social space (Biressi & Nunn, 2005). Its pure entertainment but is it really realism? Are audiences so naïve as to think some of these shows are genuinely real? Unscripted and unplanned? A lot of the characters in these shows uphold shallow and stupid values. Take the cast of the hit reality TV show Jersey Shore for example where the main characters pride themselves on being tanned, going to the gym and clubbing. The show coined terms such as juiceheads (guys on steroids), gorillas (muscly guys), juicehead gorillas (muscly guys on steroids) and grenades (an unattractive woman). Is this really what people are calling entertainment? What about the new reality show on Channel Ten The Shire? If that is not the worst thing to ever happen to Australian television then I don’t know what is. Speaking of shallow values, one girl on the show said in the first episode a line that will scar me for the rest of my life and I just saw it on the ad “I think image is everything. If you look good, people will fit you into that role” These words came from the mouth of one of these women. Enough said.
Is this really what reality television is coming to? Some viewers may justify these reality TV shows and say the well known phrase “it’s soo bad, it’s good” but truthfully why can’t people face the facts and say well actually it’s soo bad, its just down right crap. The painfully horrible acting in The Shire (I watched one episode out of curiosity) and the robotic way the characters act screams out the fact it’s scripted. The lines are that brainless there is no possible way such stupid and senseless comments can come out of the mouth of a human being. Furthermore many reality TV shows are chopped and changed viciously in editing. The process of taking sounds bites of what people say and artificially stringing them together to present it on the show and create fake situations and drama is obvious (Biressi & Nunn, 2005). There is so much deception and dishonesty in these shows why do people keep coming back each week for more. Do they ever feel cheated into believing its called “reality TV”? What about the show Born Survivor with English Adventurer Bear Grylls. It recently was exposed that the reality show, which documented Grylls being abandoned in the wild and left to prove his true survival skills was a sham. A program consultant claims the star stayed in top-notch hotels ad the scenes were a complete set up (BBC Article). Even a show that I must admit I sometimes watched, Master Chef had a few disappointing secrets. One being that when the judges taste tested, the food was often cold due to re-setting of cameras and other arrangements that occurred behind the scenes. It might not sound like much but I thought this was a little disappointing I usually imaged the food to be perfectly warm when the judges dug in. Not to mention if the meals aren’t warm it could perhaps impact the taste? It was also said the contestants on My Kitchen Rules were taught how to cook before filming. However I don’t classify these shows in the same category as the numerous trash bag shows that stream on MTV. Are audiences carless of the fact that some reality TV shows are not real at all and only tune in for the fake entertainment. If most of these shows are scripted and set up such as Born Survivor, should they even be classified in the genre of reality TV at all? To me, I feel deceived. I feel as though producers think audiences are stupid enough to be immersed in the false reality these TV shows portray and become so attached and enthralled by this world they must tune in every week and even idolize the characters like Kim Kardashian or Snookie. The sad thing is, it’s true. And perhaps we shouldn’t question the producers of these trashy shows such as Jersey Shore and The Shire but maybe we should start to question society and the enormous masses of people who watch them religiously. I must say though, the backlash from the first episode of The Shire and the urge for its cancelation gives me some hope that society is slowly making progress.
All images taken from Google Image
BBC article, “Grylls apologises for ‘fake’ show” http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/entertainment/7304617.stm
Biressi, A & Nunn, Heather, 2005. “Reality TV: Realism and Revelation”, Wallflower press: Great Britain.