It seems as though these days’ reality television has become the norm among society and not being up to date with the latest X-Factor winner or not knowing who’s up for eviction in the Big Brother house means that you are behind the times.
But why the obsession with these individuals and their overdramatic lives?
Dating back to the 1940’s, reality tv has come a long way from Allen Funt’s Candit Camera or Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Scouts – both templates for modern day shows – to the likes of Made in Chelsea, which would have been viewed as something extremely superficial back then.
Fast-forward to today and it is classed into subgenres due to its diverse popularity. From those humble beginnings we have created a social monster to which there seems to be no end.
So are our lives that boring that we must tune into other peoples’ to gain self-worth?
If so that is worrying.
But we do now live in a culture whereby we watch Masterchef and then order a takeaway, turn on the tv to Judge Judy rather than go to the courthouse to see a case transpire in person or spend an evening Keeping up with the Kardashians rather than keeping touch with our own friends.
It is almost as if by immersing ourselves in these reality shows we ourselves become distant from our own realities.
In certain cases, we become preoccupied with the lives of others rather than the lives of our own, wanting to hear these “celebrities” every thought and be known of their every action.
But is there enjoyment out of witnessing someone getting fired? Or watching the struggles of someone who has a disability? Is there a need to broadcast this to the world in plain view for entertainment purposes only?
Because that is the only value reality television has: entertainment. Most of the time it does not seek to educate you such as documentaries do or inform you like news programs; the real reality shows on tv.
However, maybe that is all you want from your evening’s viewing; to be entertained. But are there not enough tv shows out there to binge watch the night away? After all, the actors and actresses in those are plying a passionate trade to make a livelihood for themselves while creating something artistic at the same time. To choose reality tv over that is almost sacrilegious in the true spirt of television - a medium whose premise was to broadcast radio with pictures practically.
That medium, though, has now become littered with “staged reality”, manipulated by the show’s creators and producers. And when you look at it closer, “staged reality” is really only another elaborate term for acting. So where exactly is the reality?
Real people, yes, but real stories, not exactly.
It is highly controlled which is why only a certain type of person can excel in that kind of environment. Even YouTube vloggers, (who have become favoured these past few years) portray adequately normal lives but yet possess that stage persona that is required sans the ability to act.
Of course for some people the allure of reality tv is due to the fact that major programs such as Game of Thrones and the newly acclaimed Mr. Robot appear too unrealistic to watch – a mere one division too far from the real world.
But at least these stay through to the vision entailed and try to paint a version of realism in a non-realistic setting. They aim to connect you to the story by means of intellectual writing and direction and show no pretentious falsehoods.
So, in a time whereby television – or television shows more per say – has become an addiction for almost everyone we must try to gain something from it. Books, the fountain of knowledge that they once were, sadly are now viewed as archaic and time consuming in comparison and all that is left is pictures on a screen.
Gone is not the age of “proper” television but rather it dwindles in an aggressive market of pop-up celebrities. Celebrities which we idolise and want to be because they fulfil our inner wants and needs. We see what life is like on the other side through a camera lens and picture it as perfect.
But reality is not perfect which makes reality tv less than so. But yet we put our faith in it, invest our time and thin it as normal to spend our days involved in someone else’s life. And that is just not ok.