Reality Bites hard

How clean is your house? House Doctor. Get a new life. Big Brother. X-Factor. Pop Idol. Fame Academy. Changing Rooms…. The public thirst for reality shows appears to be endless. I’ve even seen an advertisement for a show that attempts to find a potential dwarf bride from a selection of dwarf girls!

The formula and interest in such shows is further fuelled by the press. In addition, dinner parties can be dominated by discussions of who’s in and who’s out. Favourites are suddenly adopted and discussion regarding participant attributes and daily activities is seen as something to be in awe about. It seems that a frenzy of being interested in ‘other people’ is the driver. The irony being that we wish to talk about people we don’t know on a personal level and we often can’t remember the name of our next door neighbour!

Technology has brought us colour, sound and moving pictures (and lets not forget 20,000 messages of what food to buy) into our living rooms, but the only ‘living’ we do appear to be involved in is away from real people.
Reality TV storylines are now reaching and seeking new levels of hype, for example deepening love interests and extreme exhibitionism. The 9.30pm watershed time zone is now no longer respected.

Bruce Springsteen once wrote a song entitled ’55 channels and there’s nothing on’. He was right all along, as since the The title was probably based on early American cable TV choice but with the advent of international multi-channel Digital TV we’re really just a channel hop away from another vacant thought.

Today we don’t see images of ourselves in TV adverts or social dramas, it’s what the marketers want to ‘push’. Their definition of life-style and socio-demographic categories keeps supplier driven compartmentalisation in place. The true reality is that we have everything to fear from this approach. i.e. A policy that limits our self-image – The true image of respectable public life is for some reason not allowed to be viewed. Stereotyping and inaccurate representation of our multiculturalism is a prime example.Just listen to accented voice-overs for certain community groups. Movies appear to be no different, with recent box office successes based only on cross-cultural relationship themes. Are producers afraid of representing a sense of normality? Why can’t we have movies about ordinary people succeeding against the odds or even promoting positive community success stories?

What was life like before reality TV? Unfortunately it was no different as game and talent shows would bring us public characters in an attempt to show that TV belonged to ‘us’ – as we continued to directly fund it through our TV licence. The future of TV is unfortunately bleak. Unless producers work towards removing elitism, we’re all going to be stuck with pretender celebrities – here today and gone tomorrow. Everyone wants to smell the roses but no one wants to plant the seeds of change.

Categories: 2004

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