Reality TV! Do you really want to be famous – that much?

Posted on November 15, 2010


Reality TV, how many are there broadcast these days?  You can’t escape it!  I don’t watch a lot of TV but then I have so much going on with home, work, writing, commitments, etc that when I do I prefer to watch a film.  However I had the house to myself and I thought I’d take a flick through and see whether there was something interesting to watch. How wrong was I? Well that’s an hour of my life I won’t get back!

A few minutes later after scanning through the infinite amount of channels, thinking ‘Nope’, ‘God No’, ‘as if’, ‘what on earth?’, ‘oh please’, I gave up and just left the TV on one of several audience participating TV shows.  You know the type where ‘ordinary, not so sure about normal’ people relay every aspect of their sordid life.

I sat mesmerised and mouth agape at the people yelling and wailing at each other across a strategically placed set.  It kind of reminded me of a circus, the one where the lion tamer loses control and a couple of ‘look at me’ audience members get eaten in front of a braying crowd.  I tried to shake myself free, to lift the remote to change channel but something stopped me, it wasn’t that it was engaging or even stimulating but I found myself wanting to watch.  Was I interested in finding out whether ’47 year old married Kevin was the father of 18 year old one Sharon’s baby’ or whether ‘Dwayne had slept with Tia’s mother, her sister, her best friend and every willing girl, man, dog in the local vicinity’.  In a word – No! I was fixated because I struggle to understand why anyone would want to air their ‘dirty’ laundry in such a degrading and public way.  OK I lie, there was a little bit of OMG he/she never did that!

Is it a chance to make the person who has hurt you feel as embarrassed and humiliated as you do? Is it because you think public pressure will give you the answers you can’t get in your normal everyday life or is it because you think this is your 30 seconds of fame?  My bet is on the last one.

I can’t believe that anyone with half a brain cell would get anything out of appearing on one of these shows apart from a sense of snide satisfaction and a quick fix to the attention seeking gene that was obviously implanted in them through lack of love and affection as a child.

But then, why are these shows so successful? What is it about watching someone being stripped of their dignity and pride (although  watching heavily pregnant  18 year old Sharon, screaming like a banshee and lumping Kevin’s wife, you do wonder if they can spell the word let alone have an ounce of it in their being).  Surely, it’s about supply and demand, I guess because we as consumers avidly watch these shows and take part in the ‘debate’ of people’s lives means that we fuel the need for it.  After all, if they didn’t have the viewers obviously the shows wouldn’t be broadcast for very long.

The topics change and the one static promotion of the show is the vulture like presenter, after all, their scintillating take on what is happening and their opinionated, possibly unqualified doctor like advice gives us exposure to understand why people do the ‘nastiest’ ‘funniest’, ‘craziest’ things.  Yeah right! For the fact that we can experience compassion, empathy and sympathy and we have the power to make people’s lives better, it seems that we take far more interest in gloating, berating and ultimately taking pleasure in other people’s misfortunes.  After all aren’t you glad your life isn’t like an episode of ‘Shameless’? I love that programme but I had forgotten that it really is a take on how pockets of our society are, until I was faced with these real life scenarios on the TV.

I often see headlines online or in the news like ‘XFactor ruined my life’, ‘appearing on National TV has driven me to suicide’; ‘My marriage didn’t survive Jeremy Kyle, Jerry Springer, etc’. I’m sorry but was you gagged, bound and forcibly made to degrade and humiliate yourself in such a public way?   After all if carving out your insides on National TV is going to get you into a local newspaper, national periodical or even as far as a reality TV show such as ‘I’m a celebrity get me out of here’, ‘Celebrity Big Brother’, etc, then give yourself a great big pat on the back – Wow! You made it.

Although I really feel your pain, not only did ‘THEY’ ruin your life but ‘THEY’ made you do it twice! The truth remains, not only did you put your life out there for the not so understanding and not at all moral higher than now public debate, but you practically sold your soul and the souls of the others you dragged down with you, for the chance to get your pound of flesh in the form of ‘Stardom’, the glitz, the glamour, the money and everything that comes with it.   There’s a reason why celebrities are listed as A, B, C, etc it’s because the price of fame is the same but the level of the reward is so very different.

So ‘The Show’, would you? Could you put yourself out there for public damnation? I wouldn’t, not for all the money in the world.  I’m not suggesting these people are paid but I’m still struggling to understand why someone would willingly put themselves through that.  I wonder how many of them feel it has made a difference for the better, have it recorded and then hold ‘parties’ just to recoil on their moment of fame and how many of them actually use it as an avenue to become one of the not so élite member of the ‘D Class’ celebrity pack.