I Feel Old, Because I Hate Reality Television

I don’t get the need to be famous.  Wait, I do understand the want to be famous because you think it may make you rich and important.  I get that.  What I don’t get is the need to become famous by going on a reality show and making yourself look like talentless buffoon.  In some cases a talentless, emotionally and psychologically sad, buffoon.

Somehow since the first season of the Real World we as a society have decided that it is OK to be famous for doing nothing except being on television.  There is now a whole class of people who are known around this country for doing dumb stuff or being psychological train wrecks on television.

We have always had a celebrity culture filled with famous people who are famous for being famous.  Being rich and looking good on camera has always gone a long way in this country and first Paris Hilton and now the Kardashian family have taken it to a legendary level.  These vapid idiots are willing to do and say anything on camera because they were rich to begin with and all this is doing is making them richer.  They figured out a way to use the money and fame from someone else’s work to make themselves even more money.  I’m never going to watch your shows or sex tapes, but God bless you.

My issue is now we have a class of people who think being on television will make them famous, rich, and important and are willing to do anything to get on television.

Take Worst Cooks In America.  These are people who say they can’t cook and parade their crappy food in front of Bobby Flay and Anne Burrell with stupid stories about why they want to learn to cook.  Look, if any of these people really wanted to learn to cook, there are a lot of ways to do that without going on television and being (or pretending to be) too stupid to know how to boil water.  I’m pretty sure there are cooking classes at their local community colleges where they can learn how to properly slice an onion.  Going on Worst Cooks In America is about being on television and not any kind of personal growth and let’s not pretend otherwise.

A great deal of reality television is filled with celebrated ignorance, vapidity, emotional distress, and psychological violence for our entertainment.  As an aside I feel kind of like a prudish, pretentious dilettante writing “emotional distress and psychological violence” when talking about these shows.  However, it seems a lot of these shows are filled with over privileged, over caffeinated women who have nothing better to do then go on camera and emotionally snipe at other women who are supposed to be their friends.  The men don’t come off any better, but it seems reality television likes to make women look weak and stupid.

Let’s not forget the prostitution.  That would be The Bachelor/Bachelorette series.  I can happily and honestly say I have watched at most 10 minutes of either of these shows.  (Look, I’m not saying I sitting around watching a bunch of PBS or reading Shakespeare.  Castle isn’t exactly a work of literary genius, but it is fun and most of the people involved have actual talent.)  However, from what I glean from reading Bill Simmons and his Grantland.com crew at some point near the end of the selection process after these women fall in “love” with the bachelor (or vice-versa depending on the iteration) over some ridiculously short undetermined period of time, they go on their “overnight date.”  I’m not saying they have sex.  I’m saying the producers have put two probably horny, probably drunk people, at least one of whom is a little emotionally desperate, in one hotel room for a night.  That sounds like what happens every prom season at cheap hotels around the country.  This is what we watch for entertainment.

What would be great is if someone created a Real Housewives like reality show. Make it a 13 week odyssey in the lives of some class of housewives with all the attendant idiocy and emotional garbage.  Then in the penultimate episode one of characters murders another live on camera.  We get to the last five minutes of the final episode and the whole thing is revealed as a purely scripted show with all actors and no one died.  That would probably be the one piece of performance art I would ever like.

At least the people on these shows are transparent and open about wanting to be famous or just on television.  As emotionally distressing as that is, it is honest in a damaged way.  Why are we watching it?  Maybe we need to make ourselves feel better by watching someone whom we think we are better than flay themselves to get famous.  Of course, that means we are just as screwed up as they are.

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