“Reality” TV Shows: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly [1/2]   Leave a comment


I love AlterNet.Org there are times when we have things in common and times when we couldn’t be more divided. This time around however we couldn’t be more divided, in an August Article concerning Reality TV Shows, The Destruction of Society, and The American Psyche the author claims that there are certain TV Shows that critics have gotten wrong, in fact the author claims that these critics are coming from a “dunderheaded” position. At the heart of my position when it comes to TV Programming is the simple desire to see TV Programming become Programming of Achieving the Highest Ideal while putting up with our faults and weakness, it is these types of programming that can make us think outside of the box.

Commentary on the Article

The first TV Show that this article discusses is Jersey Shore. The author of the article goes on to write that,

“MTV’s booze-and-dramathon ‘Jersey Shore’ is, by and large, the television show most cited as evidence America is about to incinerate into a blazing Babylon. It has been criticized for irresponsible alcoholism and wanton sluttiness; blamed for the dumbing-down of culture; and, last but not least, lambasted for painting a demeaning portrait of Italian-Americans everywhere… Maybe people like “Jersey Shore” because, even if we don’t behave like them, they are acting out human impulses at their most raw.”

This is the problem, we are glorifying “our human impulses at their most raw.” We know what we are capable, everything ranging from sheer animalistic fulfillment to cold-heartedness to superficiality. We do not need to be reminded of this, or more to the point we do not need to be told to value this! The author does go on to say in the article that, “While some of them are, in fact, pretty smart (J-Woww) or kind (Snooki), they aren’t textbook intellectuals, and the redeeming qualities of their characters tend to be overshadowed in critiques by their ‘bangin’ beach bods’ (J-Woww works out constantly and has implants, while Snooki’s recent weight loss stayed in tabloid headlines for weeks).” However smart and good at heart as they maybe in real life, people do not see let alone know them in real life, they see and get to know the shallow, dumb, and superficial persona’s they put up on TV and then they glorify the fulfillment of basic impulses founded in a life of excessive hedonism. The next TV Show that is discussed is the TV Show, Skins, which aired in America for one season and then died off, however the author writes that,

“The British-born show depicting Bristol teens in a mostly realistic fashion—which means they have sex, do drugs, curse, get their hearts broken, go a little crazy, have fights and do more drugs, in general. The UK wasn’t generally too out of control when the series debuted, and now five seasons in it’s as popular as ever.”

Teenagers are going to do what they do, we have all been there, the hormonally out of control rebellious behavior. However, once again, we do not see Reality in this TV Show. For certain, in my encounters growing up as a teenager, I have not only seen the typical teenager doing the typical things teens do, but I have also seen teens with a maturity and mind the likes of someone many times their elder, too! But where is the Reality TV Show for this type of Teenager, where is the glorification for this type of teen, who in his admittedly limited way is able to reach out and help another person overcome their own problems? Is it that there is no such thing? Not at all, but rather I contend that either: (1) No TV Show would ever get high ratings like that, and if it does not get high ratings it does not get aired OR (2) The socio-economic realm in which we live would find the values and virtues in such a show as antithetical to what they want people to think! The author goes on to say about this show that,

“When MTV decided to translate it to American audiences, the controversy was raging before an episode emerged; we do not, apparently, like to see real teens doing real things (unless they’re on reality shows!)”

I think this shows the hypocrisy that is founded in American Culture, but more to the point I feel that, we do not want to see real teens doing real things not because, its taboo that we should see this stuff on TV, when it has been in the movies and TV for quiet sometime now, rather it goes back to my simple desire, we do not like to see this stuff exactly because, it limits us to the failures we are in, these TV Shows tell us, “its okay if you fail, its okay if sleep with multiple partners… etc.” These TV Shows do not encourage us to get up and rise above, to head toward the ideal despite ones faults and weaknesses. The author then takes us down to the next TV Show that is considered damnable by conservative critics, namely South Park, the author goes on to say that,

“Generally, they tend to ride the line between super-left and super-right, leaving you wondering what exactly they’re mocking; as a rule, nothing at all is sacred (as evidenced by their recent Broadway hit, The Book of Mormon).”

Herein lies the problem, nothing is given due respect, but lets go one degree slightly deeper, I propose that if Irreverence becomes your God, your highest aspiration, your highest ideal, then you will be tempted to revere irreverence itself! Now herein lies my concern, that this show would project the value of irreverence unto the viewers and from this would stem an increasingly higher level of glorification of Irreverence itself. The author goes on to say that, “it’s an equal-opportunity blasphemer, ribbing everyone with subtle, often super-on-point critiques. The show has targeted Islam, Scientology (famously), Catholicism, Hinduism and probably every other religion on earth. Of course, the religious cultural gatekeepers are always going to defend their gods, but the more they buck, the stronger ‘South Park’ strikes.” This is my concern, the message is subtle but it is present namely that nothing should be reverenced, whether because, (1) there is nothing worthy of our reverence or (2) nothing exists to reverence. The former, I declare illusory because it is rooted in Pride, whereas the former, I declare illusory because of Despair. The author goes on next to discuss the so-called Reality TV Show, My Super Sweet 16, the author writes,

“… Scores of teens with well-to-do parents get to throw sumptuous parties, pay tens of thousands (or a million) dollars for their favorite celebrity musicians, and generally get first cars of the Lexus/Range Rover luxury variety. The opulence is insane, particularly when you consider MTV’s knack for locating the least grateful, most demanding 16-year-olds in the country… The parents are often the worst kind of conservatives, and seem to spoil their kids rotten in order to avoid actually having to guide them through life. It’s gross.”

My complaint here is not the authors critique of the show, rather its the association with a Conservative Upbringing and lack of guidance in life. To which I believe this claim is unfounded, I can equally claim then that there are equally as many progressive parents out there who may not have offered the best guidance to their children’s upbringing in life. The issue with the TV Show is still the same and I am in agreement with the author of this article when they write that, “Oh, and when they cry because they don’t get what they want? Maybe it’s because they could use some guidance that isn’t purchased. Just throwing that out there.” Nonetheless, the author comes to the final Reality TV Show namely “Californication” the author writes,

“The no-responsibility, 40-something, misogynist mantasy to the extreme: dashing David Duchovny plays Hank Moody, a nihilistic, black Porsche-driving novelist whose only talent more adroit than his writing is his ability to bed scores of women…”

Again, this sense of Nihilism toward life, this meaninglessness to it all and the desire to merely fulfill animalistic drives is glorified on TV once again for all to see. The author holds the premise that what we view on TV does not influence society, or more precisely it do not destroy society, I beg to differ and to make my point I want to talk more about this issue!


Posted October 8, 2011 by jimbo9889 in Current Events

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