Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The Slap-Happy Circus

Many reality TV shows I would classify under the “guilty pleasure” category, but really, it’s come to the point where I find little pleasure in them and far too much guilt. I used to half-pay attention to some of the “people living their lives” reality TV shows, but eventually I found myself just not terribly interested in the “drama” of it all. And “love” competition reality TV shows I’ve always avoided like the plague (as contestants have a better chance of winning the lottery jackpot than finding love, marrying and staying married to the person everyone is competing for).

The main problem I have with a good chunk of these shows is the meanness of it all; I don’t want to watch people being terrible to each other with the name-calling, backstabbing and throwdowns (both verbal and physical). This is not a good time for me. [Pause.] But I guess it’s a good time for many people. A friend once told me that it makes her feel better about her life to watch the people in these shows, and I could see how it might make people feel smug and superior that that’s not them. But it doesn’t make me feel better about myself or about the world around me. It makes me feel sad. Sad that these people are acting the way they are. Sad that these people are on TV. Sad that people watch them on TV. And sad that people care.

I realize that not all reality TV shows have the slap-happy characters that I find so distasteful (some really are just fairly normal people living their lives). But I would hazard a guess that it’s the stupid, violent, rude, petty and mean individuals that people are more apt to watch—because people are always curious about the car wreck that is someone else’s life. I guess not much has changed over the centuries; the Romans had their circus’ where people fought to the death for the public’s entertainment—and we have reality TV shows. And while reality TV stars don’t actually fight to their deaths, their fifteen minutes of fame may die off—which may be just as devastating to them.

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