Sunday, November 29, 2009

Reality TV

The strange news story over Thanksgiving was that a couple (Michaele and Tareq Salahi) crashed the White House's State Dinner for Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Evidently the Salahis, like the Balloon Boy's parents earlier this fall, are aspiring reality television contestants (Ms. Salahi wants to be on a Bravo show called "Real Housewives of DC"). There's been some commentary the past couple of days that there's now so much reality TV that in order to stand out you have to do more than just be on the show (thus, the bizarre stunts).

I have never liked reality TV and have never understood people's fascination with it. I don't think it's intellectual snobbery on my part (I do love ridiculous slapstick comedies and cheesy pop music), I just think the "plotlines" are stupid and the characters are the opposite of real.

The most reality TV I ever watched was actually the fall of 2000 -- living in Springfield -- when A.P. got completely enthralled by the first season of Survivor. My interest in that show grew out of her enthusiasm; also, though, at least back then the stories and themes were fresh and hadn't already been played out ten thousand times.

Bill Carter has a good little snippet in this morning's Times (here) in which he confirms that there are approximately 800 to 1,000 people on reality television (and that's just in America) at any given time. Carter captures the near-spiritual reach of the phenomena with this money line at the end of his piece:

For a rapidly growing number of Americans, it has reached almost a Cartesian question of existence: How do I define myself? By being — in reality — on TV.

Rudy Boesch (the ex-Navy SEAL from the first season of Survivor)

No comments:

Post a Comment