Thursday, February 10, 2005

UnReality TV

A few years back people were up in arms over the way the news programs were adopting so many of the entertainment tools of the rest of TV.

That battle was lost as anyone can see by comparing what appears on local American TV news programs with what is considered news in Canada.

While other countries news directors look at how taxes and government decisions will impact the lives of citizens, in the U.S. we are fed a constant diet of fear, murder, and disasters.

“If it bleeds, it leads” isn’t a joke, it’s how TV news works in this country.

That plays into the constant efforts of the federal government to keep the citizens in a state of near panic so they will let the government do whatever it wants with little interference.

But the tide turned a few years ago and News is now affecting entertainment TV in the guise of “reality” TV.

Reality TV pretends to show what happens to real people in real life situations or even fantasy situations but the suggestion is always that it is REAL!

In other words, it is what news is supposed to be – a report of what has actually happened.

Of course anyone with any experience in TV or news knows that so-called reality TV is no more real than any Saturday morning cartoon.

Certainly the people don’t have scripts, if they did then people on home make over shows wouldn’t always repeat the same things over, and over, and over.

But everything else down to the smallest detail is rigidly controlled and scripted.

Let’s consider The Amazing Race.

The producers realized that people turned off their brains so completely that almost no one would realize that the show, and every other reality show) is “scripted” just as certainly as any sitcom, the only difference is that the scripting is all done in the editing.

Before the first episode runs the producers and directors know the final outcome and therefore edit the thousands of hours of film to generate exactly the sort of drama they want to produce in the audience.

Think of it as being very similar to the old saw about a million monkeys at a million typewriters for a million years – eventually one will turn out A Midsummer’s Night Dream.

Well, reality TV does exactly the same thing, producing scripts by excerpting a tiny percentage of what the people involved say and do to fit the script they have dreamed up.

How is this reality in any sense of the word?

In the latest race a couple who appeared (because of the biased editing) to be ready to kill each other, became engaged in the final scene.

So, watch the home make over shows and Survivor, and The Amazing Race, but remember that they are just as scripted as an I Love Lucy Episode.

You are being manipulated by those shows just as surely as you are by the local news which touts the capture of a person holding a few grams of some drug as being the capture of a major drug dealer – ignoring the fact that even relatively low-level drug dealers work in kilograms, not grams.

Someday the reality TV wave will wear out and I only hope that people drop the shows because they have come to realize how they have been duped.

It’s probably too much to hope that the same will someday happen with the culture of fear pushed by the government in cooperation with local news media.

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