There was a time when television provided an escape – a happy, much-welcomed break from our run-of-the-mill routine-driven lives. After days spent studying, arguing with friends/parents/yourself and stressing about mundane everyday chores, you could kick back in the evening, stick the telly on and depart into a world filled with laughter, intelligent drama, science fiction or romance.
Fast forward a few years and whether it’s Geordie goons talking about their vegetable-sourced pet names for their nether regions, a gaggle of heavily made up brain-less birds fighting over an equally intelligent cocky lad or a bunch of grannies having their baking specialties scrutinized by a Master Chef, reality television is everywhere. Some strong force of nature has compelled us all as a society to pack in creative TV and instead be entertained by the same chaotic lifestyle that we used to desperately try and escape.
What started off as a novelty with shows such as Big Brother and An American Family soon caught on with modern TV giants MTV and programmes such as The Hills, Jersey Shore and Teen Mom were born (pardon the pun). Discussing what happened last night on One Born Every Minute or Tallafornia has become just as much a part of people’s daily routines as brushing their teeth. Even people who would once have been considered ‘above’ reality TV have been sucked into the vortex through ‘clever’ reality television series’ such as The Apprentice and Dragon’s Den.
Heck, there are even reality TV shows about – forgive my rudeness – the freaks of nature of society. Channel 4 run a series of informative documentary type reality shows about people suffering with abnormal, unheard of and almost scary deformities. The Man With Trees For Arms, being one that immediately comes to mind, follows a man with a very rare illness as he suffers with being an outcast in society. Such reality shows, when compared with the pathetic ‘real life’ programmes such as Geordie Shore and Take Me Out, paint us as an almost barbaric society who compete for love based entirely on looks, sex appeal and outrageously enhanced breasts. “I’m fit, I’m flirty and I’ve double F’s” is sadly a line from a popular reality show that most teenagers/young adults recognize and find hilarious. For double eff’s sake, what has happened to TV?
Reality TV leads us backwards as a civilization. While all around the world people fight for peace, equality and unity reality television programmes battle for ratings by brainwashing us into thinking that drunken arguments, displays of ‘slutty’ or aggressive behavior and the constant quest for material gain are all aspects of an entertainment show.
Today’s broadcast message to the younger generation seems to be forget a degree or a well paid job. Get your mug on a reality television show and you’ll be sorted for life. You may have to get your bits out, have sex and/or give birth on live TV or grow extremely long nose hair – deemed a ‘talent’ nowadays – but in return you will be able to drive a swanky Range Rover, party, and fall out of the most exclusive clubs. If you prove to be a REAL success you will receive the best perk imaginable – your very own spin-off series. Oh, the thrill of it all.
It’s a revelation that seems impossible to escape – you turn on your TV and it’s there, you log onto Facebook and people are talking about it, you go on nights out and people are ‘slut-dropping’ and posing with their thumbs to their noses and their pinkies in the air (GRRRR!!). You can get away from it. Be part of a minority, a group who won’t sell their souls for reality shows. You will be proud of yourself in years to come when you are one of the ones whose brain has not turned to mush and whose skin does not resemble a leather handbag due to overuse of sunbeds. Reality check yourself, before you wreck yourself.