By Emily Beatty
It’s no secret that our society thrives off reality television. American Idol, The Bachelor, Jersey Shore-we all fall victim to the deadly grips of reality TV from time to time. Or is it the portrayal of reality that we are utterly attracted to?
In actual reality, it’s hard to tell the difference between what is actually true and honest, and what is fabricated and scripted.
So if these shows are clearly not an accurate portrayal of real life, why do so many of us routinely watch, sometimes religiously, these shows that are truthfully only concerned with ratings?
Brittany Watson, a junior majoring in psychology, admits to watching shows such as Keeping Up With the Kardashians, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, and The Biggest Loser, and offers a few explanations as to what the draw is for her.
“Keeping up with the Kardashians is entertaining, and they’re ridiculously funny, so it’s purely for entertainment,” Watson said. “The Biggest Loser is inspirational and it’s cool to learn about the contestants’ stories, and Extreme Makeover: Home Edition just makes you feel good.”
It’s evident from this, that for a reality television show to be successful, it must evoke emotion in its viewers.
While there are inspirational and positive TV shows, there are also shows that don’t serve any particular purpose, and by all accounts, aren’t relative to real life in any way, shape or form-yet still have millions of viewers.
Jersey Shore, for example, has attained much attention from the media, only after it’s first season. Now into their second season, the show is centered solely on sex, scandal, and the everyday alcoholic catastrophes they create.
“It bothers me that they’re famous, and they got a second season when they’re making money by being horrible role models,” Watson said. “But I think people think they’re so obnoxious and lame, and that’s why they watch them. They don’t like them, they like that they’re so stupid, and they like that they’re not that stupid. It’s just a form of entertainment.”
A more recent example is the media explosion of the life of Charlie Sheen-a life that is quickly dwindling down, while millions watch. Currently the “poster boy” for the party life, the amount of airtime that Sheen has been receiving has become almost like a mini-series of public shame.
He is a man proud of his lifestyle, and unwilling to realize how out of control his life has become, even with recent court order to have his two children taken from him, and yet we act like on-lookers. As a society, we need to realize that as long as we keep watching things like this, the media will continue to play it.
This voyeuristic-like viewing raises many concerns, not only that our society has deemed it acceptable, but also that Christian journalists play a part in this entertainment.
They are faced daily with the challenge of balancing their values and beliefs, with the struggle to remain objective and adequately perform their job of creating reality TV and entertaining their audiences.
There is a moral responsibility to uphold Christian values, which makes it a task to satisfy what the audience wants and needs, when what our society wants and needs is drama, and fresh, stimulating shows.
“I don’t think we need to try to overcome the fact that we love entertainment. We’re a generation of people that like to be entertained in all aspects of our life,” Watson said. “You just have to use that to your advantage and send across a good message, a message that you’re not ashamed or that doesn’t go against your beliefs.”