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The other side of reality TV shows

It was a sickness to put it mildly. I now believe that those of us who tune into these reality television programs are nothing more…

It was a sickness to put it mildly. I now believe that those of us who tune into these reality television programs are nothing more than voyeurs, fascinated by the mere aspect of watching young Men and women open themselves up to the world. Oftentimes, these programs consist of crude and vulgar behaviour, but still we view it as entertainment. The reality show “Big Brother” is a perfect example of this lewd behaviour that entertains us. For me, the hoopla of reality television didn’t take long to diminish. It seemed that every time I turned on the television there is a new reality show being aired. In my opinion, the more reality shows that spring up, the more ridiculous reality television became.

Now consider the show “Temptation Island.” Wow! Couples go on this show to test their partner’s faithfulness. This show features half-naked, sexy women running around flaunting themselves, hoping to find the one man that wouldn’t be able to resist them. First of all, if a couple has to go to these lengths to feel confident about their partner’s faithfulness, maybe they should reconsider their relationship. I am sure there are many reasons that a seemingly civilized, reasonable persons would choose to bare their souls and lives to millions of people, but I believe it all comes down to money and fame. People often like to be in the spotlight. They want to make not only quick bucks, but a name for themselves too. Is that harmful? It certainly can be. Take for instance the show “Moment of Truth,” where contestants are hooked up to a lie detector machine, and then asked very personal questions. In order to win money, they must answer the questions truthfully. But at what cost? The pot of gold at the end of the rainbow is money, but the trip they must take to find this treasure is one of humiliation, hurt, and the risk of losing what really matters; the people who care about them. For instance, I have severally seen a contestant’s spouse break down when they learn that their spouse has not been faithful.

One may be puzzled to ask, do we really think about what we watch on television and are we in danger of being sated by continually being spoon-fed a diet of artificial reality that belongs to someone else?  Reality TV shows gives us the opportunity to revel in the misery or happiness of others from the safety of our homes. It becomes the talking point of the office or playground and it is almost irrelevant whether you love it or hate it because we all have an opinion about it and are happy to give voice to that opinion. We like to believe we are better than those whose antics we are glued to week after week but in reality in those people we recognize some small elements of our own personalities or behaviour and in a way we are glad that it is not us on the screen having the minutiae of our lives exposed to millions of reality hungry viewers.

While for others, these Reality TV shows can be a form of entertainment, for me the show is simply not ideal because half of them are not true reality shows. Of course, recording human beings from sun-up to sun-down would become a bit mind-numbing. Not everybody is ‘on’ constantly, thus we receive shots that are stitched together, scenes spliced to form situations, and actual scripts, or producers telling the contestants what to do. We find ourselves so addicted to what’s going to happen next, and who will lose the contest, when in fact we are being played.

Moral bankruptcy is a must when dealing with reality TV shows. Most shows revolve around a competition of some sort thus, the drama of these programmes stems from back stabbing and deceit. Are these the things that we strive to learn and teach our children? Yet, this is what we are exposed to with these reality shows. Since these shows focus on drama being the premise, it may be impossible to overlook the many shocking moments that they boast.

Think of it, these shows create in us that voyeuristic culture. Watching people do things we ourselves would not do has a very strong appeal. We like watching people hurt and push themselves to the limits and extremes we would never attempt ourselves. It is like an aphrodisiac. The more we watch; the more we want. These shows are misleading and distractive, to say the least.

Bakori writes from Abuja, can be reached at ([email protected])

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