Reality Television

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The concept of reality television can be traced back to the 1940s. In 1948 Allen Funt's Candid Camera was debuted (Wikipedia 2006). That was the first unscripted reality television show. Since then reality shows have taken the United States by storm. This genre of entertainment has become a very important part of the American culture. So much, that a couple of reality shows are proudly using the continent's name as a qualified title. Examples are America's Next Top Model, and American Idol. Reality television has become more than just entertainment for Americans; it is now a way of life. There are quite a few aspects to reality television; there are the psychological, social, and the obvious entertainment aspects. What reality television has become in the United States is observed by Geela "These days there is a growing trend towards reality TV shows that are based on external shallow values". It's embarrassing how the American reality television is only focused on one aspect: the material culture.

Realizing that Candid Camera was the first form of reality television show made me wonder if the initial purpose of reality show was just for entertainment or to analyze human behaviors in an unexpected circumstance. Candid Camera was just to test people's attitudes. It was funny and entertaining, but I think the creator was aiming for more than entertainment. That was over fifty years ago; right now some television shows are senseless and materialistic; there's no aim or no lesson being taught. There are some shows that have no need to be broadcasted because they are pointless.

Let's start with the faulty: Laguna Beach. On a website's commentary board about Laguna Beach, Openapartment (apparently the author's screen name) explains exactly what my feelings are toward the show: "As if reality television wasn't bad enough, we are given a show where kids bicker over prom and dates and sunshine and farts. What makes matters worse is that thousands/tens of thousands (choose quantity based on current week's ratings) of people actually care. Go out and live your lives instead of watching spoiled kids ruin their own" (IMDb). There is nothing to learn from watching the show; nevertheless, tons of people watch it. What does that show about American culture? Even though we know something is wrong we still watch it. We are now so completely washed in materialism that we hardly notice that it's wrong. To me it seems that people in this society have completely lowered themselves to the point where nobody cares about what's right, but just what entertaining. It used to be about right and wrong, but now it all about money.

Laguna Beach in its own right represents our society's culture, presently. In the show the teens are laced in expensive name brands, and they own expensive cars. More specifically, the show represents the material culture. Sadly, there are too many shows that represent the material culture. If reality shows were actually being based on reality, they will show things that really matter, things that are affecting the country. According to the US Census Bureau there are 37 million people living in poverty. And, there are 43 million without health insurance (US Census Bureau) that's reality. With these issues going on in this country, who wants to watch Laguna Beach with rich spoiled teens showing off their overpriced materials? I guess you have to be a realist to understand. My point is simply summarized in this quote: "Likewise, reality TV is merely a reflection of what our society has become - a materialistically driven society where the love of power and money overcomes the power of love" (Geela). What upsets me the most is that nobody else is seeing this as a problem. I'm saying this because it took too long for me to find information that back up my thesis, and the information I acquire is not enough. It is good to recognize the flaws in a situation, but it is easier to appreciate the good part. It's obvious that...
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