The reality of reality television is that it is popular with millions of viewers across the world - and it is not hard to see why. Reality television is simply the 21st century version of soap operas and game shows - or rather a combination of the two. These genres of television have also been criticized for being morally empty and constituting a dumbing down of culture but there has never been a call to ban them.
More importantly though, reality television brings a huge revenue to the networks for a relatively small cost - thus allowing them to spend money on expensive so-called quality shows. It could be impossible for any network to fill an entire schedule with shows such as Lost, 24 or any of the other shows that are popular with the critics as well as the viewers. he bulk of the programming must be cheap and appeal to a majority, i.e. reality television.
The downsides to reality television are merely certain aspects of modern, western culture which are everywhere: the cult of celebrity, the spread of information and the consumer as star. Helium is essentially the reality television of the literary world. We dress it up as something more meaningful, as an intellectual pursuit, but the essence is the same. It is the replacement of experts in a field (either writers or actors) with amateurs doing the same job. Whether this is normal people being given a platform on television or writing their opinions on the internet the outcome is the same; anyone can pursue an ambition and be watched by the rest of the world.
The fact that the majority of people are essentially uninteresting is seeming irrelevant; the...