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Whats So Great About Reality TV Anyway

Armen Hareyan's picture

The Oxford English Dictionary defines reality as "the state of things as they actually exist". However, philosophers throughout the ages have thought, written and argued as to the true nature of reality, resulting in a vast range of theories, but little consensus. With that in mind, let's take a look at a recent celebrity news story.

The 'Real Housewives of New Jersey' star Danielle Straub has managed (for the moment) to block the release of a sex tape by a former lover, following a series of revelations about her past, including alleged criminal activities of various kinds.

For those who haven't yet had the pleasure, 'Real Housewives of New Jersey' is a reality television series, part of the 'Real Housewives' franchise, which is ostensibly a documentary series depicting the 'real life' counterparts to characters in drama shows such as Desperate Housewives.

Except it isn't really real. Like all reality television shows, the 'reality' takes place in situations that have been contrived for the camera. Having a camera crew together with all of the equipment necessary to record a prime-time television show in your house is pretty far removed from what most people understand as 'real life'.

And the recent spate of these shows have virtually given up the pretense that the dramatic events depicted occur spontaneously, with disclaimers appearing during the credits such as "The following program may contain scenes that have been created purely for entertainment purposes" on one popular series. The Real Housewives range in particular has been accused of rewarding the participants financially for taking part in the shows, something that would be seen as extremely odd in traditional documentary-making.

So let's get this straight: the press are busily digging up information about the real life of someone appearing in a show pertaining (falsely) to be about the real lives of people similar to characters in a fictional drama series, but the person in the reality show doesn't want certain aspects of their real life to revealed, just those that appear during the television show in which a camera crew follows her around during her real life.

And if that wasn't weird enough, no-one (outside the media) really cares! The unreality of reality television is basically common knowledge by now, but it doesn't seem to bother people, or stop them watching these shows. They know what they're getting it seems, and can't get enough of it (cynicism reaching record highs at this point).

The biggest irony of all? The fascination with these ridiculous escapades actually serves as no more than a distraction from reality, the real version that is (the one in which apocalyptic events of various kinds seem to loom everywhere, the only question being which one'll it be first: nuclear war, flu pandemic, global warming or worldwide economic collapse?).

No wonder those philosophers had trouble...

Written by Sue Smith


Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on
Drug allegations by a contestant kicked off the island, fist fights, larger than life egos and competitors risking injury for a big payoff. Sure sounds like a surefire Reality TV story arc. But it's the real life Tour de France. re:Cycling Reality TV

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