It seems our culture has formed a long term relationship with the hyper-emotional feelings that are brought about by the reality television show circuit. Viewers clammer for more drama, more danger and often more of the pathetic I-can’t-believe-how-much-your-life-sucks-compared-to-mine feeling that this type of programming offers. This emotional I am better-than, or smarter-than, or I-could-do-that-better, or WTF-are-you-doing footage is edited and served up with the goal of higher and higher ratings. And so far this formula has worked well. At least well enough to keep the medium chugging along and part of our permanent pop-culture media array.
Consumers love the shock and awe of life threatening danger and the holier-than-thou feeling one gets when one sees someone who is well, less well-off in any particular situation. So we are presented with shows where people risk and sometimes lose their lives for a prime time slot. Or shows like Hoarders where people with possible mental health problems are used as fodder for making ourselves feel better about our messy closets and our sometimes messy lives.
It’s a disturbing trend that we have seen grow over the past few decades and embed itself within our popular media like a blood-thirsty tick. Reality TV doesn’t seem to be going away. What many thought would just be a trend has cemented itself within the mainstream television marketplace. People have come of age watching reality TV. Lot’s of people wish they had their own reality TV show. Reality TV has influenced a generation of young people.
Fame has become more desirable than content or credibility. This says a lot about our society as a whole and our motivations within the societal structure. For deeper thoughts on this topic, learn more about Rebecca Goldstein’s thoughts on mattering. Here is a popcorn trail to help you find more about that if you so desire.
Part of the popularity of the reality show medium that it is affordable to produce with an endless pool of potential topics. It’s an entertainment formula that works. Yet even with this seemingly endless supply of reality, the creative pools of the current content producers seems to only be fish tank deep. I say this because as I type this post there are literally two competing reality TV shows fighting for eyeballs based around the concept of designing fish tanks. Yes, there are TWO.
SO I thought it would be fun to do a light-hearted AI today and see if we, with our super-genius science-soaked brains can’t be a bit more creative than the average. Can we come up with some better content ideas than the current reality television show line-up is offering?
If you had an endless budget and could produce your own reality TV show, what would it be about? What would you like to see? Do you watch reality TV and if so what shows do you like and why? And do you think the content is really reality?
The Afternoon Inquisition (or AI) is a question posed to you, the Skepchick community. Look for it to appear Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays at 3pm ET.
Photo and tweet by me.