… and why should I care????
It’s not like tabloid “journalism” is a new phenomenon, but lately it seems to bother me more and more. I think I may be getting more crotchety in my old age.
I used to be annoyed enough by celebrity-watching. If a person has some actual talent as an actor or a singer, fine, I’ll dish out money to watch them do their thing. I have no problem with that. But why is it assumed that if I like to watch Matt Damon in a movie, I’m going to care about who he’s dating or why they broke up?
The next tier down from this, even more annoying, are the “celebrities” whose actual talent is minimal, so the gossip about them takes up more public attention than they will ever actually get from their “art.” Britney Spears is the classic example, I guess, but this bottom-feeder category of celebs seems to be ever-growing.
However, the “stars” of reality TV are at an even lower level — people who are famous for NOTHING but being famous, who have trolloped themselves out to an industry that, inexplicably, my fellow North Americans (some of them apparently quite intelligent otherwise) are supporting by sitting down and watching these so-called programs. The whole phenomenon escapes me.
When I watch TV, I want to see a story, with a well-written script executed by talented actors under the guidance of a skilled director. The idea that putting “ordinary people” in increasingly ridiculous and offensive situations with cameras trained on them is somehow “entertainment” — well, the only thing more bizarre than that is training cameras on people without even bothering to set up a bizarre game-show scenario … just assuming, somehow, I want to watch this person stumble through his or her life. That’s entertainment?
I had never even hears of Jon and Kate Gosselin and their brood of children until a few months ago, having somehow remained blissfully ignorant of the cultural phenomenon that is/was Jon & Kate Plus 8. People prostituting their own lives for the cameras just irritates me, but people selling out their kids for this kind of exposure? I seriously believe that psychologists will eventually label that a form of child abuse. There’s physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, and then there’s reality-TV abuse. Did we not learn anything from the poor Dionne quintuplets? And that was even before television!!
Now, apparently, the drama has heightened because these two reprehensible human beings are going through a messy divorce on camera, and another, possibly even more bizarre headline-grabber known as the Octomom is having some kind of weird public feud with Kate about which of them is the more horrifically exploitive mother of multiples … or something. I realize I have a choice about what I watch and I am lucky to have never seen either of these women on a TV screen (not having cable and watching everything on DVD helps), but their faces keep assaulting me when I’m trying to buy food, and frankly, the whole thing just mystifies me. Are we really this hard up for entertainment?
Perhaps it has ever been thus, even before reality TV — after all, the cult of celebrity has always been with us, and I did just mention the Dionne craze which came long before television. I do think it’s getting worse, and I’ve been predicting for some time now that reality TV heralds the end of western civilization. It always amazes me that they seem to find ever-new lows to sink to. Meanwhile, I suppose you could argue that the popularity of blogs and memoirs (both of which I confess to enjoying) is just a slightly more sophisticated, text-based form of the same trend, in which we love to voyeuristically peer into the lives of so-called “ordinary” people, made extraordinary only by the glare of self-imposed publicity.
You may be right. I may be crazy. But I prefer to think it’s society that’s gone mad.