Reality Television

As I sit here, relegated to the computer while my wife watches the X-Factor finals, I can hear the crowds of people screaming on the show.  I’m not sure which is most annoying; the screaming or the singing!  The fact is, no matter what I think (and probably the majority of heterosexual males), shows like this and ‘Britain’s Got Talent’ attracts thousands of viewers and probably generates a ton of income.  I found out yesterday that, apart from 2009, the Christmas number ones for the last four years have been the winners of these shows!

It’s not coincidence that these shows start in the middle of the year and end a week or so before Christmas.  With the number of avid viewers throughout the progress of the show, they are practically guaranteed a Christmas number one by the show’s winner.  A neat little money earner!!

So what is the attraction?  It’s a bit like the national lottery.  Everyone dreams of being that ordinary someone who becomes a millionaire.  It’s the same with these shows.  Ordinary people having their lives changed and becoming superstars.  Well, that’s the theory.  The fact that the producers get a number one out of it has nothing to do with it – much!  How many of these people have gone on to have a successful career as a superstar?  I can’t answer that question, mainly because I don’t watch the c**p and I would never infect my computer by checking it out on the internet, but I’ll bet it’s not many.

Thousands of people try out for these shows, many of them face disappointment but that doesn’t deter them.  The best thing about these shows is that all the weirdoes emerge out of the woodwork and audition.  Like everyone else, I’ve seen clips of these idiots, either on TV or YouTube, cringing at every second, wondering how someone can demean themselves in front of so many people.  That takes us back to what I said earlier; everyone has that dream, even the freaks.  I wonder if the viewing figures are higher at the start of the season when everyone tunes in to see the current batch of nutters?  Everyone likes seeing people make a fool of themselves, I know I do!

But those shows are just a small slice of what has become a national infatuation.  There are serious shows, such as Grand Designs and then there are those I call the freak shows.  These are the shows that have the same sort of people who would appear on the Jerry Springer show complaining that their sister was two-timing them with their father!  People who live in squalor so bad that a refuse bin would look appealing!  There are shows where people try and sell things, make things, try things and cook things.  You think of it and there is a reality programme showing people doing it on TV, for all to see.

Life is strange and, when you think about it, you can’t blame these people for having their moment of fame or attention, no matter how weird they are or how low they stoop to get on television.  They are just common (if not quite normal) people with dreams.  However, there are another group of people who appear in these shows.  Burnt out celebrities or X-Factor winners.  Get me out of here, I’m an attention seeker is the prime show, where these sad failures are made to do something they find terrifying just to try and jump start their long decomposing careers.

The attraction for those shows is in sharp contrast to the other reality shows with common people.  Not because they are celebrities (although half the time no one knows anything about the contestant, so how they can be called celebrities is beyond me!) but to see someone who had the dream being forced to endure whatever hardships just to be someone again.  It’s hilarious in a very sad way and even funnier is the fact that they think their careers will go somewhere if they win!  It just goes to show what people will do to be famous.

With that in mind, it adds context to why a myriad of people will stoop to anything for a moment of fame when famous (allegedly) people will do exactly the same.  Yet the same fascination for their humiliation is like an opiate for the masses.

So, in a day or so there will be a new winner hoping for superstardom, someone else will have won the lottery and a line of down and out celebrities will be getting calls from their agents assuring them that public humiliation will be good for their careers.  All the while, people will be tuning in to watch them.  So, for a moment at least, they are famous and goes to prove that everything has a price.

But what of the masses who tune in to watch them?  They pay too.  Not just in money for the privilege of watching them on television, but the fact that those hours of their lives are wasted.  Gone.  Ended.  A step closer to the pearly gates and they wasted them watching reality programmes that are so far removed from reality that Star Wars seems normal.

As an aside, the minutes you spent reading my rant are totally lost as well!  You just can’t win, can you?

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