Reality TV essay

The term “Reality TV” is a classic marketing label. It has nothing to do with reality, but the media uses the term, so it sticks. It is an extended game show, or “human experiment calling itself something else,” that zooms in on the small percent of privacy within the common individual, destroying the ideals of human dignity (Ford). These new ‘reality’ shows have warped humanization by “plastering” imperfect lives, nasty arguments, and aberrant hook-ups all over public television in series such as “Survivor”, “Big Brother”, and “Who Wants to Marry a Millionaire?” (Quindlen). Entertainment today no longer promotes lighthearted humor and family values. Through ‘reality TV’ people want to see others succumb to their fears for money—not survival. If dehumanization reduces human beings from civil to savage, then reality TV dehumanizes; if indignation is the twinge of shame at the loss of privacy, then reality TV is damaging to human dignity. Therefore, it can be resolved that reality TV destroys the human morale.

Some claims advocate that reality TV helps educate and inform. For some, it is a matter of comfort watching someone else go through common drama in life. Educationally speaking, watching “Boot Camp”, a military-training “survivor” look-a-like, or “The 1900 House”, the exposition of a family spending three months with 1900s-era technology, can edify people allowing them to observe an attempt at survival in a more primitive environment. On an informative basis, a society can learn more about itself and it constituents by watching reality shows depict the mundane lives of its people. In 2001, Russians suggested that its viewers watched reality shows because it provided a “window into the middle of a new generation and (showed) what kind of society Russia had become (Daniszewski).” Conventional wisdom is that TV exists as a medium for those with nothing better to do with themselves; however, in a society “with people who have a to-do list instead of a life…within a nation living at warp speed,” to experience and observe life’s drama on the TV screen is much more efficient!— “All the passion, none of the pain or perspiration (Quindlen).” Under these justifications, the fact that some reality TV shows are educational and informative is a concession.

Ultimately, reality TV both dehumanizes and damages human dignity. Dehumanization and human indignation exist as two distinctly different concepts. The destruction of ideals that represents the human race and destruction of ideals that represents man’s moral standards exist on two totally different levels. One of the two relates to mankind as a whole versus nature, while the latter deals with one man’s culture versus another’s; therefore, whether or not reality TV is dehumanizing or damaging to human dignity depends upon given circumstances. When “Survivor” began casting, it had a psychologist analyze personalities and the emotional stability of each candidate. “You…don’t want boring, normal people on,” said Dr. Kate Wachs, a media psychologist in Chicago (Rohan). This pre-screening of cast members helps come to the conclusion that reality TV is staged to a point of intended indignation—to decide who is normal and who is above or below normality is to challenge one man’s culture against another man’s. Handpicking people with contradicting personalities and stuffing them into an unnatural life together, then claiming that it is reality serves no purpose but to set up an artificial, morally degrading situation that attracts commercial attention and general curiosity—reality TV is a shallow game of manipulation amongst men and women.

“Survivor”, “Big Brother”, and “Who Wants to Marry a Millionaire?”, are three infamous examples of the exploding reality TV genre. All three also represent prime examples of damage to human dignity. In “Survivor”, the concept of a person viciously competing against another person detracts from civility all together and brings the situation down to the level of savagery. In “Big Brother”, it is primarily about intrusion of privacy, which is the most important element in human civility. Violating this would mean affecting human dignity.

Forcing people to be silent while stuffed together in a prison-like home deforms human nature, since human beings are social animals. Likewise, “Who Wants to Marry a Millionaire?” forces emotions to blend simply for entertainment, thus promoting artificial and superficial relationships and emotions. This type of entertainment affects moral standards that people have about love, marriage, and relationships in general. Encouraging the antithesis of such moral beliefs disrespects human dignity and strikes out at deeply rooted values in modern society.

Entertainment exists because of the fact that people like to ridicule the anomalies in life thus creating what people call humor. Due to this, focusing on sexuality, the use of the lavatory, and petty drama is considered entertaining; however, reality TV, created solely for this kind of entertainment, damages human dignity as it affects the moral standards of people and modern society.

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