My goal of posting every 3 or 4 days has already gone by the wayside. Bah! Humbug! In my defense, though, I've been traveling and maintaining a very busy schedule while away. Still, I can't help being a little disappointed in myself.

Anyway, while I was away, I found myself very close to a rather well-known reality TV site. Given I was so close it seemed like the thing to do was to visit said site. It was both more and less than I expected, both in ways I'm not sure I can define or explain. But it did get me thinking about reality TV and the way it may impact the lives of those who watch it.

Reality TV lost any attraction I might have had for it when it started get really silly and contrived. In my opinion there's no way real people could live the lives portrayed on our screens. And I find it very difficult to believe that the stars of said shows could live their daily lives with the level of drama that's portrayed. It would surely drive them all to drink or other escape substances.

Having said all that, it's time for the 'what ifs'.

What if a person believed that the lives portrayed are really real? Could that belief drive someone into life-altering decisions that may well have seriously bad effects on their lives? I think that could well happen. And that scares and worries me. If 'reality TV' can have that effect on people, what about shows that are supposedly obviously unreal, make-believe? What could those do to someone's life?

What if the stars of these shows decide that they're going to try to live up (or down) to the lives that are portrayed? How could that affect those around them, family and friends? Just thinking about someone trying to live that way makes me shudder. Beyond the laws that are broken in the making of the programs, what about the opinions and attitudes that are presented as being acceptable? The mind boggles.

What if the producers of said shows decide they want to use their shows to push their personal agendas? And what about sponsors' agenda? Is there any way to stop them from presenting said ideas under the guise of entertainment? Where do art and free speech end?

What if producers decide they want to get 'edgy' and produce a show that portrays illegal activity in a favourable light? Do they have that right? Do law enforcement agencies have the ability to go after said producers and prosecute for inciting hate/sedition/etc? For that matter, should the subjects of such shows be prosecuted, could they also go after the producers for entrapment?

What if someone's life gets well and truly ruined because they were the subject of a reality show? Do they have legal recourse? Do the producers have a commitment to the subjects, a guarantee that no lasting harm will come from their participation? Or are they well and truly screwed?

Above and beyond all of the above, how far down this slippery slope are producers willing to go? Per a recent CBC article, 'poverty porn' is one of the latest entries in the genre. What are the ethics of making a profit on someone's hardship? If, as the shows' producers contend,they're trying to do good, why not do it in a documentary format rather than the 'reality' format? Surely, if the goal is to help a few people and use their examples to inform and educate the masses, a documentary series would do that better without the salacious undertones.

"Reality" TV: would the world be a better place without it?

Link to the referenced CBC article


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