Reality TV Versus Real Life

In a society that produces and watches a show like “Jack Ass,” and calls it entertainment, we shouldn’t expect thoughtful discernment on the part of today’s viewers, but for those who know the reality behind the reality TV, it turns out reality TV is not so entertaining after all. And for the follower of Jesus it seems obvious there are better uses of our time. Let me mention a few examples that appeared in this week’s news.

1) If you know the real people in reality TV you are no longer entertained.

[ “If my friends watch [‘The Bachelor’], I just ask them not to bring it up to me…This is his life, and whatever he wants to do, I’m happy with that. I moved on. It looks like he’s moving on.” Jennifer Lantz, ex-wife of current “Bachelor” star Bob Guiney explaining why she doesn’t watch the show. She doesn’t want to be reminded of the couple’s short-lived marriage. ]

[To be honest, after spending the past 35 years on the road with Ozzy, I don’t really need to watch the show. I’ve seen it all before. Toni Iommi, Black Sabbath guitarist on the why he is uninterested in the hit reality show The Osbournes.]

2) The reality behind reality TV isn’t really entertaining at all.

[ “I am a cleaner. I wear these clothes because I can’t afford any other clothes.” Cecelia Neer, South African contestant cries when American Idol judge imitates Simon’s caustic remarks. Viewers sympathized with Cecelia and judges were forced to retract and tone down their remarks.]

3) When ¢â‚¬Ëœreal’ reality breaks through it is not actually amusing.

[They’re calling it ”a journey into uncharted waters.”

No, the quote doesn’t refer to the American military’s continued presence in Iraq or the historically hysterical recall effort in California.

The remark originated with ABC executives, who announced that the popular TV sitcom 8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter will continue this season, despite the untimely Sept. 11 death of its 54-year-old star, John Ritter.

At a news conference, Lloyd Braun, chairman of ABC Entertainment Television Group, said, ”Future episodes will take viewers into the Hennessy household as they experience the loss of a beloved father and construct a new life.” USA Today on decision to proceed after John Ritter’s death.]

There is nothing wrong with being entertained. Everyone needs a break from life’s everyday stresses and strains. Most societies have accomplished this through artistic creations that represent the foibles of hapless and frazzled humans as they face life’s daily curveballs. We cannot ¢â‚¬Ëœhelp’ or ¢â‚¬Ëœimprove’ the situations of fictional representations, we can only laugh, cry and learn from them.

People in reality TV, on the other hand, are not representations. They are REAL people who usually really NEED help! Allowing these “real people” to become our form of entertainment seduces us into believing we are simply spectators of human pain and stupidity. Jesus has called us to be active participants in the lives of people around us–to roll up our sleeves, to bear burdens, to inspire each other to our highest and best.

Wasting time passively and vicariously watching humans who need help is a poor substitute for helping actual people in need. If reality TV is absorbing your life, turn off the TV, volunteer for a local agency (or your church), or simply get involved in your neighborhood or your own family. Walk out your front door and you’ll find ALL the real people AND reality you could possibly desire.

‚© CRS Communications, Dick Staub 2003

Posted in Movies, Staublog in October 1, 2003 by | No Comments »

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