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O, Brave New World, That Has Such Real People in It, Creative Essay Example

Pages: 4

Words: 984

Creative Essay

There are problems in wanting to say anything at all about Reality TV, not the least of which is the difficulty in not merely joining a universal chorus of groans. Then there is the matter of the beast itself. Somehow, and in a relatively short space of time, it has grown to such an extent that its shadow swallows all of us looking up, poking fingers, and groaning. Hydra-like, too, this beast has many heads. There is the competition head, the at-home-with-the-wealthy head, the spunky, struggling business head, the rejoice-in-watching-poor-white-trash head, and others equally chilling. How, then, may one reasonably assess so diverse and imposing a monster? Can there even be a commonality in this sea of subgenres, housewives, hoarders, chefs, vocalists, and beach trash?

Yes. There is. No matter the subject of the Reality TV, it makes you ache for the days when shows were not real. Put another way, it makes you ache for the days when shows were honestly presented as artificial. Put yet another way, if what Reality TV offers is in any way remotely real, we should relocate to a planet where Lucy Ricardo is queen, waving occasionally to the wandering Robinson family in the skies above.

Now, even only tossing darts at a beast of the Reality TV kind translates to a need to go, as it were, head by head. Well, then. The impossibly stylized head of the housewives franchises must be addressed first, if only because all that eye glitter and lip-plumping deserves the honor. And this head – to strain the metaphor one last time – is one best viewed…no. There is no best viewing. Moment by moment, the painful and sophomoric artificiality of these programs explodes, even as the women inevitably assert consistent levels of spontaneity that knock them on their sequined asses. As in: one must wonder at the overblown expressions of surprise when Tara unexpectedly comes to Vicki’s door, given that a cameraman is apparently waiting inside that door with the soon-to-be-agog Vicki. Or when MaryBeth, in full make-up and hair and boom mike hanging by the camera, is stunned that the bitchy comment she made about Jennifer gets out. In fairness to the ladies and the production teams, there is daring here, and some ingenuity. That is, we are expected to accept unearthly laws of physics in which cameras are there and are not. Bravo, Bravo Channel. You have no logic or integrity, but you got guts.

The unspeakable hollowness of the reunions, however, brings even this down one floor into another circle of hell, and buries all in a shower of lashes and jewelry no self-respecting drag queen would go near. Here, the women are really real, and the emptiness of them is, in a word, unfathomable. Personally, I have known rich and poor people, but I have never known anyone so utterly lacking in dimension as these females. One watches the episodes and perhaps wonders: how is it these wealthy people have absolutely nothing to say to one another except remarks on appearance, complaints about disrespect, and jokes that would be profoundly unfunny at a drunken tailgate party? I have seen these shows. I have seen a zillion cocktail parties and charity balls, and three zillion air kisses to six zillion cheeks. No one expresses an idea or an actual thought indicating reasoning ability beyond that of an especially pampered six year-old girl. No one mentions a play. No one mentions a cultural event beyond fashion week, and no one mentions a book beyond those ghostwritten for them, and which are books only in the sense that Little Lotta is a book. What there is instead is a relentless and inarticulate babbling about personal needs, personal affronts, and personal determinations to live up to the Holy Words of all housewives fodder and, “move forward.” The only real thing to be seen in these reunions is the women’s genuine hatred for one another, and that is a godsend. Or would be, if it weren’t invariably subsumed in artificial reconciliations and glittery tears.

The point? It was more real when Ethel got pissed off at Lucy. (Also, Ethel did her own grocery shopping and Lucy wrote her own plays.)

As for the Jersey things, the hoarder things, the teen mom things, and the rest of the horrors blatantly set forth to enhance, through comparison with the grotesque, the viewer’s idea of their own sophistication, there is nothing to be said. There is no air in this abyss, and air is necessary for speech. Which leaves the competitions, and this is one sad landscape. Not because real people are actually out to lose weight, charm a bitchy judge with their singing or dancing, or win a GE kitchen from a mango carpaccio creation (which, by the way, is nothing but sliced mango). No. The sadness lies in the reality within the fake reality that even these simpler souls are, by and large, as vapid and uninteresting as the papier-mache housewives. In a word, and as these shows make distressingly clear if, indeed, these folks are real, there is no individual personality, sensibility, or self. There is nothing except a whirling zeitgeist from which to grab onto concepts and catchphrases, and proudly attach them to what exists in place of the person. Watch one hour of The Biggest Loser and say it ain’t so. There is no speech that is not a recitation of trendy aphorisms. I propose, in fact, college drinking contests in which shots are downed whenever a trainer or contestant refers to their “journey,” their “doing this for me,” or their “taking responsibility for their own lives.” I would add that shots could be had whenever the word “amazing” is used, but there is not enough liquor in the world.

Thus, Reality TV. Excelsior, media. You have somehow managed to uncover and present reality so dismal and real people so empty, Bewitched ranks with Shakespearean drama.

 

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