Reality TV Viewers: Hear My Plea

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MTV has made another contribution to American culture, this time in the form of a new reality show called “Buckwild”. I haven’t seen it and never will. Nothing against “Buckwild”, it’s just that I’d rather be submerged in a vat of Amazon fire ants and slowly devoured than spend half an hour demeaning myself by watching an MTV reality show. I will, however, give credit to the network for boldly straying from the established formula with this latest product. Instead of a plot revolving around uninteresting imbeciles in New Jersey or New York or San Francisco getting drunk, fighting and fornicating while reacting unconvincingly to situations and scenarios clearly staged by producers, it shatters the mold by featuring uninteresting imbeciles in West Virginia getting drunk, fighting and fornicating while reacting unconvincingly to situations and scenarios clearly staged by producers. Courageous move, Viacom, but will it pay off? That’s a rhetorical question. Of course it will. As long as we keep our collective IQ below room temperature, MTV will remain very much in business.

I’ve noticed that many TV critics have apparently felt the need to actually view the program before reviewing it. I think that’s an unnecessary step. It’s unnecessary to watch a reality show before critiquing it for the same reason that it’s unnecessary to shoot yourself in the groin before categorizing the experience as unpleasant and painful. My only problem with trashing a show of this sort, or attacking MTV or TLC or Bravo or VH1 or any of the other networks that make billions of dollars by pumping their septic tanks right through our eyeballs and directly into our brains, is that this kind of end-of-civilization hand wringing is exactly what they want. There’s really no insult you can throw at them that they wouldn’t turn around and feature proudly in a promo. “Viewers say watching Buckwild is like getting water boarded with raw sewage! Tune in Thursday night at 9!” I wouldn’t be surprised to see that on a billboard advertising the show. And I’d be even less surprised by the thousands of degraded dimwits who drive by it and think, “Wow that sounds fantastic, I’ll be sure to set the DVR!”

It’s also useless to try to shame the producers and executives that subject society to this garbage. They do it because it makes money. It’s that simple. They’ll stop doing it when it stops making money. So I think we should instead appeal to the people who choose to watch this brain damaging dreck.

And to those people I say this: Stop it. For the love of God, stop it. Respect yourself. You’re a human being. You have a brain. Let me tell you something about your brain. It’s the most powerful instrument on planet earth. In fact it’s the most powerful force in the universe. Scientists with super amazing brains have been studying brains for centuries and it’s still an enigma to them. We know more about black holes and quasars than we do about the human brain. It’s a vastly complicated, mysterious, potent and beautiful mechanism. And using it to watch Honey Boo Boo or Buckwild is a tragic waste. It’s like mud wrestling in a 3 piece suit or using an iPad as a coaster. Your mind deserves to be used, worked, exercised, explored, not stuffed in the trunk like a bag of old clothes. In light of our constant (and futile) obsession with physical health and fitness you’d think we’d spend a little more time talking about mental health. And I’m not talking about the kind of “mental health” you supposedly achieve after taking your daily dose of Xanax, I mean the mental health you achieve by reading a book or sitting silently in a corner, staring off into space and forming things called “thoughts” that eventually, if fertilized, grow into full fledged ideas. I’m not saying you should never watch TV and instead spend your free time performing long division while chugging ginseng. By the same token, to be physically fit you don’t need to run weekly half marathons with a speed training parachute strapped to your waist. It’s OK to relax and eat a cupcake every once in a while. But it’s never OK or advisable to drink a gallon of melted butter while mainlining Cool Whip. And that’s the physical equivalent of what you’re mentally doing when you watch most reality TV shows. It’s an exercise in degradation and intellectual self mutilation. It’s a sin against your species. It makes you stupid. I don’t know what spiritual mutation entices us to gawk and cheer at train wrecks, but I know we must resist it. Yes, we’ve all rubbernecked at accidents on the highway. But deliberately sitting down to watch one of these shows is like hearing about an accident on your local news and immediately jumping in your car to go check it out. The rubbernecker is acting in poor taste, the guy rushing to the scene with a bag of popcorn and a pair of 3D glasses is a dangerous sociopath.

So free yourself. You can do it. Let’s baby step this thing. Try going one week without watching any reality TV. You have the power. You choose to watch these shows and fill your skull with poison. Nobody has a gun to your head. Although even if they did I think a strong case could be made for martyrdom. 

But let’s take it one step at a time.

 

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9 Responses to Reality TV Viewers: Hear My Plea

  1. pbld123 says:

    Found you through facebook – someone posted your Les Mis review. I enjoyed that so much that I spent some time browsing your archives. Love your writing style, love your sense of humor. And thanks for introducing me to WordPress. I will spend way too much time there

    • anniebee616 says:

      Wow – same here! (Found you through facebook/Les Mis review/liked/browsing your archives). Moreover, I posted a link to the Les Miserables review on my own spanking-new blog. Clearly WordPress is a superb alternative to Reality TV!

  2. Kim says:

    I also came here after finding the les Mis review – laughed till I cried! Now enjoying your other posts. Keep up the good work.

  3. amanda says:

    Very funny and too true. Greeting from Australia

  4. I also found you thru your very funny Les Mis review. I “review” films on WordPress under the name Lars Beckerman. I will link you up to my page. Lover your takes. Thought you might agree with me on the utter lack of necessity for one more Jason Statham movie. Happy New Year, keep up the good…work?
    http://larsbeckerman.wordpress.com/2012/01/13/enough-already-with-this-jason-statham-guy/

  5. nightfly27 says:

    Love the blog… found it after the Les Mis review. I agree wholeheartedly… I’ve often said that “(Insert crappy reality show here) isn’t quite the end of civilization, but you can see it from there”

  6. I totally agree with your assessment, but I must confess to being hooked by one of those shows: Project Runway which features incredibly talented people locked into a stiff competition in the sewing quarters. To me, it’s not like a “reality” show…the contestants don’t even have enough time of their own to screw around literally or figuratively. They’re sewing their fingers to the cloth being fed through their machines…important things like that. The judges are very harsh, your worst nightmare.
    I once watched Honey Boo Boo for about three minutes to see what all the excitement was about, and one of the adults began picking his nose. That was it, for me. Changed channels and haven’t been back. Besides, that poor child needs to be put on a diet.
    Once in a while, when I feel that my house keeping is not up to standard, I will watch a segment of Hoarding which one MUST NOT do while snacking. After watching just for a short while (the gagging reflex must be held at bay), I assure myself that I am Mrs. Squeaky Clean and go about with a superior attitude for the rest of the week.

  7. What does it mean, “Your comment is awaiting moderation”?

  8. Cylar says:

    On the subject of reality TV: There are three reality television shows which I must defend because I think they fall outside the “norm” of MTV/VH1’s counter-cultural garbage and rot:

    1) Pawn Stars. The clearly-scripted antics among the four guys running the shop gets a bit tiresome, but they still manage to be funny now and then, especially when it’s the Old Man telling one of the other three to clean up his act. What I especially like is where a customer brings in some obscure item, then the expert is brought in to evaluate it and tell us more about it…and we get three lines of information on the screen about some person, place, or event in history.

    2) COPS. One of the oldest reality shows (besides perhaps MTV’s “The Real World.”) It gives you an appreciation for what police officers have to deal with every day in our cities, and how their lives are on the line. It also helps you appreciate the difficulty in their job, the effort required to separate the fact from the BS when they’re constantly lied-to by the members of the general public they’re paid to go out and deal with. It’s also an instruction manual for what NOT to do in life: Stay away from drugs. Stay away from people involved in criminal activity. Don’t steal. Don’t run from the cops. Don’t hang around in the tough part of town late at night. COPS shows us that these people, far from being professional bullies, are for the most part dedicated public servants. I’ll never forget the car chase they were in in which a third car was sideswiped by the officer’s vehicle during pursuit…whose driver turned out to himself be wanted on an outstanding warrant.

    3) Duck Dynasty. A family of good ol’ boys who’ve made a fortune designing, making, and selling duck calls down in Louisiana. They come off as bucktoothed hillbillies but actually are savvy and shrewd businessmen. They care about God and about family. They pray on camera. I’d be grateful to have an afternoon spent hunting with these guys. By the way, they DON’T curse – A&E’s producers arbitrarily bleep out words now and then just to make you think they do. The actors have been asked by the producers to stop talking about God on camera, and were told, “NO. This is what’s important to us. You accept that or go somewhere else.” A&E noted the show gets good ratings, so it’s still on.

    All that said, MTV and its other properties are a sewer.

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