If you want reality, turn off the TV

Here’s some news that shouldn’t be news: Everything you see on TV is fake, staged, scripted, acted, produced, engineered, and/or edited. Everything. That’s because it’s all there for your entertainment. It’s made to distract you from reality, not expose you to it. There’s no such thing as “candid” or “real” in TV land. You want real? Go to Walmart. Those people are real. Raw. Uncut. Uncensored. Unbathed, even. You want candid? Go to the DMV. Those folks are candid. They just exist. They’re sitting there. They aren’t trying to amuse you. They’re people. People aren’t naturally amusing most of the time. Monkeys are amusing, not people. That’s why a real “reality TV show” would be a gigantic flop. Here’s the first episode: A guy sits on his couch and watches something on Netflix. Then he makes a few phone calls. Finally, in the climax of the episode, he microwaves some macaroni and cheese but — dramatic plot twist! — he realizes he doesn’t have any clean forks. He resolves this complication by washing a fork or, if the guy is me, he uses a spatula or something because he’s too lazy to clean a fork. The end.

Real. Unscripted. Boring. Canceled.

Of course, reality can be fascinating, too. Look up at the sky at night. You’re staring back through the past at other worlds, some of them long gone. That light, the light that’s bouncing off your retinas, traveled trillions of miles to meet you. You’re looking at the visual remnants of cosmic phenomena you can’t possibly understand or fathom. That’s real and that’s incredible. But it can’t fit on your TV screen, nor do you need it to. Everyone’s got a sky in their neighborhood, last time I checked.

People can also be fascinating at times. But that happens in spurts, interspersed throughout long lulls of routine and boredom. That’s life. Which is why it always makes me laugh when something is aired on TV and, later, people become quite disenfranchised when they learn that it was “fake.” Today it’s that viral video from the Tonight Show. It’s a video of a young couple coaxed into an impromptu karaoke session at a gas pump in California. Turns out, according to crack investigators on the Internet, the whole thing was likely staged. Yeah. Of course. But it entertained you, didn’t it? Well, then it did its job. Fine.

Not to make too much of this, but there is a deeper problem caused by our eagerness to find “reality” on TV, rather than locating it in actual reality: It stops us, or at least distracts us, from the really important spiritual and intellectual task of finding the beauty in the banalities of existence. It’s there, but you have to dig for it. And you won’t do that if you just say “screw it” and turn on the TV.

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3 Responses to If you want reality, turn off the TV

  1. Glen says:

    Personally I perfectly understand and can fully fathom the wonders of the night sky.

    They have these amazing things called telescopes some of which even float in space like magic! That can see things trillions of miles away with perfect HD clarity.

    We also have things like astronomy and cosmology and people like astronomers and cosmologists who you probably refer to as shamen and witchdoctors.

    • Matt says:

      Glen,

      You’re an idiot and a troll, and you impress no one with your attempts at sarcasm and one-up-manship. Every Blog I read from Mr. Walsh seems to have a post from you on it deriding it and mocking it. Every. Single. One. If you think he’s such a crackpot and a moron, why are you reading his work? So you can try to mock him ON HIS OWN SITE? That’s almost a pure definition of trolling, right there.

      I feel for you, in your tiny world, comforted by your vicious outlook and self-righteousness. It would be sad to be unable to see any forests, anywhere, because all the trees were in the way.

    • Grace says:

      Wow Glen. You’re trolling because Matt said he couldn’t fathom and understand the wonders of the night sky? And you do. PERFECTLY? You must be hecka uneducated then, because nobody perfectly understands the universe. Seems to me that if you were that omniscient you could be doing doing better things with your time (such as making millions of dollars with your mathematical skills) than reading the blog of a person you don’t like, and bragging about your intelligence by making an uneducated, irrelivent comment like that one. Get a life. Do you realize that you are wasting your time by reading this blog if you don’t like it?

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