Point of View
How Real Is Reality Television
By LaDale Anderson
Oct 25, 2012 - 9:50:35 AM

UNITED STATES—This is a debate that will live forever.  I remember the good ole’ days dating back to 2000, when the word “reality TV’ wasn’t even heard of.   CBS introduced audiences to a show called “Survivor” and everything changed.  Soon thereafter came “American Idol,” “The Bachelor,” “Dancing with the Stars,” “ Jersey Shore;” you name it and there is probably a series on television for it. 

 

The one question that continues to ponder inquiring minds is how “real” the things are depicted on these reality shows.  It’s been proven through studies that people behave differently when a camera is placed in front of them.  When you know that you’re being watched certain things you would normally do or say behind closed doors will not appear on camera.  Everyone doesn’t want to disclose there secrets.   Now I have heard the argument from reality stars who say “This is how I always act.  I don’t change a thing for the camera.”  Sorry, I’m not buying it.  

 

Think of things this way.  The biggest reason reality television has become such a fad is because it’s all that we see on television.  However, we are all well aware that if a reality show is boring, it gets canned.  We watch reality TV for one reason and one reason only: we want to be entertained.  More importantly, we love DRAMA!

Cast_of_Jersey_Shore_1.jpg
The cast of the reality hit "Jersey Shore."

 

“The Hills” is perhaps one of the most controversial reality hits of all time.  The first season was a bit boring, but the second and third seasons were spectacular.  Something that always puzzled me about the series was the fact that there would be moments where the camera captured things that were just so awkward.  Who sits eating lunch without having a conversation?  Furthermore, the final episode in its own magical way pulled a gotcha-moment over audiences by admitting some of the things depicted on the series were scripted.

 

To be honest as human beings we do not want to see ”˜real’ life depicted on the camera; it reminds us of our own lives.  Real life can be boring. Yep, I said it.  I’ve watched some pretty elaborate pictures in film class.  One of those pictures touched on the ideology of real life being captured on film. Imagine being forced to watch an eight-hour film over a two-day period where absolutely every single detail of someone’s life is on film.  It’s not a pretty sight, to watch someone cook dinner and actually seeing the cooking time take place (over 45 minutes) nearly put me to sleep.

 

Some could argue that the documentary series that we watch or the crime docu-series that appear on television is real, but I’m skeptical about those too.  I just can’t get over the notion that the presence of a camera changes a person.  It’s not done intentionally, but when we know someone is watching it sends an uneasy feeling to most people.  It’s like knowing that your phone conversation is being tapped, you’ll omit things if you know someone else is listening to the conversation.

 

The biggest problem is that I love reality television, but I’m becoming so skeptical of rather what I’m seeing is the real thing.   I guess as viewers the only way to discover the truth is to secretly record people and then display it on television.  The reaction the participant gives the audience will let us know if what is seen is in fact real.



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