I am old enough to remember the debut of “reality” television when it was actually interesting and meant something. Season one of “The Real World” on MTV and “Big Brother” on CBS are hallmarks. Even though those shows were “live edited” there was a certain authenticity about the series that bled through the television screen indicating human life. Why is it today that so many “reality” shows come across scripted and fake and inauthentic? Could it be because those shows are now brewed to be, from first blush, scripted, fake and inauthentic? True reality is too hard, too tough to touch. Fake reality is much easier to control and sell to the masses. Don’t think. Just believe.
There used to be such a delight in reality television that let you glimpse pieces of yourself in others for reflection and evaluation. You could feel your own flaws in them and when they were wounded, you had empathy for them because, you too, had previously been stung by the hard fact that God is Funny in a really horrible way.
When we begin to fake the truth and falsify experience by intentional manipulation to create a pre-described ending — we all lose in the loss of the fortification of the human core. The “reality” becomes an immoral fraud in the public square and instead of a reflexive judgment upon our lives, we are dealt a death blow to our immortality as the ordinary and expected are repackaged for the selling as innovation and integrity. We mourn the hollow core of fallow values.
The closest thing we have left of real “reality” television is the Live Feed from Big Brother. Sure, the live feed has become more and more censored over the years as events and happenings are hidden from us, but for a true taste of “TV Vérité” you cannot beat watching real people in real time.
Unfortunately, the Big Brother producers hate the Live Feed viewers because we see too much and we know to much — but they can’t really entirely cut us off because that would mortally wound their entire dreamscape as the daily updates in social media would shrivel and wither and their “reality” show would immediately became even more undeniably fake and utterly unreal.