American television is so filled with reality shows that sometimes it’s seems that it’s all they watch all day. As expected, Philippine television is pretty much on its way there with all the local versions of these reality shows, which they had ‘Filipinonized’ to fit the taste of the masses. Since the 1980s, local networks have been producing and adapting reality shows but it only boomed during the late 90s. Now, it’s all everyone can talk about especially in social media.
Gone are the usual talent shows where contestants just come and go when they lose. No, today, it has to have drama and action. They have to film their back stories no matter how lame and turn it into heartwarming ones and sometimes, they come back for a plot twist! But that’s not the thing that got so many people hooked on reality shows. It’s not even the sympathy card that always work with the Filipino masses. According to some experts, it could just be Schadenfreude, a German word used to describe people’s delight and entertainment at the failings and problems of others.
Admit it or not, we feel happy that it’s not us being voted out, eating something disgusting in front of millions of viewers or being judged in social networking sites. It’s actually just human nature and we all do it. However, reality shows amplifies it by making humiliation entertaining. The worst part is the contestants are all for it in order to get a break in showbiz. We feel better listening in, criticizing and talking about other people’s lives, whether or not they’re on TV. It says a lot about the kind of society we have and will have in the future.
Also, how real is reality TV? Remember how the Pinoy Big Brother auditions trended online for being rigged? As if that show is not idiotic enough, some people actually believe that these contestants go through some sort of fair auditions when it’s obvious that they are pre-selected. They arepre-selected to get judged based on their reactions on different situations made by the production team in order to make money off advertisements and whatnot. It’s like the Hunger Games minus the killing and dying but with all the emotional manipulation included. And the fact that the majority actually like that gives me Goosebumps. Yes, they hire real people instead of actors but everything else in the show is pretty much scripted, otherwise none of the footages they capture would be appropriate for all to see.
Reality shows basically just serve our needs to feel like we’re better than other people. It gives the illusion that we’re somehow doing a good job with our own lives and we validate that by watching people who can’t keep it together. It twists our own perception of reality and it may make us more aggressive since they contain more aggression than actual scripted shows and that kind of aggression is what sells it the most! It’s not just nudity that sets the sales booming, controversy and humiliation can do that too nowadays. If you don’t believe me, watch an episode of TV 5’s Face to Face, the country’s version of Jerry Springer. You’d see a lot of profanity and you’d get the most ridiculous stories even a moron would recognize as fake. Still, people watch that for “real time drama”.
The media is already distracting us from what is important, we all at least should know better than watching shows that won’t benefit us in any way. Do the world a favor, drop the remote and read a book instead.