America needs to watch reality TV in moderation
Published: Sunday, October 28, 2012
Updated: Sunday, October 28, 2012 21:10
Do you know what the letters in the channel TLC stand for? TLC was originally an abbreviation for The Learning Channel. Given the network’s recent history, it is hard to believe that NASA founded this channel in 1972 as a vehicle for individuals to learn useful information.
Lately, TLC focuses on such “educational” shows, such as “19 Kids and Counting,” “Toddlers & Tiaras ” and “Long Island Medium.” These shows, simply, are trash.
Reality TV has grown rapidly over the past two decades and this genre now populates our television frequencies. These shows range from the somewhat bizarre to all-out stupid. Shows like “Extreme Couponing” and “Hoarding: Buried Alive” may be odd, but they’re not particularly harmful.
Unfortunately, I cannot say the same about some other reality TV shows. “Toddlers & Tiaras” focuses on child beauty pageant contestants. That is sickening. For starters, what parent forces their child to compete in these sexualized and judgmental competitions? From what I have seen and heard about this show, the parents can be extremely pushy. They are the ones who teach their children that life is about winning and losing, and above all else, looking good.
This show teaches young girls how to be “hot.” It should be a crime to sexualize young children like this by having them dress up in fancy clothes and wear makeup. We need more female role models over superficial models. Why do parents treat their kids like this, and why do people put on an audience for it?
In a similar vein is the show “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo,” where TLC shamelessly mocks a poor rural family. Have we no sense of guilt?
Networks are fond of showcasing any person or group that is slightly unusual. Shows like “All-American Muslim ” and “Little People, Big World ” exist because of television executives unabashedly taking advantage of people who might not realize their audiences are laughing at them, not with them.
Another horrid show is the infamous “Jersey Shore. ” This show celebrates stupidity, alcohol abuse, sexual liberty and generally living a poor lifestyle. These people, who seem to have a collective IQ of 200, get drunk, act like complete buffoons and perpetuate an Italian-American stereotype. Remember when Nicole ‘Snooki’ Polizzi “wrote” a book? I doubt these Jersey “bros” and “chicks” can read beyond a third-grade level.
Worst of all is the fact that they get paid to engage in this sheer absurdity. In 2011, Rutgers paid Snooki $32,000 to speak at the university. They paid Novel Prize-winning author Toni Morrison $2,000 less than that to deliver the commencement speech later that year.
And then of course there’s Kim Kardashian a woman famous for being famous. She has done nothing of merit and yet rakes in millions. You could say the same about people such as Paris Hilton and Heidi Montag —they are all individuals completely lacking any substance and skills beyond the ability to act outrageous.
The name reality TV is a sham because much of this alleged entertainment is scripted. These people (hopefully) are not as crazy as they seem on camera, but are simply putting on an act to keep viewers interested. Still, I can be crazy and obnoxious too. Where’s my big contract to star in a reality TV show?
Of course, the news media insists on treating these people as if they are actually newsworthy, which I suppose is a sign of our times. After all, they would not keep airing these shows if people did not watch.
Why do we continue to watch these shows? Sure, there is plenty of intelligent and classy programming on, but when a channel formerly known as The Learning Channel starts airing a show about plus-sized brides struggling to overcome their “disability” to look beautiful on their wedding day, you’ve lost me.
Channels are kidnapping people, putting them in a cage, poking them with a stick and charging them to gawk at the subject of their choosing. Reality TV takeover is sad and is hurting our society. These people, unfortunately, are role models to some. When highly impressionable children are force-fed images of people drinking without a care in the world or watching people striving to meet some impossible standard of “true” beauty, what’s that going to do to them?
These reality “stars” are setting a horrible example for their viewers. They’re embarrassing, and I’m proud to say I’ve watched almost none of these shows beyond commercials. Let’s stop watching this garbage. Maybe they’ll bring back The Learning Channel. America should watch reality television in moderation.