One of the implicit interest of reality TV is within the title itself, it has to be real. Despite the best attempts of the networks, that churn reality shows out with a frequency that would make a third world uterus feel lazy, to hide the extent to which they marginalize this interest most viewers are still smart enough to realize the very reality they crave is one of the least important factors in their favorite series. Whether we’re watching Americans aiming to be idolized or the wacky exploits of tow truck operators a certain element of drama is required to pass the program off as entertainment. Without the intervention of heightened drama we would watch chainsaw juggling porn stars spend most of their day watching pregnant teen taxidermist watching themselves watching the former. Luckily for all of the parties involved the programmers have discovered a cure of the tedium of reality with a two pronged approach. First, they either invent a premise or find a profession so fraught with intrigue that interest is sustained from title alone. Secondly, they scour the Earth for the most brash group of assholes with just enough sentience to crave fame without any of that pesky notion of shame. Case in point: Big Brother. CBS’ import hit from across the pond has a deceptively clever title playing off the surveillance state in George Orwell’s 1984, but that’s about as much intellectualism you’ll find in the television’s favorite version of house arrest.
I have a very close friend, whose opinion I greatly respect, that has frequently encouraged me to drop my bias, and presumably I.Q, by indulging in the docu-farce. I normally decline, but given the events of this recent season I may reconsider my stance.
A few years ago CBS upped the ante and decided that you weren’t getting enough voyeurism for your buck, and extended the viewing hours of the show infinitely via the endlessly running internet live stream. In one move BB essentially expanded the premise to its logical conclusion while making George Orwell roll in his grave from both disgust and convulsive laughter. I can’t even fathom how much of a massive loser you have to be to A.) not only have the free time to partake in watching the purest version of pseudo-celebrities literally piss away your time and B.) to even be excited by the prospect. Well, apparently one of the million monkey’s behind their million’s of laptops just watched Big Brother’s version of King Lear, which is pretty bigoted. Long story short a few of the detestable dimwits handpicked for their “plot” driving ignorance said something ignorant during an internet live stream. According to the almighty TMZ the outrage stems from the fact that some of the contestants made a few racist/homophobic comments. However that’s not the part I find interesting. If we’re going to be honest Aaryan, a cute blonde with the a mouth and opinions reflecting the brotherhood of her namesake, didn’t say anything one wouldn’t say to a close Asian or Black friend. It’s not like she was saying “Niggers and Chinks are the blight of the white man’s world.” That would be racist. She just said a few off color, no pun intended, bigoted remarks that ultimately show how gloriously uniformed she is. The punishment is inherent in the crime. So who gives a shit? A lot of people as it turns out.
BB received ass loads of pressure to either remove the contestant or acknowledge her bigotry. Realizing that controversy sells CBS went with a half hearted attempt at the latter issuing a disapproving statement saying “Big Brother is a reality show about watching a group of people who have no privacy 24/7 — and seeing every moment of their lives. At times, the Houseguests reveal prejudices and other beliefs that we do not condone.” I never thought it was possible to read a shoulder shrug. But shrugged shoulders and quizzical expressions weren’t enough for Big Brother faithful. The public demanded that CBS show some level of fallout due to the comments. In first episode post online bigotry CBS didn’t even address it and Big Brother fans lost their shit.
Now you have my attention. I, for one,think this is an awesome moment in reality TV history. Americans flock to their TV’s to in hopes of some semblance of reality, and once they receive it they crave even more. Part of me was afraid that America would collectively whistle while looking the other way when the next installment of Big Brother ignored the issue. Imagined how surprised I was when the country linked hands and said “No, dammint! We want our bigotry, because it’s real!”
"If we’re lucky she’ll say Jiggaboo. I haven’t heard that one in a while."
This moment creates a curious future for reality TV. Part of the reason reality TV is so doctored is to avoid moments like this that could potentially cause the networks to lose sponsors and subsequently their lifeblood;money. However we as a nation decided we wanted our reality warts and all. This whole scenario makes me wonder; how much reality becomes too much reality? I’m excited by the prospect of turning on an episode of swamp people and having them hurl nigger out of their mouths as indiscriminately as their teeth. We watch these shows to see other walks of life, and sometimes those walks lead into a nazi hate rally. By virtue of the fact that we deem these opinions so controversial is what makes them all the more compelling because it indicates a lack of exposure on both sides of the TV. We’re left with a question that only time will answer. Will other networks capitalize on this aim for reality TV with the asymmetrical morality we know all too well? How much reality is too much? When will this stupid reality TV bubble burst so we can stop pretending that OUR reality doesn’t exist?
Dyler Crews: This has been your captain speaking.