Is it a show where someone’s misfortune is being laughed at or is it a movie of a father who was left by his wife and clawed his way inside a company just to support his child? We have been used to this kind of “life” drama for many years now. We were used in watching television shows which helps us experience the life of a doctor, or policeman or even a criminal. In one way or another, almost all these shows have to teach a certain moral lesson in the end. But do we really get the moral of the story or we just remember the scene where the action scene was so thrilling?
At times, we just remember it minutes after the movie of the show then given more minutes, we hear ourselves asking “what was the name of the character, which did that great stunt in what’s that movie again? ” Had television shows gone that boring? Good thing there is a new trend in television nowadays – reality TV shows. Reality TV shows are not that fresh in the airwaves. Several years back we see singing contests once in a while but it never really made a mark to the attention of the people. However, recently on may notice that television networks have flooded us with a different type of “reality TV”.
It is not that simple singing contest anymore where contestants sing and then wait for the decision of the judges. This time, the judges’ work is mostly for criticizing and they let the televiewers do the real judging. Not only that, they added few screens where the life of the contestants where being featured. This made a big difference to what seemed to be an ordinary singing contest; it made contestants closer to televiewers. There is this one person in Dream Academy of Endemol who was a son of a farmer in a third world country. He felt so inferior in front of the judging stares of the audiences.
He narrated that he was used to singing in the rice field where his best friend Goofy (a water buffalo) was his only audience. When the final judging came, hundreds of thousands voted for him because of the improvement that he showed while inside the academy and/or due to pity. It gave the televiewers the sense of closeness towards the contestants. Having known their life experiences made the contestants “real people” to viewers; that they are people, who experience the hardships of life like most common people do. This inspires people to reach for their dreams in any chosen field.
This gave them a living example of the traits that they must possess to be able to succeed in life. Talent shows are not the only reality show on television. There are those which show the behaviour of people in a controlled environment like in Big Brother or how people react to being a cast away in a foreign island and being discouraged by taking away the comforts of home as in Survivor. Some people fell in love while in the show. However, they separate when they return to the real world. When asked why they separated, they just say “well, it is different when we’re here in the real world”.
Maybe the feeling that they thought was love or affection was brought about by their separation and their physical closeness. This just show the possible reactions that people may have when placed in such conditions. They are not guinea pigs in a laboratory; they are people who are rediscovering themselves in time of remoteness. One troubling reality show is Fear Factor. The participants were made to face their different types of fears: insects, heights, suffocation, animals or sometimes even darkness. In fairness, they are given a choice: to do the challenge and get the price or go home a loser.
I think the choice is obvious because most people would rather eat a scorpion or a rat (which are really one of the stunts in Fear Factor) than be called a “loser” or some do it just for the money. Whatever reasons the participant has, the reaction of people watching them eating worm, scorpions, rats and the like is usually grossed out. They did not only do stomach-turning stunts but also life threatening ones. Most of them shake upon doing the stunt and sometimes crying, an indication of great fear. But in the end, you see them smiling and very proud of themselves that they conquered their fears.
You can really witness people surpass their “known” limitations of themselves just to reach their goal. We do realize that these types of challenges are stated to induce fear and may not happen in real life but the morals are still the same. They may have done unthinkable stunts in many ways but they showed the people that we too can reach our own dreams, regardless of the obstacles, if we will just be as courageous and persevere as they were. As Poniewozik had said, “the case against reality TV shows is mainly moral”. He had sighted the show Joe Millionaire where deception was the foundation of the show.
Yes it featured how women do their very best to beat the other girls just to win the heart and the “millions” of Evan. It is demeaning to women and most did not like the idea but we should also accept the fact that the cameras only capture the scenes and the crew only set up the stage. It is the “actors” who did the scenes. On how the participants acted during the show are solely their decision, there was no script for them to follow. Harsh as it is, viewers should accept that these are real reactions of real people and it may be or is happening in the real world but are just unaware of it.
This is a good medium to help people open their eyes and minds to the things that are happening around them. They should accept that people do commit mistakes, sometimes immoral ones, but the important thing is they admitted their mistakes and has learned from it and is now moving on with life. The definition of morals and immorality sometimes differ in regions or countries. At times, kissing in a public place is immoral in one country but is completely normal in another country. Upon learning this “reality” of life, we think of our children.
Do we really want our children see this obvious truth or do we let them live unaware of the things happening around us? Initially, we would want them to be the innocent children as they are. But as we realize it, they will soon grow and discover these truths themselves. We would want to be there to guide them in accepting this reality. I’d say, we give guidance while the tree is still young and can be bent. As soon as parents know that they children are old enough to analyze these things, we slowly explain to them the realities of life and in a way, guiding them and teaching them what is good and what is not accepted by the society.
Dishonesty towards mankind is immoral but the real world is filled with dishonest people. We cannot protect them all the time thus we teach them how to handle things in their own hands. We teach them how to face the world. We provide them with the values that will guide them in their life’s journey. We could not leave the immorality issue behind us but as long as we are living in a way that we are not stepping onto others, then we can sleep soundly at night.