By Corinne Wnek
Once upon a time there was a real reason why people came into our living room every week via the TV set. It was called talent and there was no shortage of shows to choose from that allowed us to enjoy talented people singing, dancing or acting.
Vintage television, such as The Ed Sullivan (who?) Show, presented a broad spectrum of entertainment that we might not otherwise ever see. In one hour, we could watch a little bit of opera, jazz, acrobatic jugglers and rock and roll, often witnessing ‘the next big thing’ before they became the next big thing.
I miss variety shows because they served up a smorgasbord of acts that rarely bored me even at age thirteen, because I was seeing something different throughout that hour and every week afterward. It was a different time, when producers would showcase creative skill or musical genius.
Watching TV is different today and a lot more boring than in the past. One striking difference is the notion that that merely being outrageous constitutes talent. Thus, we have the birth of the reality show. What is a reality show exactly? Whose reality is it exactly? Isn’t twenty-four hours a day of broadcast news enough reality for anyone?
I have tried to keep an open mind here, but I have not been able to find one reality show that doesn’t come off in some way as planned or rehearsed. Okay, I admit to liking “Dancing with the Stars” and even “Say Yes to the Dress”. But that’s it. “The Real Housewives of New Jersey”? I am a real housewife from New Jersey and nothing on that show comes close to resembling any reality in my life.
The last thing I want to do after working all day and then coming home to even more work is another dose of reality. I want to be swept away from it all so that I could forget reality for a little while. That’s what real entertainment is supposed to do for us.
But it’s not just the reality shows that bother me. I’m also miffed about those individuals who are rich famous for doing nothing more than putting their personal lives on display for the whole world to see. Remind me again why I should be interested in the Kardashians? Or amateur chefs reduced to tears for a flopped soufflé?
There was a scene from an old Seinfeld episode in which Jerry thinks his dentist converted to Judaism just for the plentiful jokes. Jerry goes to a Catholic priest to vent about this. The priest asks Jerry if he is insulted about this as a Jew. Jerry responds that he is insulted about this as a comedian.
That’s how I feel about a lot of programming today. I’m insulted, not just as a viewer, but as a consumer who is supposed to accept rude and vile behavior as a substitute for entertainment.
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