It’s easy to find articles and columns these days that decry all the bad stuff that’s happening in this wide world of ours. Everywhere one turns (so long as one was alive in the 1960s or 1970s and remembers the neat and wonderful predictions about “the future”), one sees that modern society is nothing like it was supposed to be.
I’ve dealt with the fact that we still don’t have flying cars before. It’s probably a good thing that we all don’t wear Spandex jumpsuits and derive our nutrition from flavored pills. We haven’t colonized the moon or visited Mars, and there’s no big-wheel space station rotating to the strains of “Blue Danube.”
There is something, however, that not one futurist thought of 40 and 50 years ago. This modern development, unforeseen by the brightest minds of the day, has contributed more to the downfall of mankind than any other single thing (save for texting on a telephone). This societal destroyer, this mangler of morality, this modern-day demon seed is known by two names…
Nothing smacks less of reality than the Theater of the Bizarre known as Reality TV. Where else could a Governor of a state like, say, Illinois, be indicted and impeached for numerous crimes based around his attempted “selling” of a Senate seat, parlay that indictment into a stint on Donald Trump’s “Celebrity Apprentice,” get fired (again), and then only get convicted for lying to the FBI about crimes for which he wasn’t convicted?!
Historians have yet to determine the precise moment of the creation of Reality TV. Some say that Phil Donahue or Geraldo Rivera is responsible; others point all the way back to the old “Candid Camera” and “To Tell The Truth” TV shows. Whatever the origins, nothing really could have prepared us for shows like “American Idol” (glorified karaoke), “Survivor: Hellish Locations” (starring moral reprobates, backstabbers, tax cheats, and former Miami Dolphins head coach Jimmy Johnson), the “Bachelor” and “Bachelorette” true love debacles, and the myriad spinoff “Star” shows on the various small cable networks (“DesignStar,” FashionStar,” “FoodStar,” etc.). Yes, you too can compete in various televised humiliating contests for a chance at your own Reality TV show! And who needs the real justice system when there’s Judge Judy, Judge Joe Brown, Divorce Court, the People’s Court, and all the rest of the Surreal Broadcast Judiciary?!
People have shown an almost masochistic acceptance of their own embarrassment and shame if there’s a chance it could be televised. A shining example of this behavior can be found on the “Maury Povich Show,” or, as it’s better known, the “Who’s Your Daddy Show.” Couples and former couples, of which there seems to be an endless supply, come on to the “Maury” set, argue and bicker, and react emotionally as the results from the DNA tests come in and determine whether the lowlife scumbag the audience has been booing is really the father of the cute kid on the video screen. It’s almost funnier when the man isn’t the father, and the woman, who up until this point played the victim, is shown to be as much of a slut as the man.
Even Maury, however, can’t hold a candle to the outright depravity that is the “Jerry Springer Show.” Couples, threesomes, heterosexuals, LBGT relationships, incestuous relationships, and anything else one could imagine all come on Jerry – with the added attraction of free fisticuffs! It seems to be a requirement for Springer show guests that attempted assault and battery must be performed on stage as the crowd chants, “Jerry, Jerry!”
As an allegedly sentient species on this third planet from the sun, we’ve seen the rise and fall of the Egyptians, the Greeks, the Romans, and various Democratic and Republican administrations. We’ve witnessed incredible events ranging from the microscopic to the astronomic. Yet, like moths drawn to the candle flame, we just can’t turn away from this modern phenomenon called Reality TV.