I rarely commend China for anything, outside of the American take on their food. But that country’s latest autocratic crackdown has me intrigued and even envious.
According to one Chinese media official: “There have been too many reality shows on our TV screens. Many are low-quality, low-brow programmes, only catering to the bottom end of the market.” Hence, they are cracking down on crap TV.
Repeat after me: "What a country!"
I understand that China’s motivations for curtailing reality shows may not match my own, but hey, whatever works.
Reality TV is one of the most onerous forms of entertainment in existence. Every season a glut of new shows with moronic, insulting scenarios – celebrity has-beens literally fighting for our attention, "beautiful" women dating “nerdy” guys, spoiled rich bitches slumming with the regular folk – hits the screen, and a new low.
These shows appeal to one of humanity's worst leanings – the voyeuristic thrill of watching people hurt and humiliate themselves and/or others. There is an aspect of “cheering on” the participants for some viewers, but I think people mainly watch these shows for the same reason they ogle car accidents.
Reality shows are also mischaracterized; Allen Funt knew decades ago that you don’t get “reality” when your subject is aware of the camera. Further, you don’t get reality when you audition your cast.
Good, bad and average singers perform on American Idol, so let me ask: What is the purpose of those local, non-televised auditions that happen before the ones we see on Fox? If you need to do background checks on your contestants, that’s understandable (and advisable), but wasn’t the point to let America pick its next Mariah Carey clone? Obviously, the producers have specific “types” in mind.
I'm all for freedom of the media, and freedom of expression, as I've stated time and again in this blog. Sure, I don't have to watch reality shows, but I can't seem to escape the endless promos for them during the handful of decent shows I do watch. More significantly, I can't escape the notion that these shows are just making us all more dumber then we already is.
Maybe the reality of the situation is, as a writer, I miss shows that value writing. Or maybe I just want to see an Internet video of Simon Cowell being hanged. Now that's good television!
I need to get cracking on writing my own damn TV show.