Sunday, July 16, 2006

Wagner and Schendenfreude

I abhor reality television. Or, more accurately, I find the current genre almost entirely without merit. Tacky, trite, and insipidly overblown, it is a monument to bad taste. Now, to be sure, painting with such a broad (and harsh) brush is always dangerous. Certainly there may be particular titles of value, and indeed "reality television" is a term so expansive that it may be construed to include much of legitimate interest. Thus, to be clear, I refer in the remainder of this post to the staged encounters found nightly on the major networks.

Recently I have begun to watch more and more reality TV, as part of my research for an ongoing novel-type project called The Candidate I've been kicking around. Now, although the ridiculous subjects, repulsive contestants, and repetitive challenges offend me as a television viewer (I mean, that the networks believe they can satisfy the public with such thin offerings is insulting; That they succeed is depressing) that isn't what struck me most profoundly. What gets me is the music.

If you ever stop and listen to the music they use for these reality shows, it's like they culled the score of Last of the Mohicans or something, threw in a Wagnerian opera, and added the first movement of Carmina Burana for spice. Judging by sound alone, you would think the assembled band of genetically disadvantaged misfits were trying to stop the Earth's imminent implosion or ensure the future of democracy.

The editing is likewise ridiculous. Blunt and heavy handed, episodes begin with a "review" of previous events that often bears little resemblance to what had occurred. Once you get to the broadcast itself, the show is interrupted by commercial sponsors at "dramatic" moments so often that it exceeds even the wildest limits of the cliche. Upon returning from an advertisement, what little time that remains before the next interruption is often shared by another miniature review of what happened just before the break.

Please understand that I do not object to reality television on some stodgy moral ground. I don't care if people decide to watch horse porn. Whatever (providing all participants are consenting adults). But that we have been inflicted with such a horrid parade of second-rate programming offends me as a connoisseur of television.

5 comments:

Lee Ann said...

Thanks for stopping by my place. I hope you will come by more often.

SKY said...

You are spot on about everything you've said, but you know what? I can't stop watching them! However, I am selective about it. I do think I watch the "better" reality shows...um....Amazing Race, Project Runway? As opposed to the Bachelor, Big Brother, Fear Factor etc. Hehe...I'm trying to defend my bad viewing habits.

Grafxgurl said...

the music is always so ...doomsdayish...and theyre all the same!

i watch for a while....then i get fed up...the drama is too much. * grin*

Prodigy-Maestro said...

Thx for the comment. But onto your post. . .

If this post is a clear sign of what's to come in your novel, I will be the first in line trying to get my hands on a copy. Your against reality television in general or the majority of it's content? Come on, I know there has to be one or two shows you stopped to look at. . .

LeperColony said...

Actually, it really depends on what you mean by reality show. I enjoy certain shows that could be defined as within the Reality TV genre, like 30 Days or that show on TLC that took someone, taught them some stuff, and then tested to see if they could fool experts into thinking they were pros.

When I rail against Reality TV, I'm talking about the humiliation/gross out crap like Wife Swap, Fear Factor, and so on. Contest talent shows are sort of a middle ground. Not repulsive, but not commendable.