Reality TV and the society
I am amazed at the sheer number of reality TV shows on Indian TV channels these days. TV channels and their programming departments are not known to be very bright and original. If one show on one channel works, all channels rush to join the bandwagon and produce similar shows. Game shows, dance competitions, singing competitions, and reality shows now comprise most of our programming on TV. Even news channels’ content consists largely of programming that can be classified as reality TV, albeit of a different nature. Since everybody is doing it, I reckon it must be working. I am a firm believer of media being a reflection of the society, the audience, who consume the media.
If you watch any of the reality shows with interest, chances are that you derive a certain kind of pleasure in watching human frailties at show. You like watching real-life conflicts – between contestants, participants, their relatives, judges (who are celebrities in their own right), hosts, and journalists. I’ve heard that some of the anchors of shows on news channels are not even journalists – they are theatre actors who are given a role to play, complete with a script.
In my opinion, reality TV and sensationalism of news on TV is mirroring an emerging disturbing preference in our society….that of voyeurism. In this version of voyeurism, watching people suffer in pain makes one feel good. You like the tears, the sobbing, the drama of elimination, the spectacle of accusations of favouritism, the tragedy (or comedy) of perfectly sensible-looking individuals finger-pointing – and the works.