Media Musings & Meditations

Observations and discussion about technology, culture and spirituality. As new technology developments and trends envelope the Internet and our "wired" culture we all need time to reflect and process the implications on our society, our relationships and our spiritual practices.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

When TV "Got Real"

I, for one, have grown tired of watching TV "dramas" written by Hollywood elite screenwriters. So often they write storylines about characters, situations and feelings that I can't relate to. ("I was married to a Mafia Don." "The soap-opera lives of spoiled rich teenagers in LA." Etc.) And when they finally do create some kind of detective show or suspense drama that seems interesting the stories lack originality. Typically, Julie and I will be watching a show and she'll say, "I bet that character will do x and then event y will take place, etc." And sure enough Julie has prophesied (or rather detected) the entire storyline. Can anyone say "formula" or "cliché.")? And then, in the midst of one of these tried-and-true story templates, the writers will inject a political message or "PC" sermon. Oh sure I'm going to change my political philosophy because of what some beat cop tells his buddy or I'll change my core values after hearing what the SciFi alien says about humans. The worst part is the writers can't even skillfully weave the message into the story anymore. Most of these non-sequitor diatribes can be seen a mile away. When the juxtaposed message is finally delivered it is followed by an awkward pause in the action. (For us to take notes?! Or what?)

That's why I have come to embrace Reality TV. Okay, so maybe the situations and scenarios aren't real at all -- but at least it is real people reacting in real ways. It's not some detached actor attempting to act like a normal working man. It a working man, warts and all. If the guy is a jerk, he convincingly acts like a jerk. I fully realize that most successful reality shows have a storyline, if not a script, and that the editors pick and choose clips to carefully create suspense, conflict and resolution, but at least those clips are real. And when we watch real people exercising their beliefs and stating their observations we take away more life messages than any Hollywood homily.

My favorite reality TV show is The Apprentice. Apart from all of The Donald's posturing and the overly materialistic view of the world, we still learn basic truths about work, struggles, goals, success and failure. Sadly, (talk about reality) there are a lot of people on company payrolls right now that resemble some of the clowns that are eliminated on the show. In the midst of the "drama" of The Apprentice people with good hearts, motives, and work ethics ultimately rise to the top. To me that is a happy ending and a fresh message from TV.


Anonymous justjuls said...

Wow. I couldn't agree with you more! (I'm glad I read your blog to find out what you are thinking!)

By the way, I really love "the hippies" on the Amazing Race right now. Their "joie de vivre" (did I spell that right?) is compellingly fetching and the fact that they are actually nice and sometimes even helpful to the less popular teams they are competing against makes me want them as my firends! I love to see that there are people like that in the world! You really DO learn alot about the nature of people and personality types on reality TV. To me, it's a little bit of a look (though, as you say, somewhat skewed because of the situation that has been set up) into the minds of those "in the world" rather than into the minds of those who write TV scripts.

11:29 AM  
Blogger purecanucks said...

Many moons ago I gave up tv. Actually not for any higher reason; merely because we wanted to save money (or more accurately: not spend too much money, as saving money whilst at school is impossible).

I agree with your assessment for the most part. Although I have never liked the reality shows. It seems that they have replaced a mostly-evil-empire with the down-right-horridly-evil-empire.

There is something to be said for the "tried and true" method of tv making (minus the ackward political speech). Perhaps it is just because I have not watched a lot of tv lately, but when I see a show and it is completely standardized; it is comforting. There are no surprises, it is normal.
I could see this as being a personality thing. Some people could really desire more suspense; and some perhaps are happy with the status quo.

In sum: I agree with you mostly.


1:29 PM  
Blogger Prof Kelly said...

It may not be high society TV, but it's not Jerry Springer either. I had to laugh about your sense of comfort coming from safe, predictable, cliche'-ridden shows. :)

2:06 PM  
Anonymous justjul said...

I can understand wher Paul is coming from, but at our age, when shows are too "standardized," it leaves us snoozing in our chairs (literally).

Kelly, I hope you laffed at Paul's comment because you thought it was cute, not becaue you thought it was ridiculous or anything!

BTW, I have heard The Donald respect relationships, kindness, the illness or death of a loved one, and religion over business/making money. Maybe it is just because he is getting old and sentimental, or maybe it is because he has learned that making a profit alone isn't enough to bring you happiness in life. Whatever the reason, it makes me happy when he expresses these attitudes.

2:46 PM  
Blogger y said...

I refuse to watch reality TV. Why? For the same reason I refuse to use Facebook.

8:11 AM  
Anonymous Julie further said...

I know what Jeff means about Facebook--blech. And we also resisted reality TV for a long time--EVERYONE was watching SURVIVOR and we refused for like three seasons. However, The Apprentice got us into reality TV and we are loving the hippies on Amazing Race. Oh, did I already mention that?! Hee hee! :)

9:58 AM  
Anonymous Julie said...

Kelly, BTW, have you seen Vector Fields new website?

11:12 AM  
Anonymous Jeff's mom said...

The only reality T.V. I watch is Whose Line Is It Anyway? and The Weather Channel. Otherwise, being an elder's wife and working a full-time job is enough reality for me.
I enjoy old Leave It To Beaver reruns and According To Jim. And OF COURSE- Stargate SG-1!

4:43 PM  
Blogger Prof Kelly said...

I know reality shows can be hard to schedule around. That's why I frequently tape reality shows to watch later when I'm free and nothing's on.

7:47 AM  

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