Kong’s Korner: Resisting Reality

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REALITY TV puts out a bad image of the United States.

Take the time to think about how many of your friends watch reality TV shows. You can probably recall a few friends who always talk about the latest episode of “Jersey Shore” or “K-Town.” Have you ever thought why these shows generate so much revenue and have the highest viewer count than other TV programs?

I mean, the premise of reality TV is stupid in itself. Every show centers around a group of people or families that have “lives” that are “interesting.” When you watch a reality TV show, you’re basically watching a creepy documentary on people that make a living pretending to be something that they are not. Why do people still watch these ridiculous shows that not only put out a horrible image of Americans, but also require the self-degradation of the people that are featured in them? The answer is because people enjoy comparing their own lives to the ones they see on the show.

When you watch a show like “Jersey Shore” or “Teen Mom”, you’re watching people deal with their problems (i.e. teen pregnancies) and complain about their lives (partying all day and getting wasted). The only reasonable explanation for these people that are willing to waste an entire hour watching other people’s pathetic lives unfold is that these viewers take pleasure in knowing that their lives are not as horrible as the ones they see on television. Reality TV has become a medium to feel self-satisfaction and happiness for those who have problems in their own lives.

You may ask, “Austin! What about the reality shows that present successful people or people who are chasing after a better life?” I would answer with: It’s all the same! There’s always a reoccurring theme for these shows. People love watching the underdogs succeed! Our society is composed of millions of people who consider themselves as underdogs! Therefore, they watch these success stories to gain hope and assurance that it is possible to obtain success no matter what situation you’re in. A great example of this would be the show “Shark Tank.” In this show, a group of billionaires watch “everyday” people present them with new product ideas. These billionaires, or “sharks,” decide whether or not to invest in the presented product. We all root for these contestants because we know that a deal with any one of these “sharks” guarantees them success in the future. These people serve to inspire other citizens and instill hope into their lives, and that is why people are obsessed with watching these shows.

Every human being on this planet wants three things in life: love, happiness, and security. Reality TV shows fulfill the security aspect for many people. This mentality is what makes reality TV so successful and influential, and I don’t expect this to change any time soon.