In Need of a Reality Check

In a article written by Dr. Jim Taylor titled “Popular Culture: Reality TV is Not Reality,” he makes extremely valid points on how the very best of these programs expose character flaws as well as sends and feeds the wrong ideas about success, fortune and fame. Dr. Taylor adds: “Reality TV promotes the worst values and qualities in people–and disguises them all as entertainment. Reality TV has made the Seven Deadly Sins–pride, avarice, envy, wrath, lust, gluttony, and sloth-attributes to be admired. Throw in selfishness, deceit, spite, and vengeance–all qualities seen routinely on reality TV–and you have the personification of the worst kind of person on Earth. Reality TV makes heroic decidedly unheroic values, characters, and behavior.” 

But I want to take it to another level. In the midst of dumbing down the viewers with mindless and nothingness entertainment, its costed the major networks less money to produce these kinds of shows. Verses paying millions of dollars for actors and directors salaries, shooting in major cities like New York, Miami or Los Angeles, studios are cashing in sometimes in high ratings for shows like “Survivor,” “Temptation Island,” and “Basketball Wives.” According to Jonathan Murray, co-creator and producer of “The Real World,” one of the first and many successful reality TV shows, explains “I think the networks are realizing they can’t program every hour with expensive, scripted programming.” And thats what’s happen from the major networks to the cable networks, cheap and cheesy television shows have now over-saturated the marketplace at the expense of quality television.

Last week the Lifetime Cable Network stooped to what I believe was the lowest of the low. They premiered the new reality TV show “Bristol Palin: Life’s a Tripp.” As you know, Bristol is the daughter of former Alaska Governor and Vice President republican candidate to Senator John McCain. Bristol had a child out of wedlock when she was 17 years old to much controversy to Levi Johnston who posed for a centerfold expose for Playgirl Magazine. She later appeared as one of the dancing contestants on ABC hit series “Dancing With The Stars.” 


Also during the week, the “Octo-Mom” Nadya Suleman has a reality porn video released by Wicked Pictures in which she performs ‘soft porn’ acts. The mother of 14 stated “I won’t touch other human flesh.” She adds “The only flesh I’m touching is my own. I would never, never accept anything. I will not lose my grip of my deeply indoctrinated morals and values.” This same woman posed topless for a reported $10,000 for a cover of Closer Magazine. This past April Suleman filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in federal court due to the fact that she owed more than 20 times her net worth. Now it is reported that her La Habra home in La Habra, California is to go into foreclosure. At the expense of Nadya Suleman’s stupidity and ignorance she’s now getting the unnecessary exposure via the tabloid talk shows that send the wrong image via the media.


Nadya, Snooki, Bristol, and all the Dog the Bounty Hunters of the world of reality television have set the bar lower on how women and men should carry themselves as people and the values and morals that they should uphold as adults. Unfortunately at the cost of ratings, advertisers, and lack of quality entertainment, reality television seems to validate this kind of behavior. Case in point, both Kim Kardashian and Paris Hilton got their starts starring in porn videos! Lest we not forget! Kim’s video with singer and actor now reality TV star Ray J, was one of Vivid Video’s highest selling adult videos of all time next to their staple adult film actress Jenna Jameson. The same with hotel heiress Paris Hilton who’s video “One Night In Paris” was directed by her former boyfriend Rick Salomon. Yet, these successful businesswoman have graced the networks with mindless shows and continue to show people how if you achieve nothing, that success does pay off!


Speaking as a person of color and knowing road for actors and actresses like Sidney Poitier, Denzel Washington and Cicely Tyson had to raise the bar on how we’re perceived on television and film. Actors like Eddie “Rochester” Anderson, Stepin Fetchit, and Hattie McDaniel played subservient and low roles that Hollywood only allowed people of color to play. Reality television shows like Basketball Wives and Love and Hip-Hop continue to degrade our beautiful black woman. Instead, these shows portray women as nasty, money hungry, and have lack of character. Shaunie O’Neal, the former wife of NBA great Shaquille O’Neal, served as the creator and producer of the show. The show has showcased women beating on one another, using language that would offend any soldier, and show the women wearing clothing that cost more that a person’s weekly paycheck! Yet, this and Love and Hip Hop are both VH-1’s highest rated programs.

According to Entertainment Weekly “Bristol Palin: Life’s a Tripp opened to a mere 726,000 viewers and an anemic 0.2 rating among adults 18-49. That’s way below the performance of Roseanne Barr’s recent failed reality effort on the channel, Roseanne’s Nuts, which launched to 1.6 million viewers.”

The sad and unfortunate state of reality television is that it isn’t going anywhere. This kind of programming shows society where we’ve become as a people as producing a generation of nothingness and soulless role models and stars. At a time when the country has elected it’s first African-American President, the media seems to idolize and put people like Kim Kardashian and Snooki on a higher cultural level. Not only that, the Nadya Sulemans and the Bristol Palins of the reality TV world has made their presence blurry at a time when their reality seems to be fading!


The Revolution Will Be Televised,

Brian Pace

The Pace Report