CNN Says Reality TV is ‘Shorthand for Everything Wrong with America’
Hey, they said it, not me.
In an article posted today on CNN.com, writer Todd Leopold half assed a defense of reality television, claiming that despite claims to the contrary, not all reality TV is fixed or scripted. He even goes so far to say that while we have to endure drivel (my words, not his) like Jersey Shore, we also get programs like Deadliest Catch that are genuinely compelling TV. Technically, I would consider something like Deadliest Catch or Cake Boss more of a documentary program, but hey, I don’t write for CNN.
Regardless, this article in and of itself is a prime example of what’s wrong with America’s acceptance of shit television. For every Mad Men or Arrested Development there are 18 Real Housewives or Jerseylicious. But it’s Leopold’s admittance that reality TV is “shorthand for everything wrong with America” while professing his love for it that concerns me. It’s fine to have a guilty pleasure, but when nearly every show on TV is on that level – with good ratings, nonetheless – it tells us that our intelligence as a society is dwindling. What I’m talking about here is the non-competitive, non-talent based, non-docu style television that has its roots in MTV’s The Real World.
Not only do shows like Jersey Shore deteriorate the public’s minds, but it reinforces these ridiculous human beings to behave like utter fools, showcasing poor behavior and bratty sensibilities. Paying them to indulge themselves is ultimately damaging these attention-starved morons even more than leading a normal life without cameras would have. If anything, it’s a missed opportunity for these people – who are often financially well off to begin with – to help the world in a way more important than Nielson ratings and DVD sales.
Fifteen minutes of fame doesn’t lend itself to establishing a brand for yourself. Reality TV stars nearly always end up doing the convention circuits to feel that sense of importance, and certainly the Jersey Shore folks will be doing the same. To The Situation, Snookie, and all the other useless twerps of the show: your popularity won’t last. What do you plan on doing when your star has fizzled? Certainly you’ll have bigger concerns than the tanning bed tax.
As for you, Todd Leopold, considering you have the platform of the world’s most popular media outlet beneath your words, why not clean up the trash instead of littering?