Sunday, July 5, 2009
Why? I really want to know.
Why do people watch reality television? Is it voyeurism? Is it a desire to see the underdog win? Is it because they think they might see real talent, or real personality? Is it an opportunity to rub one's hands together in glee at the traumatic politics of a group of people from diverse backgrounds coming together in a high pressure environment? Is it to see people succeed? Is it to see people lose? Is it because there's nothing else on and books, music, films, conversation or rooting aren't an option? Fucked if I know. What I can say is this:
Up until recently I had never, ever - and I mean it sincerely - I really never have, I promise, seriously, without falsification, embellishment or exaggeration, watched an entire episode of a reality television program. Never. Ever. Never had the desire. Never had the interest. Never thought I had the time. However...
I somehow got caught up in the MasterChef brouhaha. I like cooking. I'm interested in it. I cook at home. I cook reasonably well, if not a little conservatively. And despite the myriad cooking show options available, I found myself tuning in. Sure enough, after a few episodes, I was hooked. I know everyone's names, I have favourites, I have enemies. I wish for the demise of some, the success of others. I get tense prior to eliminations. I scoff at bad meals and cheer for the great ones. I plan my own dinner to be ready on the dot of 7pm, so I can sit with the missus with plates on laps and watch the whole drama unfold. And talk about it as if we personally know the contestants. As if it was of great importance. As if the future of mankind depended on it.
The thing is, I see it for what it is. I know how these shows are made. I understand that it's all contrived to maximise ratings. I know there's the token Asian, the token spunk, the token black man. I hate the incessant repetition, I hate the bad editing, the melodrama and the cliches. I hate the hypocrisy, the product placements and the inane and superfluous semi-host (er, the 3 judges are men, better get a woman in there, even if she is vacuous).
But I watch it anyway. Religiously. What have I become?