As children, we are all taught that the world is a big place filled with adventure, where the hardest-working people rise to the top and are celebrated. We are taught that philosophy from when we are born. Unfortunately, I feel it is now time to modify this philosophy. We are living in a world where even the easiest of activities are glorified by the masses as something remarkable through reality television.
If you can make a now-infamous sex tape, be the daughter of one half of the most famous legal teams in history and get married to one of the most controversial and (some would say) worst singers in history, you are now regarded as influential and, therefore, a goddess by the masses. If you talk about your private parts all the time, do nothing but party and put people down in order to get paid, you are therefore qualified to be a star and will be adored by the public. If you make a lot of money, but are more famous for your wives, not paying the government and horrible put downs of beauty pageant contestants, you are automatically qualified to be the Republican presidential nominee in this year’s election.
I don’t see anything wrong with this picture, do you?
The rise of reality television isn’t a recent development. In fact, according to Nielsen ratings, measurements of audience viewing that show how many people watch a show within a given year or season, reality television may have started its slow, but noticeable ascension at the beginning of the 21st century. At the time, only one show (“Survivor”) was in the Top 30, and as well-known as it was, not many people even watched or enjoyed it. It wasn’t even the subject of ridicule. It was just television you watched when you got bored, the equivalent of turning on “National Geographic” at midnight just after coming back from a frat party.
As time went on, however, more reality television shows, more specifically, reality competitions, began to dominate the airwaves. Shows like “The Bachelor, “Fear Factor,” even “The Apprentice” showed us what ‘life’, more specifically, ‘scripted life’ was like. Luckily, the majority of people who were watching were only enjoying its concept, and wouldn’t want to live in that type of world. It’s like giving a sugar freak a box of chocolate chip cookies. Sure, he enjoys them, but would he want to live in a land made from chocolate chip cookies? Of course not.
As time went on, however, things began to change. And it started with a family called the Kardashians. Sure, we already had celebrity families on reality television, such as the late model Anna Nicole Smith and rock legend Ozzy Osbourne, but we had never had a family that had only gotten famous (for the most part) due to a sex tape. The world was attracted to the Kardashians like flies to a dead pig, as their numerous exploits took shape. This, of course, introduced the world to social media platforms such as Facebook, where posts could be placed online in a matter of seconds. The Kardashians, as well as the television network, took advantage, moving their exploits online, for 24/7 coverage of their lives. The Kardashian family had officially become a circus with popular comedians and comedy shows, “Saturday Night Live,” in particular, was constantly making jokes about them.
It was now officially a real-life “Truman Show,” but television networks didn’t stop there. Seeing the success of the Kardashians now pushed other networks to create shows based off of “interesting premises”, such as Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie saying “I’m so hot” for 30 minutes straight whilst showing how much of a spoiled brat they each were, a teenage girl who had gotten pregnant, hell, even a child beauty pageant contestant and her Southern family. It was interesting (not really) with wacky shenanigans being broadcasted like it was major news across all social media.
This became so successful that now, celebrities have decided to make the jump to social media. Now, we can see Justin Bieber on Instagram showing half-naked pictures of himself, or Donald Trump’s next homophobic, racist, xenophobic or sexist remark on Twitter, or even hear about the latest marriages and divorces from celebrities. Sure, this had happened before, but not on this large of a scale. Reality was everywhere, but contained. We could escape from time to time. And then, Donald Trump announced his candidacy for president.
It sounded like a joke. A reality star running for president? Yeah, right. He wouldn’t last the first round of primaries. Surely, Americans would be too smart to elect him. But he tapped into the two weaknesses of modern America: social media and emotion. Suddenly, we could hear his propaganda everywhere, anywhere. When we turned on our television, when we read our newspapers, when we talked to our friends. Reality television had now officially taken over the world.
It’s going to get worse. That, I can guarantee. At this rate, Kanye West will be a nominee, hell, he could be the president of the U.S. in 2020 or 2024. Who knows? I don’t. What I do know, however, is that we have allowed this to happen. We need to do something now or else we are going to drown in a deep mess. It isn’t fake. It’s reality.