Whose Reality TV?

Our entertainment industry is brewing a culture of hate

By Al Carlos Hernandez
Published on LatinoLA: March 1, 2003

Whose Reality TV?

There is a new study by Boston University that says Hollywood sex, violence and arrogance is causing young people around the world to despise Americans. Our entertainment industry is brewing a ?culture of hate.? Kids from around the planet are led to believe that Americans are dishonest, drug-abusing sex fiends.

What the study fails to take into account is that not all Americans are lawyers.

The current trend in Network television is reality-based shows: The Bachelor, The Bachelorette, Joe Millionaire (pictured), The Real World, American Idol, Sixty Minutes and the Osborne?s. The majority of these shows put ?real life people? in risky, often times amorous situations, while programs like Sixty Minutes and the Osborne?s just turn the cameras on old dudes and let them blow.

Reality shows are in vogue now for two reasons; we have a morbid voyeuristic curiosity when it comes to watching people lose and become humiliated. The other reason is to keep Network sitcom writers out of work and waiting tables where they can do society the most good.

How can they say that these shows are based on reality when all of the people I know cannot get a long weekend off of work, let alone the luxury of living large in a house for several weeks, hoping to nab a Babe, or a Babe hoping to snag a rich husband?

You will notice that there is a disproportionately small amount of ethnic minorities and/or working people who frequent these shows. In urban culture, not being able to find a date or a mate is an embarrassing thing you don?t want the neighbors to know, let alone the whole country.

Reality based TV as we know it stems from a contemporary sociological theory known as Para-social Interaction. The idea of this theory is that through mass media, the most remote and illustrious men are met as if they were if the circle of one's own peers.

Media has created a climate whereby everybody wants to be famous and will do anything to achieve that level of validation. People equate fame with fortune. Unfortunately, that is not true. There are many famous people who are famously broke, and once you are famous for what ever reason you are virtually unemployable. This proclivity to be unemployable is probably the reason folks want to get famous in the first place because they didn?t want to or even know how to do an honest day's work.

Since we now live in a global village, and American media dominates the world's airwaves, Americans can be easily vilified, as self-indulgent, amoral, hedonistic spoiled brats, with weak males, dominant females, and sex-starved teenagers running the show.

I don?t know about you, but that is not my reality.

Television soundstage ?reality? is contrived by amoral producers, directors, and writers who will literally do or say anything for a buck or worse for those fifteen minutes of fame, to somehow validate eccentric bruised and beat down egos. These are the same folks who came up with the show, ?Hey, get me out of here, I?m a celebrity.?

What Hollywood fails to comprehend is that most people are hard working, law abiding citizens with families, who want to live the American dream, while providing a safe and decent life for those they love. We want and need quality entertainment as a diversion from stressful everyday life. Not watching starry eyed dreamers being tossed to the lions, or worse Simon Cowell, who, in my opinion is a bad dude.

The world should know that although many media producers have a cynical view of American society, there are very very few media producers with traditional family lifestyles. Their sensibilities are not in tuned with spiritual knowledge of America; rather they use programs as a cathartic platform to work out sexual and relational neurosis. That?s why Seinfeld is considered one of the best sitcoms of all time.

American television producers for the most part disrespect American families.

If Americans are continued to be viewed as Tony Sopranos, Marilyn Mansons, and Tristas, then it is easier for the world to caricature and trivialize the American people as an evil clown posse, then it is very easy to consider Americans less than human expendable targets.

Melvin DeFleur, a communications professor at Boston University says, ?You don?t recruit terrorists out of a country that has a favorable view of Americans. They have to dislike us very intently and see us as worthless people that deserved to be harmed, and these media depictions are teaching them that.?

I don?t know about you, but I ain?t going out like that.

About Al Carlos Hernandez:
Al Carlos is a national columnist and a screenwriter.

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