November 27, 2003  
Volume 97, Issue 50  

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This TV is not reality

By Mark Polishuk
Gazette Staff

Gazette File Photo
SOME PEOPLE WILL BREAK ALL THE RULES, AND THEIR BONES, FOR BUCKS. Along with all Reality TV, the 7th Survivor series keeps television morality at an all time low.

Is it a good thing or a bad thing that our generation’s morality can be entirely summed up by reality television? The answer, as usual, is... I dunno. The Simpsons, as usual, presents the best view on the subject of Gen-X apathy.

Slacker #1: Here comes the cannonball guy. He’s cool.
Slacker #2: Are you being sarcastic, dude?
Slacker #1: I don’t even know anymore.

This is reflected in those barometers of intellectual debate, reality TV shows. You know they’re stupid, I know they’re stupid and we’re getting to the point where even the makers know they’re stupid — Joe Schmo, anyone? Yet these glorified game shows have fuelled more moral debate than any other medium of the past decade.

Every reality show seems to boil down to the issue of “playing the game.” On Survivor, for example, every season seems to feature a few teary-eyed contestants who are emotionally traumatized by the idea of breaking their long-term (read: two-week) bond with their fellow tribemates in order to vote them out. You also get the self-professed shit-disturber, who lies and cheats as easily as they breathe the air, and chalking it all up to the fact that “it’s only a game.”

Asking someone which of these types of players they prefer will tell you a lot about a person’s psyche. If they’re one of the “anything goes” types, then these are obviously the kinds of people who would cheat your grandmother in a game of Rumoli. If they prefer the “fair play” types, then by all means, try to get onto a reality show with these people; you will roll over them like Rick Hansen on an oily road.

Reality TV has also entirely warped our conceptions of true love. I didn’t realize the best way to decide your love for someone was to make out with a dozen other people in the preceding two weeks and then propose in a hella-cheesy ceremony. Who can decide that someone is their true love in only two weeks, anyway? Are we living in a Shakespearean drama? Art thou daft, Joe Millionaire?

Reality TV seems to have become the one thing people care passionately about nowadays. The only topic that has had more written about it than reality show results has been TV pundits writing about how reality shows are eroding our lives. And now I’ve just written a column about how people write columns about how reality shows are eroding our lives. The vicious circle continues....



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