Dave's Progress. Chapter 14: I'm a Schizophrenic, Get Me Out of Here!

Is it me, or has television just plummeted to new lows? Watching last night's "I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here", I suddenly thought, "What on earth am I doing watching a bunch of c-list celebrities, half of whom I've never heard of, arguing amongst themselves in the Australian jungle?" The answer was that I was wasting my valuable time, polluting my brain with garbage.
Don't get me wrong, sometimes this show can be fun, and I remember the time when Paul Burrell, Princess Di's decidedly dodgy butler, called to his "mummy" as he put his hand into a nest of spiders. It was hilarious. So, I'm not being po-faced here, I am as susceptible to laughter and entertainment as any person. I suppose what offends me is the rise and rise of this genre of entertainment- the reality tv show. It seems you can't turn anywhere without a new reality show springing up. So, one has to wonder, where will this all end up- where are we going with this obsession with the reality show?
For one, it does seem to feed into the ever growing cult of celebrity we now have in society, where people seem to have the overtly dubious accolade of being both famous and singularly untalented at the same time. Witness people like Katie Price and Peter Andre, who have their own reality show which is about, yes ladies and gentlemen, themselves. Anyone who watches that has to be seriously deficient in brain capacity. Then there's all the ex Big Brother contestants, who rise and fall fleetingly in our consciousness and on our tv screens. One is left wondering whether Andy Warhol was, in fact, completely right when he said "in the future, everyone will be famous for fifteen minutes". I couldn't think of anything more prescient, as we slip into this bizarre kind of perversion of the American Dream.
But, one cannot talk about reality tv shows without mentioning the daddy of them all, Big Brother. For a long time I was actually a fan of this show and, while some hailed it as a great democratisation of television, others saw it as the onset of the downfall of civilisation. Indeed, it seems that there has always been a conflict between what is seen as high art and popular culture. This schism goes way back in our intellectual history. And even Big Brother, initially, seemed to have pretensions of being a social experiment, taking a cross section of society, all from different backgrounds, and putting them together to see how they got on. But now, as the contestants become ever more knowing about the show and what they can gain from it, it has lost any airs of intellectualism it might have once supposedly had. And herein lies the problem, reality tv may be entertaining, but it is also responsible for alot of the "dumbing down" of contemporary culture. If this was democracy vs. intellectualism, then it seems democracy was decidedly winning, but at a cost. The cost being that we seem to be drowning in a sea of postmodern cak where genuine intellectual debate is seen as something pompous and aloof.
Indeed, is this all that's at stake? Watching a couple of contemporary films recently it would seem not. Both these films were about, in some way, that most democratic of all mediums, the Internet. The first, "The Condemned", was about a group of dangerous prisoners who were released onto an island where they would be filmed in a "reality" show where they would fight each other to the death, the last man standing winning his freedom, the whole thing being shown over the Internet. I have to say that "The Condemned" is not, I repeat, not a good film, but it does show just how far we might end up going in our pursuit of the ultimate "reality", which in this case translates as "snuff", show. The second film was the much better "Untraceable", which was about a serial killer who showed his murders via web-cam on the Internet. The more people who viewed, the closer the victim would come to death. The film clearly made the point that our obsession with the reality show could lead us into some very dark psychological waters. But they're just films, you say. Yes, but they make a prescient point, one which was highlighted recently by the suicide of a young man who actually broadcast his death over the Internet. Yes, this actually happened, and apparently some of those who watched him go through his ordeal actually egged him on to commit suicide, thus revealing just how depraved and deviant some of our increasingly voyeuristic tendencies have become.
So, where will this all end? Democratisation would appear to be a great thing. It is propounded by politicians to be one of the greatest goods ever known. We even fight wars in the name of it. But, as far back as the 1840's in this country, when the vote was extended to the working classes, various people warned of "the tyranny of the masses". This may seem like anachronistic stuff, but if where we are going with the reality tv show is a reflection of "real" democracy, then I'm not so sure about it.
Anyway, thought I might jump on the band waggon and start a reality show of my own. It's about a guy who was once judged to be insane, then, during his recovery, he comes to realise that it's the world that's mad and not him. It's called "I'm a Schizophrenic, Get Me Out of Here!"
That's all for now from your normal, average, delusional and paranoid man.


dcrelief said…
Geez David, how hysterically funny! Unfortunately you are right, but then that's only my opinion. I dislike reality shows because they're ideals clash with my preceived reality. Their voices contradict what I want to hear.
Be well. In peace, dcrelief
klahanie said…
Well David, have to totally agree with you about all the bloody 'reality' shows. Cynicism at its finest. Let's tell it like it is, cheap television full of mostly people I've never heard of. Phone voting scandals that line the pockets of the production companies,indeed a blatant attempt to resurrect the careers of these 'Z' list 'celebrities'?
Although I must say it is, although ofcourse I hardly watch, I'm a Celebrity..get me outta' here', a real pleasure to see George Takei (Zulu from 'Star Trek') on the show, a genuine bit of class and integrity.
Anyway, dear David, good luck with the show. Any chance I can participate in a cameo role as the token foreign, delusional, paranoid who realises it's the world that's mad, not him?
David said…
Dear dcrelief and klahanie,
Thanks once again for your comments. They are always welcome.
And, of course, if either of you want to participate in my reality show, there will always be space for token foreign dudes who believe that the world is crazy, not them!
Yours with all the Best,
sunseeker said…
Ha! Now that would be a programme worth watching...

Hope you have a Happy Birthday. x
dcrelief said…
Happy belated birthday.
I am not a token foreign dude, but participation in your reality show could prove otherwise for entertainment (?).
Take good care, dcrelief
dcrelief said…
I did want to acknowledge what you said about snuff films and online suicides. The proliferation of such videos and sites is scary within my own country. Thank you for sharing your deepest concern with your readers.
I and the committee in my head salute you! We're out of here!

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