The Reality Obsession

When you think about America, it’s hard not to conjure up an image of Jersey Shore. Or some other kind of reality TV nonsense. This past summer, Jersey Shore’s season premiere drew 8.8 million total viewers. 8.8 MILLION! This was the MTV’s most-watched opener to date. The show is disgraceful and mind numbing. The participants act their parts as white trash. They are giving the country a bad rap.

However, I’m not going to go on about how dumb this show is and how dumb it makes America look (especially since it’s so outrageously popular). You should know that by now. At least I hope you do. What I really want to get to the bottom of is: why the hell are we so drawn to this type of entertainment? As much as I like to hate on reality TV, I can’t help but be sucked into the “real lives” of these characters on screen.

My dorm roommate used to be obsessed with MTV. She owned the TV. Her TV, her channel. When she had it playing, I tried to drown it out as much as possible, but sometimes I just couldn’t resist. I judged these morons and openly shared my views about them, yet I couldn’t look away. Jersey Shore, Teen Mom, 16 and Pregnant, I Used To Be Fat, Extreme Cribs, The Real World… The whole lot.

It all started with The Real World. They put an array of different individuals with diverse backgrounds under one roof and filmed their daily interactions. Kind of like a social experiment. The funny thing is, these individuals were instantly categorized under stereotypes in the viewers’ minds. The funnier thing is, these characters actually acted like those stereotypes. They showed us what we wanted to see. The “real world” really wasn’t that real at all. The reality of it all disintegrated as soon as those cameras were placed.

This brings me back to why we are so drawn to reality TV characters. They show us what we want to see. In Jersey Shore, for example, we expect to see outrageous, tasteless interactions. I shudder at the memory of their actions in Italy (“Jersey Shore smushes Italy.” Real classy stuff). They really showed a good image of America to Europeans, who, in turn, booed and laughed at them, as normal people should. There was a scene where Snookie and what’s her face (dressed in tiny highlighter colored dresses and furry boots) were dancing on tabletops of a restaurant at 10 in the morning, and proceeded to fall asleep with their faces in their breakfast until they were asked to leave. What a fucking embarrassment! What kind of “real people” act like that? That’s because they are not actually REAL people.

However, they still give me what I want to see. Dumb hos making a fool out of themselves in public and on mass television. They think they’re the shit, which makes my viewing even more pleasurable (in a twisted sense). What would Jersey Shore be without skanky hos? Just a bunch of orange douchebags with horrible hairdos who act like a bunch of high schoolers even though they’re actually 30. Keep pumpin those fists while you can, boys… Your fame won’t last long. A few years down the road, these “TV stars” will have nothing to show for their “achievements” other than memories of the good times and skin cancer.