Reality Television–Great Fun or Tractor Beam of Stupid?

Original image via Flikr Creative Commons, courtesy of Marco Bellucci

Original image via Flikr Creative Commons, courtesy of Marco Bellucci

By Kristen Lamb

What is our fascination with reality television? Don’t get me wrong; some of shows are fabulous and even educational. Pawn Stars actually teaches me more about history than I learned in five years of college. But what about…the “others”?

Toddlers in Tiaras? Gypsy Weddings? BRIDEZILLA?

I feel this nonsense began back with Oprah and Donahue until it devolved to rednecks stripping to reveal body parts no human should ever be subjected to seeing—even blurred out.

So did America just get bored waiting until the next episode to figure out which of the seventeen men actually was the father of Faylene’s child? Did we tire of circus midgets, strippers, freaks, and sluts with secrets? I don’t think we did. I think this human depravity just became more sophisticated and, frankly, retarded.

And what is worse is I still get sucked in. As much as I abhor it…it’s like seeing a massive ten-car pileup and then trying NOT to look.

Do any of you remember the days you were home sick flipping through channels? Who couldn’t help but stare, even for a minute or two, when the chairs went flying? I used to play my own mental game where I would watch the shows with the sound turned off. See if I could guess the topic of that day’s show just by body language and the characters sitting on the stage.

Was today, “I Have a Secret?” And if so, I would see if I could guess what the secret was before the cross-dressing lover came flouncing out from back stage. Sick. I know. But a great way to pass the time when you have the flu.

So here we are. Many of us are still rubber-necks with 553 channels of crap to fulfill our twisted sense of entertainment. And what is worse is that I am a WRITER! I just finished writing a book that required tens of thousands of pages of research in fields like economics, neuroscience, epidemiology, and yet here I find myself sitting, wondering:

Are her boobs real?

And admittedly I’m a bit ticked. I can never get back the hours of my life I once wasted on “Sunset Tan” or “Jersey Shores.” Never regain the hour I frittered away, entranced, while Missy and Buffy posted trash talk on Sunny’s Facebook page because Sunny made the fatal error of hitting on Brandy’s ex-boyfriend, Brandon, whom she still wanted to be with even though she had a new boyfriend . . . Brandon 2.0. And that if Sunny would have just asked Krissy, she would have told Sunny that Brandy still loved Brandon 1.0 even though she cut all his tires.

Ok . . . my head hurts.

And the Kardashians…who are they and why do we care to keep up with them?

I will never recapture the time wasted watching dog-groomers compete, or chefs throw insults and Steak au Poivre at each other. Will never get back the hours watching otherwise smart, talented, beautiful women claw each other like desperate hyenas to garner the Bachelor’s vacuous proposal. Will never regain the precious moments squandered over gawking at the Real Harpies…uh, I mean Real Housewives of the O.C.

None of us will. We could have been reading Dostoevsky. Or curing cancer. Or learning what exactly the Railroad Commissioner does. But, we don’t. And the only remedy seems to be regular inoculations of the Discovery or History Channel. Or cold turkey. No T.V.

Yea *rolls eyes* like that’s going to happen.

Because we can’t help but wonder which seventeen-year-old anorexic giantess with super poofy lips will be the next Top Model. And that is why reality television makes me scratch my head and wonder
Kristen Lamb is the author of the #1 Best-Selling Books We Are Not Alone—The Writer’s Guide to Social Media and Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer. She’s just released her newest best-selling book Rise of the Machines—Human Authors in a Digital World.

Follow Kristen on Twitter @KristenLambTX or on Facebook or on her author blog.

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