Archive for Thursday, December 2, 2004

From the Editor

Reality television mystifying

December 2, 2004

It occurred to me last week while driving that reality TV shows were a present-day version of pole sitting. Perhaps the thought struck me at that time because driving in November near sundown, when suicidal deer run amok requires the same kind of steely nerves as participating on "Fear Factor." Or maybe I need to better myself so that more important thoughts will occupy my mind in quiet moments.
Anyway, my thought was if you took away the communal back stabbing, that sitting on a pole for days on end for the sole purpose of earning fleeting celebrity sounded a lot like spending endless days slapping mosquitoes on an isolated island. Pole sitting was better suited to the newspaper and radio coverage of the time , I thought. Both were -- or are -- boring endurance tests, begging the question of why anyone should care.
I have no clue to their motivation, but it seems I read somewhere that the pole sitting craze and the related marathon dances were spurred by the bad times of the Great Depression. People would endure the degradation for a payout.
At the risk of losing whatever respect I possess, I confess my Wednesday nights are often given over to mindless channel surfing. The papers have been put to bed for the week, and I'm generally too tired to concentrate. To sit nearly drooling with a remote in hand is a made-to-order activity.
What I have found is that whatever its roots, the reality trend has gotten out of hand. Everywhere people are racing the clock to complete some pointless task.
There is apparently a never-ending number of people -- the majority young and attractive -- willing to eat live slugs to win cash or fame.
Where did we go wrong? Why doesn't this current crop of 20-somethings understand the correct way to earn early, undeserved, and often short-lived success requires, at minimum, the ability to play three cords on the guitar?
I'm thankful I'll never do the research to solve the mystery. With the arrival of college basketball season (yet another vehicle for early, unwarranted fame), my surfing has ended for the next three-plus months.

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